Sergeant Ernest Alexis Lucas
Unit : No.4 Platoon, "B" Company, 7th Parachute Battalion
Service No. : 5680156
Awards : Military Medal and Bar
Ernest Lucas was serving with the 10th Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry when, in November 1942, it was chosen for conversion to the 7th Parachute Battalion. He was one of the 17 officers and 227 other ranks who attended parachute course 41 at R.A.F. Ringway, 3rd to 17th December 1943; his instructor commenting; "Well above the average. Consistently good throughout course." As Platoon Sergeant of No.4 Platoon, "B" Company, he parachuted into Normandy on the 6th June 1944, where he was twice awarded the Military Medal for his actions. The first citation reads:
This NCO was one of the parachute troops who dropped behind the German lines in Normandy on the night 5th/6th June 1944. He was dropped several miles off the target and actually landed on the wrong side of the River Dives. Using a small pocket compass he picked up his bearings and set out to rejoin his unit through country flooded and occupied by the enemy. He joined up with others who were similarly lost and took charge of a party of nine of them. Only a few of those could swim which made the crossing of the numerous dykes particularly difficult. He took sixteen days to rejoin his unit and during this time he had several brushes with the enemy. When he finally rejoined he brought very accurate information of all the enemy positions which he had noted on his journey. He then led a patrol to the scene of his last encounter to collect his wounded.
The second citation reads:
On 10th July 1944 Sergeant Lucas's company took part in a raid on an enemy locality in the Bois de Bavent area. The return route was by means of a gully which was discovered to be heavily booby trapped and covered by ranged mortar fire. There was no other route that could be used but additional casualties were suffered when the enemy moved up two Machine Guns and fired directly into the gully from close range. Sergeant Lucas immediately posted himself with a bren gun on the slope of the gully side and returned the Machine Gun fire. He kept these Machine Guns under control by himself during the time that his company were moving through the gully. By this action he undoubtedly saved many lives and completely disregarded his own safety as he was in constant danger from mortar bombs and exploding booby traps in addition to deliberately drawing the fire of the two Machine Guns onto himself. When the company had passed through the gully he handed his bren gun to the rear man and himself worked forward again to join the rear party who had remained on the objective. When he had joined this party his calmness and efficiency were an inspiration to all. Finally he rendered invaluable service in the very difficult and dangerous job of evacuating the casualties.
The splendid example and work of this NCO were particularly valuable on this raid as the company suffered heavily in officer casualties and several reinforcements, who were fresh to battle conditions, were taking part in it. There is no doubt that these reinforcements, as well as all others who were present, were inspired at a most trying period by Sergeant Lucas's heroism.
Sergeant Lucas participated in the 6th Airborne Division's actions in the Ardennes and the Rhine Crossing; by which time, March 1945, he was the Sergeant Major of "B" Company. He was discharged from Regular Army service on the 17th November 1945.
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