Medals to the Royal Tank Regiment from the Collection of Bill Green

Image 1

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 4th July 2001

Sold for £4,800

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

An outstanding D.C.M., M.M. group of seven awarded to Lieutenant Bob Macgregor, 1st Royal Tank Regiment, who was tragically killed by friendly fire in April 1945 having been recommended for the Military Cross


Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.VI.R. (408246 W.O. Cl. 2, R. Tank R.); Military Medal, G.VI.R. (408246 Sjt., R. Tank R.) small official correction to ‘Tank’ on this; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; France & Germany Star; War Medal, together with a Royal Tank Corps silver prize medal, the reverse inscribed ‘R.T.C. Depot Physical Efficiency Tests. Special. 408243 Pte. Macgregor. R.’, extremely fine (8) £4000-5000

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 1 March 1945.

“On 30 Sept. 1944, S.S.M. Macgregor was in command of a troop of tanks which was ordered to attack Middlerose village (MR 3942 Sheet S’Hertogenbosch) in conjunction with a section of carriers and a platoon of infantry. As soon as the advance started the enemy brought down heavy observed shellfire on the attacking troops and after 300 yards the infantry and carriers were brought to a halt by M.G. fire. Realising that the whole attack was in danger of being held up and knowing full well the risk attached to advancing in such close country without infantry support, S.S.M. Macgregor moved forward with his troop, destroyed the M.Gs holding up the infantry and one A.Tk. gun which he met face to face at 50 yds range and reached the centre of the village. The infantry then came up and S.S.M. Macgregor moved to a position from which he could shoot the enemy withdrawing from the village and observe the enemy’s main position. He remained in this position under continuous shellfire and mortar fire and sniping for seven hours directing artillery fire on the enemy guns. During this action S.S.M. Macgregor’s troop destroyed 2 A.Tk. guns and 2 M.Gs and took 20 Pws, besides killing a number of enemy and forcing 200 to withdraw from the village. This W.O.’s coolness, courage and judgement were entirely responsible for the success of the action and had it not been for his leadership and handling of the situation both his own troop and the infantry would have undoubtedly suffered severe casualties without reaching their objectives.”

M.M. London Gazette 31 December 1942.

“On 1st Sept. 1942, Sgt. Macgregor commanded a Light Tank Troop which was sent out on a wide recce to the west, along the Southern slopes of the Bare Ridge. An enemy column, which included 10 tanks, moved north between the patrol and the Regt. Sgt. Macgregor by first class leadership, and displaying great gallantry fought his way back to the Regt. without loss. By his vigorous offensive action the enemy were deceived as to the strength of the force attacking him and took cover which they retained for the remainder of the day. This N.C.O. has displayed conspicuous courage and devotion to duty throughout the battle and has set an example to all with whom he has worked.”

Lieutenant Bob Macgregor was killed in a tragic friendly fire accident on 9 April 1945, and is buried in Becklingen War Cemetery, near Soltau, Germany. The following extracts are both taken from accounts written by officers who had served with him during the war:

“The main brunt of this successful operation [capture of the village of Heek] was borne by Bob Macgregor’s troop; not only did he lead for much of the way but he exercised incredible skill in finding a covered approach between enemy detachments. His ability and coolness saved the squadron many casualties and for this I recommended him for a Military Cross (to add to his Distinguished Conduct and Military Medals). He was killed tragically a week later; a gun in another tank of his troop was loaded when it should not have been and it was accidentally discharged into the back of Bob’s tank. He was the best troop leader I ever had the good fortune to serve with; and he had been through the whole desert campaign as well as that of North-West Europe.” (Major Freddy Pile, M.C., C.O. ‘A’ Squadron, 1st R.T.R.)

“Starting the war as a Lance-Cpl., Bob was a legend in his own time in 1 R.T.R. For several years a troop commander as a Sergeant, as S.S.M. of ‘A’ Squadron, and, finally, as an officer, he was without peer as a fighting soldier. His standing as the finest troop leader in the Regt. was never in question. His tactical ‘fifth sense’ was uncanny, and led to an unrivalled tally of German tanks to the credit of his Troop, whilst, I believe, never losing a man from enemy action.

‘A’ Squadron of the 1st were fortunate in having many outstanding men. ‘Paddy’ McKee, Les Allen, Johnny Johnston and Joe Pitt, all Sergeants, spring instantly to mind. All were past masters of the art of tank and troop cammanding, and as a young officer in their company you were very much on your mettle. After five years of hard fighting they weren’t inclined to suffer fools gladly. Amongst all these outstanding leaders, Bob Magregor was in a class of his own. His fighting record was studded with recommendations for gallantry awards, including, so the story went, one for the Victoria Cross when 1 R.T.R. was in Tobruk.

Just before he died, Bob and his troop, who were covering the flank of the Squadron at the time of an ‘O’ group, destroyed 2 SP guns and damaged a third in four shots. These vehicles had spotted us, and were stalking the ‘O’ group. But for Bob’s vigilance and sharp eyes, a lot of men might have lost their lives. Bob was recommended for the M.C., but died before it could be awarded.” (Brigadier H. B. C. Watkins, M.B.E., formerly Lieut. 1st R.T.R.)

When previously sold at Glendining’s in July 1978 and at Sotheby’s in October 1982, this fine group did not include Second War medals. These have been added subsequently to illustrate his proper entitlement. Sold with a good amount of research, including several letters from former comrades, four copied photographs and two ‘Desert Rat’ divisional signs.