An Italian theatre D.C.M. group of five awarded to Sapper F. R. Wheeler, Royal Engineers, attached 4 Field Company, Indian Engineers
Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.VI.R. (1539676 Spr., R.E.) official correction to number and rank; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; War Medal, very fine (5)
D.C.M. London Gazette 8 March 1945. ‘On 20 Sep 1944 during the advance of 5 Ind. Inf. Bde. on the road Faetano-San Marino, Sapper F. R. Wheeler of 22 Equip. Bn. R.E. was attached with his D4 angle-dozer to “A” Pln. 4 FD Coy I.E. This Sapper was filling in a blow which was in full view of the enemy from two sides, from Monte San Marino ahead and from the foothills on the left, where the enemy were firmly established. For 2 hours this Sapper operated his dozer in full view with support tanks sitting on the hill at his side a few hundred yards away. The blow was almost repaired when the enemy switched his SP guns from the tanks to the dozer and straddled the dozer with 3 shells. The Pln took shelter but the dozer operator carried on until a further 2 shells fell dangerously close, when with apparent unconcern he parked his dozer under the shelter of a tree and himself took shelter. A further few shells followed but as the enemy had achieved his object in stopping the work, further shells did not follow. The dozer driver was then told that he would not be ordered to work his dozer as further movement would receive shells and that the Pln could work on the road and run to shelter if further shelling occurred. It was pointed out to him that it was then 1330 hours and the road was vital to supply traffic and had been promised open to all vehicles at 1400 hours and if he could work the dozer for another 15 minutes the road would be open. The operator immediately volunteered to carry on and after a short period had almost completed his task when the SP guns fired a salvo and scored a direct hit on the road. The next few minutes were full of bursting shells on the road and on both sides of the road. Through the dust caused by the shells came the operator and machine, still carrying on. With a final turn he back-paddled the dozer and smoothed out the bumps. The road was open at 1345 hrs.
During both periods of shelling a total of between 30 and 40 high velocity H.E. shells were fired at the dozer and 8 direct hits were scored on the blow on which the dozer was working. Spr Wheeler’s cool courage was an inspiring example to all and it was due solely to his pluck and determination that the road was repaired on time.’