The good Second World War 8th Army Tunisia March 1943 Military Medal and Mention in Despatches group awarded to Private J.C. Cawton, 5th Battalion, The Black Watch - Royal Highland Regiment, Territorial Army, who saw service in North Africa as part of the 51st Highland Division, who as a platoon runner distinguished himself on the night of 24th to 25th March 1943 in Tunisia when part of a company attack against an enemy position which resulted in such very heavy casualties from shell-fire, that the Company was split up into isolated groups roun

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The good Second World War 8th Army Tunisia March 1943 Military Medal and Mention in Despatches group awarded to Private J.C. Cawton, 5th Battalion, The Black Watch - Royal Highland Regiment, Territorial Army, who saw service in North Africa as part of the 51st Highland Division, who as a platoon runner distinguished himself on the night of 24th to 25th March 1943 in Tunisia when part of a company attack against an enemy position which resulted in such very heavy casualties from shell-fire, that the Company was split up into isolated groups round the object. Cawton located and collected the remnants of his Platoon and then made his way to Company HQ which necessitated crossing some 200 yards of ground that was swept with machine-gun fire and on which many shells were falling. He then reported the situation and disposition of the Platoon. Subsequently he was the greatest possible assistance to Lieutenant Nickson, the sole remaining officer, in re-organising the Company against counter-attack, and in the smoke and confusion it is doubtful if this could have been done without him. He seemed oblivious of the shells and bullets falling around him. Cawton was subsequently Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East, and went on to take part in the Italian Campaign, having by then probably transferred to the 6th Battalion - the Black Watch, and would then have seen service at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Group of 6: Military Medal, GVI 1st type bust; (4460983 PTE. J.C. CAWTON. BLACK WATCH.); 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star with 8th Army Clasp; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal with Mention in Despatches Oakleaf.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

John Cheeseman Cawton, also shown as James, was born on 2nd August 1915 in Winlaton, near Gateshead, County Durham, and with the outbreak of the Second World War enlisted into the Territorial Army as a Private (No.4460983) into the Durham Light Infantry, before transferring into the Black Watch on 16th July 1940. Posted to the 5th Battalion, The Black Watch - Royal Highland Regiment, he then went on to see service in North Africa as part of the 153rd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division and the battalion then moved to North Africa for service within the 8th Army.

Cawton would have seen service during the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, but it was during the final stages of the campaign when in action in Tunisia in the night of 24th to 25th March 1943 that Cawton won the Military Medal.

The recommendation reads as follows: ‘On the night of 24/25th March, 1943, Pte Cawton was Platoon Runner in 8 Platoon of "A" Coy, This coy had carried out an attack against an enemy position, and in the process had suffered such very heavy casualties from shell-fire, that the Company was split up into isolated groups round the object. Private Cawton located and collected the remnants of his Platoon and then made his way to Company HQ which necessitated crossing some 200 yards of ground that was swept with machine-gun fire and on which many shells were falling. He then reported the situation and disposition of the Platoon. Subsequently he was the greatest possible assistance to Lieutenant Nickson, the sole remaining officer, in re-organising the Company against counter-attack, and in the smoke and confusion it is doubtful if this could have been done without him. Throughout the entire action he was cool and collected and carried out his order with great energy. He seemed oblivious of the shells and bullets falling around him. His devotion to duty was an inspiration to all who saw him, and he showed courage of the highest order.’

Cawton was awarded the Military Medal in the London Gazette for 25th November 1943. In addition he was Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East in the London Gazette for 6th April 1944. He then appears to have transferred to the 6th Battalion - the Black Watch and would have seen service on the Italian Front from February 1944, and then at the Battle of Monte Cassino. The battalion later fought on the Gothic Line before being sent to Greece in late 1944, where it remained for the rest of the war.

Cawton was transferred to the Class W Army Reserve on 2nd January 1946, and on 9th March 1946 married a Miss Linda Brooks at Winlaton. He died on 26th March 1979.