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Lieutenant John Drake

Wounded and exhausted soldiers drinking and smoking in Nijmegen

Lieutenant John Ellis Drake

 

Unit : "L" Section, No.2 Company, 1st Airborne Divisional Signals, attached to Headquarters, 1st Airlanding Brigade

Army No. : 251802

Awards : Military Cross

 

Lieutenant Drake was Second-in-Command of "L" Section, Divisional Signals, but at Arnhem was attached to Headquarters, 1st Airlanding Brigade as Assistant Brigade Signals Officer. For his actions he was awarded the Military Cross:

 

Lieutenant Drake was junior signals officer with Headquarters 1st Airlanding Brigade during the battle of Arnhem. The Brigade Signals Officer was killed on the third day of the battle and Lieutenant Drake was therefore left in sole charge of the Brigade communications during the most critical stages from 20th-26th September 1944. During this period every difficulty arose to impede communications: batteries and charging sets were destroyed by shell fire and controls were continually out: wireless reception was constantly wearing down owing to the penetration of sand and water into the instruments. It was only by the unflagging personal efforts of Lieutenant Drake under a continuous hail of mortar fire that communications were kept open so that during the last few vital days it was possible to fire the medium guns of 30 Corps over the Brigade links.

 

Lieutenant Drake's imperturbable manner and infectious cheerfulness were a constant example to his men and to Brigade Headquarters as a whole. When all other transport had been destroyed, he organised signal jeeps to evacuate the wounded and carry important officers and stores between the various headquarters. At the time of the evacuation he successfully organised the withdrawal of his section with very little loss. The example of this young officer, his steadiness under fire when many officers and men were killed around him, were of inestimable tonic value to all who worked under him or came in contact with him.

 

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