22 SAS Baxter, Harold William

John Robertson

Staff member
Harold William
  • UNIT
  • RANK
British Empire Medal,Mention in Despatches
Malaya 1955 (MiD), Pahang, Malaya 24th February 1956 (BEM)
parent unit Royal Army Medical Corps
recommended for George Medal, awarded BEM


British Empire Medal : On 24 February, 1956 a trooper of 22 Special Air Service Regiment was seriously wounded on a deep jungle patrol near the NEGRI SEMBILAN - PAHANG border. That this man is alive today and well on the way to recovery is entirely due to the courage, skill and tenacity of purpose of Sergeant Baxter the Medical Sergeant on 22 Special Air Service Regiment.

There being no Medical Officer available who was parachute and jungle trained, Sergeant Baxter was ordered to the scene of the incident. It was anticipated that he would be required to parachute into the jungle and a helicopter was provided for this purpose. On arrival at the airfield it was noted that the aircraft was not prepared for parachuting, being fitted with seats and a sliding door. As an experienced parachutist Sergeant Baxter well knew the risk involved in jumping from an aircraft containing obstructions but, rather than delay his take-off for an hour whilst that aircraft was made ready, he accepted it for parachuting in its unprepared state.

After an area search lasting over an hour the pilot was unable to locate the position of the wounded trooper. With darkness approaching, and with only a few minutes reserve fuel left, the pilot located a troop base some four to five thousand yards from the incident. As insufficient daylight remained to risk parachuting a lone man, however willing, into primary jungle Sergeant Baxter agreed to attempt an extremely hazardous rope scramble into a small log strewn clearing near the base.

After several attempts the pilot succeeded in manoeuvring his aircraft so that the end of the twenty foot scramble rope was between ten and fifteen feet from the ground. Refusing to throw out his bergen rucksack in case his surgical equipment should be damaged, and without a moments hesitation, Sergeant Baxter swarmed down the rope with forty pounds of additional weight on his back and was last seen falling backwards over a fallen tree trunk.

Taking one man from the small base party Sergeant Baxter set off into the jungle in darkness. By sheer determination, and by using candles to get them over the worst of the going, Sergeant Baxter and his companion succeeded in reaching the wounded man by about 2200 hours, Sergeant Baxter gave first aid treatment and administered blood plasma. The wounded trooper's life hung in the balance for several hours and it was only Sergeant Baxter's care and skill and the fact that he had not been deterred by a night jungle march, that saved the man's life.

The action of this young non-commissioned officer on this day was beyond all praise. Not only did he risk serious personal injury and undertake successfully a difficult night march, but he also displayed professional skill far beyond that expected of a man of his age and rank, thereby gaining the wholehearted praise of the medical officers who later treated the injured trooper in hospital.


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