The Tank Museum | Recipient

Francis Arthur Rycroft

Francis Arthur (Skipper) Rycroft MC, DCM, MM

Francis Arthur Rycroft was born on the 5th April 1913, the youngest of 5 children born to Frank and Frances Rycroft in Cheshire, England. Frank, his father, was a Ships Printer travelling on the Liners for months at a time. Frances, his mother, died of TB in November 1913 and the children were split up and Francis, at the age of 6 months, was placed in an orphanage. At the age of about 14 he went to sea, earning a trade certificate as a Seaman.

In November 1935, at the age of 22, Frank enlisted as a Private into the Royal Tank Corps and took his oath at Liverpool. He was posted to the Royal Tank Corps, Bovington Camp to attend the Army School and then was posted to 5th Battalion Royal Tank Corp in September 1936. He was certified as a Class 3 Driver Operator.

Frank was promoted to Corporal in early 1939 and transferred to the 6th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment in Egypt. He also qualified as a Wireless Instructor.

The 6th Battalion RTR was in Egypt when war was declared in September 1939, Frank was placed on active duty and promoted to Sergeant by May 1940. He was awarded the Military Medal in December 1940. This was mentioned in despatches in April 1941. Frank continued to be promoted and as an Acting Staff Sergeant Major, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in September 1942 for action South of Ruweisat Ridge. A description of this action is captured in the publication “With Pennants Flying - The Immortal Deeds of the Royal Armoured Corps” by David Masters.

In December 1942, Frank received an emergency commission and was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Armoured Corps. The recommendation read as follows:–

“This Warrant Officer has applied for a Commission in the Royal Armoured Corps, for which I can very strongly recommend him. He is a first class soldier who has seen continuous Active service in the Western Desert since the outbreak of war, both as a Tank Commander and during the fighting in June and July 1942 when he was on Squadron Headquarters as a Navigator. All his Squadron Leaders and Commanding Officers during this period have spoken very highly of him. He was awarded the M.M. during the summer of 1940, and the D.C.M. during the summer of 1942. He is a qualified Wireless Instructor and has very sound knowledge of Gunnery, Observation of Fire, and D & M.”

Frank was commissioned to the 46 Battalion Royal Tank Regiment. He was promoted to Acting Captain by August 1943 and saw service in Sicily, then San Salvo in Italy, where he was recommended and awarded a Military Cross for actions in November 1943. Frank was promoted to Major around November 1943.

On 4th February 1944, at the age of 30, Frank died of wounds received. He is buried in the Anzio War Cemetery.



Tales of valour

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Distinguished Conduct Medal

RYCROFT Francis Arthur, MM, (W/S Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant, Acting Staff Sergeant Major)

6th Royal Tank Regiment

On 22/7/42, this Warrant officer discovered the existence of an enemy strong point within 500 yards of our forward positions south of Ruweisat Ridge. This strong point consisted of a depression and anti-tank guns and machine guns, the whole surrounded by wire and a minefield. Staff Sergeant Major Rycroft went forward on foot to within 300 yards of the enemy and mapped all the defences. Subsequently he personally directed the fire of the Regiment on the various targets by standing on top of his tank. In the course of this he was wounded, but returned into action immediately after his wounds had been treated. The whole action resulted in the total destruction of eight German Mk III or IV tanks, and several guns without loss to the Regiment, and this success was in great measure due to the resource and disregard of personal safety by this warrant officer.

Military Cross

Lieutenant (temporary Captain) Francis Arthur Rycroft D.C.M. M.M.
Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.

Captain Rycroft was second-in-command of a Squadron of R.T.R which attacked the San Salvo ridge with the Buffs on 3rd November, 1943. The Squadron Commander’s tank was hit at 0730 hours and the Squadron Commander wounded. Captain Rycroft took command and led the Squadron on to the objective ahead of the infantry. He fought his squadron on the objective from 0745 until 1830 hours, when he was ordered to rally back in the darkness. Throughout the day this Squadron remained on the objective fighting anti-tank guns, S.P. guns and enemy tanks on ground which was completely dominated from Vineyard Hill feature, the whole time in possession of the enemy. At 1600 hours an enemy counter-attack came in on the right flank supported by 12 tanks. Captain Rycroft’s Squadron, which had then only 7 battleworthy tanks left, formed to a flank and was entirely instrumental in beating off the enemy attack.

Throughout the period of this action, lasting for 13 hours, Captain Rycroft displayed personal courage and gallantry of the highest order and fought his Squadron with all conditions of terrain and visibility in the enemy’s favour and it was entirely an action of tanks against enemy tanks, S.P. guns and anti-tank guns. Captain Rycroft’s own tank accounted for at least two enemy tanks and damaged several others.

Military Medal

Military Medal

RYCROFT Francis Arthur, (Sergeant)

6th Royal Tank Regiment

During the actions on 10th and 11th December 1940, Sergeant Rycroft, on two occasions, had to leave his tank under heavy fire, on the first occasion to put out a fire which had started at the rear of his tank and on the second to assist and supervise the towing away of another tank.
His coolness and devotion to duty in the face of the enemy and the complete disregard for his own personal safety were a fine example to all ranks.

DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL

MILITARY CROSS

MILITARY MEDAL

1939-45 STAR

AFRICA STAR, 8TH ARMY BAR

DEFENCE MEDAL

ITALY STAR

WAR MEDAL