The Collection of Second World War and Modern Gallantry Awards formed by the late William Oakley

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Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A fine Second World War Arnhem relief column D.C.M. group of five awarded to Lance-Sergeant F. Helliwell, 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards, who was severely wounded while capturing a vital bridge over the Meuse-Escaut Canal in September 1944

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.VI.R. (2719057 L. Sjt. F. Helliwell, Ir. Gds.); 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, good very fine or better (50 £4000-5000

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 1 March 1945. The original recommendation for an immediate award states:

‘On the night of 10 September 1944, Lance-Sergeant Helliwell was commanding the leading section of a platoon detailed to capture the De Groote Barrier over the Meuse-Escaut Canal, in co-operation with a troop of tanks. This N.C.O. led his section with a magnificent dash across this bridge which was swept with three 88mm. anti-tank guns and Spandaus, the bridge itself having been prepared by the enemy for demolition. He, himself, was wounded during the assault but did not allow this to interfere with the execution of his duty to establish a firing point to secure the bridge against a German counter-attack. This N.C.O’s great bravery and the splendid example he set to the men under his command cannot be spoken of too highly.’


Frederick Halliwell was born in Yorkshire in January 1921 and enlisted in the Irish Guards in May 1939. Posted to the 3rd Battalion in October 1941, he first saw action after landing in Normandy in late June 1944 and, more especially, with the Arnhem Relief Column under Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Horrocks of XXX Corps.

As for his D.C.M.-winning exploits on 10 September 1944, it would appear the bridge he captured was renamed “Joe’s Bridge” in honour of one of XXX Corps’ more colourful characters, Lieutenant-Colonel J. O. E. Vandeleur, the six foot devil-may-care commander of the Irish Guards Armoured Group. Be that as it may, the wound in his left arm was sufficiently serious to cause his evacuation to the U.K. 48 hours later.

He saw no further action, though he appears to have attended a a Platoon Weapons Course with the S.A.S. in the summer of 1945 (accompanying copied service record refers). Presented with his D.C.M. by the King in November of the same year, he was finally placed on the Regular Army Reserve in May 1946.