Medals relating to the Malaya and Korea Campaigns from the Philip Burman Collection

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Date of Auction: 9th May 2018

Sold for £2,600

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,400

An outstanding ‘Korea’ M.M. awarded to Fusilier J. B. Barker, 1st Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, who distinguished himself in action at Sibyon-ni on the night of 29/30 November 1950. The Battalion’s position was attacked by a force of 1,200 and the ‘section of which Fus. Barker was a member remained firm... but was rapidly running short of ammunition. Realising that the only way to replenish ammunition stocks was to create a diversion, Fus. Barker, on his own initiative fixed his bayonet, left his slit trench, and charged among the enemy. The appearance of this six foot three inch giant among the enemy in the dark caused such consternation that the much needed respite was obtained and stocks of ammunition replenished, the section continuing to engage the enemy until ordered to withdraw to enable the artillery better to bring their fire to bear.’

Barker, who had served with the K.O.Y.L.I’s in Burma and the Lincolns in North West Europe during the Second World War, was subsequently wounded in action at Imjin 23 April 1951

Military Medal, G.VI.R., 2nd issue (4690537 Fus. J. B. Barker. R.N.F.) mounted on investiture brooch, good very fine
£2000-2400

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 17 April 1951:

‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Korea during the period 9th July to 31st December, 1950.’

The recommendation states:

‘During the action at Sibyon-ni the assault pioneer platoon was employed in the role of a Rifle Platoon.

On the night of 29/30 November, 1950, at Sibyon-ni, the platoon of which Fus. Barker (4690537) J. B. was a member was attacked by the enemy in considerably superior strength at 0330 hrs. After considerable fighting part of the platoon was over-run. The section of which Fus. Barker was a member remained firm however, but was rapidly running short of ammunition. Realising that the only way to replenish ammunition stocks was to create a diversion, Fus. Barker, on his own initiative fixed his bayonet, left his slit trench, and charged among the enemy. The appearance of this six foot three inch giant among the enemy in the dark caused such consternation that the much needed respite was obtained and stocks of ammunition replenished, the section continuing to engage the enemy until ordered to withdraw to enable the artillery better to bring their fire to bear.

During the three hours that the action lasted Fus. Barker’s conduct was of the highest order and I consider his devotion to duty and initiative worthy of permanent recognition.’

James Baden Barker was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, in December 1921. He attested as a Boy for the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Halifax, in September 1937. He served during the Second War with the 2nd Battalion in Burma, before transferring to the Lincolnshire Regiment in March 1943. Barker served with the 1st Battalion in North West Europe (entitled to 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, France and Germany Star, Defence and War Medals).

After the war, Barker briefly served with the 4th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, before transferring to the 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters in February 1947. Despite numerous ‘brushes’ with military authority appearing throughout Barker’s service record, he was recalled from the Reserve for service with the 1st Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in Korea, October 1950 - September 1951. Barker was sentenced to 21 days detention almost immediately upon arrival in Korea - for ‘attempting to steal 3 cases of beer.’ But despite this, other indiscretions, and the occasional court martial, Barker was a different breed of soldier when in a fight. The recommendation for his M.M., as well as being wounded in action at Imjin, 23 April 1951, being testament to this.

He ended his military service with a sentence of six months detention, however, the testimonial provided for him when he was discharged in January 1952 read:

‘A hardworking man who has proved himself to be thoroughly reliable in action. Should soon settle down again in Civilian life.’ Private Barker died at the Royal Halifax Infirmary in January 1982.

1 of 5 M.M.’s awarded to the Regiment for Korea.

Sold with copied service papers, and other copied research.

A later replacement issue with swivel suspension is known to exist, the whereabouts of the campaign medals are currently unknown.