Distinguished Conduct Medal G.VI.R., ‘Indiae.Imp.’ legend (1937-1947). 5378576 Sergeant C.W.J. Roby, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire L.I GVF
London Gazette 20 August 1940.
For gallant and distinguished services in action in connection with recent operations. Christopher William James Roby, a reservist who re-joined the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Regiment on the outbreak of war, was decorated for his gallantry as a Sergeant in ‘C’ Company of the 4th Battalion at Mai Cornet, near Cassel, on the 26-27 May 1940:
‘As the light tanks of the 13th/18th Hussars reached the houses on the north side of the road at Mai Cornet, they found Sergeant Roby with two sections of his platoon of ‘C’ Company, some of whom were wounded, still holding his post. His presence had been unknown to Regimental H.Q. He himself had made several attempts to get across during the attack to report, but was driven back to cover by fire. He accordingly held his post, unconcerned by what was happening, until the counter-attack appeared. For his gallantry, Sergeant Roby was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. ‘
Regimental records also refer to the fact that Roby and his men drove off several determined attacks before the arrival of the 13th/18th Hussars. His subsequent award of the D.C.M. was one of 12 to the Regiment for the 1939-45 War, three of which stemmed from operations in France and Belgium in 1940, but it was Roby who was chosen by his seniors to sit for the artist Eric Kennington, in 1942, when a candidate was required to represent the courage of the Regiment’s N.C.Os and men during the stand at Cassel, and elsewhere, on the retreat to Dunkirk. Described as a very fine portrait in pastel, it was purchased by the officers of the Regiment after being exhibited in London. Regimental records describe a further act of bravery by Roby:
‘On the 13 January 1941 occurred an incident which caused the Divisional Commander to direct that an appropriate entry should be made on the conduct sheet of C.S.M. Roby in accordance of paragraph 1718 (B) of the King’s Regulations, 1940. The following extract from the war diary describes the occasion: 5378576 C.S.M. C. Roby, D.C.M., was instructing in the throwing of live grenades on Willsworthy ranges on Monday, 13 January 1941, when a soldier, who had withdrawn the safety pin from a grenade, failed to hold the lever down with his fingers, with the result that it flew away, thus actuating the firing mechanism. The soldier was in the throwing position when this occurred and, apparently losing his nerve, he dropped the grenade on the floor of the throwing pit, in which he and C.S.M. Roby were standing. About four seconds had then elapsed from the time the lever had sprung clear, but C.S.M. Roby, with great presence of mind, kicked the grenade round the corner of the wall between the bays, at the same time pulling the soldier with him on the ground. The grenade immediately exploded and C.S.M. Roby’s presence of mind undoubtedly prevented a serious, if not fatal, incident.’ Roby, who by one account was best described as ‘fit and fearless’, was advanced to Regimental Sergeant-Major at Petworth, Sussex, in 1944, where the Regiment was based on the eve of its departure for North-West Europe, and he was serving as R.S.M. of the 1st Gloucester Battalion in Germany at the end of the war.