Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (8 December 2016)
Date of Auction: 8th December 2016
Sold for £1,400
Estimate: £1,000 - £1,400
Military Cross, G.VI.R. reverse officially dated 1944; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, together with the recipient’s cap badge, about extremely fine (6) £1000-1400
FootnoteM.C. London Gazette 20 July 1944.
The recommendation states: ‘On 20th January, 1944, “C” Company was ordered to attack and capture Mount Natale north west of Minturno. Major Wedgbury had just taken over command in place of the Company Commander who had been seriously wounded. Under his leadership the company successfully gained its objective. At dawn the following morning a heavy German counter-attack was launched from the west. All lines were cut and the wireless destroyed by the preliminary bombardment. The company positions were partly overrun and heavy casualties were incurred. Major Wedgbury, though out of touch with his Battalion Headquarters throughout this battle, successfully resisted this; also two further counter-attacks that evening. He was constantly up with his forward platoons, encouraging and inspiring them and it was almost entirely due to his example and skill that the German attacks were broken up and our positions regained.
Infiltration by the enemy continued throughout the night and at 06:30 hours the next day the heaviest attack of all came in, supported by tanks, dive bombers, and intense artillery concentrations, and quickly penetrated the positions of Major Westbury’s right. His own company, however, resisted all onslaughts and he continued to fight for eight hours without respite although enveloped on three sides by the enemy. He was, when communication was re-established, ordered to withdraw. This difficult operation he carried out under the continuous fire of the enemy with such skill that he suffered only minor casualties. Throughout the action and although physically very weary he never allowed his efforts to flag. At all times he was at the point of danger and situations which appeared desperate he restored by his inspiration, determination, and fearless example.’
Ivor Jack ‘Wedge’ Wedgbury was born at St. Albans, Hertfordshire, on 24 November 1917, and was educated at St. Albans School. On the outbreak of the Second World War he volunteered for active service in the Artists Rifles on 20 September 1939, and after a spell with 163 Officer Cadet Training Unit was commissioned in the York and Lancaster Regiment as a Second Lieutenant on 25 February 1940. Two days later he married Miss Joan Archer in St. Albans Cathedral, and after a brief honeymoon he embarked for overseas service. He was never to see his wife again.
Posted to the Middle East Forces, he served overseas from April 1940, and was promoted Lieutenant on 15 August 1941 and Captain on 5 December 1941. Appointed Adjutant on 20 December 1941, he received his Majority in June 1942, and took part in the invasion of Sicily, July to August 1943, and the subsequent initial invasion of Italy in September 1943. In December 1943 he transferred with the 1st Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment to Central Mediterranean Forces, and the following month he took part in the crossing of the River Garigliano and in the heavy fighting at Minturno and on the Anzio beachhead, for which he was awarded the Military Cross. In the words of his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel R. J. A. Kaulback, his M.C. ‘was one of the best Military Crosses won in this war and he deserved every bit of it’ (letter to the recipient’s widow refers). The Battalion suffered nearly 300 casualties, with over 60 killed, during the fighting on and around Mount Natale.
On 23 May 1944 operations commenced from Anzio to break out from the beachhead and to push onto Rome. On 3 June the Battalion was ordered to launch a subsidiary attack to help the main effort to be made against the enemy on the Acquabuona Ridge, just short of the River Tiber. Wedgbury ‘was killed in our final battle before the capture of Rome, on the 3rd June 1944. We attacked at half past one that afternoon, and Ivor’s company, which he led magnificently as usual, quickly overran the German positions, and captured a number of prisoners. However, the German resistance still proved stronger than we had expected and it was while Ivor was reorganising his men to deal with this that he was hit. He had gone forward to see the position when he was caught by a burst of fire from an enemy machine gun and was wounded in the left leg and right shoulder. His wounds were dressed by his Company Sergeant-Major, C.S.M. Thorpe, and he had been carried back a certain distance when he told the C.S.M. to leave him and go to another platoon to order it forward. The C.S.M. did this, but when he returned with stretcher bearers, Ivor had already been dead for some little time. The following morning, after the battle, he was taken back to Anzio and buried in the British Military Cemetery there where he now lies with the rest of his men who died in the beachhead.’ (letter to the recipient’s widow from Lieutenant-Colonel R. J. A. Kaulback, York and Lancaster Regiment refers).
Major Wedgbury’s Military Cross was presented to his widow by H.M. the King at Buckingham Palace on 9 April 1946.
Sold together with various letters of condolence to the recipient’s widow, including from his former commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel R. J. A. Kaulback; his second in command, Captain A. Lee; and the Lord Bishop of Lincoln (who, as Dean of St. Albans, had married the couple); various letters from the War Office and Imperial War Graves Commission regarding the recipient’s grave; a letter from the Central Chancery regarding the investiture of the M.C.; and a number of group and individual photographs, including one of the recipient’s mother and widow outside Buckingham Palace after the M.C. Investiture.