Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Honored Allies Wednesday: Christopher Furness (United Kingdom)

 
"Lieutenant Furness was in command of the carrier platoon,Welsh Guards, during the period 17th-24th May, 1940, when his battalion formed part of the garrison of Arras.  During this time his platoon was constantly patrolling in advance of or between the widely dispersed parts of the perimeter, and fought many local actions with the enemy, Lieutenant Fumess displayed the highest qualities of leadership and dash on all these occasions and imbued his command with a magnificent offensive spirit.  During the evening of 23rd May, Lieutenant Furness was wounded when on patrol but he refused to be evacuated.   By this time the enemy, considerably reinforced, had encircled the town on three sides and withdrawal to Douai was ordered during the night of 23rd-24th May.  Lieutenant Furness's platoon, together with a small force of light tanks, were ordered to cover the withdrawal of the transport consisting of over 40 vehicles.  About 0230 hours, 24th May, the enemy attacked on both sides of the town.  At one point the enemy advanced to the road along which the transport columns were withdrawing, bringing them under very heavy small arms and anti-tank gun fire. Thus the whole column was blocked and placed in serious jeopardy.  Immediately Lieutenant Furness, appreciating the seriousness of the situation, and in spite of his wounds, decided to attack the enemy, who were located in a strongly entrenched position behind wire.  Lieutenant Furness advanced with three Garners, supported by the light tanks.  At once the enemy opened up with very heavy fire from small arms and anti-tank guns.  The light tanks were put out of action, but Lieutenant Furness continued to advance.  He reached the enemy position and circled it several times at close range, inflicting heavy losses.  All three Carriers were hit and most of their crews killed or wounded.  His own carrier was disabled and the driver and Bren gunner killed.   He then engaged the enemy in personal hand-to-hand combat until he was killed.  His magnificent act of self sacrifice against hopeless odds, and when already wounded, made the enemy withdraw for the time being and enabled the large column of vehicles to get clear unmolested and covered the evacuation of some of the wounded of his own carrier platoon and the light tanks."
 
From Lt. Furness' Victoria Cross citation, awarded on February 5, 1946. 
 
May you be at peace,
Brian

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