Norman Gerrish, Military Medal recipient for actions at Meiktila

Citation for the award of the Military Medal – 1408185 Sergeant Norman Phillip Gerrish 2708 Squadron RAF Regiment.

Sergeant Norman Gerrish, 2798 Squadron RAF Regiment.
Sergeant Norman Gerrish, 2798 Squadron RAF Regiment.

Sergeant Gerrish was in charge of a rifle flight during an action at Meiktila airstrip which the enemy had infiltrated at night. He sustained a leg wound early in the battle, but he rallied his men, taking over a light machine-gun and returning the enemy fire with good effect, causing casualties. When his ammunition was expended he took over another gun and ran forward to a position from which he could cover the withdrawal of the flights. His fire was so effective that all personnel were able to cross open ground and reach cover. Only then did Sergeant Gerrish make his way across the airstrip in full view of the enemy. His courage, determination and leadership were instrumental in holding two companies of the Japanese and for their ultimate defeat, during which 20 of the enemy were killed. This Gunner set a magnificent example in the face of strong opposition

London Gazette – 7 September 1945

Despite being wounded, Gerrish seized a Bren gun and gave covering fire to enable his men to withdraw and when he ran out of ammunition he picked up another Bren and continued firing to keep the enemy‚Äôs heads down. When all his men had disengaged and reached safety, he walked calmly across open ground in full view of the enemy to rejoin his flight. The action had lasted for two hours, by which time a counter-attack force of tanks and two companies of infantry were assembled to reinforce the Regiment and the combined force cleared the enemy from the surrounds of the airfield. 2708 Squadron’s casualties in this action were seven killed and eight wounded, but the Japanese left 150 of their dead and wounded behind.

Surprisingly, Gerrish was not awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for which he had been strongly recommended, but received the lesser award of the Military Medal instead.