Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (22 July 2016)

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Date of Auction: 22nd July 2016

Sold for £1,600

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,600

A rare Second World War M.B.E. group of five awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Harrison, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was decorated for his services as a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese in Hong Kong: his pre-war India General Service Medal for Burma 1930-32 and Mohmand 1933 is unique to the R.A.M.C. and one of only six such awards issued to the British Army

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Military) Member’s 2nd type breast badge, silver; India General Service 1908-35, 2 clasps, Burma 1930-32, Mohmand 1933 (Lt. G. F. Harrison, R.A.M.C.); 1939-45 Star; Pacific Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, first with some contact marks, very fine and better (5) £1400-1600

Footnote

Ex David Riddick Collection, D.N.W., 7 March 2007 (Lot 137).

M.B.E.
London Gazette 6 June 1946:

‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services while prisoners of war.’

Gerald Fairland Harrison was born in Siakot, India on 4 January 1906 and received his medical education at St. Thomas’s Hospital, from whence he graduated with the London M.B., B.S. and was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1929.

Two spells of active service in Burma and India ensued, including the Mohmand operations of 1933 (Medal & 2 clasps), and in 1938 he was posted to Hong Kong. Advanced to Major in January 1939, he was likewise employed - as a specialist physician - at the fall of Hong Kong in December 1941, when he was taken P.O.W.

Under Japanese control, he continued to work as a doctor with allied and Chinese sick and wounded at the Bowen Road Military Hospital. Increasingly concerned with the nutritional deficiency of his patients, Harrison established a system of contact with Dr. Selwyn-Clarke, who as Principal Medical Officer of the Government of Hong Kong, had been allowed a measure of liberty by the Japanese in order to help control the public health of the Chinese population. As a consequence - with the courageous assistance of Mrs. Selwyn-Clarke and her Hong Kong Chinese helpers led by Miss Helen Ho - supplies of vital food and drugs were smuggled to the hospital at great danger to all concerned. Luckily, Harrison’s part in this perilous activity remained undiscovered, but at length Dr. and Mrs. Selwyn-Clarke were caught and interned: with these extra supplies, many survived and recovered, who would otherwise have died and for his dedicated and gallant service Harrison was awarded the M.B.E. in June 1946.

In his P.O.W. questionnaire Harrison states that he was held at St. Alberts Convent (Hospital), 10 December 1941-February 1942; Bowen Road Hospital, February 1942-April 1945, and the Central British School (Hospital), April 1945 until his liberation. He also brings to notice Mrs. Selwyn-Clarke ‘till April 1942 (when she was interned)’, and Miss Helen Ho, who, ‘from the beginning till our release did magnificent work purchasing & transporting to us, on parcel drugs, food which by private arrangement between us, went to the patients. The latter work especially deserves recognition undoubtedly.’

Harrison subsequently contracted pulmonary tuberculosis as a consequence of working in close proximity to infected patients and was placed on Retired Pay through ill-health as a Lieutenant-Colonel on 30 May 1949. He had been appointed a M.R.C.P. London in 1947.

A winner of the Herbert Prize (1930), the Leishman Prize (1937), and the recipient of a Fellowship of Royal Society, he died on 1 June 1963; sold with copied research.