The Collection of Second World War and Modern Gallantry Awards formed by the late William Oakley

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Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000

An impressive Second World War North Africa operations D.C.M. group of nine awarded to Acting Quarter-Master Sergeant J. F. Lewis, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, late Royal Army Ordnance Corps, who, as a member of 8th Armoured Brigade’s workshop, regularly recovered tanks under fire

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.VI.R. (1425952 W.O. Cl. II J. F. Lewis, R.E.M.E.); General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Palestine (1425952 S. Sjt. J. F. Lewis, R.A.O.C.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, clasp, 8th Army; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Coronation 1953; Army L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 1st issue, Regular Army (1425952 S. Sjt. J. F. Lewis, R.E.M.E.), good very fine and better (9) £2500-3000

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 25 November 1943. The original recommendation - upgraded from an M.M. - states:

‘This Warrant Officer has, from the outset of the campaign, displayed outstanding devotion to duty and has never hesitated to carry out the recovery of all types of equipment including A.F.Vs in the face of the enemy. On many occasions he has taken recovery vehicles under shell and mortar fire to disabled tanks and vehicles and by his skill and coolness under fire has organised and supervised their immediate recovery.

On the night 22-23 April 1943, he supervised the recovery of six tanks and one Scorpion under direct shell fire from the minefields to the North of the Takrouna feature near Enfidaville.

On the night 23-24 April 1943, he again recovered two tanks from the same minefield as the previous night and also 2 more tanks from the west of Takrouna.

On the night 24-25 April 1943, he supervised the recovery of two tanks from the North-West of Takrouna and personally went on hands and knees to investigate another tank under shell fire so intense that no vehicle could get near to it. To do this he had to cross a field known to contain booby traps and mines. Several subsequent attempts were made to recover this one remaining disabled tank and finally on 14 May 1943 he succeeded in doing this under shell fire, first of all taking welding equipment to the tank to cut away very badly jammed tracks which had rendered previous recovery impossible.

These are but a few examples of the outstanding initiative shown by this Warrant Officer which have proved a fine example and inspiration to all ranks who have worked with him in his recovery section.’