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26 & 27 September 2018

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Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria

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№ 10


26 September 2018

Hammer Price:

A fine Waziristan 1937-38 operations O.B.E., Great War M.C. group of fourteen awarded to Hon. Brigadier H. D. Drew, Royal Tank Regiment (R.A.C.), late Devonshire Regiment and Machine Gun Corps, who was mentioned in despatches for his command of 5th Royal Tanks in the bitter fighting around Sidi Rezegh in 1941

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 2nd type breast badge, silver-gilt; Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; 1914-15 Star (2 Lieut. H. D. Drew, Devon. R.); British War and Victory Medals (Major H. D. Drew); India General Service 1936-39, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1936-37 (Major H. D. Drew, M.C., R. Tank. C.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf; Coronation 1937; Coronation 1953; France, Croix de Guerre 1939, with bronze palm, mounted as worn, the Great War awards somewhat polished, nearly very fine, the remainder rather better (14) £1800-2200

O.B.E. London Gazette 17 October 1939:

‘For valuable services rendered in the field in connection with the operations in Waziristan during the period 16 December 1937 to 31 December 1938.’

London Gazette 1 January 1918.

Henry Dinham Drew, who was born in April 1895, was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment in September 1914 and first went to France in the 8th Battalion in late July 1915. His unit was heavily engaged on the Somme in July-September 1916, suffering nearly 400 casualties. For his own part, Drew appears to have transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in November of the same year. He was also been wounded in the same period. Having then returned to France as an Acting Captain in the M.G.C. in March 1917, he was again wounded in August 1918 and was awarded the M.C.

Drew transferred to the Royal Tank Corps in April 1921, in which capacity he was advanced to Major in December 1936 on the eve of his participation in the Waziristan operations (Medal & clasp), services that won him the O.B.E. and a mention in despatches.

Soon after the renewal of hostilities in September 1939, he was advanced to the acting rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and he commanded 5th Royal Tank Regiment with the B.E.F. in May-June 1940. Next embarked for the Middle East, Drew commanded the 5th Royal Tanks in the fierce fighting at Sidi Rezegh in November 1941. On the 18th of that month, in the face of an overwhelming force of enemy tanks, supported by the Luftwaffe, the 8th Hussars - another unit in 4th Armoured Brigade - lost 20 tanks: but for the timely arrival of Drew’s regiment, losses may well have been higher. He was mentioned in despatches (
London Gazette 15 December 1942, refers).

A week or two later, on 1 December 1941, 4th Armoured Brigade broke leaguer at first light and made haste to Sidi Rezegh landing ground in order to assist the New Zealanders under Brigadier Barrowclough. As the Brigade advanced across the landing ground, heavy enemy fire came in from left and right, while the tanks encountered much difficulty in negotiating the solitary track down the escarpment in single file. Several tanks of the 8th Hussars and two from the 5th Royal Tanks were knocked out but their appearance on the scene saved the day: ‘Just when everything seemed to be lost, a large force of tanks swept down from the Sidi Rezegh escarpment ... They came forward to 6 Brigade H.Q. and the enemy began to withdraw’ (
The Sidi Rezegh Battles 1941, by Agar-Hamilton and Turner, refers). The New Zealanders were keen to set off in pursuit of the withdrawing enemy but just as Drew was discussing the issue with the C.O. of 3rd Royal Tanks, a signal arrived from H.Q. 4th Armoured Brigade ordering the New Zealanders to withdraw South.

Latterly employed in the North-West Europe operations 1944-45, Drew was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his services at H.Q. 31 Tank Brigade. He was placed on the Retired List with the honorary rank of Brigadier in April 1946.