A Good Series of Awards to Members of the S.A.S.

Image 1

  • Image 2

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 16th December 2003

Sold for £1,100

Estimate: £400 - £500

A rare posthumous Rhodesian Meritorious Conduct Medal pair awarded to Colour-Sergeant J. “Geordie” Wright, ‘C’ Squadron, Rhodesian Special Air Service Regiment, one of “The Sinful Seven” who operated in Zambia against Z.A.N.U. targets

Rhodesian Meritorious Conduct Medal (M.C.M.) (2400 C. Sgt. J. Wright); Rhodesian General Service Medal (2400 C. Sgt. J. Wright) extremely fine (2) £400-500

Footnote

M.C.M. (Posthumous) Rhodesia Government Gazette 23 October 1970: ‘For brave and gallant conduct over and above the call of duty in the defence of his country until the time of his death.’

John “Geordie” Wright had previously won a Commendation for Brave Conduct at Kariba on 9 April 1966, when he rescued an African civilian from a minefield (Rhodesia Government Gazette 24 February 1967 refers). An account of the incident was afterwards published in the newspapers:

‘On 9 April 1966, the civilian African concerned climbed over a bi-lingual warning notice and the double apron fence surrounding the minefield and attempted to take a short cut across the minefield. Unfortunately, he detonated one of the mines and injured his leg. Colour-Sergeant Wright, to assess the situation, entered the minefield and, using his bayonet, probed a path through the mined area to reach the injured man. He then retraced his steps to the protective wire to collect a stretcher, and then he, with Lieutenant H. L. G. Harvey, returned to the injured man and carried him to safety.’

After U.D.I., Wright and the remnants of the S.A.S. became involved in the Rhodesian Counter Intelligence Operations (C.I.O.) into Zambia - these clandestine operations were carried out by an exclusive team of seven white operatives who came to be known as “The Sinful Seven” or “The Secret Seven”, Wright among them.

In October 1966, the S.A.S. Commander, Captain Brian Robinson, in company with W.O. Bob Bouch, Colour-Sergeants Mick Cahill and “Geordie” Wright, and Chief Superintendent John Wickenden, a policeman seconded to the unit for the operation, formed a team chose to travel to Lusaka, the Zambian capital, where they were to blow up the Z.A.N.U. headquarters. The plan was to cross the Zambesi just below the Chirundu Bridge by canoe. The explosive device, which had been made up in Salisbury, was transported to Chirundu by vehicle. Then the collapsible canoes and the device were portered to the crossing point.

The five men began assembling the canoes and making the final preparations. The S.A.S. Commander moved away from the others for a moment and began to tie his bootlace. Just as Captain Robinson bent down, a terrific explosion tore through the air. The explosive device had accidentally detonated prematurely, and the S.A.S. Commander was knocked unconcious. He came to with his hair alight and both ear drums perforated and the scene that greeted him was not a pretty one. Bob Bouch, Mick Cahill and John Wickenden were dead. Geordie Wright was still alive but it was obvious there was no hope for him. The cause of the explosion was never discovered but it is thought that the vehicle trip through the heat of the Zambesi valley must have damaged or unseated the built-in time mechanism.

The four men were each awarded posthumous Meritorious Conduct Medals.

Sold with original Governnment House, Salisbury letter of notification for the award of a posthumous M.C.M., dated 12 October 1970; and similar letters from the Minister of Defence, dated 15 October 1970 and Army H.Q., dated 20 October 1970, together with investiture programme, the whole addressed to the recipient’s widow; and a quantity of photocopied newspaper cuttings and other paperwork, including the recipient’s Commendation for Brave Conduct certificate.