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

Date of Auction: 27th September 2017

Sold for £2,000

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,200

A fine ‘Immediate’ Second War Burma operations M.M. group of five awarded to Gunner F. C. Walker, 500 Battery, 136th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, for his part as a Runner during the regiment’s gallant stand on Artillery Hill, 11 February 1944, as part of the Battle of the Admin Box

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (89827 Gnr. F. C. Walker. R.A.) digit over-struck edge bruise; 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted for wear, light contact marks, generally very fine (5) £1000-1200

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 18 May 1944:

‘On 11 Feb. Gnr Walker was one of a number of men who had been holding Artillery Hill near the Nyakyedauk Pass for some days. The hill was repeatedly attacked on [the] 11th and Gnr Walker acted as runner between the posts - each time under fire. This he did several times and when wireless had failed, successfully took through a message to the officer in charge in another part, enabling reorganisation to take place.

Throughout the period Gnr Walker showed complete indifference to his own safety and his unfailing good spirits and willingness were an inspiration to his comrades.’

Frederick Charles Walker served during the Second War with 500 Battery, 136th (1st West Lancashire) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery in Burma. The latter were heavily engaged during the Battle of Admin Box, Arakan 6 - 25 February 1944, with Walker particularly distinguishing himself on the 11th. Lieutenant-Colonel Cole of 24th L.A.A./A. Tank Regiment was placed in command of the Admin Box and ‘under his direction, all units were allocated defence areas and the ‘Box’ came into being. To 136 [R.A.] fell the task of occupying and defending Artillery and Ammunition Hills. These were not much more than adjacent ‘pimples’ with a sparse covering of trees. Ammunition Hill took its name from the fact that it was surrounded by large stacks of boxed ammunition of all types protected from observation from the air by camouflage netting.... During the 7th, Japs launched probing attacks at many places around the perimeter of the Box but their main attacks on both the East and West Gate did not fall until after dark.....

On Ammunition Hill the 8th February was spent by the gunners in deepening and extending their posts which had started as shallow slit trenches. Noisy fighting continued throughout the day in all directions and there was no knowledge of where either our own troops or the Japs were situated. Bullets from all directions constantly swept the area and it seemed common sense for everybody to remain in their posts. In the late afternoon a few Jap fighters appeared overhead briefly and dropped bombs, one of which fell at the foot of the Hill on the north side and started fires amongst the piles of ammunition. These continued throughout the night and explosions of varying degrees of violence occurred all too frequently, distributing flying pieces of metal and wreckage over a wide area.....

During the morning of 9th, Lieutenant Edwards established an O.P. on Ammunition Hill and re-established radio contact with 348 Battery. Jap shelling of the Box now began in earnest. They had several guns, probably of 75mm. calibre, firing from positions on the higher ground overlooking the Box and, with the area containing a large number of vehicles as well as dumps of ammunition and supplies, they had an abundance of targets. Many of the Regiment’s vehicles were distributed around the foot of the hill and soon several were hit and set on fire and this set alight the dry undergrowth on the lower slopes of the hill itself.... The Japs mortared the area as well....

The night of 9th/10th was a noisy one with frequent bursts of small arms fire from engagements around the perimeter which flared up briefly. The Japs continued a slow mortaring of the main dump areas throughout the night and inevitably hits were made on ammunition piles. Sometimes loud explosions followed if shells and bombs were set off, and the cordite charges burst into fierce and brilliant flames when they were ignited....

During the morning of 11th February the Japs got on to the hill feature overlooking the Box on its south side from where they could observe at close quarters all the gun positions and Artillery and Ammunition Hills. During the late morning they began to infiltrate on to Artillery Hill itself and fierce hand-to-hand fighting ensued with the Gunners defending their posts to the death. There was no quarter given on either side. To give an account of what transpired is almost impossible, for most of those members of the Regiment who were directly involved were killed in action. Each defence post usually held two men and one would be facing in one direction and his mate would be guarding his back. Both had to be constantly on alert for Jap movement in their immediate vicinity so their view of the action was usually very restricted.

News of the infiltration on to Artillery Hill had been telephoned from the Ammunition Hill O.P. to Div. H.Q. as soon as it became apparent but it was not until the early afternoon that assistance could be given. Tanks of the 25th Dragoons took up positions around the foot of the hill and began to blast away at any sign of movement. Many of our Gunners were still on the hill but the tank crews seemed unaware of this....

To a Company of 2nd West Yorks., under Major O’Hara, fell the unpleasant job of assaulting our Hill and clearing it of Japs, a task they completed with great dash and determination. The Gunners then took over again, deeply impressed by the courage of those men who had just completed a truly frightening job...

Although the announcement of awards was not made until a month later, it is appropriate to record here those given to Members of the Regiment who served in the Admin Box during the siege. The Military Medal was awarded to Gunner F. C. Walker of 500 Battery... For their bravery in driving many vehicles to safety from amongst exploding and blazing ammunition dumps Certificates of Gallantry were awarded to the following members of 348 Battery: Bombardier B. K. Webster, Gunner F. Birtwhistle, Gunner D. M. Hunter.’ (The Rose And The Arrow refers)

The 136th Field Regiment suffered 10 killed, 9 wounded, and 5 men reported missing as a consequence of their stand on Artillery Hill, 11 February 1944.