Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (5 July 2011)
Date of Auction: 5th July 2011
Sold for £28,000
Estimate: £15,000 - £20,000
The superb ‘Iraq 2007’ Military Cross group of six awarded to Corporal Jokini ‘Sivo’ Sivoinauca, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, formerly Light Infantry, a specialist sniper, who, though wounded himself, shot three insurgents armed with rocket propelled grenades who were attacking a Warrior Armoured Vehicle - a native Fijian he was the first Rifleman of the newly formed Rifles Regiment to be awarded a Military Cross
Military Cross, reverse officially inscribed ‘25117057 Pte., Rifles’ and reverse lower arm officially dated ‘2007’; N.A.T.O., Medal 1994, clasp, Kosovo; Operational Service Medal 2000, for Sierra Leone (25117057 Pte., L.I.); Iraq 2003, no clasp (25117057 Pte., L.I.); General Service 1962, 1 clasp, Northern Ireland (25117057 Pte., L.I.); Operational Service Medal 2000, 1 clasp, Afghanistan (Cpl., M.C., Rifles 25117057) mounted court style as worn, nearly extremely fine or better (6)
FootnoteThe following is extracted from a contemporary newspaper article:
‘The first thing you learn is that it is a personal kill. The sniper, with his powerful scope, can literally see the whites of the enemy's eyes as he ends his life. Lance Corporal Jokini Sivoinauca remembers clearly the face of the third man he shot in Iraq. The 26-year-old soldier, a softly spoken, god-fearing Fijian, known as Sivo to his friends, would go on to be awarded the Military Cross for his bravery that day.
It was 15 February 2007 and, along with 24-year-old Lance Corporal Andrew Ball (snipers work in pairs: one spotter, who assigns the target, and one shooter), he had been tasked to help the Staffordshire Regiment, who were caught up in a battle that had raged for three hours in Basra's most lethal district. Outnumbered, the Brits were taking casualties. From their rooftop vantage point, the snipers spotted a team of three insurgents darting through the rabbit-warren of homes and alleys as they fired rocket-propelled grenades at British troops. Under intense fire, and injured himself, L/Cpl Sivoinauca picked them off one at a time, allowing other soldiers to reach safety. To this day, he remembers exactly what his targets were wearing and where the bullet struck them.
"When the second one went down I think the third assumed there was a sniper," he recalls. "I remember he turned around. I saw his face. He realised he was running towards us. He stopped and I hit him ..." He pauses, then adds: "People might say we get a kick out of it. No, we don't. I just had a sense of relief. I went to church afterwards. Some people disagree with what we do; we kill people. But what I take from my religious roots is that people have a right to defend themselves."
"As long as we are saving people on the ground we are doing what is right," adds L/Cpl Ball, the other half of his two-man team. After six years of living, fighting and partying together, they are so close they finish each other's sentences.
Equally, L/Cpl Sivoinauca insists they share the MC, the citation of which reads: "Sivoinauca led his colleagues with distinction and complete disregard for his own safety in spite of being wounded after he was shot in the chest, the round being stopped by his body armour. His conspicuous gallantry and leadership was beyond the call of duty."
But perhaps L/Cpl Sivoinauca's bravest act that day was to commit a sniper's cardinal sin and miss. As mortars began to land with increasing precision, he realised the lookout was a small boy of six or seven, relaying information on a mobile phone from another roof. "The two of us stared across at each other," he recalls. "He was scared, shaking. Every time he wanted to go back in through the curtain, they pushed him out. I turned the weapon on him, then to the side and fired two metres away. He just chucked the phone and ran. I have never regretted it. I have two little cousins the same age."
The following is extracted from another contemporary source:
‘A soldier has been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry while on a tour of duty in Iraq earlier this year. Rifleman Jokini Sivo, 25, from Edinburgh, rescued his colleagues after they were attacked by insurgents.
The sniper, of 3 Battalion The Rifles, was awarded the medal for "conspicuous gallantry and leadership beyond the call of duty". Despite being injured in the attack, Rifleman Sivo was said to have acted with disregard for his own safety.
He was the only member of his battalion to receive the award as part of the Operational Honours list, which was made public on Thursday. The citation for his honour, the third highest awarded by the British Army, describes how he and his colleagues came under fire during a security patrol.
Their attackers were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, which have been responsible for a significant number of British casualties in Iraq. Rifleman Sivo, who is originally from Kadavu in Fiji and joined the British Army in 2000, said the urge to help his comrades get back to safety was far greater than any concern for his own personal safety. He added: "As a British soldier you get taught that when you go through your training. It is just the camaraderie between the soldiers that takes over - we watch each other's backs.”
"We were in a fire fight and our call sign came under heavy mortar and small arms fire. One of my colleagues was injured and we had to give covering fire as the troops were retreating back to safety. My battalion is very proud and I think the people back home in Fiji are quite proud too."
Rifleman Sivo said he felt humbled by the honour, and revealed he believed serving in the Army was "the best job in the world." The citation for his medal states: "During a joint security operation lasting for three hours, Sivo and his team were ordered to occupy an isolated and very prominent single-storey check-point building, and engage gunmen.
"This made them an easy target for enemy marksmen. In this exposed position he spotted a rocket-propelled grenade team, with gunmen in support, engaging a Warrior vehicle. He immediately engaged the firers. Sivo led his colleagues with distinction and complete disregard for his own safety in spite of being wounded."
Rifleman Sivo has served in Cyprus, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, The Falklands and Northern Ireland, as well as in Iraq. He plays rugby in the Army in Scotland team.’
Rifleman Jokini V Sivoinauca, a Fijian born British soldier was not only the first Fijian in the British Army to be awarded a Military Cross, but also the first Rifleman or soldier from the newly formed Rifles Regiment to be awarded the Military Cross.
From humble beginnings of running barefoot on the islands, to the bewilderment of seeing a car for the first time and the glorious priceless history inside Buckingham Palace, it has been a long soul searching journey of self discovery for this soldier from the other side of the world. Known affectionately as Sivo, the second of three brothers, he was born on the island of Kadavu the fourth largest in the beautiful group of islands of Fiji in September, 1981. He lived and was brought up by his grandfather on the islands, while his parents of middle class status strived for a better modern way of life in Suva the capital city on the mainland. Like many young Fijian boys he was brought up in the old ways of warrior cultures where honour, courage, loyalty, obedience and respect is of the utmost importance and is the basis of all that Fijians hold dear.
As a young boy growing up, knowing nothing more than the endless white sandy beaches and the vast infinite stretches of the Pacific Ocean he however showed a very keen interest in medicine from an early age. He remained in the village as he grew up and was educated in public schools before he attended Queen Victoria School, the prestigious all boys boarding secondary school in Fiji. Unfortunately for Sivo nearing the end of his final year at Queen Victoria School he was in the headlines of the national newspaper for being expelled ‘bringing shame’ to his parents, family, tribe and province. It was in Fijian culture the ultimate sin and in many ways the driving force for the change of heart in his career transition. However, in 1999 he represented Fiji in the world U19 rugby league championship and this seemed to ‘slightly smooth over’ his earlier shortcomings.
He then decided to seek a military career against many of his family’s wishes, turning down a scholarship to further his education at Otago Polytechnic University in New Zealand, which for many back at home was a God given opportunity for a lifetime of success. He joined the British army in 2000 and although he acquired grades in the initial generic tests to be a medic in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he was determined to join the infantry and serve on the front line. He completed phase 1 training at Sir John Moore Barracks in Winchester and later phase 2 at ITC Catterick (Infantry Training Course) passing out and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Light Infantry that same year.
In his time with the British army he has served in the rural jungles of conflict such as the war torn Sierra Leone (2001); mounted patrols, reconnaissance, sniping and peace keeping in hostile areas such as the evergreen farmlands and streets of the troubled provinces of Northern Ireland (2004 - 2005); the desolate urban desert of Iraq ( 2003 and 2006 - 2007); countering the guerilla tactics in Kosovo (2008) and the unforgiving terrain and lawless lands of Afghanistan (2009-2010).
In 2007 he attended and passed with flying colours both the junior non commissioned cadres and also in 2009 the Infantry Section Commanders Course on the challenging terrain of the Brecon Beacon in Wales. He also took part in non operational security tours of the Falkland Islands (2002-2003) and Cyprus (2002-2004).
It was the experience of his first tour of Iraq that led to him applying for and successfully completing the arduous six-week long sniper course, something that is the dream of so many infantry soldiers. It was in February 2007, the same month that The Rifles Regiment was formed whilst on his second tour of Iraq that in Rifleman Sivo’s own words he ‘left his mark and achieved satisfaction and a sense of self redemption to myself and most of all to the people back home. Narrowly escaping certain death after being wounded and saving the lives of the men I have come to call my brothers.‘ He was awarded the Military Cross by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in November that year. After 11 years in the army ‘Sivo’ now pursues a career in Close Protection.
Sold with the following original documentation:
i. Letter of congratulation from Lieutenant Colonel T. A. Sandiford, 1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment, dated 18 July 2007.
ii. Letter of congratulation from Lieutenant General J. N. R. Houghton, CBE, Chief of Joint Operations, 19 July 2007.
iii. Letter of congratulation from Major General A. R. D. Shirreff, CBE, General Officer Commanding 3rd (UK) Dvision, dated 20 July 2007.
iv. Letter of congratulation from Lieutenant General R. V. Brims, CB, CBE, DSO, Commanding HQ Land Command, dated 21 July 2007.
v. Letter of congratulation from Lieutenant General N. R. Parker, CBE, Colonel Commandant, The Rifles, dated 24 July 2007: ‘I am writing on behalf of all Riflemen in The Rifles to say how delighted we are that the outstanding bravery you displayed in Iraq in February has been recognised by the award of the Military Cross. I gather that you conducted yourself with extraordinary distinction. As the first Rifleman of the new regiment to be awarded the M.C. you have quite rightly found a place in our history. We are all enormously proud of you.’
vi. Letter of congratulation from Prince Philip (Colonel-in-Chief) Buckingham Palace, dated 25 July 2007.
vii. Letter of congratulation from Princess Alexandra, Buckingham Palace, dated 25 July 2007.
viii. Letter of congratulation from Brigadier R. L. Scott-Bowden, MBE, ADC, Director of Infantry, dated 8 August 2007: ‘Many, many congratulations on being awarded the Military Cross for your outstanding leadership during a major gun battle in Basra. I know from reports that it was your actions in leading your team against a R.P.G. gun team that caused the enemy to retreat and ensured the safety of the Warrior vehicle. Your courage, selfless commitment and offensive spirit are an example to all infantrymen.’
ix. Buckingham Palace investiture program, dated 14 November 2007.