Captain Ernest Mariel Wyss
Unit : "D" Company, 2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment
Army No. : 148579
Awards : Mentioned in Despatches
Ernest Wyss was born in Chester on the 28th February 1919. Educated at Moseley Grammar School, he was commissioned into the South Staffordshire Regiment on the 7th September 1940. Posted to the 2nd Battalion, he took part in the invasion of Sicily on the 9th July 1943, whilst acting as Second-in-Command of "C" Company, and was one of the few to reach land, but was taken prisoner only to be released 24 hours later. Serving as Second-in-Command of "D" Company at Arnhem, he was killed on the 19th September 1944, and for his actions was recommended for the Victoria Cross but was Mentioned in Despatches. His citation reads:
During the prolonged period of fighting which preceded the advance of the Battalion into the outskirts of Arnhem, this Officer showed great courage and enterprise in dealing with enemy machine gun posts and snipers.
When the Battalion carried out this assault by night on the town itself, this Officer was 2nd in command of the leading Company, and moved with the vanguard to clear the route.
After leading the forward troops through a very heavy and prolonged concentration of artillery fire, Captain Wyss advanced straight up the main road which was swept with fire from at least six machine guns. There was no cover available and no alternative route. Had Captain Wyss hesitated, the whole attack would have faltered. After an advance of some five hundred yards, two German tanks appeared and began to shoot up the column from behind a house. Captain Wyss at once seized a P.I.A.T and, firing from the middle of the road without cover of any kind, scored a hit on the first tank and caused both of them to withdraw. As a result of this action, his Company Commander was wounded. Captain Wyss took command and resumed the advance under a hail of machine gun fire augmented by hand grenades thrown from upper windows. By this time, all the Officers of this Company had been wounded or killed, and a Second Company was pushed through to maintain the momentum of attack. Captain Wyss insisted on remaining with the leading troops, where he continued to cheer and encourage the men.
As the column approached its first objective, three more tanks advanced down the road firing point-blank at the leading troops. All P.I.A.T. ammunition was exhausted as the 2nd lift transport had failed to get through. Seeing that the situation was desperate, Captain Wyss himself seized a Bren gun and charged the leading tank from a distance of about twenty yards. He was killed in the act. But, again, the tanks withdrew and the situation was saved.
Captain Wyss had been involved in close quarter fighting for nearly three hours. He was to be seen wherever the danger was greatest.
By his superb leadership, his prolonged heroism, and his complete disregard for his own life, this Officer, undoubtedly, saved the leading troops from suffering severe casualties on two separate occasions. His sacrifice of his own life enabled the Battalion to consolidate the first objective without further interference from enemy tanks.
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