Saturday, July 26, 2008

[Hero] WX10426 Pvt. Percy Gratwick V.C.

2/48th Infantry Battalion, 26th Brigade, 9th Division

WX10426 Private Percival Eric Gratwick was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of 25th-26th October, 1942 at Miteiriya Ridge, Alamein, Egypt.

During an attack Gratwick’s company, advancing on the left flank, was forced to ground by well-directed fire from the elevated enemy positions. The platoon commander, platoon sergeant and many others in the platoon were killed, the total strength being reduced to seven. Gratwick then quickly got up and charged the nearest enemy post with a rifle and bayonet in one hand, and a grenade in the other. Throwing one grenade into the post, then another, he jumped in among the surviving defenders with his bayonet and killed them all, including a complete mortar crew. He then charged through heavy machine-gun fire towards a second post, and inflicted further casualties. Gratwick was killed by a burst of machine-gun fire just short of the enemy trench.

Private Gratwick is buried at the Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt. His Victoria Cross is currently held by the Army Museum of Western Australia at Perth. At the time of his death he had only recently celebrated his 40th birthday in the front lines at Alamein.

image 100640 Australian War Memorial.

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