Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (8 & 9 May 2019)

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Date of Auction: 8th & 9th May 2019

Sold for £2,600

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,400

A fine O.B.E., Second World War ‘1941’ Sidi Rezegh operations M.C. group of nine awarded to Colonel N. M. H. Wall, 3rd Hussars, late 7th Hussars, who served for six months as Brigade Major to the “Desert Rats” in North Africa: the ferocious battle for Sidi Rezegh in November 1941 resulted in the award of four V.Cs

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 2nd type breast badge, silver-gilt; Military Cross, G.VI.R. reverse officially dated ‘1942’; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, M.I.D. Oak Leaf; General Service 1962-2007, 1 clasp, Malay Peninsula (Col. N. M. H. Wall OBE. MC. Staff); Coronation 1953, mounted court-style by Spink and Son, cleaned, minor edge bruising, very fine (10) £2,000-£2,400

Footnote

O.B.E. London Gazette 1 June 1953, the recommendation states:

‘Lieutenant-Colonel Wall is G.S.O. I (Operations and S.D.) at this H.Q. (Southern Command). This is notoriously the hardest Grade I appointment. Lieutenant-Colonel Wall has carried out his duties excellently and has worked long hours over a very long period to keep abreast of all of his mobilisation and other commitments. His achievements are such that his work is far above that normally expected of a G.S.O. I.

In addition to all this, Lieutenant-Colonel Wall organised and formed H.Q. 2 Corps virtually from nothing, filling the appointment of Colonel G.S. This H.Q. formed successfully and then carried out field training continually for four days in an operational role. All this fell on Lieutenant-Colonel Wall’s shoulders.

As a result he has carried out duties above that of his normal rank in an outstandingly successful manner. His selflessness and devotion to duty are of the highest order. His continuous hard work deserves the highest recognition. I therefore recommend him highly for the O.B.E.’

M.C. London Gazette 9 September 1942, the recommendation states:

‘For consistently gallant and meritorious conduct in the field. Major Wall was Brigade Major of 7th Armoured Brigade for six months including the period of the Sidi Rezegh operations. Throughout the operations his cheerful and imperturbable conduct were an example to all those with whom he came into contact. His cool judgement under fire and his brilliant staff work under difficult conditions and in the presence of the enemy contributed largely to the success of his Brigade. His gallantry was especially noticeable throughout the 20th, 21st and 22nd November [1941] at Sidi Rezegh, when he frequently left his tank to convey messages over an intervening space, under heavy fire of all natures, to his Brigadier.’

Mention in Despatches London Gazette 13 January 1944 (Middle East) and 22 March 1945 (North West Europe).

Noel Montague Harold Wall, who was born in December 1913, was commissioned into the 7th Hussars as a 2nd Lieutenant in February 1934 and advanced to Lieutenant in February 1937. Having attended Staff College, Wall was appointed a G.S.O. 3 (Armoured Division) in July 1940 and a Brigade Major to 7th Armoured Brigade in March 1941, in the rank of Acting Major, and it was in this latter capacity that he went on to serve with distinction in the 8th Army in North Africa, and, as noted in his M.C. citation, especially at Sidi Rezegh.

Many accounts have been written of the protracted and vicious engagements that were fought out on Sidi Rezegh in November 1941, not least from a regimental viewpoint. Indeed the War Diaries of the 7th Hussars and 7th Armoured Brigade talk of horrific close quarter engagements and resultant casualties for the crucial period of 20-22 November, when its combined armour had to face countless enemy assaults, determined assaults that on occasion had the backing of 100 or more tanks. Inevitably, such bloody encounters left behind unforgettable scenes of destruction, a battle-scarred desert landscape best described by C. E. Lucas Phillips in his Victoria Cross Battles of the Second World War:

‘In the November gloom that last scene, as the rear-guard guns slipped out of the action, was one to inspire awe in all beholders, as indeed its relics were to do for years to come. The hundreds of dead bodies, the flames of burning vehicles and ammunition, the twisted wreckage of guns, the still smouldering ambulances bombed by the German aircraft, the bullet-riddled trucks, the crushed German aircraft, the blackened hulks of British and enemy tanks, with their turrets, tracks and guns ripped off in scrap-heaps of mangled steel, and the roasted corpses hanging out of their turrets gave to that harsh desert the air of desolation, yet, to those who had eyes to see, it told also of innumerable acts of unrecorded heroism. Significantly, it told also of the destruction already of some 85 German tanks.’

Attached as a G.S.O. I to 21 Army Group between August 1943 and August 1944, Wall served in North West Europe and in the advance on Ghent, and, before the end of 1944 had transferred to his old regiment, the 7th Hussars, in Italy, as second-in-command. In July 1945, he was attached to the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry, R.A.C., and in December of the same year, in the rank of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel, he assumed command of the Regiment, finally returning home in 1947 when he took up appointment as G.S.O. I at H.Q., S.A.E.

In July 1950, Wall transferred to H.Q. Southern Command, which latter appointment led to the award of his O.B.E. in 1953. He was advanced to substantive Lieutenant-Colonel in the latter year and joined H.Q. Northern Command in the late 1950s, finally being placed on the Retired List as a full Colonel in November 1966.

Another group, attributed to Wall, is known - this lacking a named G.S.M.