Cpl French was in command of a Grant tank on May 27th, 1942 in the first action with the 8th Hussars against the German Panzers. He had fired all his 75mm ammunition and both gun traverses were out of action through direct hits.

In attempting to get out of action for repairs, he ran into seven Mark III German tanks and was knocked out. Two members of his crew were killed and he himself hid behind a bush until the Germans had passed on. He then took command of the remainder of the crew and attended to one man who was mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards.

He then made a plan to escape but met another knocked out tank of the regiment, with two men (one wounded) lying beside it. He dressed the wounded man and taking turns to carry him, led the party for two days, in an easterly direction until picked up by own troops near BIR GUBI.

The party had carried the wounded man for 16 miles across the desert, with no food or water except for a lucky find on a derelict vehicle. during their march they lay up all night within sight of a German dressing station. They did not proceed until the dressing station had packed up and moved on.

Cpl French showed a complete disregard to his own safety whilst attending the wounded under fire. He also showed leadership of the highest standard in getting his party back under the most adverse conditions.

Later Cpl French volunteered as a Tank Commander to a composite squadron. The squadron was in operation for ten days. His conduct throughout was a magnificent example to all those with whom he was in contact.

G Kilkelly
Commanding 8th KRI Hussars

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Middle East (Egypt and Libya) timeline
  3. M3 General Grant tank
  4. Battle Honour: Bir El Igela