A fine Second World War Sicily and Italy
operations M.C. group of six awarded to Acting Major W. I. Fraser, Seaforth Highlanders, who was killed in action in May 1944: the recommendation for his award cites ?coolness and courage under fire of the highest order?, not least at the crossing of the Garigliano - better known to those of the Seaforth who survived that occasion as the "River of Death":Military Cross, G.VI.R., the reverse officially dated ?1944?; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, these all unnamed, together with original addressed card forwarding box for the campaign awards and Army Council condolence slip in the name of ?Major W. I. Fraser?, good very fine and better (6): M.C. London Gazette 21 December 1944. The original recommendation states:?Captain Fraser has taken part in all the active operations in which the Battalion has been involved in Madagascar, Sicily and Italy. Since the beginning of the Sicilian campaign he has been Adjutant and throughout shown a devotion to duty which has been an inspiration to all ranks. At Machiagodena and on the Garigliano, he showed a coolness and courage under fire of the highest order. Throughout these and many other actions in which the Battalion has been involved, Captain Fraser?s steadfastness and ability have been, under every circumstance, the greatest possible assistance to his Commanding Officer.?Walter Ian Fraser was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Seaforths in May 1940 and won his M.C. for the above described deeds while serving as Adjutant and a Company Commander in the 6th Battalion, Seaforths. Of the crossing of the Garigliano, Jim Stockman?s A Fighting Soldier Remembers has much to say, the Battalion?s canvas assault boats being met by heavy Spandau fire and many men falling victim to shoemines and booby traps on both sides of the river - thence a constant flurry of determined enemy counter-attacks, supported by tanks and accurate artillery, throughout which Fraser displayed ?a coolness and courage under fire of the highest order.? As it transpired, the crossing of the Garigliano proved to be the Battalion?s costliest operation of the War, Stockman recalling that ?all around, the most appalling injuries were being inflicted on our men? - in total 65 killed and 284 wounded, captured or missing. A month later, on 31 May 1944, Fraser was killed in action when commanding ?C? Company, which was overrun in heavy fighting at Lorenzo during Operation "Chesterfield", the assault on the Hitler Line, west of Cassino. Evidence of the ferocity of the fighting experienced by Fraser and his comrades in late May 1944 is also to be found in Colonel John Sym?s regimental history, the following extract describing a costly action in the Liri Valley, a few days before his death: ?Throughout the afternoon and evening, the 2nd Brigade fought desperately to break through this most heavily fortified sector of the Hitler Line; but the heroic efforts of the Seaforth, in reaching the first objective, were set at nought by the deadlock on the right and the absence of anti-tank support. In the late afternoon, they were counter-attacked by German infantry and tanks. Major Allen was wounded but continued to direct vigorous resistance. With their supply of PIAT bombs exhausted, however, the Seaforth had no means of effectively engaging the enemy armour. Some fought back, with small arms fire, from slit trenches and shelters, and others sought, in the roadside ditch, some scant protection from the murderous fire. The German tanks lumbered slowly down the road, depressing their machine-guns to sweep the ditches with bullets. The Seaforth suffered grievously and 54 survivors fell into enemy hands ... ?Fraser, who was 27 years of age, left a widow, Anne Hosie Fraser, then resident in Glebe Street, Dumfries, to whom the above described forwarding box is addressed. He is buried in the Beach Head War Cemetery, Anzio; sold with copied research.