Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lt Alexander Bonnyman, MOH recipient, KIA 22 November 1932, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands- Grave Visit, Knoxville, TN


"Marines storm Tarawa. Gilbert Islands." WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943. 127-N-63458.

Alexander Bonnyman, Jr. is the 4th man on the right at the top of the bunker (denoted with a faint arrow by the Marine Corps photographer, Obie Newcomb).

     Lt Alexander Bonnyman earned the MOH during actions on Tarawa 20-22 November 1943, where he was KIA 22 November 1943. Much has been written about Lt Bonnyman in recent months due to the relentless work of his family in finding his body after 3 dozen unidentified Marines from Tarawa were returned to the US, where his remains were interred in Knoxville, TN September 2015. He had erroneously been listed as buried at sea in 1943. 
     Below is Lt Bonnyman's MOH citation, and of course you can read up on the details of his life and death and unique reburial on many websites.


"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of the 2d Battalion Shore Party, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during the assault against enemy Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, 20-22 November 1943. Acting on his own initiative when assault troops were pinned down at the far end of Betio Pier by the overwhelming fire of Japanese shore batteries, 1st Lt. Bonnyman repeatedly defied the blasting fury of the enemy bombardment to organize and lead the besieged men over the long, open pier to the beach and then, voluntarily obtaining flame throwers and demolitions, organized his pioneer shore party into assault demolitionists and directed the blowing of several hostile installations before the close of D-day. Determined to effect an opening in the enemy's strongly organized defense line the following day, he voluntarily crawled approximately 40 yards forward of our lines and placed demolitions in the entrance of a large Japanese emplacement as the initial move in his planned attack against the heavily garrisoned, bombproof installation which was stubbornly resisting despite the destruction early in the action of a large number of Japanese who had been inflicting heavy casualties on our forces and holding up our advance. Withdrawing only to replenish his ammunition, he led his men in a renewed assault, fearlessly exposing himself to the merciless slash of hostile fire as he stormed the formidable bastion, directed the placement of demolition charges in both entrances and seized the top of the bombproof position, flushing more than 100 of the enemy who were instantly cut down, and effecting the annihilation of approximately 150 troops inside the emplacement. Assailed by additional Japanese after he had gained his objective, he made a heroic stand on the edge of the structure, defending his strategic position with indomitable determination in the face of the desperate charge and killing 3 of the enemy before he fell, mortally wounded. By his dauntless fighting spirit, unrelenting aggressiveness and forceful leadership throughout 3 days of unremitting, violent battle, 1st Lt. Bonnyman had inspired his men to heroic effort, enabling them to beat off the counterattack and break the back of hostile resistance in that sector for an immediate gain of 400 yards with no further casualties to our forces in this zone. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

See more info here: http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-…/…/bonnyman-alexander-jr.php

Friday, June 17, 2016

WWIIPOD: 1st Welsh Guards, near Cagny, Caen, Normandy, July 19, 1944

Colourised image © Welsh Guards Archives / Tom Marshall 2014. All rights reserved.

"No.4 Company, 1st.Welsh Guards, in action near Cagny, Caen, Normandy during 'Operation Goodwood'. 19th of July 1944. 

The Company Commander, Maj J. D. A. Syrett, is seen
indicating a mortar target to Sgt Veysey. 
Gdsm Kitchen is in the foreground and Gdsm Fenwick is the Bren gunner. 
Major Syrett was killed a few days later."

Major JDA
Syrett's grave

RIGHT:   Paperwork for 
JDA Syrett's gravestone
KIA July 22, 1944

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lt Philip E. Mellor 1st Parachute Brigade, KIA During the Battle of Djebel Mansour- February 5, 1903- February 3, 1943

Service Portrait Lt Philip Mellor,
Courtesy Paradata.org.uk
"There are many individual acts of heroism, but one became almost a legend in the brigade and concerned Captain* Mellor of 'T' Company.  This officer was a well-known figure with his black patch over a blind eye and already had a great reputation for courage and incredible daring.  During an assault his company was held up by three enemy machine-gun posts.  At once he raced forward alone and destroyed them all, one by one, with grenades and as Schmeisser tommy-gun taken from a dead German.  Soon afterwards his men saw him cut down by an anti-personnel mine. 
     'Don't stop, chaps!' he shouted in a matter of fact voice.  'Go on! 
I'm afraid I can't come with you!  I've lost a leg!'

MEDJEZ-EL-BAB Cemetery, located 60 km west of Tunis
Courtesy of aucklandmuseum.com
     He would allow no one to stay with him, for any wavering in the final rush would have been fatal.  When the stretcher-bearers found him after the position was won he was dead."  
~~"Wings of the Wind" by Peter Stainforth,
pgs 95-96

Purchase "Wings of the Wind" HERE (Abebooks)

*Philip Mellor's records states that he was a Lieutenant, not a Captain when KIA.
See Details HERE 

Via Paradata.org.uk Lt Philip Mellor's service records are as follows: 
1939:  Scots Guards, (Guardsman)
1940: The Leicestershire Regiment (rank unknown)
1940-1941: 11 SAS Battalion (Lieutenant)
1941-1943: The 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment, '1 Para', (Lieutenant)  

Memorial at Medjez-el-Bab Cemetery where Lt Philip Mellor is commemorated
Courtesy of the CWGC

Read Lt Mellor's MC Citation HERE
at Paradata.org.uk

This is a lovely video by Paul Tasker detailing the Medjez-el Bab cemetery.