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135
Wally Harris Military Medal (MM)

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This will be presented to the Harris MM Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess of the Royal Mechanical and Electronic Engineers (REME) at Lyneham on the official opening of the Mess at the end of the month. Wally’s family will be present. The idea is to have no 'front' to the model so it can go in the center of the table during official dinners.

The diorama is made up from:

AFV Club Flak 18
Trumpeter SdKfz 16 (Pioneer version modified to look like the artillery version)
2x Reality In Scale French Houses
Miniart French Farm
Miniart German Artillery Crew
Dragon British Troops
Styrofoam street and pavement
Scratchbuilt advertising pillar (Child’s bubble tub) & telegraph pole

The diorama depicts Wally peering up the street on first spotting the Germans with Corporal Swann behind him. The Citation, after action report and unit history (around D-Day) are placed around the sides (decals) as well as unit pictures; pictures of a young and older Wally and the Mess emblem. Hope you like it.

After action report of the incident

After difficult fighting through the Bocage country of Normandy, 50th Division eventually broke into more open country. On the 26th of August, they crossed the River Seine at Varon and the historic drive to liberate Northern France had begun. The Brigades for this operation came under the command of the Guards Armoured Division. Their task was to break through from Arras and liberate Brussels. Two columns left from Arras at 0600 hrs. The Northern route: Guards Armoured Brigade with the Grenadier Group in the lead and the Dorsets, Devons, 357 and 465 Battery in support. The Southern route: 32nd Brigade with the Welsh Guards in the lead and the Hampshires, 358 Battery and RHQ in support.

As part of 90th Regt RA, 465 Battery (Wally’s) was on the Northern route and making progress, when, just as 357 Battery were about to enter the French village of Mons En Pevele, they were ordered to ‘crash action’. Their SP guns were deployed and began firing over the village in support of advancing infantry. Wally’s fitter section had stopped to fit a replacement suspension wheel to an F Troop Sexton, when over the radio he was ordered to rejoin the Battery ASAP. The column had come to a halt; the narrow road was blocked so Wally went on foot to find a way through. Whilst running through the village, Wally crossed a side turning and saw a German tracked vehicle towing an 88 mm Flak gun, it was stationary, and the troops were dismounting as other vehicles joined it. Wally kept out of sight. There were no reports of Germans in the village; Wally made his way back to get help. A Sherman tank was parked outside a building, it was the 257 Battery CP, and the crew were setting up. Wally informed the officer of what he had seen, however the Battery was busy supporting the attacking Grenadier Guards. He suggested that Wally should take the PIAT anti-tank gun off the tank; having not previously used one he decided to use the Browning machine gun, liberated earlier from a drowned Sherman tank, attached to his Jeep (When the letter informing Wally of his Military Medal award arrived, Wally thought it was a summons to face charges for taking the 0.30 Cal MG!).

The noise from the Allied guns was load and echoed around the buildings; Wally remained close to the walls and out of sight. On returning to his Jeep Wally saw that the Sexton had moved and informed Corporal Swann of what he was about to do. Corporal Swann immediately offered to assist. Wally then ordered his driver to ready his rifle and take cover, the others around did likewise. Wally carried the Browning and ammo belt over his shoulder; Corporal Swann carried his rifle and boxes of ammo. They backtracked trough the village, staying close to walls and watching for the enemy. They got to high ground, lay down in the grass and rested the barrel of the Browning on an ammo box. Wally fired at the troops, some fell and others scattered and took cover. Wally fired again, this time at the tracked vehicle that carried the ammo for the 88 mm gun; the ammo belt was a mixture of full bore, tracer and armour piercing rounds, and they could see where the bullets were falling; the vehicle then exploded.

German troops had started to fire back, Wally and Corporal Swann could hear the crack and thump and see the ground in front of them breaking up. They grabbed the Browning; the barrel was hot and burnt; unlike the Bren gun it did not have a carrying handle. As they returned more Germans started to appear. Wally, with the butt to his hip was pointing the barrel at then, Corporal Swann doing the same with his rifle, the German soldiers raised their hands and surrendered, where they were taken into the village; the Regiment’s officers and Battery Sgt Major were also bringing in other soldiers as POWs. Wally and Corporal Swann hurried back to the LAD vehicles and the column moved off for Brussels, 60 miles away in high spirits.

They felt good that they had survived and as tradesmen not normally faced with this type of situation, they had helped to win this battle.
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About the Author

About Ian Barraclough (barra733)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I am an Electrical Engineer who has been modelling for 25+ years. I enjoy building obscure, but interesting pieces from the modern era, but will build anything if it grabs my interest.


Comments

Stunning work, effort well spent, and admiration every time it's brought out. Good on ya, m8
FEB 26, 2016 - 04:00 AM
Excellent piece of work. Very convincing attention to detail and a great layout and presentation. Thanks for sharing
FEB 26, 2016 - 12:39 PM
wow!! great dio and amazing story!! excellent work!
FEB 26, 2016 - 10:37 PM
Nice work and a fitting tribute! J
FEB 26, 2016 - 10:57 PM
Just perfect. How did you get the writing and the pictures on the wooden frame?
FEB 27, 2016 - 01:28 AM
Superb! Wonderful tribute!
FEB 27, 2016 - 06:37 AM
What a fantastic diorama! Not only is the quality of work superb but it literally does tell a story! I've got to admit I love a good dio but ones which actually tell a true story have to be my favourite. The amount of work that goes into the research of the action on top of the accuracy of the subjects adds that extra something to it. Even better that it's going to a mess where it will be appreciated. All too often solidiers are unaware of past individual acts of bravery but to actually see it represented like this will hopefully compel some to read up on it. Superb work Ian.
FEB 27, 2016 - 07:02 PM
Thanks for all the comments guys - really appreciated. The pictures and text are printed onto clear transfer paper, dipped in klear once off the backing paper and applied. I used 'Old Newspaper' font and a sketch app to re do the pictures. Erichvon - yes you're right, half the effort is decrypting the story. In this instance Wally's citation was jumbled after going through the many layers of red tape. His citation states that he drove his Jeep into German lines with he 30 cal mounted on it. This wasn't the case. He left the Jeep at his own lines. Cheers again.
FEB 28, 2016 - 01:04 AM
Absolutely wonderful work!
FEB 28, 2016 - 02:24 AM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.