Archived Lot

Date of Auction: 4th April 2001

Sold for £1,100

Estimate: £500 - £600

An exceptional Second World War escaper’s I.D.S.M. group of five awarded to Havildar Dhirta Singh, 11th Sikh Regiment, also awarded the MacGregor Memorial Medal for his escape

Indian Distinguished Service Medal, G.VI.R. (10088 Hav., 4-11 Sikh R.) official correction to part of name; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Defence & War Medals, very fine and better (5) £500-600


I.D.S.M. recommendation dated 6 October 1942: ‘This Hav. was taken prisoner by the Germans with a number of other men of the Bn on 1st July at Deir-el-Shein whence he eventually arrived at Tobruk. Here, after working some weeks on the railway, he collected three other men of the Bn who were also prisoners of war, and on the night of 18 August made his escape. Prior to leaving he had collected a sand bag full of biscuits and a two-gallon tin of water. Using his previous knowledge of the country gained during last year’s advance he led his party via El Adem and El Gubi to Sofafi. Here they lost their way and found themselves at Sidi Omar. Recognizing the spot as that where he fought in November 1941, Dhirta Singh turned his party about and moved Eastwards again until he was picked up on 7th September by elements of 10 Armoured Division in the Southern Sector.

Whilst in Tobruk he made full use of his opportunities of obtaining valuable information which he imparted on his return. By his fortitude and leadership he saved not only himself but also three of his brother soldiers whom he led across 400 miles of the desert occupied by enemy troops. By his fieldcraft he enabled his party to avoid bodies of enemy troops which they frequently met. Throughout the journey he was untiring in his efforts cheering on his men when tired and not sparing himself or considering his own personal safety when reconnoitring for ways through enemy positions.’

In recognition of this exceptional feat, Havildar Dhirta Singh was awarded the silver MacGregor Memorial Medal for 1943. Usually awarded annually, this was the first award of this rare medal since 1938 and it was awarded on only one occasion subsequently, in 1944.