A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the Indian Army for the Burma Campaign 1944-45

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Date of Auction: 22nd July 2016

Sold for £1,800

Estimate: £600 - £800

A Second World War Burma operations M.M. awarded to Sapper Balouch, 70 Field Company, Bengal Sappers & Miners Group, Royal Indian Engineers, who was decorated for his gallant part in manning an L.M.G. during the assault on ‘Bare Patch’ on Vaona Ridge in February 1944: ‘one particular sniper hit the stones on the parapet of his slit trench three times until finally ... Sapper Baluch spotted him and finished him off with two well-aimed bursts.’

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (26155 Spr. Balouch, Bengal S. & M. Gp. I.E.), officially engraved naming, extremely fine £600-800

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 16 November 1944. The original recommendation states:

‘Sapper Balouch was a member of a sapper pressure party which accompanied the assault on Bare Patch, on the Vaona Ridge, after dark on 6 February 1944. As the assaulting troops reached the crest of the ridge, they were held up by heavy enemy automatic fire. He, in the forefront of the advance, led the party until its was halted by the Platoon Commander at the crest of the ridge in order to conform with the assaulting infantry. Their rush had brought the party to the very front, and when consolidation began they dug-in with bush knives on the perimeter, immediately opposite the Japs who were strongly entrenched about 50 yards away.

Sapper Balouch, with his L.M.G., was in the foremost position, and held the position from 2000 hours on the 6th February until 1500 hours on the 8th, when the party withdrew for other work. During this period he was continually subjected to accurate sniping at short range and heavy mortar fire. Maintaining excellent fire discipline, he fired a total of only six magazines in spite of repeated alarms. One particular sniper hit the stones on the parapet of his slit trench three times, until finally at 1200 hours on the 8th Sapper Balouch spotted him and finished him off with two well-aimed bursts. Throughout the action and on many other occasions he set a fine example of coolness, steadiness, and cheerfulness, which greatly impressed and encouraged the rest of his company.’

Balouch was a Punjabi Mussalman Jat from Dhok Sher region in Jhelum district. The assaulting troops he supported so ably in the attack on ‘Bare Patch’ were the 1-7th Gurkhas, under Major Peter Sanders, who, owing to the loss of an arm in operations on the North-West Frontier in the 1930s, found the ascent particularly challenging, for both hands were required to pull oneself up the steep slope. He was awarded the D.S.O. An indication of the fierceness of the Japanese response to the assault is evident in the 100 casualties suffered by Sanders’s Gurkhas; sold with copied research.