1943 Anzio MM group to Lieutenant E.W. Slade

Edgar William Slade was born in Holsworthy, North Devon on 12th February 1919. He lied about his age and enlisted underage in the Devon Regt on 14th February 1936, He transferred to the Royal Engineers on 14th February 1938 and was known throughout his military career as “Busty”.

The award of the Military Medal was published in the London Gazette dated 15th June 1944.

With newspaper cutting, “For gallantry in action and continued devotion to duty in the Italian Campaign Company Sgt Major Edgar Slade, of the square Holsworthy was awarded the Military Medal. C.S.M. Slade is at a camp of the Royal Engineers, and he and his commanding officer spoke of the incidents that won him the award. “One of the outstanding occurrences that had earned him official recognition” said his commanding officer, “was the burning of an ammunition truck in C.S.M. Slade’s charge. Enemy action set the vehicle on fire, and in spite of the great danger from exploding ammunition, C.S.M. Slade managed to extinguish the blaze, saving truck and ammunition.” On another occasion, C.S.M. Slade went forward with a small party of picked men to mark out lanes through the minefields in preparation for the advance. Their job complete they returned to their own lines after a brisk skirmish with an enemy patrol they met in No-Mans land. At Anzio, where C.S.M. Slade was ashore soon after the assault troops, he was concerned in the digging of tunnels to forward observation posts, which were largely instrumental, later, in paving the way for the assault on Rome and breakout from Anzio. Enlisting in early 1938, Sjt Maj Slade is a regular soldier. He was unable to go to France with the B.E.F. – “Too young in those days” he explained – but came to North Africa in February 1943. Later he served in the assault on Pantellaria, and at Taranto, Cerignole, Anzio, Rome, Florence and in the Gothic Line.

Another newspaper article of the time records:

"Somewhere on the Anzio Beachhead there is a road sign post which always makes Devonshire lads out there think of home. It Reads: “Slade’s Stretch.” It is one of several sign posts of its kind. Not far away is “Parson’s Drain” and further on “Daniel’s Ditch.” They all pin-point the names of NCOs who helped to build the road. In the early days of the fighting in the beachhead, the only main route north apart from the Main Coast Road was the road to Albano. A Field Company R.E., were therefore ordered to build one capable of taking tanks over a ride through some woods. It was no easy task, for parts of the track were under water, and the area was under spasmodic shell and mortar fire. In the course of construction it became necessary to identify various sections of the route. Somebody suggested the names of some of the NCOs working on the road for this purpose. The bright idea caught on and the names are still there."

His military career continued after WWII and he was twice recommend for meritorious service. A letter from the OC 57 Fd Sqn RE dated 21st July 1954 states:

"I have the honour to bring to your notice the outstanding services rendered by the above named Warrant Officer during the period that the Regiment was engaged on Northern Command duties.

His initiative, zeal and efficiency were an inspiration to the troops under my command and I am convinced that his influence and exemplary conduct did much to make the camp the success it was.

I consider him to be worthy of meritorious recognition.”

A second letter dated 4th January 1955 states:

"Again I wish to bring to notice the outstanding capabilities of the a/n Warrant Officer. During the Whitby Bridging operation in Nationally known appalling weather, his initiative, zeal, and leadership were an inspiration to all and the success of the entire operation being completed in time can be attributed to his efforts. I recommend again that he be again considered for meritorious recognition.”

He was commissioned Lieutenant on 16th March 1959, and relinquished his commission on completion of service on 16th March 1963.

The medal group was offered in our August 17th 2011 auction, with an estimate of £1,200. It realised £1,390.The full medal details are WWII Military Medal, 1939-1945, Africa (1st Army bar), Italy stars, Defence Medal, BWM, 1923 GSM Palestine 1945-48 clasp, 1953 Coronation Medal and QEII Regular Army bar LSGC to Lt E.W. Slade R.E. (5618798 Sjt on MM, 5618798 W.O. Cl 1 on GSM, 5618798 W.O. Cl 2 M.M. R.E. on LSGC), very fine to extremely fine, swing mounted as worn, with matching ribbon bar and set of swing mounted miniatures. The group was offered together with a superb range of supporting documents and photos including Wilkinson Sword officer’s etched sword, Buckingham Palace letters of transmission for MM and 1953 Coronation Medal, red service book, hand written testimonial from OC 248 Fd Sqn RE, letter of congratulations on MM award, 1954 letter from OC 57 Fd Sqn RE requesting recognition of meritorious service in respect of his work on the Northern Command Tattoo, 1955 letter from OC 57 Fd Sqn RE requesting recognition of meritorious service in respect of his work on the Whitby Bailey Bridge operations during the severe winter of 1954/55, numerous photos in uniform, newspaper cuttings, large presentation set of cutlery from 66 Indep Fd Sqn RE, silver plated presentation tray engraved “Presented by the Officers 101(London) Field Engineer regiment (TA) to W.O.1 E.W. Slade M.M., R.E. in appreciation of his outstanding service as Regimental Sergeant Major 1955-58” etc.

By Paul Murray.

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