In the week marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings a poignant medal was sold at auction which had been awarded to a British soldier killed in the invasion.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Tom Derbyshire
Captain Richard Burbury was born in Barnsley and was commissioned with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry as 2nd Lieutenant in 1925. He was commanding the 1st Bn South Lancashire Regiment as lieutenant colonel on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when he was killed in action by a sniper’s bullet.
The General Service Medal 1918-62 awarded to him with a Palestine clasp and Mentioned In Despatches oakleaf was estimated at £100-150 at Tennants’ Militaria & Ethnographica Sale on June 5. It sold for a hammer price of £3200 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).
The medal was sold alongside a copy of the War Diary for June 1944 noting Burbury’s death, a map and photographs.
First wave of attack
The 1st Battalion was in the first wave to land on Sword Beach on D-Day (one of the two beaches assigned to British forces out of five overall in Operation Overlord).
According to the Lancashire Infantry Museum: “The 1st South Lancashires were one of the two leading assault battalions of the 3rd Division. The battalion landed on Queen White Beach at 7.20am and despite losing the commanding officer and well over one hundred other casualties, made good progress through the well-prepared German beach defences and pressed inland to capture Hermanville by 9am.
“Over the next days the South Lancashires captured the villages of Plumetot, Cresserons and La Deliverande, and the enemy strongpoint known as ‘Trout’, and secured the famous Pegasus Bridge across the Orne.”
The GSM was awarded for minor campaigns 1918-62, not for the Second World War. Burbury served in Palestine in 1938. Before D-Day he served in France in 1940 and was evacuated from Dunkirk.