Orders, Decorations and Medals (7 April 1994)

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Date of Auction: 7th April 1994


Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500

An important Immediate D.S.O. for the battle of Kohima awarded to Lieutenant Colonel W. A. Bickford, Commanding 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER, G.VI.R., reverse of the suspension bar officially dated '1944' in its Garrard & Co case of issue; 1939-45 STAR; BURMA STAR; DEFENCE AND WAR MEDALS; GENERAL SERVICE 1918-62, 1 clasp, S. E. Asia 1945-46 (Lt. Col., D.S.O., R. Berks.); CORONATION 1953, one or iwo small chips to the D.S.O. centres, otherwise nearly very fine (7)


D.S.O., London Gazette, 5 October, 1944. The following recommendation was extracted from official records: 'For outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty. 1. R. Berks. was the first Bn. of 6th Infantry to relieve the original beleagured KOHIMA Garrison. During the period of three weeks the Bn. held an exposed sector of the front. Continually sniped and grenaded and twice attacked, the Bn. held on to all its ground. The bn. was then withdrawn to re-organise and was, after four days, used to attack F.S.D. feature which was strongly held by the JAP 58 Regt. The attack spread over two days, was completely successful and resulted in the final clearing of the whole of the Jap positions south of Kohima Garrison Hill. Lt. Col. BICKFORD organised and commanded his troops magnificently throughout the whole period. His personal bearing at all times has been an inspiration to his Bn. Recommended for Immediate Award of the D.S.O., dated 14th May 1944.'

Fresh from their victory at Kohima the 2nd Division, and with them the Berkshires, turned southward to begin its march on Imphal. On 15 June, 1945, a patrol from the regiment under Lieutenant Oliver-Jones-who was later killed in gallantly achieving its objective-found the Japanese in occupation of a spur covering the road beyond the village of Khuzama. The battalion was given the task of clearing this feature- later named Bickford Spur after the Commanding Officer. Kohima after the battle Accordingly at 7 am next morning the battalion moved in pouring rain to their forming up position. The objective was jungle-covered, with a profusion of cover available to the Japanese. The artillery undertook to destroy this vegetation. The shells of the divisional artillery, falling 150 yards ahead of the battalion, left the defended part of Bickford Spur in an almost unrecognizable condition; but on reaching their objective the troops discovered Japanese unbelievably alive among the debris that littered the torn earth. The battle was soon over, and fifty Japanese dead, additional to those killed in their bunkers, were counted on the ground. Regimental casualties were light but during the consolidation the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Bickford, was wounded by a sniper.