Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to include a Fine Collection of Napoleonic Medals (25 March 2015)

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Date of Auction: 25th March 2015

Sold for £600

Estimate: £350 - £450

Pair: Gunner M. O’Neill, 70 Field Battery, 45 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of the River Imjin

Korea 1950-53, 1st issue (22518303 Gnr., R.A.); U.N. Korea 1950-54, unnamed, good very fine (2) £350-450

Footnote

Gunner Michael O’Neill, 70 Field Battery, 45 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, was wounded in the arm by shrapnel from a mortar round while serving on ‘Gloster Hill’ with 70 Battery OP Party and was later captured at the battle of the River Imjin. Michael O’Neill suffered two years and four months imprisonment and had to endure hardship, hunger and long sessions of Political Indoctrination, known in the West as ‘Brain Washing’. He was eventually released at Panmunjom on 19 August 1953.

With extensive copied archive material describing the death of Gunner Gibson and Michael O’Neill’s capture and release. There is a good description of the actions of A Troop during the Imjin Battle, in the book
Guns and the Morning Calm, by Captain Michael Newcombe.

45 Field Regt sailed to Korea on the
Empress of Australia on 2 October 1950 as part of the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade.  70 Field Battery, commanded by Major Guy Ward was put in direct support of 1st Battalion Glosters and fought with them North to Pyong Yang and then back to the Kansas Line. On 21 April 1951 Captain A. M. L. Newcombe R.A. was attached to ‘B’ Company 1 Glosters as OP Officer for ‘A’ Troop of 70 Battery. His OP Party consisted of Gunner T. F. Gibson, Gunner D. R. Shaw and Gunner M. O’Neill. For two days Captain Newcombe fought continuously against the attacking Chinese and only stopped when, at one stage, the gun barrels of the Battery became so hot there was a risk of premature explosions. On 23 April the OP Party came under heavy mortar attack and one mortar landed on the forward edge of Captain Newcombe’s slit trench leaving him stunned and temporarily unconscious. In the adjoining trench a splinter in his face killed Gunner Gibson and Gunner O’Neill was wounded in the arm. Gunner Shaw was also wounded. Captain Newcombe continue to fight his guns ordering a ‘Mike Target’ i.e. a full Regimental Target. Many Chinese were killed but they pressed forward until, when they were surrounded, Major Denis Harding ‘B’ Company Commander ordered ‘Fix Bayonets’ and led the twenty remaining members of ‘B’ Company and the OP Party back to Battalion HQ on Gloster Hill.

They carried their wounded on ground-sheets with them. When all the ammunition had been expended and no Relief Force was possible, Colonel Carne now ordered his soldiers to ‘Make your own way back to the Allied Lines’. While attempting to do this Major Harding, Major Ward, Captain Newcombe and Gunner Michael O’Neill were captured.

Note: The Op Party from 70 Field Battery deployed in support of 1st Battalion Gloster Regiment for the Imjin Battle comprised six officers and twenty-two Gunners. One officer was killed in the Battle, one was wounded and four were made prisoners, one of whom, died in captivity. Of the Gunners, five were killed, five were wounded and thirteen were made prisoners. After the Battle 70 Field Battery were warmly praised by the men of 1st Glosters for the speed, accuracy end effectiveness of their fire. The OP Gunners of ‘A’ Troop had suffered severely, but had matched the highest traditions of the Royal Artillery.