Lance Corporal M. R. Blacktopp, MM; Wellington; born Greymouth, 19 Mar 1922; PWD employee. (Source: Cody, J.F. NZ Engineers, Middle East. p.701.)
'It was decided to open the main highway, and Captain Keller, detailed to make a ‘recce’ of the new axis, returned for a tank to remove an enemy post that had been overrun. A reserve dozer made a crossing at the demolished bridge site and the party pushed on to the Acquarolo, where they found the bridge intact. The next obstacle, the Fossatone, was a branch of the Quaderna and needed a lot of work.
The area was under defensive enemy fire, and the blast of a shell that wounded Captain Keller lifted the dozer into the air and damaged its mechanism. The operator, Sapper Blacktopp, was very shaken but made repairs while Keller, propped up on the side of the road, directed the work until the crossing was through. They were later decorated with MC and MM respectively. The soft-skinned machines were left at this point and an armoured dozer from an attached section of 28 Assault Squadron, driven by Corporal C. H. Anderton, took over. Owing to the lack of experienced Sherman dozer operators he had been working his machine with a minimum of sleep since he was blown up on the Senio, and he received a well merited MM in the next honours list. L-Corporal M. R. Blacktopp, MM; Wellington; born Greymouth, 19 Mar 1922.; Italy II - The sappers of 6 Field Company, assisted by the bulldozers of 27 Mechanical Equipment Company, had difficulty in opening routes for the tanks and supporting arms of 9 Brigade because of the defensive fire which delayed them at the start and because of the German snipers and machine-gunners who had survived the infantry attack or had infiltrated from the right flank. The first obstacle, the Gaiana, had not been cleared in Divisional Cavalry's sector by 3.30 a.m. It was decided, therefore, to open the Budrio road instead. A crossing of the river was bulldozed at the demolished bridge site, and a party rushed on to the Acquarolo, where fortunately the bridge was still intact. The next obstacle, the Fossatone, was under defensive fire, and while working there Captain Keller was wounded and a bulldozer damaged by shellfire. Although very shaken, the bulldozer operator (Lance-Corporal Blacktopp) repaired his machine and carried on with the work, which Keller continued to supervise.' (Source: Cody, J.F. NZ Engineers, Middle East. p. 701.; Kay, R. Italy Volume II : From Cassino to Trieste. p. 477.) AWMM