The superb Defence of Dunkirk Lys Canal Holding action 30th May to 1st June 1940 Distinguished Conduct Medal group awarded to Sergeant M. Dooley, Royal Artillery, who was serving with the 13th Anti-Tank Regiment in charge of a detachment of five men and a bren gun charged with holding off the Germans for two days under heavy and continuous small arms and mortar fire and sniping everyone in view until his flanks were threatened.

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The superb Defence of Dunkirk Lys Canal Holding action 30th May to 1st June 1940 Distinguished Conduct Medal group awarded to Sergeant M. Dooley, Royal Artillery, who was serving with the 13th Anti-Tank Regiment in charge of a detachment of five men and a bren gun charged with holding off the Germans for two days under heavy and continuous small arms and mortar fire and sniping everyone in view until his flanks were threatened.

Group of 4: Distinguished Conduct Medal, GVI 1st type bust; (1017735 A/SJT. M. DOOLEY. R.A.); 1939-1945 Star; Defence Medal; War Medal.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Martin Dooley was born on 9th December 1900 in Leeds, Yorkshire, and enlisted into the British Army as a Gunner (No.1017735) with the Royal Artillery on 26th March 1919. Promoted to Bombardier on 12th May 1923, Dooley was transferred to the Army Reserve on 9th April 1925, and then went on to find work as a miner, residing in Kirkhamgate, Wakefield, Yorkshire.

With the imminent outbreak of the Second World War, Dooley was called up for service on 11th August 1939, and was then mobilised on 2nd September 1939. Posted to the 13th Anti-Tank Regiment, he was once again appointed Bombardier and then proceeded with his unit to France on 21st September 1939.

Appointed to Lance Sergeant in the field on 1st November 1939, he was at home on leave in the UK between 16th and 26th February 1940. With the German invasion of France and the low countries, Dooley found himself retreating towards Dunkirk, and it was here on the afternoon of the 30th May 1940 that Dooley’s unit, which were divisional troops in the 2nd Division, found itself manning a position on the Allied held bank of the Lys Canal, and subjected to heavy and continuous small arms and mortar fire from German positions on the far bank of the canal. The unit held this position for two days until ordered to withdraw. It was for his gallantry and leadership during this pressing period which led to Dooley being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the London Gazette for 20th December 1940.

The original recommendation reads as follows: 'On the afternoon of 30 May 1940, Sergeant Dooley's anti-tank gun was subject to heavy and continuous small arms and mortar fire from German positions on the far bank of the canal. The position had to be held for another two days in order to cover the withdrawal and embarkation of the rest of the force. Sergeant Dooley held the position with his small detachment of five men and one Bren gun, sniping everyone in view till 1000 hours on the morning 1st June 1940, when penetration round his flanks made the position untenable. By his determined resistance carrying out an infantry role and by his sterling leadership Sergeant Dooley's action considerably influenced the whole course of the battle.'   

Dooley had played his part in a critical delaying action, and then found himself as one of the lucky ones to be evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. Back home, Dooley was then appointed to Acting Sergeant on 25th September 1940, and was then posted to the 100th Anti-Tank Battery as a War Substantive Sergeant on 17th August 1941, he having held the rank of Sergeant since March 1941. Based at Holme, Hemingbrough, and Griting, in that order, he was then posted with his Battery to India from 12th June 1942, and having been located at Bombay, then embarked for service in the Middle East from 3rd July 1942, and disembarked at Suez on 22nd July 1942. Having been based in Egypt, he then entrained for Iraq on 3rd October 1942, and saw service with PAIFORCE in Persia and Iraq, but was hospitalised on 26th January 1943, and then rejoined his old unit, the 13th Anti-Tank Battery on 4th April 1943, then serving in Iraq.

Dooley embarked home to the UK on 29th July 1943, arriving there on 13th September 1943, and was posted to 70th Anti-Tank Battery. Dooley was posted to Europe to joined the British Liberation Army on 13th September 1944, and presumably saw further active service in North West Europe, being then reprimanded for being absent without leave on 25th May 1945, no doubt due to the end of war celebrations. Posted home again on 10th July 1945, he was released to the Class A Army Reserve on 10th July 1945, and then released to the Class Z Army Reserve on 10th October 1945. It would appear that Dooley is in fact additionally entitled to the Africa Star and the France and Germany Star.


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