The Tank Museum | Recipient

R. J. Wheatley

Cpl. Roland James Wheatley, MM, 7889947

Born: 27th August 1922 - Histon, Cambs.

Enlised on 28th November 1938. Stationed at Catterick where he was to meet his future wife. He was so keen to join the Army that he altered his age by 2 years. From Catterick he was then transferred to Tidworth, Hants., where he was a Tank Instructor. He went to France approx. 19-22 June 1944 following D-Day "with the Churchill Tanks and Flamethrowers".

After the war he was sent to America as a Tank Instructor. He was also sent to India. On leaving the Army he joined the Cambridgeshire Fire Brigade in 1950 until retirement.

Tales of valour

Military Medal

At Uphusen on the 24th April 1945, determined resistance by strong parties of German Marines was encountered outside the village. They were well dug in in excellent positions and had succeeded in pinning down a whole company of our infantry. Cpl Wheatley was leading tank of the flame thrower troop sent forward to retrieve the situation. When he reached the forward infantry they could still not move to support him owing to continued heavy machine gun fire from the enemy. Cpl Wheatley did not however hesitate, and advanced alone over 150 yards of close country, finally overwhelming the enemy by a skilful combination of his guns and flame. There is no doubt that his quick unhesitating action took the enemy by surprise rendering them incapbale of using their Panzerfaust and also saved the company of infantry from further casualties.

Again later on the 25th at Hemelingen, a suburb of Bremen, he showed a similar determination. All that morning little or no resistance from the enemy had been encountered. He was in the leading troop, when suddenly parties of Germans opened heavy fire from buildings and heaps of rubble at extremely close range. Cpl Wheatley did not give ground in spite of considerable danger from bazookas. He chose to keep his position from which he could see most and returned the enemy's fire. His clear accurate information coolly given over the air, at a time when his tank was in extremely hazardous position was the main basis for the plan of the attack which followed and in which he tok a leading part.

These two acts are typical of Cpl Wheatley's conduct in action which, combined with his ever present cheerfulness made him an inspiration to all who knew him.


1939-45 STAR