A Collection of Awards for Burma Operations during the Second World War

Date of Auction: 27th September 2017

Sold for £1,600

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,600

A good Second War Immediate 1945 ‘Irrawaddy River operations’ M.C. group of six awarded to Major H. Bleasby, 139th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, who distinguished himself whilst attached as Forward Observation Officer to a column of the 15th Punjab Regiment, during operations for the extension of the Nyangu Bridgehead, 26 February 1945. The column was ambushed, and despite being severely wounded, Bleasby continued to direct supporting artillery fire on the Japanese position. Weak from loss of blood he refused to be evacuated until finally laying a sufficient smoke screen for the whole force to withdraw

Military Cross, G.VI.R. reverse officially dated ‘1945’ and additionally engraved ‘Major H. Bleasby, R.A.’; 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Malaya, G.VI.R. (Major H. Bleasby. R.A.) last with official corrections, mounted as worn, generally very fine or better (6) £1200-1600

Footnote

Provenance: DNW, July 2001.

M.C. London Gazette 21 June 1945:

‘On the 26th February 1945, during the operations for the extension of Nyangu Bridgehead on the Irrawaddy River, 4th Bn. 15th Punjab Regiment was ordered to send a mobile column consisting of one rifle coy less one pl. with a F.O.O. and one sec of M.M.Gs to establish itself on the road Letpanchibaw - Ngatha Yauk with a task of cutting off any enemy retreating from the West. The column was proceeding along the road when it suddenly came under heavy fire from 3 machine guns, grenade discharger and rifle from a Jap position located on a high cutting astride the road. The leading pl. and the Column HQ sustained heavy casualties and were pinned to the ground on an open piece of ground only 250 yds from the Jap position. Capt. Bleasby 139 Field Regiment, R.A., was the F.O.O. with the party. He took up an exposed position on the side of the road and although under constant shell fire, machine gun fire and rifle fire he directed his guns on to the Jap position. The column comd. then ordered him to lay a smoke screen on the position in order that the leading pl. could withdraw to a more suitable position and casualties could be evacuated. Before he could give his orders he was hit by a burst of Jap L.M.G. fire in his leg but in-spite of this he carried on with his task of laying the smoke screen which enabled the forward pl. to extricate itself and bring all casualties back. Column HQ was then ordered to withdraw and Capt. Bleasby returned to the first layback position. By this time he was weak from loss of blood but realising that the Pl. covering the withdrawal would still need smoke support, he refused to be evacuated and continued giving orders until the whole force had returned.

The example set by this officer who although seriously wounded remained at his post for more than one hour was of the highest order. His courage, action and devotion to duty inspired all who saw him.’

Henry Bleasby was born in Birmingham, in June 1916. He served in the ranks of the Territorial Army for 316 days, before being mobilised as Second Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, in July 1940. Bleasby advanced to Acting Captain, before serving as Temporary Captain from November 1941. He served in the 139th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, as part of the 33rd Indian Infantry Brigade during the operations in Burma.

Sold with named Buckingham Palace M.C. enclosure slip, and H.Q. Fourteenth Army, General Officer C-in-C letter of congratulations, dated 14 April 1945, both framed and glazed.