REMEMBRANCE EXHIBITION: Frank Blaker VC – July 1944

REMEMBRANCE EXHIBITION: Frank Blaker VC – July 1944

“Tell them that I have gone from them, but they must go on fighting to the end” – the last words of a VC Hero. Frank Blaker VC – July 1944.

Frank Blaker was born in India on 8th May 1920, the son of Captain Blaker who had served in Mesopotamia during the First World War. Frank joined the Somerset Light Infantry in March 1940 before then commissioning into the Highland Light Infantry in 1941. In May 1942 he joined the 3rd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles, which then formed part of the 4th Indian Infantry Brigade of 26th Indian Division. The Division was operating in the Arakan with the object of containing any Japanese advance into India from that quarter.

In July 1943 when the Battalion was based at Taung Bazaar, Blaker, then commanding C Company, was sent to investigate Japanese activity in a village five miles to the south. During the ensuing engagement and at the end of a two mile chase, 16 Japanese had been killed and three wounded prisoners taken. The latter included the first Japanese officer to be captured in the Arakan. For this action, Captain Blaker was awarded the MC.

On the 5th of July 3/9GR was marching under the western slopes of a feature named Hill 2171 near Taunghi in the Arakan, when they encountered a force of Japanese soldiers determined to make a stand. During an attack, C Company became pinned down with no room to manoeuvre. It was at this point that Captain Blaker stood and ordered his men to charge, firing from his hip at the head of his men. As he charged, he received a grenade wound to the left wrist, but got within seven yards of the machine gun post before being cut down by a long burst of fire. Even when mortally wounded he continued to cheer on his men whilst lying on the ground. His fearless leadership inspired his men to storm and capture the objective. His last words, relayed to Captain Sweetman by the Havildar Major were “Thank C Company for all they have done for me. Tell them that I have gone from them, but they must go on fighting to the end.”

Temporary Major Frank Blaker was immediately recommended for, and subsequently awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, and is buried at Taukkyan Military Cemetery on the outskirts of Rangoon in Burma.

CLICK HERE to read more articles from our Remembrance Exhibition; Unforgotten: A Commemoration of Gurkha Service and Sacrifice

© The Gurkha Museum Trust Winchester - Registered Charity Number 1169920 (formerly 272426)