Well this new (fairly) regular feature goes out at the suggestion of ‘LDT Zinc’ and (as the name suggests) each time I post on this feature I will be focusing on one of the medals that are awarded within the game and trying to share some information about ‘the men behind the medals’
And I am going to start with the much coveted Radley-Walters medal which (as many of you know) is awarded for obtaining 8 kills within one game.
But who exactly was Radley-Walters? What nationality was he and why is there a medal named after him? And does the requirement set in order for you to obtain the medal match any achievement he (Radley-Walters) was famous for?
Well, (whilst sometimes it is difficult to be entirely sure you have the right man behind the medal) meet Capt. Sydney Valpy Radley-Walters. CMM, (Commander of the Order of Military Merit) DSO, (Distinguished Service Order) MC (Military Cross, CD (Canadian Forces Decoration).
Captain Radley-Walters (Nicknamed Captain Rad) was a young Canadian of just 20 years of age in 1940 when he was commissioned as an infantry officer into the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment. And at that time he had never seen a tank let alone entered into any real combat in one. But by 1945 he was considered the best front-line tank ace in the Canadian Army. Why? Well it could have something to do with the fact that he emerged from the Normandy battlefields as “the best-known and most respected battlefield commander in the [Royal] Canadian Armoured Corps.”
On June 6, 1944, he rode his Sherman tank (probably a Firefly), called “Caribou,” ashore on D-Day and a day later he recorded his first success, destroying a Panzer IV. But it certainly wasn’t plain sailing and remember that the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment had up until only 2 years before been an infantry regiment. And as Captain Rad himself admitted, “Not one of us knew anything about armour or even what a tank looked like,” he said. “We hadn’t a clue.”
If you want to find out more about this gallant infantryman come tank hero you can read up on him here. But I can tell you that by the end of WWII he had three tanks shot out from under him and had survived. He is credited with destroying 18 of the enemy tanks and many other armoured vehicles etc and his unit is believed to be one which killed the German tank ace known as ‘The Black Baron‘ (Michael Wittman). Although it is probable that someone else in his regiment actually delivered the fatal blow.
And bearing in mind his inexperience, his success the day after D-Day and the fact that he himself is quoted as saying, “We hit the beach on D-Day but we were no flaming hell until about the third or fourth week. Then we began to understand if you don’t do it right, you get killed.” It is probably worth noting that at that time he and his unit were what we in the game would call a ‘newb.’
At 24 he was a Major, at 25 a Lieutenant-Colonel and by the time he died (as recently as April 21st last year ) (Capt Rad (now known as General Rad) had been the commanding officer of the 8th Canadian Hussars, the Commander of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade and had held several honorary positions including Colonel of the Hussars and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.
In truth I would have liked for there to have been one incident, one skirmish, one heroic feat within a major battle which I could research and cite as the reason for the Radley-Walters Medal. But only because it makes for a better story from both a writer’s and reader’s perspective.
But the plain simple fact is that with this hero it wasn’t about one single heroic act it was about a heroic attitude which lasted many a year and which saw him and many men in his charge through many a battle. An attitude which I personally think can be summed up in two simple quotes…
One being from a life-long friend and former commanding officer of the 8th Canadian Hussars, Colonel Robert Billings who said of Captain Rad – “His success as a leader was based on one simple idea: “First look after the soldiers.”” A sentiment which is, I think, key to our own clan – is it not?
And the other quote being from Capt (or should I say General Rad) himself. “You’ve got to be lucky but you’ve got to lead from the front. You’ve got to see what the hell’s going on if you’re going to make any impact on the battle.”
And as a tanker who has been in battle with many a (in my humble opinion) cowardly teammate – heck even with some cowardly platoon mates, who seem far too keen on camping on the base or sitting on the outskirts of the map watching all their team or platoon mates do all the hard work until the battle is almost over and most of the remaining enemy have had their health lowered. I think many a tanker could learn from General Rad’s example. (And if you are offended by this comment then all I can say is yes, you know who you are.)
[Credit is given to The Globe and Mail online and to Wikipedia for much of the information above.]