http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?Edoc_Id=7645647&queryType=1&resultcount=1


From medal recommendation:


“24th Guards Brigade, 1st British Division, 6 American Corps

2718419 Sergeant Robert McCONNELL, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS


During the night 3rd / 4th February, 1944, when it became clear that the enemy infantry had infiltrated in the Battalion positions and that a heavy attack was to be expected in the morning, Sergeant McCONNELL (Pioneer Platoon) was sent out to man a Bren L.M.G., some 50 yards from the Battalion H.Q., alongside a damaged 88 m.m. gun. He remained steadfast in this exposed position throughout a night of constant shell and mortar fire. When morning came he met the attacking German infantry with accurate fire and frustrated two attempts to over-run Battalion H.Q.


Heavy M.G., from the exposed flank made the gully in which was Battalion HQ. uninhabitable and together with the rest of Battalion H.Q., this Sergeant was ordered to withdraw to No. 4 Company position. On the way there, the party was surrounded, taken prisoner and marched back by the Germans. The Officers in this party took the first opportunity to attack the German guards.


Sergeant McCONNEL and Guardsman MONTGOMERY seized the German's S.M.G.s and killed some guards and terrorised the others into surrender. Without the prompt and daring action of this Sergeant there is no doubt the whole party of prisoners would have been shot down. The liberation of the prisoners and the destruction or capture of the 20 German guards was entirely due the the determination and courage of a few men of whom Sergeant McCONNELL was an outstanding example.


When the party then turned and began to fight its way back to our own lines, this Sergeant was always in the forefront, clearing and protecting the gullies regardless of the fire of Machine Guns and 88 mms sited just across the valley on the high ground previously occupied by another Battalion.


I consider this Sergeant's gallantry and initiative merit the award of an immediate M.M.


Signed C.A. Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS”



From The Times, Thursday, April 6, 1944:

“THE IRISH GUARDS AT ANZIO

BATTALION H.Q. STAFF'S ESCAPE

A battalion of the Irish Guards was among the first troops to land west of ANZIO, and from there it advanced on CARROCETO. On January 26 the enemy launched a counter-attack, which was preceded by tremendous artillery fire. On the left flank the attack passed right over a platoon in slit trenches. The men lay flat below ground level, and the attack was driven off.


The battalion then dug in half-way up the CARROCETO-CAMPALEONE road, and, when this work was made secure, attacked the enemy's main defences, which were protected by a forest of automatic weapons. It reached its objective, a cross-roads, and again dug in. German tanks kept sending up flares and shooting at digging parties, while British tanks could not get through to support them. But the digging continued under a smoke screen provided by the artillery, and finally our tanks secured the high ground on the right and drove off the German tanks.


Later, the battalion headquarters staff were caught in a gully by a mass of Germans. Their captors took them across the front of a neighbouring battalion, which opened fire. Captain Simon COMBE, seizing the opportunity, picked up a rifle, shot his immediate guard, and then got possession of a tommy gun and killed five more. Other guardsmen followed suit. Of the 30 Germans in the escort 20 were killed and nine taken prisoner.


ENEMY WIPED OUT

During a subsequent enemy advance German troops who had penetrated within 100 yards of a company headquarters were all killed, captured, or chased away by a counter-attack. That fight was scarcely over when it was reported that another German company was approaching. Most of them were caught in the fire of Bren guns; the remainder fled to cover, where they were caught by artillery fire laid on by Major D.M. KENNEDY.


Soon afterwards the same company of the Irish Guards was in danger of being overrun, and was ordered to withdraw to a prepared position. It moved in three parties - a small section with three stretcher cases, the walking wounded and the wireless, and the remainder as rearguard. On its way back it captured a number of Germans in houses, and eventually reached its allotted position.”



Click here to view 1Bn group photo, Chelsea Barracks, 1944




Quis Separabit


Sources: The Times

Photos: IG Journal

 

MCCONNELL, ROBERT, MM, 1BN