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Sad News from the Tower
IP: 86.156.243.194


It is with sadness that I report that David Maurice Sharp BEM, ex RNF (and many other regiments), died on 13th November 2016, aged 88.

He has no surviving close family. The funeral will take place on Friday 16 December, at Charing Crematorium, New Court Wood, Ashford, TN27 0EB at1400 hrs. It will be followed by drinks at the Officers Mess in Ashford ARC.

As a veteran David played an enthusiastic role in the 1RRF’s war studies whilst the Battalion was based in Canterbury. Whilst teaching the officers of 5 AB Bde about a real battle and PoW survival, he was influential in encouraging several Fusiliers to go for SF selection.
Reproduced below is his history. I make no apologies for its length – it is quite remarkable.
David Maurice Sharp was born in Hackney on the 12 January 1928. The family moved to Birmingham before the war, and when war began David acted as a cycle messenger for the local air raid warden’s first aid posts. He experienced night and daylight bombing in his local area, and was witness to much devastation. In 1945 David joined the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (RNF); he completed basic training at Winchester and machine gun training at Chester. On completion of his training in early 1946 he was posted to the Far East and served in Java and Sumatra during the confrontation with the Dutch, which resulted in the Dutch withdrawing from the Dutch East Indies and the country becoming Indonesia. David was then moved to South East Asia Command, as a corporal, to train as a Jungle Warfare instructor. He remained at the Jungle Warfare School in Kota Tinggi, Johore, until the start of the Malayan Emergency in 1948. He then moved to operations and became involved in long-range jungle patrols with the Malay Scouts, the forerunner of the post-war SAS.
After four years in the Far East David returned to England and re-joined his Regiment at the School of Infantry at Warminster in the rank of Sergeant Instructor. In June 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, the Battalion was mobilised and joined the 29 Infantry Brigade Group. Due to his Intelligence gathering experience in Malaya, David was appointed Battalion Intelligence Sgt and later moved to the Brigade Intelligence cell, and once again left the 1RNF. He travelled to Korea with an advanced party to carry out recce and observation duties and then returned to Singapore to brief Brigade HQ on the situation in Korea. He returned to Korea with 29 Brigade and worked in the Intelligence cell.
At times David was deployed with the US 1st Corps, under the command of the 8th US Army, and he became aware that they were trawling units for men with experience of patrolling and Intelligence gathering techniques behind enemy lines. With his experience in Malaya David applied and was accepted. The unit was a US led organisation together with South Korean Special Forces; very few British (thought to be six) were involved.
Now working with the Tactical Intelligence Liaison Office of the US 1st Corps, and known as part of the United Nations Partisan Forces in Korea Miscellaneous Units, David served on Intelligence Gathering Operations in North Korea from the winter of 1950 until March 1951. In April a request was made from the Commanding Officer of 1 RNF for David to return on a temporary basis to replace their Intelligence Sergeant, who neded to return to the UK on compassionate grounds. Shortly after his arrival back in the Batallion, the Battle of the Imjin River started. The RNF fought to the right of the Gloucestershire Regiment during their 80 hour battle with the Chinese; on the 25 April 1951 David, fighting a rear-guard action, was wounded and captured trying to fight his way through a Chinese road block. He was left at the road-side, together with several other wounded Fusiliers, for five days without treatment or assistance, when Chinese troops, realising that the wounded men were not a threat, gave them soya beans, water and soya bean cakes. Two days later other Chinese troops arrived and put David and the other wounded into pony wagons and took them across the Imjin River to a POW collection point.
David’s initial interrogation was quite crude and unprofessional; three weeks later the POWs were marched out of camp on a 300 mile ‘death march’, covering up to 15 miles each night to avoid US air strikes. Prisoners who dropped out were not seen again. After four days David escaped from the column but was caught by the Chinese troops, badly beaten and returned to the march. Eventually the column reached Mun-Hari (nick-named ‘Halfway House’) where David was taken out, with others, for interrogation; some of the others included Captain Farrar-Hockley (later General Farrar-Hockley) and Padre Davis of the Gloucester’s. David refused to cooperate, so was bound and placed in a bunker. Periodically he was taken out for interrogation. David’s defiant attitude annoyed his Chinese captors and one afternoon he found himself tied to a tree in front of a firing squad ready to fire. Six weeks later he was taken out of the bunker and marched for ten days to Camp 1 at Chong Song.
Here officers and SNCOs were separated from the other ranks. After five weeks David was placed in solitary confinement and interrogated once again. He was accused of being an Intelligence agent and handed over to the Korean Security Police who put him in a Korean Jail, where he was variously placed in isolation; beaten for extended periods; forced to stand outside, bare-footed and at attention for long periods in temperatures of -50F◦ with cold water thrown at his feet. Later David was taken to another interrogation centre where he was joined by one of his officers, Lt Leo Adams-Acton, who had also been part of the US led UN Partisan Forces and captured in December 1950. (Adams-Acton was later shot while trying to escape). Although both men were in solitary confinement they managed to communicate, and escaped. Having been on the run for four and a half weeks they were eventually captured by a Chinese Patrol and taken back to Chong Song. There they were placed in long wooden boxes, and taken out intermittently to undergo brutal interrogations. David, Leo Adams Acton and a US marine escaped, but this time the Chinese were waiting for them. They had been betrayed, it is thought, by another POW. Shackled, David was returned to his box in solitary confinement, remaining there until December 1952 when he was transferred to Camp 5 at Pyoktong for further interrogations.
The interrogations involved cold water poured over his feet; being burned with cigarettes while hanging from a bar by his fingers; being badly beaten; holding a large rock over his head for long periods while kneeling. Other methods experienced included the covering of his face with a cloth whilst seated on a chair then being tipped backwards onto the ground whilst water was poured onto to the cloth, causing him to suffocate and black out.
David was later moved to Camp 2 at Ogye Dong, a camp for ‘difficult prisoners’ who the Chinese suspected of being involved in Intelligence work. He remained there until June 1953 when he was repatriated; he had the dubious honour of being the last POW handed over by the Chinese. Throughout his imprisonment the Chinese and North Koreans had denied him Red Cross parcels or letters from home.
After debriefing in Japan, David returned to the UK for hospitalisation and then leave. Later posted to
Al-9, where he assisted with the compilation of the army manual ‘Conduct Under Capture Training’. On completion, he returned once again to the RNF depot in Newcastle. The 1RNF were, at this point, involved with the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.
On the 17 December 1950, in recognition of his time serving with the US led UN Partisan Forces in Korea, David was awarded the US Army Commendation with ‘V’ for Valor on the ribbon; ‘As the Chinese Communist Forces drove south, Sgt Sharp, on numerous occasions, led reconnaissance patrols northwards into enemy held territory, often spending days behind enemy lines and having to fight through enemy lines to return to reach UN forces’. On the 28th November 1953, David was awarded The British Empire Medal (Military Division) for setting the ‘highest examples of integrity, loyalty and courage’. His conduct under capture exceeded the normal call of duty demanded. South Korea awarded him The Korean Medal of Honour, and he also received the Nobel Peace Medal. David left the Regular Army in March 1954 in the rank of Sergeant.
After the Regular Army David was commissioned and served with the RAMC Parachute Field Ambulance Unit, Territorial Army [TA], later transferring to the 16th Lincoln Company of the Parachute Regiment [TA]. This unit provided the Pathfinder unit to the 16th Airborne Division (TA). David took on various jobs with the Company ranging from Platoon Commander to Air Adjutant.
In civilian life David took up physical pursuits at University and became a teacher, lecturer and then head of a department of Teacher Training. Later, recruited by the Department of the Environment as a member of the New Towns Commission. He became involved with designing all the leisure facilities for Milton Keynes. Moving to London, he dealt with inner city depravation in the borough of Lambeth. This was followed by a Chief Officer appointment in Kent. He later changed jobs and became a security consultant and adviser for Government Security Training Teams which involved frequent travel to all parts of the world.
David’s experiences during the Korean War never left him; he overcame his demons through work. He was always busy, still working at the age of 88, regularly travelling to Florida for meetings with US Special Forces veterans from Korea War Days.

Continued on message below

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