Portsmouth’s WW2 Dead – The Army (part 5)


20 soldiers from Portsmouth who died during the Second World War were awarded a total of 23 decorations for bravery during the Second World War:

1 Distinguished Service Order
1 Distinguished Conduct Medal
4 Military Crosses
5 Military Medals
9 Mentions in Despatches

Three men received more than one decoration. 10 of the men who were decorated were officers, and the other 10 were NCO’s. Although there were obviously many more men than officers in the Army, being in position of responsibility clearly afforded many more opportunities for excelling in battle. Cynics might also suggest that officers and NCO’s were more likely to have their deeds noticed and reported favourably. Its noticeable that no medals were awarded to Privates who died during the war, only one Trooper in a Tank unit was mentioned in despatches.

2.97% of Portsmouth soldiers who died during the war won decorations. The split was equal between officers and men. This compares to 7.9% of Portsmouth sailors. Why the difference? Possibly because a higher proportion of sailors were Leading Rates and Petty Officers, who had more potential for leadership and decision-making in battle, whereas junior sailors were more often than not working as part of a finely-tuned machine. By comparison, the decorations awarded to soldiers were split 50/50. This is probably because the rank-and-file found themselves in at the sharp end, and often having to show initiative and bravery that would earn medals.

It could also be argued that in the Second World War – particularly towards 1944 and 1945 when manpower reserves were perilously low – the British Army sought to fight its battles in a way that did not cause excessive losses. It is possible that fighting in this manner gave less opportunities to win decorations.

Distinguished Service Order
Major Robert Easton MBE (Royal Armoured Corps, Italy)

Distinguished Conduct Medal
Sergeant Sidney Cornell (Parachute Regiment, Normandy)

Military Cross
Major Maurice Budd (Royal Sussex Regiment, Far East)
Major Frank Baxter (Royal Engineers, Tunisia)
Captain Bernard Brown (Royal Army Medical Corps, Egypt)
Lieutenant Colonel George Paxton (Essex Regiment, also MiD)

Military Medal
Captain Tom Bett (Pioneer Corps, promoted from ranks in 1941 after winning MM)
Lance Bombardier Edward Wait (Royal Artillery, Italy)
Lance Corporal Leslie Webb (Hampshire Regiment, D-Day)
Lance Bombardier Ernest Colbourne (Royal Artillery, MM possibly WW1)
Battery Quartermaster Sergeant Stanley Thayer (Royal Artillery, Dunkirk – also MiD)

Mentioned in Despatches
Sergeant Bertram Frampton (Royal Armoured Corps, NW Europe)
Corporal Norman Wescott (Military Police, Italy)
Trooper Edward Fidler (Royal Armoured Corps, Normandy)
Captain Sidney Fenn (REME)
Sergeant Frederick Harvey (Royal Artillery, Singapore)
Corporal Kerry Ryan (RAOC, Hong Kong)
Sergeant Ernest Oldrieve (Royal Tank Regiment, Greece)

Officer of the British Empire
Major Ernest Norris (RAOC)

Member of the British Empire
Major John Allen (RASC)



Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, Uncategorized, World War Two

5 responses to “Portsmouth’s WW2 Dead – The Army (part 5)

  1. Sarah Downey

    Corporal Norman Wescott was my grandfather!stumbled across this whilst doing some research for my school assembly tomorrow 11-11-10. I have one picture of him that was published in some sort of magazine escorting German prisoners.do you have any more information?would love to learn more.

  2. James Daly

    Hi Sarah, its great to hear from you! I’m really glad to to hear that you have been researching him. I’m at work at the moment but when I get home I will have a look in my database and see if I have any more information about him. Even if I haven’t I can probably suggest how you could find out more.


  3. James Daly

    Hi Sarah. Corporal Norman Alexander Wescott was 34, and a member of 50th Divisional Provost Company, Royal Military Police. He was killed on 10 July 1943 and has no known grave, and as such he is remembered on the Cassino Memorial to the missing. He was from Milton. I have not been able to find the London Gazette reference for his mention in despatches.

    The invasion of Siciliy began on 10 July 1943, so it looks like Corporal Wescott was killed during this battle, Operation Husky, in which 50th Division took part.

    You could try get hold of his service record from the MOD, that would tell you a lot more about what happened to him during the war.

  4. Sarah Downey

    wow thank you so much.I knew that he was remembered on the memorial in Cassino.from what my Dad has told me, we believe he was on a ship that was bombed as he had been in North Africa so getting hold of his service record will tell me more.how do i do this? My Dad does have other bits and pieces regarding him but he was only 8 when he died and he doesn’t really talk that much about him.

  5. James Daly

    If you go to the MOD or veterans agency websites there should be sections there telling you how to get hold of them. You have to fill out quite a detailed form, provide proof that you are related to the casualty and it normally costs £30 and takes 6-8 months. Its quite a lot of info tho, my granddads was about 15 pages long with all kinds of stuff in it.

    He would probably have sailed for Sicily from N. Africa – the 50th Division was in Egypt prior to the invasion of Italy.

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