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 £2,200

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500

A fine Second World War escaper’s M.M. group of seven awarded to Private J. McGarvey, Highland Light Infantry

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (3309766 A. Cpl. J. McGarvey, H.L.I.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1935 (3309766 Pte. J. McGarvey, H.L.I.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted as worn, contact wear and edge bruising, otherwise very fine or better (7) £2000-2500

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 24 September 1942. The original recommendation states:

‘This N.C.O. was one of a section operating in front of the guns of a Jock Column in the area of Bir Hamsa, when the position was overrun on 25 June 1942, and he and many of the column were made prisoners. For three days he travelled without food until arrival in Tobruk on 28 June where he remained until 6 July.

Determined to escape, he and two O.Rs of the South African Forces, feigned dysentery, and succeeded in remaining in Tobruk when the rest of the British prisoner personnel were evacuated. These men attempted to escape on night of 6 July but failed owing to the activity of the R.A.F. They succeeded, however, the following night, and after five or six days trekking across the desert, reached Fort Capuzzo where they fell in with some Senussi who provided them with food.

Continuing their journey these men were unlucky in being discovered by Italians who again made them prisoners and conducted them via Mersa Matruh to Sidi Barrani. Here he and several other additional prisoners, who had fallen into the hands of the enemy, were sent back under the escort of four Italians to Tobruk. On the first night, after having stopped for food near Kilo 45, the party, now twelve strong, overpowered their guards and forced the Italian driver of one lorry to drive them up Halfaya Pass in an attempt to reach Siwa. Owing to shortage of oil and loss of direction by night the party decided to give up the attempt to make Siwa, and headed north to the coast road, where after a further two days of travelling they fell in with a British patrol, and were rescued.

By his grim determination not to remain in enemy hands and his ability to carry on without food and with little water, over a period of several days trekking in the desert, this N.C.O. has proved himself to be a very efficient soldier and leader, and has set a fine example of coolness and determination to all his comrades.’



James McGarvey was serving in the 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry at the time of the above deeds.