Martin McRae wins the DCM at Cassino

Lieutenant T.G.S. Morrin of the 19th Armoured Regiment describes the action at Cassino on 19 March 1944 that earned Māori Battalion Warrant Officer Martin McRae the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). McRae had discovered a German tank and troops dug into a ruined building and calmly directed New Zealand tanks to fire into the building, leading to the capture of almost 100 prisoners:

As we were pulling out once to replenish with ammunition, we had a small dump in behind the Convent, a Maori (WO I McRae) who was in one room at the end of a long building, made out he wanted us to shoot up the end room. We obliged with HE from the 75 and Browning and carried on, on his instructions, at various openings, doorways and windows, in the building. This went on for some time. We fired quite a number of rounds of HE and a few belts of Browning at a range from about eight feet to 60-70 yards.

We noticed one of the Maoris, there were only two of them, had a Hun prisoner by then and the following was most natural and realistic. McRae made the Hun to understand if he told the rest of the Huns to surrender all would be well, if not he would be shot ... The movement of McRae's tommy gun was dinkum enough. The Maori won out OK and in next to no time Huns were everywhere, dozens of them. I think there were round 70-80 that came out alright and with the dead and wounded the score for the building would be near the 100 mark. My tank I think did most, if not all the shooting on this building, but 2 Lt Carmichael in his tank was on the scene before the end of the action.

I omitted to mention that the prisoner was pulled out of the tank in the room. He was the wireless operator and McRae's observation was done by looking through a doorway which led into a long corridor.

From J.F. Cody's official history, 28 (Maori) Battalion (Wellington, 1956), pp. 371-72.

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