Medals relating to the Malaya and Korea Campaigns from the Philip Burman Collection
Date of Auction: 9th May 2018
Sold for £5,500
Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000
Military Medal, G.VI.R., 2nd issue (PO.X.3951 Cpl. (A/Sgt) T. A. Want R.M.); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star, 1 clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star, 1 clasp, North Africa 1942-43; War Medal 1939-45; Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Malaya (PO/X.3951 T. A. Want A/Sgt R M) mounted for wear, light contact marks overall, very fine (7) £5000-6000
FootnoteM.M. London Gazette 21 October 1952:
‘For gallant and distinguished service with 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines in Malaya during the period 1st January to 30th June, 1952.
The recommendation states:
‘Sergeant Want has been engaged on anti-bandit operations since June 1950. Throughout this period he has commanded his sub-section with tireless energy, outstanding devotion to duty and with no other thoughts than to get to grips with the bandits.
On 1st June, 1951, his sub-section had an unexpected encounter with a party of bandits. He immediately led his section into action, killing one bandit and wounding several others with no casualties to his side.
On Christmas Eve 1951, he led his sub-section to an enemy camp in very thick country, in the Kampar Hills, two bandits were contacted and both killed.
On 8th February, 1952, when his sub-section came rather unexpectedly on a bandit camp, he quickly took charge of the situation, so that three out of four bandits were killed.
In nearly two years of bandit fighting Sergeant Want’s high sense of duty, his cheerfulness at all times and his complete disregard of his own personal safety have been a magnificent example and inspiration, not only to his sub-section, but also to the remainder of the Troop.’
Thomas Alfred Want was born in Wanstead, London, in 1921. He served 45 Commando, Royal Marines, and was part of Operation Springtide during the operations in Malaya. The latter took place in the mountainous region between Gopeng and Kampar, 1 December 1951 - 2 January 1952. Want’s actions during the operation are described in Four Five, The Story of 45 Commando Royal Marines 1943-1971 by D. Young:
‘Springtide continued with two more successes ensuring that the 27th Platoon was well and truly broken up. A Sakai bandit was killed near Gopeng on 18 December by an A Troop patrol, and on Christmas Eve Sgt. ‘Ozzie’ Want’s patrol from X Troop accounted for two more bandits. An official report later laconically described what must have been a drama-filled incident. ‘24 Dec. Over 3,000 feet up in the Kampar Hills a patrol of X Troop being guided by a surrendered bandit contacted the tail of a gang of eighteen bandits. The leading scouts opened fire, killing a female bandit and wounding a male bandit who ran away. He was caught within 100 yards and killed.’ It was Sgt Want’s speed and dash which spelt disaster for the bandit who was chased through the thick undergrowth. It appears that banditry was not purely a male domain, and throughout the tour in Malaya there were several instances when patrols clashed with uniformed members of the opposite sex.’
Want was also engaged during Operation Broderick, which took place in lower Perak between early January to the end of February 1952. The aim of the operation was to disrupt 39 Independent Platoon MRLA, and the conditions in which the Marines were fighting are described thus:
‘Their only contact with each other was through wireless sets carried from camp to camp with who knows what exasperation, submerged often in oily swamps, dried out and carried yet further. Their supplies and almost sole contact with the outside world came when a twin-engined Dakota circled an appointed rendezvous every fourth or fifth day, discharging its precious cargo of corned beef, tinned beer, cigarettes and ammunition. Pack up and move on again, fighting atrocious country and a burning sun by day and clouds of mosquitoes or torrential rain by night.
Sgt. Want again distinguished himself as patrol commander. On 8 February his section, of X Troop, was approaching a camp, south of Gopeng, when a bandit sentry suddenly opened fire. Despite the enemy fire Sgt. Want led his men in a quick charge through the camp, which resulted in the deaths of three out of the four fleeing Min Yuen. Sgt. Want was later awarded the Military Medal for his outstanding action.’ (Ibid)
Want retired with the rank of Colour Sergeant, and ‘when he retired he worked in security for Barclays Bank until he reached retirement age. In 1989 Tom had a massive stroke. When the consultant told him he would not walk again, he said - “I’m a Royal Marine Commando, watch me.” And indeed, he did walk again and learned to write with his left hand.’ (Obituary included in lot refers)
Colour Sergeant Want died in 2011, and his funeral took place at Masonhill Crematorium, Ayr, Scotland.
1 of 11 M.M.’s awarded to the Royal Marines for the Malayan campaign, 1948-60.
Sold with copied research, and a copy of The Globe & Laurel in which the recipient’s obituary appeared.