The fine Second World War Escaper’s Military Medal group awarded to Gunner D. MacLennan, Royal Artillery, who was serving with the 104th Essex Yeomanry Regiment, and was taken prisoner of war at Derna in Libya on 5th April 1941. After the Italian Armistice and whilst onboard a train to Germany he made his escape through a window in the train truck on 25th September 1943 and arrived in British lines on 6th October 1943.
Group of 5: Military Medal, GVI 1st type bust; (809245 GNR. D. MACLENNAN. R.A.); 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; Burma Star; War Medal.
Condition: Good Very Fine.
Donald MacLennan was born on 22nd May 1912 and having worked as an apprentice butcher, then enlisted into the British Army on 26th February 1931, joining as a Gunner (No.809245) the Royal Artillery. Posted to the 42nd Field Battery in the 2nd Field Brigade on 7th November 1931, and then to the 71st Battery in the 26th Field Brigade on 29th September 1932, he was then posted to the 75th Battery in the 3rd Field Brigade on 9th January 1933. Arrested by the Civil Powers and placed for one week in custody on 6th June 1933, he was then tried by Tower Bridge Civil Court and convicted and fined on 21st June 1933. Subsequently awarded 14 days detention for absent for three hours without leave and disobedience on 20th October 1933, he was again in trouble for a similar offence and awarded 14 days detention on 14th November 1933, before being transferred to the Army Reserve on 25th February 1934. With the outbreak of the Second World War, MacLennan was mobilised at Colchester on 2nd September 1939, and posted to the 21st/24th Battery in the 27th Highland Artillery Regiment, before being posted to the 36th Signal Training Regiment on mobilisation, before being posted out to the Middle East on 4th January 1941, where he joined the 107th (South Nottinghamshire Hussars) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, and was soon in action against the Italians and Germans, before transferring to the 104th Essex Yeomanry Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, a part of the 2nd Armoured Division. MacLennan served in the defence of the port city of Derna in Libya, this city having been taken by the Australians in January 1941, then fell to the Germans on 6th April 1941, with MacLennan having been capture the day before on the 5th April 1941. Now a prisoner of war, MacLennan was taken to captivity in Italy via Benghazi, Sabratha, Capua, Sulmona, Montalbo and Lucca to incarceration in Campo 70 in Monturano, where he remained till the Italian Armistice on 8th September 1943. After the Armistice the Senior British Officer refused to allow the Prisoners of War to escape and the camp was then taken over by the Germans, with the prisoners of war, including MacLennan being put aboard trains for transport to Germany. The prisoners were crowded into a truck with 40 others, and it was from here that MacLennan made his escape. The recommendation for his Military Medal reads as follows: ‘Captured on 5th April 1941 near Derna. Taken via Benghazi, Sabratha, Capua, Sulmona, Montalbo and Lucca to Campo 70 in Monturano. After the Armistice the Senior British Officer refused to allow the Prisoners of War to escape and the camp was taken over by the Germans who took the prisoners of war to Germany. MacLennan was entrained on 25th September 1943 and put in a truck with 40 others. He prized open a small barred window in the truck, forced the bars out and jumped down on to the line. None of the other prisoners of war in the truck wished to escape. He made hisy south and arrived in British lines on 6th October’. His award of the Military Medal was published in the London Gazette for 15th June 1944. MacLennan was officially reported as being back in British hands on 13th October 1943, and then arrived in Algiers on 23rd October 1943, before arriving home on 6th November 1943. Posted to the 227th Royal Artillery Training Regiment on 17th June 1944, and then to 6th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery on 19th September 1944, he was then posted to the Depot on 11th October 1944, and the 150th Anti Aircraft Battery as part of South East Asia Command in India later that month, before being arrested for being absent without leave on 29th October 1944, and then released from detention to duty on 4th November 1944, after which he saw service at the Depot at Deolali in December 1944, and was then posted to join the 178th Field Regiment in Burma on 27th January 1945, followed by the 122s Anti Tank Regiment on 6th February 1945. MacLennan was discharged on 4th November 1945. Medal entitlement confirmed.