[Transcript of Recommendation of Award]
Rank and Name
Action for which recommended -
On 18 April 1944, two Columns under Major ASTELL, which had been taking part in heavy fighting during the previous three weeks, were moving towards a British block which had been established astride a road and railway at HENU, Burma.
At 0630 hours, the leading troop had reached the broad stream bed of the Mawlu Chaung, when heavy fire was opened from the far side. Fighting developed on all sides, the enemy proved to be for the most part in dug-in positions. It became apparent that the route of the columns had taken them right between two strongly defended localities, which the enemy was holding in great strength with heavy and medium machine guns and mortars. The ensuing action, which was exceedingly hard-fought, continued for over four hours, when Major ASTELL received orders to disengage and continue his march by another route. This disengagement was hotly opposed by the enemy, who were by this time all around the columns; but with great skill Major ASTELL succeeded in withdrawing the greater part of his wounded.
Although in this action he lost twenty percent of his strength, the number of Japanese killed is known to have been more than twice his own losses, and is believed to be much higher still. Although twelve out of fourteen mules were killed, all mortars and machine guns were successfully manhandled out of the battle, and carried many miles. The whole action was fought with great determination by all ranks, and reflected as much credit on them as if it had been crowned with success. The personal conduct of Major ASTELL throughout was magnificent. He exposed himself fearlessly where the fire was hottest, his exemplary courage and demeanour inspired his troops to great deeds, and won their admiration for ever.
(Signed) B.E. Fergusson Brigadier
3 June 44
Brigadier B.E. Fergusson DSO
Commanding 16th Infantry Brigade
Honour or Reward
W. Lentaigne, Major General
Comd. 3 Ind.Div.
G. Giffard, General
C-in-C 11 Army Group
(London Gazette 04.01.1945)