This project has been undertaken in memory of my grandfather, Reverend Alek William Sawyer O.B.E., M.C., T.D., M.A., B.D., D.D. (1903-1973). At the start of the period in question, he was attached to the 15th Scottish Division's 44th Brigade as Padre to the 6th Battalion, The King's Own Scottish Borderers. He then served with the 6th Battalion throughout the campaign in Normandy and Belgium. On 10 October 1944, he was posted to H.Q., 15th Scottish Division, and later appointed Senior Chaplain to the Forces (SCF) on 25 March 1945.
On 30 October 1944, he was recommended for the Military Cross, which was approved on 29 March 1945, having also been Mentioned in Dispatches on 22 March 1945. The M.C. recommendation, which incorrectly describes him as Chaplain to the Royal Scots Fusiliers, reads as follows:
"The Reverend AW SAWYER has served as Chaplain with the 44th Lowland Brigade and in particular with the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers during the whole campaign in France and Belgium.
Since the 1st of August he has been in action continuously with the Scots Fusiliers including four major engagements. In August at ESTRY and again in September at GHEEL, when the battalion was in very close contact with the enemy and where movement by day was almost impossible, the Reverend Sawyer was almost continuously at the RAP or visiting forward companies. At the crossing of the SEINE in August he was across the river with the battalion in the early stages. In September at BEST, when bad weather and the wet low lying country made the conditions under which the forward troops lived extremely bad, his presence with the troops regardless of danger and his own discomfort was an inspiration to the men.
His service throughout this period has been of the highest order. His example of cool courage under fire and his selfless devotion to the interests and welfare of the men under all circumstances has been a most important factor in maintaining the moral and fighting spirit of the Battalion".
A TA Chaplain from June 1939, he was embodied into the Royal Army Chaplains Department in August 1939 as Chaplain to the Forces (4th Class) with the rank of Captain. He was subsequently appointed to the 8th Battalion, The Royal Scots, as their first Padre, remaining with the 8th Battalion until 26 October 1943, when he was posted to the 6th Battalion, The King's Own Scottish Borderers.
After the war and on the reconstitution of the TA in 1948, he again became a TA Chaplain, being selected for the appointment of Senior Chaplain to the Forces, 52nd (Lowland) Division, in 1949. He was awarded the T.D. in 1951 and, in December 1953, was promoted 2nd Class and appointed Deputy Assistant Chaplain-General (D.A.C.G.) (T.A.) Scottish Command. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1958 for services to the Territorial Army.
In June 1947, having been tasked by the Divisional Association to find a suitable site for a Divisional war memorial in Normandy, he accompanied Major-General C.M. "Tiny" Barber (then Highland District Commander) and Mrs Barber on a 500-mile tour of all the positions held by the Division during the Normandy campaign in 1944. On their return, they submitted their choice to the Association's Executive Committee for approval.
On 26th June 1949, five years to the day since the start of Operation EPSOM, the war memorial to the 15th Scottish Division was unveiled at Tourville-sur-Odon by General Sir Richard O'Connor, G.C.B., D.S.O., M.C. (VIII Corps Commander in Normandy) and dedicated by the Reverend A.W. Sawyer M.C. Lochaber No More and the Divisional March, Scotland the Brave, were played and the Mayor of Tourville accepted the memorial for safe-keeping.
This website is dedicated to the memory of all those who served with the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division during the North West Europe campaign of the Second World War.