- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Captain (temporary Major)
- The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) (Sherburn Hill, Co. Durham).
- Awarded on:
- September 23rd, 1943
Major Baker-Baker, 1st Battalion The Black Watch was ordered to take command of the Battalion during the battle at Gerbini at 0600 hours on July 22nd, 1943 as Colonel Blair the C.O. had been wounded. At the time he took over command two companies of the Black Watch were attacking the Southern outskirts of Gerbini. The remainder were moving up to the anti-tank ditch some 800 yards South of the village. The woods North of and round Gerbini had been occupied by the H.Q. and two Coys of 7 A & S.H. and fierce hand to hand fighting had taken place in that area from midnight the night before. The area had been subjected to fierce counter-attacks and infiltration throughout the night and morning; and considerable pockets of resistance were still holding out on the Southern outskirts of Gerbini. The task given to Major Baker-Baker was to attack and clear the enemy out of Gerbini and to reorganize in conjunction with 7 A & S.H. the position against further counter attacks. This task he accomplished and at 1000 hrs the area was in process of being reorganized when a heavy counter-attack developed. The Squadron of tanks which at this stage should have been covering the reorganization, were forced to withdraw, leaving the flanks of the position open. Major Baker-Baker maintained a thorough grip on this situation, and was seen on many occasions rallying tired men and encouraging them to still greater efforts. At about 1100 hrs the situation deteriorated as enemy tanks and armored cars had positioned themselves on the flanks and were bringing considerable fire to bear from positions on the Southern exits of Gerbini. Major Baker-Baker was unable to communicate with Brigade H.Q. owing to the fact that his wireless set was damaged and himself made the decision to withdraw to the anti-tank ditch some 800 yards South of Gerbini. There is no doubt that this was a wise decision and a bold and difficult one to take by a comparatively junior officer. The withdrawal was systematically carried out under Major Baker-Baker’s directions. The Rifle Companies of the Black Watch and some 150 men of the 7A & S.H. who were now practically without officers were safely extricated. The decision to withdraw and the handing of the withdrawal by Major Baker-Baker averted the arduous consequences which might have resulted had the Gerbini locality in the absence of our tanks, been surrounded by enemy armour. His action throughout the battle was beyond praise – during the whole action he was under heavy fire and, in spite of this conducted operations, coolly and soundly