Home of the Infantry Regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire

WOII Harry Sparkes M.M. Presentation of Medals

On Friday 16th May twenty-one relations of Warrant Officer Class II  Harry James Sparkes came to the museum for a formal presentation of his medals, photographs and documents. The items were donated to the museum several weeks ago and then were displayed in the museum.
The museum Curator, Micheal Cornwell was there to give the presentation speech, the content of which follows;-
'Ladies & Gentlemen.  You have given a newly appointed Curator quite a challenge in trying to give you detailed information on WO2 Harry James Sparkes MM (Military Medal).
The case behind me which displays his medals and some of his documents and photographs relating to his service was put together by the Assistant Curator, Jackie Dryden, and I am sure you will agree it has done WO2 Sparkes proud.
There were two elements of the historical research that threw me, firstly there is a photograph of a younger Harry Sparkes wearing the Royal Artillery uniform. It transpires he joined the Territorial Army in 1923 into the R.A. and spent much of his training time firing heavy guns on Salisbury Plain. He left the TA in 1936 but when World War Two was in the offing, Harry Sparkes (according to Bob - his son), informed his mother one day he was nipping out for some bread, he actually enlisted in to the Wiltshire Regiment as a Private. Obviously his precious TA experience stood him in good stead because he quickly made sergeant!
 When and where WO2 Sparkes won his MM is not quite clear. He is mentioned four times in 'The Maroon Square', an account of the exploits of the 4th Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment in the Second World War. The most likely action seems to be when the Battle of Cleve or Trippenberg took place in 1945. His name also appears in the London Gazette in October 1945 where he is is listed as a recipient of the Military Medal for Gallantry in North West Europe.
WO2 Sparkes appears to have served all his time in D Company and, as with every member of the 4th and 5th Battalions, was involved in heavy fighting from landing on the beaches of Normandy right through France, Holland and, finally, Germany.
He was obviously a highly professional and experienced soldier, respected and admired by all as some of his testimonials bear out.'
The picture shows members of the Sparkes family together in the museum grounds.