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Honours and Awards

No story of an infantry battalion a war is complete without a List of Honours and Awards won by its members and some account of the outstanding actions which earned such recognition.

It is matter of the greatest regret that I have found impossible to compile anything approaching a complete list – and even more impossible to describe the individual actions, which earned such recognition.

Some are still remembered clearly, but I find these are invariably about men in whom I had some special interests such as:

Signaller Stoate DCM.

Mentioned here in Colonel Norton’s account of the December 1917 action on Kherbet Adasseh (for which Stoate received the DCM).

Signaller George Gregory DCM.

Another Signaller who, on Nebi Samwil on 29th November 1917, did the impossible not once but twice and survived. At a time when it looked impossible that a man could survive one minute on that rocky hillside under such heavy shellfire, and communication between Colonel Norton and the Companies had broken down, he set off to find and repair breaks in the telephone cable and reached the top, only to learn that he had re-established communication for less than a minute before the cable had been broken behind him. So he turned round and came back, again finding and repairing the breaks; and against all the odds survived. He found on his return that the vital information had come through – but that the line was again broken behind him. However, with the information through, the line could now wait a while before repairs were again vital. Another DCM.

CSM Parkes DCM.

The story on Kherbet Adasseh on 23rd December 1917 ha ben told and Colonel Norton’s recommendation for an immediate award of the DCM, which came through with unusual speed.

My apologies go to all those about whom I cannot write because of the passing of the years. For each story told, a dozen or so are omitted.

I have told the story of two incidents, which I find equal to the best but which no recognition was given in one case and small recognition in the other. My admiration goes to them because they required long and sustained effort.

These two incidents are:

The four men killed in France in October 1916 after forty minutes digging for the man buried by a “Minnie” while “minnies” dropped all round them at the rate of one every two minutes. Perhaps it is necessary to have close acquaintance with just one “minnie” to appreciate just what this means. No awards, of course, because they did not survive. One of them, Grey, was among my friends before the war.

I have told the story of Sgt Burt in “K” Sector in Greece – of his march straight ahead 1,000 yards in full view of the Bulgars, right up to their “wire” to pick up the wounded sergeant of the 2/20th Battalion in broad daylight. This takes cold blooded “fortitude” of a very special kind. And he got – a “Mention in Despatches”!

I am not happy about my failure to do justice to this subject but I find some comfort in the knowledge that many of those who deserved such recognition did not survive the actions, which earned it. To receive an Award, it was necessary to survive the action, which earned it – this always seemed to be wrong to me.

One thing, which is clear beyond question, is that those who received an Award of any sort more than earned what they got.