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

Date of Auction: 27th September 2017

Sold for £850

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,400

A good Immediate ‘Second Battle of Kohima - Garrison Hill’ M.M. group of five awarded to Bombardier R. Moss, 16th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, who distinguished himself when driving an A.O.P. Carrier to relieve an Observation Post on Garrison Hill, 4 May 1944. Driving in convoy he reached a point within 300 yards of the D.C.’s Bungalow, when he suffered engine failure under mortar and sniper fire. The two other members of the carrier crew were wounded by snipers, and he evacuated them to a tank some 50 yards away. Moss then returned to his stricken vehicle and waited with it, still under fire, for 2 hours before he could get a tow from a passing Bren Carrier.

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (875926 L. Bmbr. R. Moss. R.A.) initial ‘R’ officially corrected; 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted for wear, generally good very fine (5) £1000-1400

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 22 March 1945:

‘4 May 1944 Garrison Hill, Kohima. On 4th May 44 L/Bdr Moss was driving an A.O.P. for Lieut T. C. Davis RA, who was proceeding to relieve an O.P. on Garrison Hill, in Kohima. The A.O.P. was proceeding in a column with the D.L.I.’s Bren Carriers and had reached a point 300 yards beyond the D.C.’s Bungalow, on the Imphal Road. The D.L.I.’s Carriers suddenly all turned round and went back. L/Bdr Moss started to turn round when the engine failed. Mortar bombs were landing fairly close and snipers’ bullets were hitting the A.O.P. Lieut T. C. Davis said “We will try and push the vehicle downhill and start it.” He and another singaller, Gnr Williams V., jumped out and two minutes later heard Gnr Williams say “Mr. Davis has been hit,” and very soon afterwards Gnr Williams shouted that he had been hit.

There were three tanks down the road, the nearest 50 yards away. L/Bdr Moss ran to the nearest tank, banged on the door with a brick and got Lieut Davis and Gnr Williams into the tank. He tried to get a tow from the tank, but the tank crew said they could not do it. All the time they were being sniped at and mortar bombs were landing pretty close. The tank went back with the two wounded men, L/Bdr Moss returned to the A.O.P. and tried for two hours to get a tow from passing armoured vehicles, before finally getting a tow from a Bren Carrier of the Royal Berks, and bringing in the A.O.P.’

Richard Moss served during the Second War with the 16th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery in Burma. He distinguished himself during the second day of the Second Battle of Kohima, 3 May - 2 June 1944.

With the lifting of the siege of Kohima in mid-April 1944, another major battle for that famous ridge commenced, only on this occasion the British and Indian forces found themselves on the offensive against an enemy who excelled in defensive warfare. Defending every bunker with extraordinary determination, the surviving elements of Sato's 31st Division reaped heavy casualties on the men of 4th, 5th and 6th Brigades who had been allotted the unenviable task of taking the Allied advance forward. In scenes reminiscent of the famous siege, fierce hand-to-hand fighting, sniping, grenade and phosphorous bomb attacks, and bayonet charges were all part of everyday life.

Moss served as part of 6 Brigade in the attack on central Kohima, 4 May 1944, the ‘attack of 5 Brigade on the Naga village was bloodily repulsed, and in Kohima the attack by 6 Brigade was equally unsuccessful. The brigade aimed to capture the series of hills which the Royal West Kents had defended in the first phase of the battle - Garrison Hill, Kuki Piquet, Field Supply Depot (FSD), Daily Issue Store (DIS) and Jail Hill. The Durham Light Infantry, Royal Berkshires and Royal Welch Fusiliers supported by tanks and artillery made some progress and got some platoons on to FSD and DIS, but all their positions were covered by penetrating Japanese fire, and they sustained severe casualties. At the end of a day of fierce and confused fighting, the Royal Welch Fusiliers still had a precarious hold on FSD.

As usual, the Japanese had sited their bunkers cleverly and had dug them deeply enough to withstand any amount of artillery or mortar fire. Inside the bunkers, every man expected to fight to the death. Brave and vigorous attacks by infantry following closely behind a heavy bombardment were invariably met by withering automatic fire and showers of grenades - as every unit in this grim, prolonged and bloody battle found to their cost. The arrival in Kohima of the first tanks, up the road from Dimapur, was the one factor which slowly swung the battle against the Japanese.’ (Burma Victory, Imphal, Kohima and the Chindit issue, March 1944 to May 1945 by D. Rooney refers).