A work in progress – the fuller biographies will emerge in due course: please sign up to the Newsletter (bottom of the page) and we’ll let you know when we’ve done more justice in writing up our extraordinary signatories.
Sergeant James A WOOLNOUGH MM, whose MILITARY MEDAL was won seconded to the KING Is OWN YORKSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY at ANZIO.
His fighting was up through ITALY, especially heavy at the GOT d LINEY where he was with his own Regiment, the KING’s ROYAL RIFLE CORP (1958 became 2nd Bn ROYAL GREEN JACKETS), whose 159 OFFICERS and 986 MEN KILLED & 8,000 wounded & missing testified to their perpetual presence in the thick of many BRITISH CAMPAIGNS outside the Far East: James still suffers effects of his wounds well over 50 years later.
Here too we should remember the fine efforts of 2nd & 7th T.A.Bns lst QUEEN VICTORIA RIFLES, who helped buy the TIME for the BEF EVACUATION. The GOTHIC LINE was KESSELRING’s last natural obstacle before the ALPS for the ALLIES, whose BRITISH EIGHTH ARMY and the UNITED STATES FIFTH ARMY , both halves of Gen Mark CLARK’s 15th ARMY GROUP, here faced the GERMAN TENTH and FOURTEENTH ARMIES; I CANADIAN, II POLISH, V BRITISH and X BRITISH CORPS with national DIVISIONS with NEW ZEALAND and two INDIAN additions, plus a GREEK MOUNTAIN (3rd) & 43rd GURKHA LORRIED included in two dozen ARMOURED and INFANTRY BRIGADES.
JAMES’s Father had been badly wounded at GALLIPOLI and he had been with the 23rd LONDON and 7th SURREY Bns then four years 1934-38 with the EAST SURREYS; with mechanisation James was with the QUEEN’S WESTMINSTERS affiliated to KRRC.
When the BREN arrived about l937, the old 4 section platoons and four company system ceased; his experience helped and after a distinguished weapons pass at SMALL ARMS SCHOOL, he was made a SGT and sailed on his 30th birthday, 14 Aug 1943, on the “Monarch of Bermuda”, after much training only with MATILDAS and VALENTINES 1940-42; arriving at TARANTO, they joined up with some from 2nd Bn KRRC and entered the front line in time for the CROSSING of the River SANGRO.
The 2nd Bn were then being sent home for NW EUROPE, so at the Infantry Reinforcement Depot, he found himself drafted into 9th KOYLI, with the BUFFS & SHERWOOD FORESTERS as part of the 18th INFANTRY BRIGADE, for the ANZIO LANDING, where he had much shelling, air attack and plenty of Nebelwerfers, Spandaus and “Anzio Annie”, the German 28cm GUN, with continual heavy noise of artillery and mortars. being eventually pulled back in the “SEMINOLE”, their being the only English soldiers with AMERICANS; back with the lst Bn KRRC near AREZZO in June, he had been told earlier of his ANZIO award of the MILITARY MEDAL for his fighting with 9th KOYLI.
He recalls the PARONTE 14 Mar 1944 and mostly now was with D Coy, recalling Major Jock McKAY MC as a fine soldier and attacks with the 24th LANCERS, once only with a solitary tank; he recalls the action of Captain Hod THWAITES of 9th QUEEN’S ROYAL LANCERS & the citation for his Bar award to his MILITARY CROSS, their Battle round the River LAMONE, PIDEURA, and what turned out a rapid escalation of his own D Coy’s involvement, as also the calm actions of Sgt Ernie GEORGE for his MM.
Another memory was seeing a PRIVATE SOLDIER with “flying wings”, who was ex-BATTLE OF BRITAIN, fighting up near ANCONA; the delay in breaking out from the ANZIO Beachhead proved an expensive error, since this and the CASSINO assaults had been supposed to break the GUSTAV LINE quickly – winter in turn added to the intense difficulties of the ARMOUR and INFANTRY, even with Kangaroo tactics, in taking on the GOTHIC LINE.
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