SYKES, John Charles

Lance Corporal
Royall Marines
Royal Navy
Service number: 
PO/X 106961
Honours & Awards: 
Lance Corporal Sykes was awarded the MM for "bravery, determination and great devotion to duty whilst serving with the Allied Armies in the assault over the Rhine."


On 24th March B Troop 45 RM Commando were in position at the north-eastern end of the Wesel wire factory. During the period of airborne landing no artillery was available to the unit for three and a half hours. Two 88-mm self-propelled guns approached to approximately 500 yards and engaged the troop position. Lance Corporal Sykes was in charge of the forward Bren Group sighted outside the north-east corner of the building.
A shell burst four feet above his position on the wall, seriously wounding his No. 2 of the Bren. He immediately assisted the Medical Orderly to remove the casualty and organised a relief and then engaged an enemy machine-gun position 250 yards (to) his right front. Five minutes later another shell burst immediately in front of his trench blowing his Bren gun out of the position. Sykes again left his cover and under machine-gun fire recovered the gun, which was still serviceable, returned to his trench, and again engaged the enemy. A third shell hit the wall to the left of his position, this time breaching the barrel of the gun, Sykes jumped from his trench with the damaged gun, ran to Troop HQ for the spare Bren and returned to his post and returned the enemy’s fire.
His aggressive spirit and determination to fight back was a shining example of courage during a most trying period and was an inspiration to all ranks.
(Sources: London Gazettes Supp. 37136, page 3191 and National Archives  WO/373/47/70)

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