by Ron Norman
How many times have you gone by an antique shop and not stopped because it looked like a “shabby chic incense shop?” I believe I had passed by such a shop at least a dozen times. Finally, I thought, “Maybe something could happen if I stopped.”
Well, I walked in, and a very nice older lady welcomed me. She told me to look around. It was just as I had expected: More gifts and decor than antiques, But, as I have learned from past experiences, don’t leave without asking about what you were looking for: Military and weapons. “No,” she said, “we don’t get those kind of things.” I thanked her, and as I was departing, she called to me and said, “Wait! I think I still have some things from an estate sale a few years ago that were in an old cardboard box.”
I followed her back to her office where she searched in her closet. Finally, she found the box and handed it to me. Inside was a group of British medals. She quoted me a very low price that she wanted. Even though I am not a collector of British medals, the price was too good to refuse.
That was the beginning. That night, I started doing some research on my new medals. They turned out to be a group of 6 WWII Canadian medals, with the first one on the left a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)named to “K.38586CPL.M.J.ALLISON. R.C.A.C.”. Further research showed the DCM medal was the the second highest award for valor given to an enlisted soldier next only to the Victorian Cross. In fact, the award is so important that the letters “DCM” are properly used at the end of their recipient’s name to honor and distinguish him or her. With this new knowledge I started to try to find out more about Allison.
Millard Jasper Allison was born in Texas, served in the US Army from 1936 to 1940. Apparently, he met and married a lady from British Columbia, Canada. In 1941, he enlisted in the Canadian Armor Corps and served till the end of the war in 1945.
After discovering this, I contacted the Canadian Archives in Ottawa, furnishing them with all the information I had found. The Archives wrote back, saying they had Allison’srecords, but it might take 6 months to be able to send them to me.
Sure enough, I had to wait just about 6 months before the records finally arrived. There were outstanding and worth the wait, however.It is almost unbelievable as to why he was not awarded the “Victoria Cross.” I will quote the actual citation for his DCM medal:
“During the first stages of the breakout of the Kusten Bridgehead on 17 April 45, Cpl. Allison was crew commander of the lead tank of No. 3 Troop, B Squadron, 28 CDN Armored Regt. The Squadron’s task was to push to the east up the railway MR 146991, in support of the line and welled r , in an attempt to by-pass the temporary stalemate which had developed, on the main divisional centre line.
“The objective was MR 146016. No sooner had CPL Allison’s tank nosed out onto the railway embankment than it was exposed to high velocity fire and heavy shelling. Realizing that he could not take evasive action because of the very soft ground on either side of the embankment, and that he must perform, clear all opposition as he advanced, CPL Allison hit upon stratagem of shunting a railways goods truck ahead of his tank. The plan was completely successful. The enemy, being disturbed by the erratic progress of the truck, turned all guns upon it. He was enabled to liquidate the enemy posts methodically as he advanced. The crazy progress continued for some 2500 yards during which space his guns accounted for over fifty enemy killed. Despite his effort, however, the infantry gradually closed in with their deadly Panzerfausts. When he was unable to depress his tank guns sufficiently to deal with them, he held them off with hand grenades and with his pistol, standing in the turret fully exposed to the most merciless small arms fire.
“CPL Allison finally reached his objective and got his tank into a hull down position, only to discover that his troop commander’s tank had been hit some distance back and its burning blocked the advance of the remainder of the Squadron. Without a moment’s hesitation, he scrambled out of his tank and worked his way back through the hellish automatic fire.
“The crew commander and one other were wounded and the remaining two were dead. After carrying his troop leader to the temporary shelter of some farm building, he returned to the blazing tank and assisted the other crew member to safety. Having endured that his comrades were receiving medical attention, and despite the pain of his own burns, CPL Allison again ran the gauntlet back to his own tank where he remained for forty eight hours, sustaining the infantry against repeated counter-attacks. During this period he eliminated two enemy self-propelled guns, an armored infantry carrier, and halted numerous infantry rushes. During the entire engagement, CPL Allison remained perfectly cool and handled his crew magnificently. His initiative, devotion of duty, and absolute disregard for his personal safety was an inspiration to all. Largely owing to the stark courage of this single NCO, the diversionary force maintained pressure and the enemy was compelled to regroup. In the face of reduced resistance, the advance along the main divisional centre line M resumed.”
With this citation in hand, this probably became an extremely fine, and desirable Canadian WWII medal group!
The collector’s lesson that I learned was, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and “Don’t forget to ask for what you are looking for, because you never know.”
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