A B.E.M. to 5506341 Pte. John Ernest Matkin has just sold at auction, so I thought I’d post a couple of details regarding the incident, in case the winning bidder is on the internet trying to research it. As background – B.E.M. London Gazette 21 October 1941: ‘In recognition of gallant conduct in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner.’ The original Recommendation states: ‘On 19 March 1941, Private Matkin was one of a rescue party who went to assist a squad of men belonging to the Royal Engineers who had encountered gas while on bomb disposal work. On arriving at the site they found two men lying on the surface unconscious, others suffering from the effect of gas poisoning, and a third lying in the camouflet crater. Private Matkin immediately volunteered to attempt the rescue of the man in the camouflet. He descended into the crater, tied a rope round the unconscious man, and assisted him to the surface where he died shortly afterwards. On reaching the surface Private Matkin suffered from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Private Matkin displayed gallantry, selfless devotion to duty, and disregarded of his own personal safety of an exceptionally high order, particularly as he knew that his service respirator was of no protection against the gas in the crater.’ The man he attempted to save was Sapper James Loughlin of 23 Bomb Disposal Company – SapperLOUGHLIN, JAMES Service Number 2128873 Died 19/03/1941 Aged 31 23 Bomb Disposal Coy. Royal Engineers Husband of Edith Loughlin, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. [/url ] The incident occurred at Fort Elson, Gosport, (I believe I may have noted that info from WO 166/4014, 23 BD Coy’s war diary, but I don’t have a copy of the page to hand). At that time Fort Elson was apparently being used as a store for depth charges and torpedoes. I did have a quick look for any other info on Matkin and it appears he was injured later in the war. Looking at where some of the other casualties occurred, (also mentioned in this newspaper article), it would appear that they were fighting around Monte Casino. Western Gazette - Friday 21 January 1944 [/url ] Anyway, thought it might be of interest.