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A fine Second World War Western Desert

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Estimate: £400 - £500
ca. US$723 - US$904
Price realised:  £520
ca. US$940
Lot number 1315, Views: 30

A fine Second World War Western Desert operations B.E.M. group of six awarded to Lance-Sergeant D. E. Brooks, Royal Engineers, who undertook urgent airfield repairs whilst under attack from enemy fighter-bombers: ten men had been killed carrying out similar work under similar circumstances on the previous day British Empire Medal, (Military) G.VI.R., 1st issue (No. 1904149 L./Sgt. Daniel E. Brooks), with original card box of issue; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, clasp, 8th Army; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf, with original addressed card forwarding box for the campaign issues, extremely fine (6) £400-500 Footnote B.E.M. London Gazette 14 October 1943. The original recommendation, approved by Montgomery, states: ‘During the construction of Advanced Landing Grounds for the R.A.F. (Western Desert), in connection with the advance of the Eighth Army, Lance-Sergeant Brooks has consistently shown exceptional drive, initiative and determination to complete the tasks alloted him, irrespective of enemy interference. The following is one example of his outstanding resolution: Whilst his section was working on Hamraiet North Landing Ground on 6 January 1943, it was attacked by enemy fighter-bombers. Bombs cratered the runway and before the attack had finished, Lance-Sergeant Brooks and his party commenced filling the craters and rendered the runway safe for aircraft which were due to land at any moment. By his own act he set a fine example to the Infantry working parties as well as to his own men.’ Gallantry of a high order indeed, for on the previous day, another working party at Hamraiet North had lost ten killed and 25 wounded under similar circumstances. Fighters Over Libya, by Shores, Ring and Hess, takes up the story: ‘Units of the W.D.A.F. were now pouring into the airfields at Hamraiet. Already several units of 244 Wing were at Hamraiet North when the first P-40Fs of the 57th Fighter Group began arriving on this date [5 January 1943]. No sooner had the Americans landed than 24 German fighter-bombers attacked, bombing the area. The raid was soon followed by others, three or four attacks a day being made for the next three days. One strafe by eight Bf. 109s on the 5th caught New Zealand troops who were clearing the ground of stones, and were consequently without cover. Exposed to the full fury of the fighters’ fire, ten men were killed and 25 wounded; the airfield defences claimed to have shot down four of the Messerschmitts ... Hamraiet Main and North airfields were again strafed by Bf. 109s [on 6 January 1943], two formations of seven and five aircraft making the attack; the A.A. again claimed four shot down, and I/SG 2 reported the loss of Uffz. Werner Lange, who force-landed east of Buerat and became a prisoner. During one of the raids at this time one of the 57th Fighter Group’s groundcrew personnel, Staff Sergeant Louis Lederman, claimed to have personally shot down one Bf. 109 with a captured German machine-gun ... ’ Daniel Ernest Brooks, a native of Bridgewater, was serving in No. 655 A.W. Company, R.E., at the time of the above related deeds. He had earlier been mentioned in despatches ‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East during the period 1 May 1942 to 22 October 1942’ (London Gazette 24 June 1943 refers). Sold with original Buckingham Palace forwarding letter for the B.E.M., dated 2 September 1946, together with his M.I.D. certificate, both framed; and a pair of limited edition Order of the British Empire commemorative plates, one by Aynsley, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Order, with accompanying letter confirming it as plate No. 1205 (dated 31 August 1977), and the other by Caversall, to mark the Silver Jubilee of the appointment of Prince Philip as the Order’s Grand Master, also with an accompanying letter confirming it as plate No. 113 (dated 14 February 1980).

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Dix Noonan Webb
Title: Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria, to incl... (23 September 2005)
Date of the auction: 23 Sep 2005
Address: Dix Noonan Webb
16 Bolton St, Mayfair
W1J 8BQ London
United Kingdom
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