Sergeant C. O. Barron, MM; Timaru; born Clinton, 8 Jan 1915; lineman. (Source: Borman, C.A. Divisional Signals. p.318.)
'Back at Brigade Headquarters the staff waited, after 23 Battalion had crossed its start line, with the ill-concealed impatience that is a human failing on the eve of great events; but as the minutes lengthened into hours without any word of the progress of the advance and with no sign, in the thickening haze which rose over the front to obscure the bright moonlight, of the success rocket which was to be fired by the 23rd when it reached its objective, impatience strengthened into anxiety and perplexity. About 11.30 p.m., half an hour after the battalion should have reached its objective on the western side of the first enemy minefield, news reached Brigade Headquarters—it is thought from a No. 18 set with a section of 6 Field Company, although the evidence is scanty and unreliable—that the right-hand gap in the minefield was clear. Brigadier Kippenberger immediately ordered the battalion's transport, under the command of Captain Coop, to go forward by that route.
Meanwhile 23 Battalion had crossed the first enemy minefield at 10.30 p.m., and fifteen minutes later both the CO and the Adjutant had agreed that they must have reached their objective. At this stage the battalion signals officer reported that the terminal No. 11 set had broken down and that the battalion had no communication with Brigade Headquarters. It was subsequently discovered that the jeep in which the set was mounted, together with the mortar carriers and the commanding officer's jeep, had been held up by an unmarked minefield; thus, the interruption to wireless communication was only temporary. Several hundred yards in the rear Barron and Sheridan were still bringing the brigade line forward and soon after eleven o'clock, when they reported to Brigade Headquarters that they were 2000 yards out, encountered the first mines on the eastern fringe of the enemy field. A few minutes later, about 11.30 p.m., the Engineers had cleared the gap and Barron passed through. But on the western side, in the place which he recognised from earlier instructions as the battalion's objective, he found no one. He rang back on his line and reported what he had found, or rather, had not found; this was just as inexplicable to the brigade staff as it was to Barron and accounts for their frank disbelief of his statement.
Shortly afterwards Captain Coop arrived at the gap with his transport. Both he and Major Skinner, OC 7 Field Company, spoke to Brigade Headquarters on Barron's line and confirmed that 23 Battalion was nowhere to be seen in its objective area. Actually the battalion was ahead of its objective—and had been since 11.15 p.m. It was in front of the standing artillery barrage, which was playing on the line of the first objective for an hour before lifting forward for the second phase of the attack. Lieutenant-Colonel Romans sent his adjutant back to Brigade Headquarters at 3 a.m. to bring the battalion's fighting transport forward, and then went forward himself to find his infantry, which was pressing on towards the final objective. He managed to collect his companies and led them back to their own objective, where they dug in in readiness to meet counter-attacks. Battalion Headquarters was established at 2 a.m. and line communication opened with Brigade Headquarters.
For the manner in which he laid the brigade line close up behind 23 Battalion in its advance towards its objective, Corporal Barron received an immediate award of the MM. His exemplary coolness under fire and standard of leadership enabled him to carry out his difficult task with success; his initiative in passing back valuable information to Headquarters 5 Brigade during the attack gained specific mention in the citation.; Alam Halfa and Alamein - Although the first objective was gained within a few minutes of the planned time, five minutes past eleven, confirmation of their success from the battalion commanders did not reach the brigade headquarters until much later. However, a general but sometimes confusing picture of events was gained from information passed back by the various parties of engineers, signals, and support groups following up the infantry. The brigade major at 5 Brigade headquarters, Major M. C. Fairbrother, was told by a signalman, Corporal Barron, who was laying line behind 23 Battalion, and later by the battalion support group commander, Captain Coop, that the battalion had disappeared beyond its objective, and, though the brigade staff questioned this story, the sum of information they received indicated that the way to the first objective was clear. Although news coming through 30 Corps concerning the events on the Division's flanks was even more sketchy, Freyberg saw no reason to postpone the second wave of the attack, for which the four remaining battalions were already on their way to their start lines on the first objective.' (Source: Borman, C.A. Divisional Signals. p. 318; Walker, R. Alam Halfa and Alamein. p. 267.) AWMM