WILES, John Walter  
Name:  Wiles, John Walter
Date of birth: April 29th, 1916 (Uitenhage, South Africa)
Date of death:  May 19th, 2005 (Margaret River/Western Australia, Australia)
Nationality:  South African
Servicenumber 8810V.

John Walter Wiles was born on 29 April 1916 to Pauline and artist Walter Gilbert ‘WG’ Wiles in Uitenhage, South Africa.
John attended St Andrews College in Grahamstown and then Rhodes University, completing a B.Sc. majoring in geology & chemistry in 1938. The following year he was at the Metallurgical Laboratory in Johannesburg on a Mineral Research Scholarship.

With the outbreak of WW2, John mobilized for full time service with the Union Defense Force (No. 8810V). He joined the First City Regiment in Grahamstown where he had been a cadet during school and university, and then went on an officer’s training course at the S.A. Military College, Voortrekkerhoogte. He received his Commission on 21 February 1941 and became Lieutenant with effect from 21 August.
In April 1942 John was sent to North Africa as an anti-tank platoon commander with the 1st Royal Natal Carbineers joining the 1st SA Infantry Brigade Battle Group at Gazala. After the rout of the Allies by Rommel’s panzers, John was very lucky to escape Tobruk. On 27 July, he was unfortunately wounded in action at Miteiriya Ridge (El Alamein) when a burst of machine-gun fire struck his left arm causing multiple fractures.
After recuperating, and instead of taking an honourable discharge and disability pension, John declined both, as to him it meant accepting defeat. John re-assumed duty and mobilized to Egypt in April 1943 for the Italian Campaign with the newly combined First City / Cape Town Highlanders in 12th Motorized Brigade of 6th SA Armoured Division.
John Wiles was promoted to Commander of the Scouts with the rank of Captain on 20 June 1944. He was awarded the Military Cross on 18 October 1944.

In October 1945, John returned to South Africa and demobilized from the UDF in March 1946, returning to Rhodes to undertake an M.Sc. in geology. In February 1947, John married Sheila Pretorius and took a job with the Geological Survey in Southern Rhodesia. John and Shelia had five children, Christopher John (1947), Allan Harper (1949), Anne Jennifer (1951), Jonathan Brian (1954) and Elizabeth Mary (1956).
In April 1963 John completed his Ph.D. in geology. In April 1976 John retired to Knysna, South Africa where he and Shelia ran a small real estate company. In 1985 they migrated to Australia and became citizens in 1988. With Shelia’s illness they returned to South Africa in 1991. John returned to Australia alone in 1994. In 1997 he married Joan Irene Danser in Perth.
John Wiles passed away at Margaret River, Western Australia, on 19 May 2005 at the age of 89.
Rank: Temporary Captain
Unit: First City / Cape Town Highlanders
Awarded on: March 8th, 1945
Action: Citation:
"During the Brigade advance along the line of mountains North of Grizzana a stage had been reached when strong positions had been won but little was known of the enemy strength or dispositions in the mountains ahead. This information had to be obtained before the next attack could be planned.
Six of the battalion Scouts, commanded by Captain Wiles, were sent on this task on the morning of 18th October 1944. He worked his way through the most difficult terrain of scree slopes and mountain and finally reached his objective, a long ridge running east and west which dominated the route over which the Brigade advance would have to go. Enemy was observed moving up into new positions on the reverse slopes. By means of a pack set wireless Captain Wiles’ patrol passed back the most accurate reports enabling the guns and 4.2 mortars to engage with killing effect.
With complete calm and precision he continued to report and direct the fire, literally from the middle of the enemy’s own position. The final act of cool courage being to bring down a concentration of 4.2 mortar bombs on himself as the enemy had cut him off and encircled his scouts. He then drew back under cover of the smoke and confusion of the barrage, and, returning to his Headquarters, without losing one of his men, gave a detailed and most accurate account of all that he had observed."
Rank: Captain
Unit: First City / Cape Town Highlanders
1939-1945 STAR
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Picture source:   - Chris J. Wiles
Information source(s):   - Orpen N., The Cape Town Highlanders 1885 - 1970, Captain J. W. Wiles pages 195, 210, 268, 288
- Supplement to The London Gazette of 6th March 1945, Issue 36972, dated 8th March 1945
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