William Ling

‘It seemed as though when we got close they ran. They say you run away you live to fight another day. That's what happened to us a few times. At Bizerta we did it, landing and we got left behind. We did actually take the hill that the Germans were on, but then we withdrew, not far back. I'm not sure how long we were there.’

The MC Citation for Captain D M Davidson of No 1 Commando:

‘Throughout the operations from the period 26th February to 4th March 1943 the above Officer at all times showed the highest powers of leadership and devotion to duty.

‘On the 27th February he led his Troop into the attack on the steep side of a hill north of Sedjenane. As a result of Captain Davidson's efforts the attack was successful. Later, however, Captain Davidson had to withdraw his Troop from the hill as it was being heavily shelled by our own guns. Having communicated back to Headquarters, Capt Davidson succeeded in getting the gunfire lifted. He once more moved his Troop up to re-occupy the hill. The enemy, however, had reoccupied the crest before him. Capt Davidson then put his Troop into the attack and moved up by bounds and succeeded in recapturing the hill by an assault which he led personally.

‘During one of the bounds, one of his men was wounded and the Troop pinned down for a while. An NCO of his Troop went forward to bring in the wounded man but was killed in the attempt. Another soldier then attempted to do
the same but was wounded. Captain Davidson himself then went forward and succeeded in getting the wounded man back. Throughout the period of the operations Capt Davidson was the only Officer in his Troop.

The MM Citation for Lance Sergeant Jack Southworth of 1 Commando:

‘On the afternoon of 27th February 1943 Davidson's Troop put in an attack on the steep side of a hill north of the Sedjenane Valley. L/Sgt Southworth was i/c Sub Section of this Troop.

‘The Troop attacked under very heavy MG fire and several times were pinned down. Finally the position was taken by assault and L/Sgt Southworth led his Section in the forefront of the assault. During this action he was severely wounded in the leg and although in great pain he still led his Section forward and urged them on. The assault was successful.

‘The great powers of leadership, courage and devotion to duty displayed by this NCO was largely responsible for the success of the assault.’


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No 1 Commando Gallantry Awards and War Diary Report, 27th February 1943

Report on Action at Djebel Guerba (2280)

Ref. Map Tunisia 1/50,000 Sheet 5

26 Feb 43 Troop at MINE with Bradford's Troop.

1700 On report of enemy attack along CAP SERRAT ROAD, ordered to leave immediately for SEDJENANE.

2100 Left Sedjenane to take up positions on left flank Durham Light Infantry at Sidi Mansour (2207). 3" Mortar Section under L/Sgt Perkins.

2330 In position along line from TRACK JUNCTION 181786 to high ground 196778.

27 Feb 43 0830 Left to take up positions on ridge DJEBEL GUERBA (2280) and command high ground.

1030 Reached rooks at foot of slope (212796). Section investigated ridge on left with negative results. Fired on from direction 222806. L/Sgt Perkins slightly injured when directing mortar fire.

1200 DLIs seen approaching our position from direction SIDI MANSOUR (2077)

1230 Attacked DJEIBEL GUERBA at approx. Pt 213, going in bounds with sections inter-covering. A French soldier was discovered killed by our fire and Capt Davidson reported to HQ. by wireless. Reached position approx 226804, no casualties. About 30 DLIs now joined us. During Capt Davidson's absence we came under our own artillery fire and withdrew 50 yards.

1400 Capt Davidson returned and he, L/Sgts Ellerman and Shaw went forward to parlez with French. They were met by a party of Germans who called on them to surrender and after a few moments both parties withdrew and our attack went in immediately, supported by approximately 30 DLIs with a number of LMGS. (1)

1500 Enemy driven off EAST side of DJEBEL GUERBA and our positions consolidated overlooking the SEDJENANE-CAP SERRAT ROAD. Our casualties 3 killed, 3 injured (excluding Sgt.Perkins). Enemy oasualties 3 confirmed dead, 1 prisoner wounded. Reinforced by more DLIs, who now totalled approximately 50, All Ranks.

1900 Reinforced by Bradford's Troop and Davidson's withdrew to Arab hut 220794. Walking wounded evacuated. Stretcher cases with one prisoner (wounded) in hut all night.

28 Feb 43 1100 Stretcher cases evacuated by RAMC.
Bren Guns put on left flank at SI BEN IHREN (2179) under sub-sections Bradford's Troop and detachment Davidson's. This was the only left flank protection available. (2)

Enemy MG firing long range at all targets along line of valley 218797 to 220790 but no casualties. FOO (3) arrived and reported to DLIs.

Notes on the Report Opposite

(1) Only 30 C Company 16th DLI soldiers initially made it to the cliff area, which obviously helps explain the difficulty I had in verifying my father's story almost 60 years later.

(2) Si Ben Ihren is referred to as 'Jobey's Bump' in the 16 DLI War Diary file.

(3) FOO: Forward Observation Officer, who in this case was Capt J Dawson, (killed in action on 2/3/43), of the 70th Field Regiment RA.