A good Second War ‘Anzio Landings’ M.M. group of six awarded to Lance-Sergeant J. F. Thornton, Royal Signals, who died in Anzio on 16 February 1944
Military Medal, G.VI.R. 2031148 L.Sjt. J. F. Thornton. R. Signals; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, 1 clasp, 1st Army; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted as worn; together with a boxing prize medal, bronze, the reveres engraved ‘T. Bn. R. Signals. Runner Up Light Heavy. 1935. Sgn. Thornton.’,
M.M. London Gazette 15 June 1944:
‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy.’
The original Recommendation states: ‘In the assault landing on Anzio, Lance-Sergeant Thornton landed with assault Brigade Headquarters on 22 January 1944. Since that day he has carried out his duties with complete disregard of personal safety and has set a magnificent example in leadership and devotion to duty both to the line detachment and to the whole of the Signal Section.
When the Brigade was holding the left Sector of the Beach Head on 23 January Lance-Sergeant Thornton was ordered to lay lines to forward Battalions. Owing to the nature of the country the possible line routes to the left Battalion were under observation and were subjected to enemy shell and mortar fire. Lance-Sergeant Thornton was continually called upon to repair breaks and his maintenance work whilst under enemy fire was beyond praise. On 1 February the Brigade was ordered to move at night to the Right of the Divisional front. 1 Loyals had previously moved to this sector and at 1130 hrs Lance-Sergeant Thornton was dispatched with one lineman to the new area to prepare line communication in advance of the move of Brigade HQ.
The sector of the front which 1 Loyals were holding was under observation and the line routes to both 1 Loyals and 67 Field Regiment Royal Artillery were continuously being cut by enemy fire.
Brigade HQ was established in the new area at 1945 hrs and by 2345 hrs lines were through to 1 Loyals and to the Field Regiment. Enemy fire, however, continued and the lines were in constant need of building and repair. Lance-Sergeant Thornton continued on duty in the forward areas throughout the night repairing the forward lines and also repairing the rearward route to the Divisional Signal Centre. He did not return to HQ until all the lines were reported through again at 0530 hrs on 2 February. During the subsequent eight days which the Brigade was in the line the enemy continued to shell and mortar the Brigade area and Lance-Sergeant Thornton was indefatigable in repairing and maintaining the 16 miles of cable laid in the area.
That line communication on this scale had been maintained, with a detachment of only three men, under most difficult conditions, in both sectors in which the Brigade has been committed, has been entirely due to the example, set by Lance-Sergeant Thornton, of leadership, personal courage, and devotion to duty, whilst under fire.
Brigadier E. E. J. Moore, D.S.O., Commanding 2 Infantry Brigade concurs in the above report and adds:
“From my personal knowledge this N.C.O. has performed his duties regardless of his personal safety and has been conspicuous by his untiring energy throughout the operations in maintaining line communication. I strongly recommend the award of the Military Medal”.’
John Frank Thornton attested for the Royal Corps of Signals and served with 1 Divisional Signals during the Second World War in both North Africa and Italy. Awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry during the Anzio Landings, he died on 16 February 1944, and is buried in Anzio War Cemetery, Italy. The date of his death is the same as a German counter attack with Tiger tanks in Operation Fischfang
With a a portrait photograph of the recipient.