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 £600

Estimate: £600 - £800

A Second World War Burma operations M.M. group of six awarded to Naik Bachan Singh, 1st Royal (Kohat) Mountain Battery (Frontier Force), who was decorated for gallant deeds in the Kachin Hills in February 1944

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (40638 Nk. Bachan Singh, R.I.A.), officially impressed naming; India General Service 1936-37, 1 clasp, North West Frontier (40638 Dvr. Bachan Singh, 1 R. Mtn. Bty.); 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; War Medal 1939-45; India Service Medal 1939-45, scratch to obverse bust on the first, unit officially corrected on the second, otherwise good very fine (6) £600-800

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 8 February 1945. The original recommendation states:

‘During the whole period of the operations [In the Chin Hills] this young N.C.O. has been in charge of the O.P. and F.O.O. communications of his battery. This has on many occasions involved the maintenance of cable and the organisation and setting up of communications under heavy mortar and small arms fire. In particular during the attacks on the heavily fortified position at MS 22 in February 1944, when he showed the highest courage and devotion to duty in repeatedly going out to repair the line under fire. On 26 February the lines of the F.O.O. on MS 22 ran through a completely open area which was being continuously swept by enemy small arms and mortar fire. Naik Bachan Singh effected repairs and relaid the line with complete disregard for his ow safety. His invariable cheerfulness, determination and devotion to duty under the most dangerous conditions has earned for him the unstinted admiration of his fellows.’

Unusually, the recommendation is further endorsed by the C.R.A. of 17th Indian Division:

‘Recommended. It was largely owing to this Naik that his battery communications were always so satisfactory under the most dangerous conditions.’

Bachan Singh was a Jat Sikh from the vilage of Raipur Kalan in the Ambala district of the Punjab. A pre-war regular in the 1st Royal (Kohat) Mountain Battery (Frontier Force), he was present as a Driver in operations on the North-West Frontier in 1936-37 (Medal & clasp). Of subsequent events at Mile Stone 22 on the Tiddim Road, during the assault on Point 8225 on 26 February 1944, Lieutenant J. Proctor, the Forward Observation Officer of 1st Royal (Kohat) Mountain Battery, later wrote:

‘Within two hours of Zero Hour, all British Officers had been killed or wounded and within four hours all Gurkha officers had been. The troops were beginning to get pretty thin on the ground. In the late afternoon, we suddenly found ourselves under fire from the area we had crossed. It was obvious that the Japs were returning underground to the bunkers which we had over-run and it was pretty hopeless. Everyone held on there as long as they possibly could, but the Gurkhas were very tired by nightfall. Shortly after this we had orders to pull out, which we did. I must mention my own O.P. party of three signallers, really first class chaps. Nothing was too much trouble for them, especially my Naik in charge [Bachan Singh]. Our 48 wireless set failed to operate and we had to rely on the telephone cable laid by my signallers as we advanced. The wire was cut at least half a dozen times during the day. Each time the Naik went back and repaired it. I think his name was Bachan Singh.’

Sold with copied research.