Herbert Archer

Medals awarded

  • 1939-1945 Star
  • Italy Star
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • Military Medal

On 22 January 1944, Private Archer was part of a platoon attack on German tanks and infantry near the cemetery at Minturno, which is on the west coast of Italy, between Rome and Naples.

For the Green Howards, the Allies’ campaign in mainland Italy had begun with an unopposed crossing of the Straits of Messina on 3 September 1943; a relief after the costly advance through Sicily. Churchill’s vision of a ‘soft underbelly’ to Europe proved to be an underestimation.

The advance north towards the Apennines and the Adriatic coast saw the Germans contest every river and ridge line. The soft underbelly had become, in the words of General Mark Clark, a ‘tough old gut.’

map of Italy showing Allied advance

When an anti tank projectile attack failed, Herbert Archer rushed forward in the face of heavy machine-gun fire, killing and wounding several of the enemy with grenades.

Later the same day, again under heavy fire which pinned the platoon down, he attacked with rifle and grenades, killing six Germans.

Archer’s actions gained him the Military Medal for his ‘extremely high example of bravery and coolness under heavy fire.’

Herbert Christopher Archer died in Scarborough, aged 68, in 1988.