MM (GVI) and WWII group of six to WX1822 Corporal John Torrens Snelling all medals correctly impressed. A painter from Northam, WA, he enlisted on 4 Mar 1940, as one of the 2/11th Bn reinforcements reallocated to raise the Australian 25th Brigade in the UK. An original member of ‘B’ Company, 2/31st Bn, he took part in the 2/31st Bn defence of Mersa Matruh in Apr-May 1941, then the advance into Lebanon in June. During the Battalion’s first engagement with the enemy at Khirbe, during the capture of Merdjayoun, B and D companies were caught by surprise in the open by a Vichy French fireplan, leaving many wounded men without cover. As a driver, he made numerous trips forward, initially by vehicle, then on foot, rescuing at least eight men. He was recommended for the immediate award of the DCM, but subsequently awarded an immediate MM for his extreme bravery in crossing the fire swept ground in front of the well-defended enemy position. Merdjayoun was eventually captured, for the loss of 16 killed and 34 wounded and was the first of WX2437 PTE James Heather Gordon of B Coy’s actions cited, for which he was awarded the first West Australian VC of the war. He took part in the capture of Jezzine, and was wounded in action by a shell blast during the Vichy counter-attack on 16 Jul, leaving him partially blind. He returned to Australia with the 2/31st in Jan 1942 and was transferred to the 2/1st Guard Bn, serving in New Guinea and Morotai until the end of the war. He returned to WA and was discharged in Sep 1945, worked as a painter for the WA Government Railways until retirement, and died in Como, WA, on 27 May 1991. (group swing mounted as worn, on original ribbons. Includes original portrait photo in uniform, original colour patch, and his RAS Badge)
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