James Drysdale, Gunner, Royal Artillery
David Drysdale was born in East Lothian, possibly on Nisbet Farm, near Pencaitland, in 1916, to David and Violet Drysdale, farm steward of 29 Letham Holdings, Haddington. The following sources from the Haddingtonshire Courier report that he and his brother joined the local Territorial Battalion of the Royal Artillery and that both were called up at the outbreak of war. On the 6th March, 1943, he was award the Military Medal for his part in resisting a German tank attack during the Tunisian campaign .
Source A. Haddingtonshire Courier, 11th June, 1943
“Pinned under gun wheel – The magnificent courage shown by individual soldiers and men of the British and Allied Forces in their victorious North African campaign is revealed in despatches from officer observers describing decorations awarded in the field. Pinned under the wheel of his six-pounder anti-tank gun after it had been blown out of its pit by a shell. Gnr James Drysdale could not be extricated until after further rounds had been fired from the gun. When eventually removed, although very dazed and cut he insisted on returning to his gun and continued firing although ordered to go to the Regimental Aid Post. Gunner Drysdale, whose home is at Letham Mains, Haddington, is awarded the Military Medal.”
Source B. Haddingtonshire Courier, 21st May 1943
“Awarded M.M. – Mr and Mrs David Drysdale, 29 Letham Holdings, Haddington, have received information from their son, Gunner James Drysdale, R.A. that he has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry displayed in South Tunisia. It appears that a shell burst near Gunner Drysdale’s anti-tank gun. The shell knocked the gun out of position and pinned Gunner Drysdale under one of the wheels, where he had to lie for some time. On being rescued his comrades wanted him to go to the medical aid post for treatment, but this he refused to do, preferring to stick by his gun. Gnr Drysdale, who is 27 years of age, was along with his brother in the local Territorial battery of the R.A., and they were called up on the outbreak of war. Gnr Drysdale went to France in Oct. 1939 and was evacuated from Dunkirk the following year. He has been in the Middle East for over a year. Before the war he was employed at Nisbet Farm, Pencaitland, and latterly with Mr Wm Baxter, contractor, Tranent.”
The official report (signed by General Bernard Montgomery) complements the civilian newspaper reports and details why he was awarded the medal.
Have you a photograph of David Drysdale?
Should anyone have a photograph of him I (and others) would greatly appreciate being given a copy.