A Collection of Medals to recipients of the Burma Star

Date of Auction: 17th February 2021

Sold for £480

Estimate: £300 - £400

Five: Major R. D. Anderson, Royal Norfolk Regiment, who was Mentioned in Despatches for his services during the Defence of Habbaniya whilst attached to the Iraq Levies

India General Service 1936-39, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1936-37 (Lieut. R. D. Andrson. R. Norf. R.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Burma Star; War Medal 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf, nearly extremely fine (5) £300-£400


Richard Anderson was born on 13 May 1915 and was commissioned from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, into the Royal Norfolk Regiment on 29 August 1935. His first active service was with the 1st Battalion on the North-West Frontier of India from May to September 1937. The Britannia, the journal of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, gives the following account:
‘Anderson was initially appointed to 2nd Battalion at Aldershot, then posted to the 1st Battalion in India, joining at Jhansi in February 1937 and proceeded with the battalion for active service in Waziristan on 3
May where they were based at Damdil camp, and employed on road protection duties and various picquet. The camp and picquets were sniped on various occasions in the late evenings onwards. There were several attacks on these positions, several MMs were awarded and there were several casualties. He was one of sixteen officers (and 715 other ranks) to receive the India General Service Medal 1936 with clasp North-West Frontier 1936-37.’

Promoted Lieutenant on 29 September 1938., Anderson is listed as serving under the Air Ministry in May 1940 Army List, having been seconded to the Iraq Levies, under the command of the RAF for the defence of the Habbaniya Aerodrome.

Habbaniya - ‘The Second Battle of Britain’
Habbaniya air base in Iraq was a large Royal Air Force flying training school containing around 1,000 RAF personnel, defended by 350 men of the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment and 1,200 Iraq Levies. There was also an RAF Armoured Car Company. There were an assortment of training aircraft, around 74 in all, including Gloster Gladiators, Airspeed Oxfords and Hawker Audaxes. Few of the training staff had seen action and their students were only partly trained. Neither were their aircraft suitable for active operations. Under these conditions, the base was to become the focus of attack by pro-Axis Iraqi forces whose aim, with assistance from Germany and Vichy France, was to expel the British from Iraq, depriving it of crude oil and severing its air link with India.

The Iraqi Army was dispatched to seize Habbaniya on 29 April 1941. They dug-in on the plateau overlooking the base and surrounded it with 2,000 troops, artillery and armour. An ultimatum was sent to the base commander, who responded by entrenching the airfield and arming and fuelling the aeroplanes available to him. They took the battle to the enemy and with fortitude reminiscent of “The Few”, some 700 sorties were flown in less than a week, firing 116,000 rounds and dropping 45 tonnes of bombs. Meanwhile, the ground forces drove out the Iraqi troops form their dug-in positions.

Anderson was one of the handful of British Army officers who took part in the epic defence, commanding No. 2 (Assyrian) Company, Iraq Levies. For his services he was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 23 December 1941).

By 31 May Iraq was firmly back under British control. Had Habbaniya fallen, Axis powers would have established a base in Iraq. This would have denied Britain access to Iraq’s oil fields which were vital for the North African theatre and without which victory at El Alamein would have been impossible, which in turn would have left the Axis controlling vast swathes of the Middle East and North Africa, with ample supplies of oil to fight on both Eastern and Western Fronts.

Promoted Captain on 29 August 1943, Anderson went on to serve in Burma with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment, including the Battle of Kohima in 1944 when the regimental history notes that he commanded “C” Company, whilst holding the rank of Acting Major. Notably, he led his company in the attack on the Aradura Spur on 27 May 1944, “C” Company leading the battalion’s attack:
‘At 0315 hours on May 27 “C” and “A” Companies moved forward in torrential rain… But the heavy monsoon rain made operations quite impossible and in the early afternoon the assault was postponed for 24 hours… It was as much a test of stamina as of morale that the renewed assault could be mounted on the following day. Once again the two leading companies set out at 0315… At 0730 hours “C” Coy came under very heavy fire as they came out where the jungle thinned, from two bunker positions just below the crest… and suffered a number of casualties… But “A” and “C” Companies hung onto their gains…’
Operations continued and after a successful attack on 14 June, ‘battle patrols from the battalion, under Major Anderson, set out to cover the attack by the Cameron Highlanders…’
Following the Battle of Kohima “C” Company was disbanded due to the very heavy casualties it had incurred.

Anderson was promoted temporary Major on 1 December 1946, and retired with the honorary rank of Major on 29 August 1949.

Sold together with a group photographic image of the recipient.