His unit were caught up against the flow of civilians and were not able to break through and they were ordered to retreat. In late May 1940 he was evacuated from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo after his tank was destroyed and abandoned.
After returning to Aldershot 4th Royal Tank Regiment was re-equipped with Matilda Mark 2 tanks. As a member of a squadron of 4th RTR he was then posted as a tank gunner to Eritrea with a convoy of tanks sent to deal with the Italian forces in East Africa.
The squadron joined up with the rest of 4th RTR in North Africa and John became a tank driver, equipped with Valentine tanks. During the Gazala campaign on the morning of 5th June 1942 Trooper MacCrudden, driver of a tank in 'B' Squadron, near Bir-El-Tamar, El Adem, was in a tank hit by anti-tank fire. This smashed his shoulder and blinded his right eye. In spite of these wounds he continued to drive his tank for a period of 35 minutes to a place were the unit fitters could recover it. For this act of bravery of presence of mind Trooper MacCrudden was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, which he ultimately received at Buckingham Palace.
John spent several months in hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, recovering and afterwards was sent to Malta to join up with a regiment just outside Valetta. During this period he went back to Egypt and also made several trips to Turkey via Syria with train loads of tanks for the Russians. He was then drafted to 7th Hussars and equipped with Sherman tanks which were paraded for Churchill in front of the Pyramids. He then travelled from Alexandria to Bari, Italy, on tank barges and encountered Churchill against whilst driving his tank right past him. The unit travelled up the coast to the front line. John did not see any front line action whilst it Italy and in November 1944 was repatriated to Catterick Camp and became a tank testing driver at Chertsey. He tested new tanks on the moors as a driver mechanic until January 1947 when he was demobbed.
He returned to work as a manufacturing chemist and later became Head Porter at Stockport Infirmary until he took early retirement in 1985.
Tales of valour
Distinguished Conduct Medal
In this action Trooper MacCrudden showed the greatest bravery and presence of mind.
DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL
Country: United KingdomThe Distinguished Conduct MedalIntroduced during the Crimean War as a ...
Country: United Kingdom1939 - 45 Star This star was given for service between 3rd September 1939 ...
Country: United KingdomAfrica Star This star was given for one or more days service in North Africa ...
Country: United KingdomItaly Star Issued for operational service at any time between 11th June 1943 ...
Country: United KingdomWar Medal 1939 - 1945 Awarded unnamed to all full time personnel of the ...