A Collection of Medals to recipients of the Burma Star

Date of Auction: 17th February 2021

Sold for £500

Estimate: £300 - £400

Six: Lieutenant-Commander D. W. Smallbone, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, S.E. Asia 1945-46 (S. Lieut. D. W. Smallbone. R.N.V.R.); Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Decoration, E.II.R., reverse officially dated 1964, in Royal Mint case of issue, the first five mounted as worn, the last loose, nearly extremely fine (6) £300-£400


Douglas William Smallbone was born on 5 January 1926 and was appointed a temporary Midshipman in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 19 May 1944, being posted to H.M.S. Copra ‘For Landing Craft Duty’ on 25 June 1944. He was advanced to Acting Temporary Sub Lieutenant on 5 July 1945 and confirmed as a Temporary Sub Lieutenant 5 January 1946. His final appearance in the Royal Navy List is in October 1946, but he rejoined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in the London Division after the Second World War; was promoted to Lieutenant on 5 January 1951; served as ‘Executive Officer for Seaward Defence Duties’; and was advanced Lieutenant Commander (Seaman Branch) on 5 January 1959. He was awarded his Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Decoration in 1964, and retired the following year. He died in 1999.

H.M.S. Copra was an acronym for ‘Combined Operations Pay Ratings and Accounts’, and was a shore base dealing with ‘pay, ratings, and allowances for RN personnel attached to Combined Operations.’ Nearly all the officers and ratings of the establishment served with Landing Craft and it is interesting to note that known service records include this as their ‘ship’ during their active service with landing craft, also that many graves of RN personnel in Normandy and elsewhere bear the name H.M.S. Copra on the headstone.

Most H.M.S. Copra personnel served in North-West Europe but a rather smaller number served in operations on the Arakan coast of Burma, where amphibious landings and raids took place during 1944 and 1945. This arena of operations qualified participants for the Burma Star. Following the cessation of hostilities with Japan operations continued in the Far East and naval personnel involved qualified for the Naval General Service Medal with S.E. Asia 1945-46 clasp provided they had undertaken twenty-eight days service afloat in: ‘Java and Sumatra from 3 September 1945 to 30 November 1946’, or ‘French Indo-China from 3 September 1945 to 28 January 1946.’