The exceptional Second World War Italy Anzio 31st March 1944 Military Medal group awarded to Private W.E.L. Nairn, 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, who on a patrol which wandered into an uncharted minefield, was wounded by the explosion of four mines whilst trying to rescue his commander, and dragged himself two and a half hours to safety, ending up with shrapnel injuries to his hands, arms, left thigh and abdomen resulting in 60 percent disability and the loss of his left leg.
The exceptional Second World War Italy Anzio Beachhead night patrol 31st March 1944 Military Medal group awarded to Private W.E.L. Nairn, 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, who when his small patrol to locate enemy positions and possibly grab a prisoner, wandered into an uncharted minefield, being wounded by the explosion of four mines whilst trying to rescue his dead commander, and then dragged himself two and a half hours to safety, delivered valuable information, and ended up with shrapnel injuries to his hands, arms, left thigh and abdomen resulting in 60 percent disability and the loss of his left leg. Group of 5: Military Medal, GVI 1st type; (2766058 PTE. W.E.L. NAIRN. Y. & L.R.); 1939-1945 Star; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal. Condition: Good Very Fine. William Edward Lawson Nairn was born on 30th April 1923, in Forfar, Angus, Scotland, and having worked as a jute softener, with the ongoing Second World War, then attested for service with the Territorial Army at Dundee on 7th November 1941, and joined as a Private (No.2766058) the 70th Battalion, Black Watch, before being transferred to the 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry on 15th February 1942, and then transferred to the Liverpool Scottish on 16th December 1942, and having seen service in the Mediterranean from 12th November 1943, then joined the 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment on 28th January 1944. It was for his gallantry in action on the Anzio Beachhead on 31st March 1944 when he was a member of a small patrol which was detailed to penetrate German lines under cover of darkness, locate their positions and, if opportunity offered, to capture a prisoner. As the citation for his Military Medal, originally a recommendation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal suggests, this went horribly wrong for the patrol, with the result that Nairn ended up with multiple wounds which necessitated the amputation of his left leg below the knee as well as receiving shrapnel injuries to his hands, arms, left thigh and abdomen resulting in 60 percent disability, his Military Medal being published in the London Gazette for 20th July 1944. The original recommendation reads as follows: ‘On 31st March 1944, on the Anzio beachhead, Private Nairn was detailed as a member of a small patrol to penetrate German lines under cover of darkness, locate their positions and, if opportunity offered, to capture a prisoner. During the course of the patrol and while within enemy lines, the patrol entered a small uncharted minefield and the patrol commander who was leading was killed. Private Nairn, showing great presence of mind, immediately took command and, ordering the other two members of the patrol to cover him, crawled forward to where the patrol commander lay. On finding that he was dead he started to return to the others but in doing so exploded four mines which seriously wounded him with multiple injuries in the foot, legs, stomach, face and arms and slightly injured the other two. Seeing that nothing further could be done, Private Nairn ordered the others to withdraw and they set out carrying him between them. At 0200 hours, after going some distance and avoiding two parties of Germans, they were stopped by two sentries who ordered them in English to lay down their arms, and marched off the two slightly wounded men saying that they would bring back a stretcher party for Private Nairn, who was left lying on the ground. As soon as they were gone, Private Nairn, with a complete disregard for his wounds and despite the great pain he was suffering, started to crawl back to his company position. After two and a half hours he succeeded in reaching our wire, but then he failed to attract the attention of the sentries and it was not until after daylight at 0900 hours that he was seen and brought in. It was entirely due to Private Nairn’s magnificent courage and sense of duty that very valuable information of the enemy’s dispositions was obtained. Had he allowed himself to be captured and receive the medical attention which his wounds demanded, no news of this patrol could possibly have reached us.’ Nairn was evacuated home on 6th June 1944, and discharged due to his serious injuries on 29th March 1945.