Gardner, William Frederick

Service number:
5567722
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Corporal
Unit:
The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's)
Awarded on:
May 12th, 1942
Action:
Citation:
"Corporal Gardner was captured at Arras on the 23rd May, 1940, and after having been subjected to a strict interrogation by German officers, during the course of which he refused to answer any questions, he was, under compulsion forced to work carrying German wounded. The next day, in a convoy of lorries containing prisoners, he was taken to Cambrai, where he joined a large column of prisoners being marched to Germany. On the 27th May, he and another soldier slipped out of the column and tried to make for the coast. Three days later they were re-captured, and sent to a large camp at Hirson. Here Corporal Gardner managed to obtain some woman's clothes from one of the French visitors to the camp. Dressed in these, he was able to walk out of the camp with one of the visitors. After breaking into an old house where he obtained some civilian clothes, he reached Isbergues about the middle of August, where he was sheltered by a French lady. In August he set off for Calais on a cycle, but finding that is was occupied by the Germans he continued along the coast to Brest in a fruitless search for a boat. He then returned to Isbergues where he agreed to stay the winter with his former helper. At the end of January, with the help of an organisation, he was taken by car to Vierzon on the Line of Demarcation, whic he crossed, and was given food and a night's shelter at a farm. He continued his way, buy was detained at Chateauroux and sent with a sentry to St. Hippolyte, where he remained for three months. After making five unsuccesful attempts to escape, Corporal Gardner managed to get away with five others, three of whom were later arrested. He and his remaining two companions walked to Nimes, and spent two days at the house of an American, who gave them tickets to Perpignan, where a car was ready to take them to the frontier. They crossed on foot and later, by jumping on a goods train, reached Barcelona, where the British consul gave them tickets for Madrid. They were arrested, however, in Barcelona, after being placed in various Spanish prisons, were eventually released from Miranda on Octber 31st, and taken to Madrid for repatriation."
Details:
LG 35556/2072.
Military Medal (MM)

Sources

  • - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 35556 published on the 8 May 1942
    - Copy of the original recommendation - STIWOT archive