The very good Second World War North Africa Battle of Gazala Military Medal, Casualty and Prisoner of War, and Territorial long service and Second Award Bar group awarded to Private H. Clark, 4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, Territorial Arm...

£1,950.00
Availability: IN STOCK
Product ID: CMA/32195
Condition: some contact wear, and evidence of slight polishing to first and last, overall Very Fine.
Description:

The very good Second World War North Africa Battle of Gazala Military Medal, Casualty and Prisoner of War, and Territorial long service and Second Award Bar group awarded to Private H. Clark, 4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, Territorial Army, who was a long serving pre-war member of the Territorial’s, and with the war fought in France in 1940, being evacuated from Dunkirk. Present in North Africa from June 1941, as part of the 8th Army with the 150th Brigade in the 50th Northumbrian Infantry Division, a light motorised division, his brigade was was detached to Western Desert Force, but then saw service in Cyprus from August and Iraq from November 1941. It was when back in North Africa, during the Battle of Gazala that Clark distinguished himself in action from 26th to 31st May 1942. Specifically on the 31st May when the Italian Trieste Division and German 90th Light Division attacked, but made little progress against a defence that they described as 'skilful and stubborn’, and Clark was wounded in the foot and left, he having earlier in the day gone out into the open under heavy fire to help a wounded officer and dress his wounds. Later that same afternoon as water had not been issued to some sections owing to being in action, and although told by his Company Commander to keep under cover, he voluntarily took water round the section posts again under heavy fire and it was as he was completing this task that he was wounded in the foot and leg. Even though wounded and laying in the open he urged those dressing his wounds to leave him and not endanger their own lives by attending to him. Clarke was permanently disabled as a result of his wound. On 1st June Rommel reinforced the attackers with the 21st Panzer Division and more artillery, and the assault was resumed after heavy dive-bombing. Early in the afternoon 150th Bde was overcome by a series of concentric attacks, the brigadier as killed, and the survivors of 4th East Yorkshires became prisoners of war, Clark being confirmed as a prisoner on 4th June 1942. Held in captivity in Italy, he was one of the lucky ones to be repatriated in 1943, and his award of the Military Medal was eventually recommended in September 1945, and announced in the London Gazette for 8th November 1945.

Group of 6: Military Medal, GVI 1st type bust; (4341530 PTE. H. CLARK. E. YORK. R.); 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; Defence Medal; War Medal; Efficiency Medal, GVI 1st type bust, Territorial suspension, with Second Award Bar; (4341530 PTE. H. CLARK. E. YORK R.)

Condition: some contact wear, and evidence of slight polishing to first and last, overall Very Fine.

Harry Clark was born on 1st December 1905 in Hull, East Yorkshire, and having attended the Fountain-rd School, was working at the Universal Oil Mill when he joined the Territorial Army circa the 1920’s, joining as a Private (No.4341530) the 4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.

The 4th Battalion was a part of the 150th Brigade in the 50th Northumbrian Infantry Division which just before the war had been converted into a light motorised division. After training it travelled to France in January 1940 to join the new British Expeditionary Force. Due to a newspaper article from the time Clark is confirmed as having seen service over in France with the 4th Battalion from January 1940.

The Battle of France began on 10th May with the German invasion of the Low Countries. The BEF followed the pre-arranged Plan D and advanced into Belgium to take up defences along the River Dyle. The 50th (N) Division was in reserve for the divisions along the Dyle line by 15th May. However, the German Army had broken through the Ardennes to the east, forcing the BEF to withdraw again across a series of river lines. By the end of 19 May the whole force was back across the Escaut, with 50th (N) Division concentrating on Vimy Ridge above Arras and preparing to make a counter-attack on the German forces sweeping past towards the sea. The attack (the Battle of Arras) was made on 21st May, but 150th Bde was not involved, being sent to strengthen the garrison of Arras and to hold the line of the River Scarpe. It carried out a raid across the river during the day. As the Germans continued to move west, behind the BEF, Arras was becoming a dangerous salient, and 150th Bde came under attack on 23rd May. It fought its way out of Arras via Douai that night as the BEF scrambled to form a defensive ring round Dunkirk. 50th (N) Division was then thrown into a gap left near Ypres when the Belgian Army surrendered. By now the decision had been made to evacuate the BEF through Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo), and 50th (N) Division held the line to allow this to proceed. All day on 29th May it was bombarded as it pulled back, still in contact with the enemy. The rest of II Corps was evacuated on the night of 31st May / 1st June, while 50th (N) Division continued to hold the line. Finally, 150th Bde's turn came, and it was evacuated to England on 2nd June. 50th (N) Division spent almost a year re-equipping and training in the UK, taking its place in the anti-invasion defences, before it was chosen for renewed overseas service.

50th (N) Division sailed to reinforce Middle East Forces on 23rd April 1941, landing in Egypt on 13th June. It was then sent to garrison Cyprus, but 150th Bde was detached to Western Desert Force (WDF). However, the WDF's Operation Battleaxe had failed, 150th Bde was not immediately required, and in August it rejoined 50th (N) Division in Cyprus. In November the division moved by sea and road to Iraq, but once again 150th Bde was detached to Egypt as an independent brigade group, arriving on 29th November and joining Eighth Army on 22nd December.

Operation Crusader was just ending as the brigade arrived in the desert, and there was a lull of some months before active operations restarted. The rest of 50th (N) Division arrived in February, but all of its brigades were to operate as independent groups in the next phase of fighting, the Battle of Gazala. When General Erwin Rommel attacked on 26th May, 150th and 69th Bdes of 50th Division occupied widely spaced defensive 'boxes': there was a gap of 13 miles between 150th Bde and the Free French box at Bir Hakeim to the south, and another of 6 miles to 69th Bde to the north. While the northern boxes were pinned by direct attacks, the bulk of the Axis armour swung round Bir Hakeim. Clark would firstly distinguish himself in action on 26th May, and would continue to do so up until his being wounded in action on 31st May.

The ensuing armoured fighting, the Battle of the Cauldron, therefore occurred to the east, behind 150th Bde's positions. By the evening of 28th May it was clear that 150th Bde was going to be attacked from this direction, and it prepared for all-round defence, reinforced by a few tanks. Early on 30th May elements of the Afrika Korps attempted to break through the position but drew off after taking losses. Next day the Italian Trieste Division and German 90th Light Division attacked, but made little progress against a defence that they described as 'skilful and stubborn'. It was on this day that Clark was wounded in the foot and left, he having earlier in the day gone out into the open under heavy fire to help a wounded officer and dress his wounds. Later that same afternoon as water had not been issued to some sections owing to being in action, and although told by his Company Commander to keep under cover, he voluntarily took water round the section posts again under heavy fire and it was as he was completing this task that he was wounded in the foot and leg. Even though wounded and laying in the open he urged those dressing his wounds to leave him and not endanger their own lives by attending to him. Clarke was permanently disabled as a result of his wound.

On 1st June Rommel reinforced the attackers with the 21st Panzer Division and more artillery, and the assault was resumed after heavy dive-bombing. Early in the afternoon 150th Bde was overcome by a series of concentric attacks, the brigadier as killed, and the survivors of 4th East Yorkshires became prisoners of war.

Amongst those men taken prisoner of war when the men of the 150th Brigade were overcome during the Battle of Gazala on 4th June 1942 was Clark, he having been initially listed as missing in action, and then confirmed as a prisoner. Held as a prisoner of war in Italy, he was one of the lucky ones who avoided the journey to Germany and further incarceration when he was liberated and sent home with the Italian Armistice in September 1943, and returned home to 14 Heathcote Street, Beresford Avenue, Hull.

It was not till after the end of the war in Europe that the recommendation for an award of the Military Medal was made for Clark, initially shown as Clarke on the recommendation, this being made by Clark’s former company commander who had been released from captivity.

The recommendation reads as follows: ‘During the entire action at Rotunda Ualeb from 26th May 1942 until he was wounded on 31st May 1942 this man showed continual courage and devotion to duty. He voluntarily accompanied an officer on several occasions to platoon positions under heavy fire and by his cheerfulness and disregard for danger was an example to all. On the afternoon of 31st May 1942 he went into the open under heavy fire to help a wounded officer and dressed his wounds. Later the same afternoon, as water had not been issued to some sections owing to being in action, and although told by his Company Commander to keep under cover, he voluntarily took water round the section posts again under heavy fire and it was as he was completing this task that he was wounded in the foot and leg. Even though wounded and laying in the open he urged those dressing his wounds to leave him and not endanger their own lives by attending to him. Pte. Clarke is now permanently disabled as a result of his wound.’

Clark’s former company commander had made the recommendation in September 1945, and it was submitted further up the chain on 27th September 1945 by Colonel D.S. Norman, D.S.O., Military Government, British Troops Berlin, B.A.O.R. Norman received a response concerning Clark’s award on 8th October 1945, and the award of the Military Medal to Clark was duly announced in the London Gazette for 8th November 1945.

Clark later worked as a maintenance engineer and retired to Little Weighton, Yorkshire, and having suffered a heart attack, was found to be dead on arrival at the Hull Royal Infirmary on 12th March 1982