A Collection of Medals to recipients of the Burma Star

Date of Auction: 17th February 2021

Sold for £850

Estimate: £300 - £400

Seven: Major J. G. Burkmar, Durham Light Infantry and Parachute Regiment

1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Korea 1950-53, 1st issue (Capt. J. G. Burkmar. D.L.I.); U.N. Korea 1950-54, unnamed as issued; General Service 1918-62, 2 clasps, Canal Zone, Cyprus (Capt J G Burkmar DLI) the GSM officially re-issued with Canal Zone clasp, light contact marks, good very fine and better (7) £300-£400

Footnote

John Glen ‘Jack’ Burkmar was born on 11 December 1922 and was educated at the Forest School, Chingford. He attested for the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1940 and was commissioned into the Durham Light Infantry from 168 OCTU at Morecombe on 31 August 1941. Posted to the 2nd Battalion, he proceeded with the Battalion to India in 1942, and was promoted War Substantive Lieutenant on 1 October 1942. The battalion formed part of the 2nd (British) Division, preparing for operations in Burma, where he participated in operations in the Arakan and then the Battle of Kohima, initially as a platoon commander in “D” Company, then as Intelligence Officer before posting to “A” Company.

The History of the Durham Light Infantry records events on 27 May 1944 when ‘the Battalion joined 6 Brigade in the long, hard grind up the Aradura Spur, the last real bastion of the Kohima defences. The Spur was covered with thick jungle and the Battalion formed a series of company defensive boxes. The main opposition was from sniping, and vigorous patrolling was employed to deal with it. A party under Lieutenant Jack Burkmar found a number of Japs just behind a located sniper post in the act of cooking a meal. They attacked them with grenades and automatics and put an end to their destructiveness at the cost of only one man slightly wounded.’

Appointed Acting Captain in May 1944, to Burkmar fell the honour of being the first man to make contact with the besieged force at Imphal, while leading the advance of the relief force from Kohima: ‘On 22 June 1944, the Durhams, supported by tanks, had been chosen to lead the 6 Brigade in the advance down the road, when at 11.35 p.m., a platoon of “A” Company led by Captain Burkmar met soldiers from 1/17th Dogras of the 5th Indian Division near Milestone 109. The siege of Imphal was over.’

Burkmar remained with the battalion until the end of the war in Burma, including Irrawaddy Crossing, capture of Mandalay and occupation of Rangoon.

He was an Acting Captain from May-August 1944, Temporary Captain August-September 1944, January 1945-January 1946 and March 1946 to November 1947. He was given a regular commission in the DLI in 1945, became Captain in 1949, Major in December 1956 and retired in May 1959.

Granted a regular commission in the Durham Light Infantry in 1945, Burkmar undertook courses at the Intelligence Corps Depot in 1946. In 1947 he passed for Parachute selection and gained his parachute wings at Upper Heyford. Serving in UK and the Rhineland from 1947-1952 with 7th (Light Infantry) Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, he was then posted back to the 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry in Korea in December 1952, becoming Second in Command of “D” Company.

The front lines largely stabilised north of Seoul in 1951, and the final two years of the Korean War (1952-53) represented a static ground phase characterised by battles for hills and outposts along the Main Line of Resistance. Burkmar and the 2nd Battalion saw much front line service here.

Following the Korean War the battalion was posted to the Canal Zone for operations during the Suez Crisis, 1956-57, and then to Cyprus where in operations against EOKA. Promoted Major in December 1956, he retired in 1959, and died in Sussex in December 2017.

Note: The recipient’s original GSM (with Cyprus clasp only) was issued to him in the rank of Major. Owing to the fact that he held the lesser rank of Captain when he qualified for the later-authorised Canal Zone clasp, he was required to surrender his original GSM (with the now incorrect rank on it), and was re-issued with a 2 clasps GSM named up to him with the rank of Captain.