Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (23 September 2011)

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Date of Auction: 23rd September 2011

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A scarce modern campaign group of five awarded to Lance-Corporal M. Blanchard, Intelligence Corps, a member of the Intelligence Section, D Squadron, Special Air Service (S.A.S.) during Operation “Barras” in Sierra Leone in 2000

General Service 1962, 1 clasp, Northern Ireland (25062492 L Cpl M Blanchard Int Corps) impressed naming, with original card box of issue inscribed, ‘25062492 L. Cpl. M. Blanchard, Int. Corps (22 S.A.S.) (D. Sqn.)’; N.A.T.O. Medal 1994, 1 clasp, Former Yugoslavia; N.A.T.O. Medal 1994, 1 clasp, Kosovo; Operational Service Medal 2000, for Sierra Leone, with rosette (25062492 L Cpl M Blanchard Int Corps) laser engraved naming, with original card box of issue inscribed, ‘25062492 L. Cpl. M. Blanchard, Int. Corps, 22 S.A.S. (D Sqn.)’; Jubilee 2002, good very fine and better (5)
£6000-8000

Footnote

Blanchard’s entitlement to the Operational Service Medal for Sierra Leone, with rosette, stemmed from his part in Operation “Barras”, the British initiative to free the 11 men of the Royal Irish Regiment who had been seized on 25 August 2000 by the rebel group known as the “West Side Boys”. A few days later five of the hostages were released, but on 10 September a major assault was mounted to free the remainder, our forces comprising 150 men of The Parachute Regiment and elements of the Special Forces. In the ensuing 10-hour engagement, one S.A.S. Trooper was killed and 11 other soldiers wounded, but the Royal Irish Regiment captives were safely released. The rebel leader, Foday Kallay, was captured, so too many of his followers, and 25 members of the “West Side Boys” killed. Only those members of the Parachute Regiment or the Special Forces that took part in Operation Barras qualified for the silver rosette on the Sierra Leone Operational Service Medal.

An accompanying but unsubstantiated note states that the recipient was in the second Chinook helicopter to land in the operational area, and that he assisted in evacuating the mortally wounded Trooper Brad Tinnion, S.A.S. The following report submitted by the O.C., D Squadron, 22 S.A.S., dated 10 November 2000, describes Blanchard’s official part in the operation:

‘Lance-Corporal Blanchard deployed on Ex-Durbar’s Dance with D Squadron on 27 August 2000. The exercise took place in a bush/arid environment. Due to an operational requirement the Squadron were recalled to the U.K. for tasking on Operation Barras. Lance-Corporal Blanchard accompanied the Squadron to provide support as the Intelligence Representative. He assisted the Operations Sergeant and Y. of S. in establishing the Squadron Operations Room, ensuring that all mapping, imagery and Intelligence matters were dealt with and disseminated to the correct agencies and departments in a timely manner. The Squadron Operations Room had the additional responsibility of supporting the Intelligence requirements to a Company of the Parachute Regiment, a task that fell to Lance-Corporal Blanchard.

Despite being Lance-Corporal Blanchard’s first full tour with the Intelligence Corps, he coped well with the varied pressures placed on him. The operational engagement was fast moving and diverse, demanding quick and efficient intelligence support. Although Lance-Corporal Blanchard can appear blasé at times, when tasked he can be relied upon to produce results. He is clearly an intelligent individual.

His presence during the operation was a benefit to the Squadron. He has the capacity for hard work, and this combined with good insight and a rich character bodes well for the future.’

Together with a quantity of documentation, including M.O.D. forwarding letter for the recipient’s Operational Service Medal, with rosette (dated 24 January 2005); three field signals relevant to “Barras”; two maps of Sierra Leone; and an interesting selection of photographs also relevant to “Barras”, among them a picture of the rebel leader Foday Kallay and his family, as taken by the recipient from the wall of his hideout, together with two copied group images of ‘Intelligence Section, 22 Special Air Service Regiment, January 1999’ and ‘22nd Special Air Service Regiment, Task Group Headquarters, Operation Phene, May 1999’, both including the recipient.