Our first watch in The Stirling Timepieces tactical range is named after John Brunt VC MC.
On leaving school, John Brunt joined the army, training as a Private with the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1941. He gained his commission on 2 January 1943 and was posted to North Africa. Although he was commissioned in the Sherwood Foresters, he never served with them, instead being posted to the 6th Battalion, Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, having become friendly with Captain Alan Money, an officer in the Lincolns on the boat to Africa. On 9 September 1943, the 6th Battalion landed at Salerno (Italy) and Lieutenant Brunt was given command of 9 Platoon A Company. The unit subsequently moved South East to establish a base in a farm near the river Asa.
On 9 December 1944, Captain Brunt's platoon was dug-in around a house near Faenza, Italy. At dawn, the German 90th Panzer Division counter-attacked the British forward position in great strength with tanks and infantry. The house that Brunt's platoon were holding was completely destroyed by mortar fire. Switching to another position, Captain Brunt held back the enemy although he and his men were outnumbered by at least three to one. His wireless set was destroyed by shell-fire, but on receiving a message, by runner, to withdraw his platoon to a safe position, he remained behind to give covering fire. When his Bren ammunition ran out, he fired a Piat and 2 inch. Mortar, abandoned by casualties, before sprinting over open ground to the new position himself. This aggressive defence caused the enemy to pause, giving Brunt time to take a party back to his previous position, and although fiercely engaged by small arms fire, they rescued the wounded that had been left behind.
During a battle with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Herman Goering Panzer Grenadier Regiment, on 15th December 1943, Brunt earned the Military Cross for his part in rescuing a wounded soldier. Later in the day, the enemy mounted a counter-attack from two sides. Captain Brunt immediately seized a Bren gun, leapt on a Sherman tank and ordered the tank commander to drive from one fire position to another, whilst he sat, or stood, on the turret, directing fire at the advancing enemy, regardless of the hail of small arms fire. Then, seeing some of the enemy, who were armed with bazookas, trying to approach round the left flank, he jumped off the tank and stalked them in front of the Company positions, killing more and causing the enemy to withdraw.
Captain Brunt survived the battle but was killed by mortar fire on the following day. He had celebrated his 22nd birthday just four days before.