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 £3,400

Estimate: £3,000 - £3,500

An exceptional Northern Ireland M.M. awarded to Lance-Corporal W. J. Jones, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, for gallantry in the ‘hard Republican area’ of the Ballycolman Estate of Strabane, County Tyrone on 27 October 1974, which resulted in the arrest of a gunman with a loaded Armalite rifle

Military Medal, E.II.R., 2nd issue (24241055 L/Cpl., R.R.F.), with original Royal Mint fitted case of issue, extremely fine
£3000-3500

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 24 May 1975. The original recommendation states:

‘On 27 October two gunmen were spotted in the hard republican area of the Ballycolman Estate of Strabane by a long range observation post. Lance-Corporal Jones, of Z Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, received this information by radio and was ordered to follow up the gunmen. He was in command of a three man patrol in the Ballycolman at the time.

Losing no time Lance-Corporal Jones very quickly took his patrol to the area in which the sighting had been made. This was an open plan housing estate with much open ground and contained a maze of alleyways between the houses. Lance-Corporal Jones was well aware that there had been many shootings at Security Forces in the estate and that he was entering very dangerous territory.

As he was crossing open ground between two blocks of buildings one of his patrol spotted a terrorist rifleman taking up a fire position at the corner of a house about one hundred and twenty metres away. Lance-Corporal Jones quickly saw the gunman who then opened fire at him. He immediately realised that he was completely exposed and that the gunman would almost certainly escape into the warren of houses if he and his patrol went to ground. He rushed the gunman firing at him on the move and shouting for his patrol to follow him. Even though there was well over one hundred metres of open ground between them, where the gunman had all the advantages, such was Lance-Corporal Jones’s quick thinking, aggression and determination that the gunman lost his nerve and fled. Lance-Corporal Jones and his patrol pursued hotly and eventually, joined by other patrols in the area, cornered the gunman in a house on the edge of the estate. The gunman was arrested with his loaded Armalite rifle and a magazine full of ammunition.

At the time of this incident Lance-Corporal Jones had only been a Non-Commissioned Officer for three months. He displayed a remarkable degree of personal courage in charging a gunman who had fired at and narrowly missed him; realising, as he must have, that there was also another gunman lurking in the area. What is perhaps more remarkable is that he remained cool, made a quick decision and directed the other two members of his patrol while under fire. But for Lance-Corporal Jones’s display of bravery, aggression and determination on this day, combined with a high order of leadership, it is probable that this gunman and his weapon would still be at large. Such conduct is well worthy of high official recognition.’