Wakenshaw – Private Adam Herbert

9 June 1914 – 27June 1942

Adam was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and worked as a miner at Elswick Colliery. He enlisted at the outbreak of the war into the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

On the 27th June 1942, south of Mersa Matruh, Egypt, Private Wakenshaw was a member of the crew of a 2-pounder anti-tank gun. An enemy tracked vehicle towing a light gun came within short range. The gun crew opened fire and succeeded in immobilising the enemy vehicle. Another mobile gun came into action, killed or seriously wounded the crew manning the 2-pounder, including Private Wakenshaw, and silenced the 2-pounder. Under intense fire, Private Wakenshaw crawled back to his gun. Although his left arm was blown off, he loaded the gun with one arm and fired five more rounds, setting the tractor on fire and damaging the light gun. A direct hit on the ammunition finally killed him and destroyed the gun. This act of conspicuous gallantry prevented the enemy from using their light gun on the infantry Company which was only 200 yards away. It was through the self-sacrifice and courageous devotion to duty of this infantry anti-tank gunner that the Company was enabled to withdraw and to embus in safety.

His colleagues buried Adam where he fell but he was later re-buried at El Alamein War Cemetery.

His medal was donated to the Durham Light Infantry Museum. The anti-tank gun that he used is also displayed.

Filed under: WW2