Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (30 March 2011)

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Date of Auction: 30th March 2011

Sold for £5,800

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A rare Korean War Bronze Star group of eleven awarded to Sergeant Jack Whiting, Royal Marines, a member of “Pounds’ Force”, 41st Independent Commando, which engaged in night raids in enemy-held Korea

1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals; Korea 1950-53 (PO/X.4066 J. H. Whiting, Cpl. R.M.); U.N. Korea; Coronation 1953; Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., E.II.R., 1st issue (PO/X 4066 J. H. Whiting, Sgt. R.M.); U.S.A., Bronze Star, with ‘V’ combat device, mounted as worn, very fine (11) £4000-5000

Footnote

Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device London Gazette 13 August 1954. The recommendation citation states:

‘For meritorious achievement as Troop Sergeant Major of “D” Troop, 41st Independent Commandos, Royal Marines, during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Korea from 6 to 8 October 1950. Participating in two night demolition raids on the northeast coast of enemy-held Korea, Sergeant Whiting exhibited resourcefulness and initiative in co-ordinating and keeping his unit under control at all times. By his outstanding leadership, courage and devotion to duty, he contributed materially to the success of the raids and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service.’

Sergeant Jack Whiting served in a small unit commanded by Captain (later Major-General) Derek Pounds, who became an unsung hero of the Korean War when he led several daring commando raids behind enemy lines. His involvement in these actions came after a row between the senior American commanders of the United Nations force. General Douglas MacArthur had questioned whether the proposed raids justified the risks inherent in such operations, and had then rudely asked why Admiral Turner Joy was "so keen to use Brits".

Only after several terse exchanges, in which Joy insisted on the excellent quality of the Royal Marines (many of whom had flown to the Far East in civil airliners dressed in Admiralty-issued civilian suits), did MacArthur relent; and then he limited their participation to just 70 Royal Marines. Less than a week later, in August 1950, Pounds and a team of 12 Royal Marines were practising night amphibious raids from the high-speed destroyer transport U.S.S. Diachenko and the transport submarine U.S.S. Perch.

The following month "Pounds' Force", as it was known, and two platoons of American marines were landed from the British frigate Whitesand Bay in a diversionary raid 80 miles south at Kunsan. As the marines approached the beach the sea was extremely phosphorescent, and their paddles created a brilliant shower of light with every stroke. They had been told there would be no resistance; but the enemy was waiting, and, after a bitter struggle, Pounds' Force withdrew in organised chaos with heavy casualties. But they achieved their objective of creating a diversion as the American marines stormed ashore at Inchon, thereby securing a strategic triumph for MacArthur.

On the night of October 6-7 1950, Pounds’ Force destroyed a railway tunnel just 80 miles south of the Soviet border, the first of a series of raids against the railway system which ran along a 120-mile stretch of coastline. Back on board the American transport destroyer Horace A Bass, Pounds' men drank a miniature bottle of brandy each - strictly for medicinal purposes in a dry US Navy ship. Later, as part of 41 Independent Commando, the troop helped to capture Kimpo airfield and took part in operations to recapture Seoul. Pounds, like Whiting, was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star; but it was felt that, if he had been under British command, he would have received a D.S.O.

A total of 24 Bronze Star Medals with Combat Device were awarded to British Forces during the Korean War, including 10 to the Royal Marines.