Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (3 December 2020)

Date of Auction: 3rd December 2020

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,600

An outstanding Second War ‘Hazebrouck and withdrawal to Dunkirk’ M.C. group of ten awarded to Captain & Quarter-Master C. A. Pallett, 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Military Cross, G.VI.R. reverse officially dated 1940; British War and Victory Medals (8933 A.C. Sjt. C. A. Pallett. Oxf. & Bucks. L.I.); 1939-45 Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Jubilee 1935; Army L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 2nd issue with fixed suspension (5373154 W.O. Cl. II. C. A. Pallett. Off. & Bucks. L.I.); Efficiency Decoration, G.VI.R., 1st issue, Territorial, reverse officially dated 1944, mounted court style as worn, very fine or better (10) £2,000-£2,600

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 20 December 1940. The original recommendation states:

‘Capt. (QM) C A Pallett, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Recommended for gallantry on the 27/28 May in withdrawal from Hazebrouck.
At a time when the enemy troops had penetrated into most parts of the town, he rallied and re-organised a party of about 40 men who were retreating down the street in disorder and under fire. The situation might well have got out of hand and the men might all have been cut off, but by his example, courage and determination, Capt. Pallet safely got them away from the town to the village of La Motte where he took up a position and held the enemy in check while a considerable number of the troops were able to withdraw.
Quite undaunted by the fact that troops on either side of him in La Motte had withdrawn he remained in position during the 28th of May until he was practically surrounded, and then withdrew in face of the enemy and under fire. He re-organised his men just outside the village, led an immediate counter-attack and drove the enemy out of the village over or into the canal. He held the Village for some time further and considerably delayed the enemy advance. Finally he withdrew and led his men safely back to Dunkirk.’


Some further detail of this extraordinary action is given in the regimental War Chronicle 1939-1940:

‘Of those who returned to England via Dunkirk many had exciting and stirring stories to tell. It would be impossible to relate the experiences of each separate party as it withdrew. Many came into contact with other troops and fought a withdrawal with them.

Those who reached Dunkirk were helped in no small way by the action of Captain A. C. Pallett, the quartermaster, who had formed B Echelon into a fighting force. On the evening of the 27th, when B Echelon had been entirely cut off from the Battalion headquarters and the rifle companies, Captain Pallett withdrew his small party through the town towards the village of La Motte, three miles to the south, rallying together odd men from rifle companies as he went.

At La Motte were two battalions of the Royal West Kent Regiment in position along the canal. Captain Pallett’s party also took up a defensive position there. On the 28th the enemy crossed the canal on both sides of the 1st Bucks’ position and the little party was in grave danger of being surrounded. When the enemy had penetrated into some buildings which commanded the position, Lance-Serjeant Cuthbert, A Company, volunteered to reconnoitre a line of withdrawal. Germans continued to pour into the village. After an anxious time Lance-Serjeant Cuthbert returned and then led the party through houses and gardens to a wood outside the village.

Instead of ordering a further withdrawal Captain Pallett told his men to fix bayonets. They turned about and charged through the village from which they had just come. The Germans, who outnumbered the 1st Bucks detachment by at least three to one, were driven out of the village and back over the canal.

Captain Pallett decided to hold the village until dark and then made good his withdrawal that night. This he did and later led the whole detachment to Dunkirk. For his fine leadership and devotion to duty in this action Captain Pallett was awarded the Military Cross and Lance-Serjeant Cuthbert received the Military Medal.