A/Cpl George Edgar Parker, 1st Field Company, Military Medal

Military Medal GVIR
Background 

The 1st Canadian Division's attack on the Hitler Line started ay 0600 hours on 23 May with two brigades up - 2nd Brigade right and 3rd Brigade left. The 1st Brigade relieved the second later in the day with the 48th Highlanders and supporting tanks in the lead.  The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment followed and relieved the 48th Highlanders in their attack on Point 106. The Hitler line was breached in the early evening as the 5th Armoured Division prepared to break through to the Melfa.

The 23rd of May was the worst single day in terms of casualties for the Canadian Army in the Italian Campaign. Eight hundren and ninety (890) Canadians were killed or wounded. The 2nd Brigade alone suffered 543 casualties, and supporting British armour lost 44 tanks. As these events occurred, the Allies were finally breaking out of the Anzio beachhead, threatening to cut the Germans off from the rear, making an exploitation of the Hitler Line penetration a priority.

The biggest task for the Engineers on the Hitler Line was breaching minefields.  Besides being covered by fire and defended by dug-in tank turrets and pillboxes, the minefield was over 200 feet deep with heavy barbed wire on either side.  It included Italian box mines, mostly surface laid.  Each brigade went into battle with a supporting field company.  The Sappers started during the night of 22/23 May, gapping minefields even before the assaulting troops were in position.​ This is where we find A/Cpl Parker.

Citation 

On 22 May 1944 the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment were in a position for the attack on the Adolf Hitler Line in the area Map Reference 73171. P.10774 Corporal George Edgar Parker with a party of four sappers was placed under command of the regiment.

That night Corporal Parker led his small party forward beyond the Forward Defended Localities, clearing mines from a track leading to Pontecorvo (Map Reference 7217). He was driven off the task early in the morning by an enemy patrol. He resolutely reorganized his party and returned to the road. There he cleared the mines from it to within 50 yards of a large enemy strong point. Throughout the evening he and his party were under intense heavy mortaring and shelling.

His great determination and fearless disregard for personal safety throughout this period serve as an example to his party and encouraged them to continue on an extremely difficult task. Due to his courageous work, British tanks were enabled to move forward of the regiment the following day and completely wiped out the enemy. His action was an outstanding example to all ranks. (See MM awarded to Sgt Hugh W Shiers 23 May 1944)