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GARDNER Philip John

GARDNER Philip John

London Gazette, 10 February 1942 ], Tobruk, Libya, 23 November 1941, Captain Philip John Gardner, 4th Royal Tank Regiment.

On the morning of 23rd November 1941, Captain Gardner was ordered to take two tanks to the assistance of two armoured cars of the King's Dragoon Guards which were out of action and under fire in close proximity to the enemy, southeast of Tobruk.
He found the two cars halted two hundred yards apart, being heavily fired on at close range and gradually smashed to pieces. Ordering the other tank to give him covering fire, Captain Gardner manoeuvred his own close up to the foremost car: he then dismounted in the face of intense anti-tank and machine gun fire and secured a tow rope to the car. Seeing an officer lying beside it with his legs blown off, he lifted him into the car and gave the order to tow. The tow rope, however, broke, and Captain Gardner returned to the armoured car, being immediately wounded in the arm and leg: despite his wounds he lifted the other officer out of the car and carried him back to the tank, placing him on the back engine louvres and climbing alongside to hold him on. While the tank was being driven back to safety it was subjected to heavy shellfire and the loader killed.

The courage, determination and complete disregard for his own safety displayed by Captain Gardner enabled him, despite his own wounds, and in the face of intense fire at close range, to save the life of his fellow officer, in circumstances fraught with great difficulty and danger.

Phiip Gardner was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the 18th May 1945.

After Tobruk fell to Rommel in June 1942, Philip Gardner was captured and shipped to an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. When Italy signed an armistice with the Allies in September 1943, he and others escaped from the camp, but he was recaptured by the Germans and sent to Stalag IV B in Muhlberg. He was later moved to an officer camp at Brunswick. It was while there that a collection in the form of IOUs was organised for the benefit of the poorer people of London who had suffered to badly in the blitz. After his release in 1945, Gardner arranged for the collection of the IOUs, and in due course this led to the formation of the Brunswick Boys' Club in Fulham.

Information from http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/vcross.htm

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