A Collection of Army Gallantry Awards to the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, and the Royal Air Force

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Date of Auction: 4th March 2020

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £2,600 - £3,000

A Second War 1943 ‘North Africa’ M.M. group of six awarded to Aircraftman 1st Class R. Quigley, 2744 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, who was awarded the Military Medal for dismounting a Bren light machine-gun from his knocked out armoured car and engaging an enemy attack until his ammunition was expended; he subsequently evaded capture in no-man’s land supporting a wounded comrade for 24 hours

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (1513587 A.C.M. 1 Cl. R. Quigley. R.A.F.) on original mounting pin; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, 1 clasp, North Africa 1942-43; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, in named card box of issue, addressed to ‘R. Quigley, Esq., 2, Thornfield Rd, Kingsway, Manchester, 19.’, edge bruise to MM, otherwise nearly extremely fine and a rare combination of awards (6) £2,600-£3,000

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 17 September 1943:
‘In recognition of distinguished service rendered in the Mediterranean Air Command during the period 1 February to 12 May 1943.’


The original Recommendation states: ‘This airman has been employed as a gunner. On 28 April 1943, during an attack on our positions at Medjz-el-Bab, he came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire. With another member of his gun crew, he dismounted his gun and, taking up a forward position, continued to engage the enemy. Having expended his ammunition and his comrade being wounded, he then evaded the enemy successfully for 24 hours, although they were now between him and our lines. Eventually he succeeded in gaining friendly ground, and having handed over his wounded companion to a first aid post, he reported to his Unit. The airman has displayed constant devotion to duty and accomplished good work during the advance on Bizerta.’

Kingsley Oliver's book, The R.A.F. Regiment at War, 1942-46, provides some further background on Quigley's award:
‘In April 2744 Field Squadron, with 4091 AA Flight under command was attached to 24th Guards Brigade and took over a sector of 5,000 yards on the hills south of, and overlooking, the road Medjez el Bab-Oued Zarga from 5th Northants on the left of 1st Irish Guards. The armoured car flight was attached to the 1st Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment and carried out a number of patrols, during which one of the flight's armoured cars received a direct hit from an enemy anti-tank gun. One crew member was wounded, but was extricated from the wrecked vehicle by another crewman, Aircraftman 1st Class Robert Quigley, who dismounted a Bren light machine gun from the disabled vehicle and engaged the enemy until all his ammunition had been expended. He then helped his wounded comrade into the cover of broken ground and both evaded the enemy who were searching for them. 24 hours later Quigley reached the British lines with the wounded airman and returned to his unit.’

The R.A.F. Regiment was founded by Royal Warrant in February 1942 as a specialist airfield defence corps whose role was to seize, secure and defend airfields although in practice they were frequently used in conventional infantry and armoured reconnaissance roles. The origin of the R.A.F. Regiment went back to the R.A.F. Armoured Cars which operated in Iraq and the Middle East in the 1920's and 1930's. The regiment was comprised of Field Squadron's operating in parachute, infantry and armoured car roles and Anti-Aircraft Squadron's equipped with 20mm Hispano cannon and 40mm Bofors guns. Each Field Squadron was divided into a Headquarters Flight, three Rifle Flights, an Air-Defence Flight, and an Armoured Car Flight.

Note: Approximately 119 Military Medals awarded to the RAF during the Second World War, of which 14 were to the R.A.F. Regiment.