Clements, Percy Priestley

Date of birth:
February 21st, 1910 (Nottingham, United Kingdom)
Date of death:
October 19th, 1998 (Wellington/Salop, United Kingdom)
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Military career:
23 March 1934: Corporal
1938: Sergeant
?: Lieutenant

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Sergeant
Unit:
British Military Intelligence Section 9 (MI9), Directorate of Military Intelligence, War Office, British Government
Awarded on:
March 2nd, 1944
"Sgt Clements was a member of a party of parachutists dropped in Calabria in February 1941 to blow up an aqueduct, who were subsequently captured by the Italians. Shortly after capture they were taken to Camp 78, Sulmona, where Officers and Other Ranks were placed in separate compounds; no communications between them being allowed. Despite this regulation Sgt Clements, who took charge of the most secret communications with the Officers, and exchanged with them particulars of all secret messages to the War Office in selected Other Ranks' letters and later when the Officers were moved to another camp, was responsible for maintaining all communications between the camp and the War Office.

On 12 September 1943, following the Italian armistice, when all attempts to escape were strictly forbidden, Sgt Clements escaped to the hills. From there, on 14 September 1943, he watched the Germans enter the camp, and he then made up a party with Sgt Lawley and Private Rae, both of the Parachute Regiment. Pte Rae was unable to keep up and fell out at an early stage of the journey but Sgt Clements and Sgt Lawley continued walking as far as Morrone, their journey lasrting twenty two days. At Morrone, they hid up for a week until they were able to join the British Forces at Casacalendra on 13 October 1943. Throughout their escape Sgt Clements was in charge.

In view of his fine work of a secret nature which this NCO rendered in addition to his initiative in making his escape, I strongly recommend him for the award of DCM."

Prepared by the Director of Military Intelligence (Prisoners of War), January 1944.

(Transcripts of handwritten notes from the Assistant Military Secretary (AMS) to the Deputy Director Military Intelligence (Prisoners of War) annotated below the recommendation.)

"As you will see MS has agreed to a DCM. Sgt Clements name will be included in the next submission to the King." 25 Jan 1944.
Distinguished Conduct Medal
"On 5th January 1945 Lt. P. CLEMENTS commanded a platoon which was given the task of occupying a position on the feaure North of GRUPONT dominating the ares in which the 12th and 13th Parachute Bns were operating. The patrol reached its objective by 0300 hrs and took up a position as ordered. During the following nine hours the platoon lay up in a weood or the features, which was also occupied by the enemy, reporting enemy movement and inflicting casualties including the killing of the officers of a recce group which approached the position.
At about 1200 hrs the platoon came under accurate fire from close range. Lt. Clementsm although fully exposed to enemy fire, personally passed the necessary fire orders for the artillery to engage the area hold by the enemy. The enemy then brought up at least one Tiger tank which engaged the area held by the platoon. By this time the platoon was coming accurate fire from the rear as well as the front. Lt. Clements then decided that the platoon must withdraw. He organised the withdrawal down the vury exposed slope of the feature.

At the first *** he was wounded in the stomach. Although he could not move himself he continued to command the platoon, and issued necessary orders for the remainder to withdraw. Throughout the period the platoon had no food and was exposed to very severe weather conditions. It was entirely due to the fine leadership, determination and example of this officer that the platoon carried out its task and was able to withdraw when this task has been completed."
"On the night of 10/11 February 1941, Sergeant Clements was Second-in-Command of a Section of Parachutists which with three other (of the six) Sections succesfully landed near the aqueduct. Despite the Royal Engineer Section being missing, along with all the arms containers, the remainder of the Force with a reduced quantity of explosives succesfully destroyed the aqueduct. The party then set out in small groups to cross the mountainous terrain to an RV fifty miles sway at the mouth of the River Sele, to be collected by a submarine. Other two days and nights exposed to the winter elements, when within about ten miles of the RV, Sgt Clements' group was surrounded by a far superior force of armed civilians and of Italian carabinieri and infantry. After a short fire-fight in which the group, armed only with one SMG, seven pistols and three knives, was entirely outgunned, it was forced to surrender and all were taken POW.
"North West Frontier 1937-1939"
India General Service Medal (1936 IGSM)

Sources