15 September 2013

Victoria Cross: J. N. Randle


Lieutenant (temporary Captain), The Royal Norfolk Regiment

Born: 22 Dec 1917, Benares, British India
Died: 6 May 1944, Kohima, Assam

Citation: On the 4th May, 1944, at Kohima in Assam, a Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment attacked the Japanese positions on a nearby ridge. Captain Randle took over command of the Company which was leading the attack, when the Company Commander was severely wounded. His handling of a difficult situation in the face of heavy fire was masterly and although wounded himself in the knee by grenade splinters he continued to inspire his men by his initiative, courage and outstanding leadership, until the Company had captured its objective and consolidated its position. He then went forward and brought in all the wounded men who were lying outside the perimeter.
In spite of his painful wound Captain Randle refused to be evacuated and insisted on carrying out a personal reconnaissance with great daring in bright moonlight prior to a further attack by his Company on the positions to which the enemy had withdrawn.
At dawn on 6th May the attack opened led by Captain Randle and one of the platoons succeeded in reaching the crest of the hill held by the Japanese. Another platoon, however, ran into heavy medium machine gun fire from a bunker on the reverse slope of the feature. Captain Randle immediately appreciated that this particular bunker covered not only the rear of his new position but also the line of communication of the Battalion and therefore the destruction of the enemy post was imperative if the operation was to succeed.
With utter disregard of the obvious danger to himself Captain Randle charged the Japanese machine gun post single-handed with rifle and bayonet. Although bleeding in the face and mortally wounded by numerous bursts of machine gun fire he reached the bunker and silenced the gun with a grenade thrown through the bunker slit. He then flung his body across the slit so that the aperture should be completely sealed.
The bravery shown by this officer could not have been surpassed and by his self sacrifice he saved the lives of many of his men and enabled not only his own Company but the whole Battalion to gain its objective and win a decisive victory over the enemy.

[London Gazette issue 36833 dated 12 Dec 1944, published 8 Dec 1944.]

Note: Benares, now known as Varanasi, is a city on the Ganges, in northern India. Assam is the northeastern area of India, to the northeast of Bangladesh; Kohima is a town in the Indian state of Nagaland. (The modern state of Assam is just to the west of Nagaland.)

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