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Major Patrick CLEERE MBE DCM joined the 7th QUEEN’s QWN HUSSARS in 1933 at 16, from County KILKENNY, serving in EGYPT from 1935 to promotion to SGT in 1939; a distinguished “C” SQUADRON TROOP LEADER in the CAMPAIGNS of WESTERN DESERT.
His DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL was awarded for conspicuous gallantry in action near TOBRUK on 22Jan41: “As troop sergeant … advanced under heavy fire towards the wire at Tobruk. He showed great courage, coolness and initiative when his troop leader’s tank was blown up on a mine — he got out under heavy and point blank anti-tank, rifle and small arms fire and helped his troop leader to put on a tow rope … Both tanks were then hit by anti tank fire and his wireless operator wounded … tried to get the driver out of the damaged tank but he was dead … picked up the crew … and got them out of the action … ” General WAVELL, C-in-C, sent him a separate, personal congratulatory letter;
BURMA & ITALY
Losing and burying, with his Padre Metcalfe DSO’s help, his barely identifiable BROTHER “NED”, killed in action as L/Cpl with others in his “C” SQN; few others surely have taken part in and survived as many TANK BATTLES in such different terrains, often when not in ideal tanks, nor understood the strains, losses and shell shock of battle so well, and advancing into ITALIAN, GERMAN, JAPANESE (here fighting retreat from, too) and other INFANTRY; just four days after ITALY’s declaration of war on Britain, the 7th HUSSARS captured FORT CAPUZZO on 14Jun40 and a couple of hundred POWs, but the Infantry could not hold it; re-taken by the ITALIANS 15-28Jun40, he took part in three further day and one night attacks, unsuccessful because of mines and artillery fire; he was in, to name just a few, the Battles of NEBEIWA, BIR, SHEFEREZEN, SIDI OMAR, SIDI AZIZ, CAPUZZO’s re-capture and BARDIA, an important part of WAVELL’s rapid sweep west, BARDIA 5Jan41, TOBRUK 22Jan, DERNA 30Jan, BENGHAZI taken by the AUSTRALIANS 6Feb41, while the BATTLE of BEDA FOMM was being fought where, within two days, 216 guns, 112 tanks, 1,500 trucks and 20,000 POWs were added to another 111,000 Prisoners taken in the previous two months; on 5Feb41, his revolver mislaid in his tank, PADDY took & directed 300 prisoners just with his Verey pistol, an Italian officer giving him an automatic to assist the situation! A couple of days later, his tank was so battle battered, it had its own special inspection by General O’CONNOR, before Sgt CLEERE left, ten days later, for the 600 miles back to CAIRO in soft skinned vehicles, to await re-equipment.
Equipped to train with STUART “Honey” (37mm gun) Tanks after his A9 and A10 CRUISER 2 Pounders. the Regiment were soon embarked 26Jan42 for Singapore, then diverted to an almost deserted RANGOON -after a patrol to PEGU 25Feb42, he was involved in many skirmishes, including the battle of PROME Roadblock, at THADODAN. then KYAUKSE in April on the RETREAT through BURMA, where he was recommended for a Bar to hls DCM but all the documentation was lost; SCHWEBO, MONYWA (where a badgeless General SLIM borrowed his radio, with another of his tanks and crew being lost); SHWEGUN became a rear-guard action and the tanks were then destroyed before the mountain track climb up to Kalewa to cross the CHINDWIN and the 200 mile inarch up the KABAW VALLEY to IMPHAL. where he missed meeting his KOYLI brother. MICHAEL, wounded and just casevaced; moving back into INDIA via the DIMAPUR railhead, then to DHOND & (after two weeks’ leave in Poona) conversion to Gen GRANT Tanks. RETURN to MIDDLE EAST In mid 1943, embarking now as SQN QMS for Basra IRAQ, then ALEPPO in SYRIA, he had in Jul43 to disarm a mutinied Greek Brigade, before returning to EGYPT;
On 4May44 as 2nd Troop C SQN leader, he disembarked at TARANTO and entered the front line at LANCIANO 5 days later, coming, in mid June, under 2nd POLISH CORPS and working with POLISH INFANTRY, captured several villages up to MONTE BOGO, next month advancing again, this time with the 12th PODOLSKI LANCERS and, on 26Jul44, parading for a visit by HM King GEORGE VI; shelling was so bad before the advance through CROCE that tanks delivered the rations – on 13Sep44, again with tanks hit, he had a great advance bv himself to the ridge top between MONTE ZAZZANO and CORIANO. isolated but taking hundreds of GERMAN PRISONERS – sadly his personal success at the GOTHIC LINE was marred within hours, hearing that his brother. EDWARD, a GUNNER in one of the following tanks, had been killed advancing in his own tank’s wake – for four days they were in pursuit before PADDY was able to go back with Padre METCALFE DSO and volunteer friends to bury nine HUSSARS including his barely identifiable BROTHER “NED”, killed in action as L/Cpl with others in his “C” SQN.