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ยป Rawdon Cecil George PEMBER
 
 

Rawdon Cecil George PEMBER

Service number 165038

Born: August 13th 1920
Died: March 29th 1945

“Harry” Pember was born in Essex to George Ross Pember and his wife, Alice Marion Lucy Macnab. He had a sister. His father was a stockbroker. In 1932, the family were living at Docklands, Ingatestone. Essex.

Harry was educated at Eton and Matriculated in 1939. He came up in October 1939 for one year.

He was gazetted on January 14th 1941 and joined the Scots Guards.

On Wednesday 25th October 1944, he was serving as Acting Captain with the 6th Guards Tank Brigade, 12 Corps 3rd Tank Battalion SCOTS GUARDS
“Captain Pember was in command of the Recce Troop during the advance from OIRSCHOT to TILBURG About 1100 hours enemy Anti-Tank guns were reported in position just EAST of HEILIGEBOOM at the North-West end of the straight road running through marshy area between there and SPOORDONK. Captain Pember was ordered to locate their exact position. He himself led the patrol which was forced to go down the road straight at the enemy guns as it was impossible to by-pass their position for two miles either side. He did so in spite of the lack of cover and was able to report the position vacated by the enemy and the action was enabled to continue.

About 1600 hours that day Captain Pember was ordered to take the six light tanks of his Recce Troop and advance from MORGESTAL in co-operation with a Company of Infantry in armoured carriers to seize the main road bridge East of TILBURG which was thought to be intact. About 1720 hours as there had been some delay in getting the Infantry over the broken MORGESTEL bridge Captain Pember started off ahead of the Infantry towards the bridge which lay some three thousand yards ahead of our leading troops. Owing to the difficult nature of the country which was very swampy and intersected by big ditches he was at 1810 hours still some 400 yards short of the bridge. As the light was then too bad to allow the Infantry who were following up to continue and they were then about 100 yards behind, he was ordered to withdraw. At that moment he found himself in the centre of the enemy company locality defending the bridgehead, and was engaged by heavy Machine Gun fire from all sides. In spite of the twilight Captain Pember's troop fought back most energetically, killing and wounding a number of the enemy who tried to surround them, but in withdrawing three of the light tanks got ditched in close proximity to the enemy. In spite of the fire of 6 - 8 Machine Guns Captain Pember directed the unditching of two of them, but the third which was lying on its side had to be left as it was then quite dark, though the crew were got out safely.

Captain Pember's coolness, leadership and gallantry during this extremely difficult period were outstanding and enabled the troop to extract itself safely from an extremely awkward situation”

He was granted an immediate Military Cross on 28th October 1944.

He was acting in a similar capacity when he was wounded at Dorsten on Lippe and died at Wesel on Rhine on March 29th 1945.

He is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Plot 43. F. 18.

The notice of his death in The Times requested “no letters except from his friends.”

A memorial notice in 1950 said, “Man’s desperate folly was not theirs, but theirs the sacrifice”

He is commemorated in the church of St. Mary at Berkley, near Frome, by a memorial tablet with a cross in relief on the top.

His parents lived at Berkley House. Both of them died in 1960.

The following extract is from an anonymous memory gathered by the BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/01/a4538801.shtml

“our highly efficient Troop Leader Captain Pember, we came under the command of competent officers one had trust in such as Lieutenants Laing, Scott-Barrett and Runcie. The latter an earthy humorous man who really surprised me by becoming the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church. We got the order to attack and the infantry appeared from their subterranean burrows and tucking themselves in behind the battle tanks, we surged forward towards Hill 208 in a mob like spectators leaving a football match. Shells rained down on us from high ground on the right, which came as a surprise as that feature was supposed to have been cleared by Grenadier tanks and the Gordon Highlanders. As we drew near to Hill 208, mortars joined in with the shelling and the Argyles couldn’t get forward and were being so severely mauled, they sensibly went to ground. The tanks lined up and advancing slowly, began blasting the slopes of the hill with their cannons and MG’s, which troubled me, as I couldn’t see what we were supposed to be shooting at”.
 

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