06 November 2011

Victoria Cross: A. H. Wakenshaw


Private, The Durham Light Infantry

Born: 9 June 1914, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Date: 27 June 1942, near Mersa Matruh, Egypt

Citation: On the 27th June, 1942, South of Mersa Matruh, Private Wakenshaw was a member of the crew of a 2-pounder anti-tank gun that was sited on a forward slope in front of the infantry position.
Shortly after dawn the enemy attacked and an enemy tracked vehicle towing a light gun was brought to within short range of the position. The gun crew opened fire and succeeded in putting a round through the engine immobilising the enemy vehicle.
Another mobile gun then came into action. All members of the crew manning the 2-pounder including Private Wakenshaw were killed or seriously wounded and the 2-pounder was silenced. In this respite the enemy moved forward towards their damaged tractor in order to get the light gun into action against our infantry.
Realising the danger to his comrades, under intense mortar and artillery fire which swept the gun site, Private Wakenshaw crawled back to his gun. Although his left arm was blown off above the elbow, he loaded the gun with one arm and fired five more rounds. These succeeded in setting the tractor on fire and damaged the light gun. A near miss then killed the gun aimer and blew Private Wakenshaw away from the gun giving him further severe wounds. Undeterred he slowly dragged himself back to the gun, placed a round in the breach [sic], and was preparing to fire when a direct hit on the ammunition killed him and destroyed the gun.
In the evening after the action the body of Private Wakenshaw was found stretched out at the back of the breach [sic] block beside the ammunition box.
This act of conspicuous gallantry prevented the enemy from using their light gun on the infantry Company which was only 200 yards away. It was through the self sacrifice and courageous devotion to duty of this infantry anti-tank gunner that the Company was enabled to withdraw and to embus in safety.

[London Gazette issue 35698 dated 11 Sep 1942, published 8 Sep 1942.]

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