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Lot 274A
Five to Corporal M.J.Lavender, Royal Marines and Special Boat Squadron
Sold for £4,700 (US$ 7,354) inc. premium

Lot Details
Five to Corporal M.J.Lavender, Royal Marines and Special Boat Squadron
South Atlantic 1982, with rosette (Mne 1 M J Lavender, PO38098U); Gulf War 1990-91 (Cpl M J Lavender, P038098U, RM); Campaign Service 1962, one bar, Northern Ireland (Cpl M J Lavender, PO38098U, RM); Golden Jubilee 2002; Royal Naval Long Service and Good Conduct, E.II.R. (Cpl M J Lavender, PO38098U, RM). Mounted as worn. Very fine. (5)

Footnotes

  • Sold with copy service papers veryfing all medals. Michael Jason Lavender was born in Surrey and joined the RM Commando Training centre on 19 September 1978. On successful completion of training he joined 45 Commando in June 1979 and after a brief period at RM Poole joined the Commando Logistics Regiment in July 1981 serving with them during the Falklands War.

    In July 1987 he was borne on the books of Enturion as additional almost certainly whilst undertaking selection and training for the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) joining them in October 1989. In January 1990 he was back at the Commando Training Ventre and in March to RM Poole. Joining the SBS again in May 1990 he served continually with this unit until May 1993 including the period of the First Gulf War. He was appointed to Lance Corporal in January 1990, promoted to Corporal in June 1990, he joined 40 Commando in May 1993, promoted to Sergeant in September 1996 and Collour Sergeant in August 1999, his last two postings were RM Poole in 2001 and finally 1st Assault Group, Royal Marines from October 2001 to September 2003 when discharged.

    The First Gulf War Medal is extremely scarce to the Royal Marines as 3 Commando Brigade did not deploy.

    Although not confirmed the following operation is something he may have been directly involved with.

    In January 1991 - Desert Shield has transformed into Desert Storm and allied warplanes are pounding the Iraqi military. Saddam Hussein's response was to target Saudi Arabia and Israel with long range Scud missiles. Whilst not a significant military threat, the Scud launchers caused a political crisis with Israel gearing up to enter the conflict which would have caused the West-Arab coalition to crumble. Something had to be done to stop the Scuds flying. Scores of allied aircraft were tasked with finding the launchers, which proved to be next to impossible as the Iraqis hid them in barns and under bridges.

    In need of a role in a remote control war, UK Special Forces drew up plans to deal with the Scud threat. SAS Landrover and foot patrols were sent into the Western Iraqi desert whilst the SBS covered the East. Intelligence pinpointed a network of fibre optic cables sprouting out of Baghdad which the Iraqi regime were using to send targeting information and fire control messages to the mobile Scud launchers. The cables were underground and so couldn't be hit from the air. It was decided to assign the SBS the task of finding and cutting the cables.

    In the dead of night, a team of around 36 SBS operators, on board 2 Chinooks from RAF SF flight, flew from Saudi into Iraq, flying at low level until touching down at their landing zone which was only 40 miles south of Baghdad. The SBS men were split into teams. One team would handle the demolitions and so were laden down with explosives and shovels and cable detection gear. The rest of the SBS would protect both the demolitions team and the 2 helicopters. Heavily armed with GPMGs, grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons, they formed a protective perimeter around the operation, keenly aware of how perilously close to the Iraqi capital they were.

    The operation took several hours as the demolition teams located and dug out the cables. All the while the 2 Chinooks kept their engines running with disengaged rotors so as to keep the noise down but not risk any engine startup problems. To the relief of all, the demolitions team completed its task, packing the cables with explosives and setting the fuses. The SBS men quickly rebussed onto the Chinooks which took them back to base in Saudi. As they flew home, a bright flash on the horizon behind them signaled that the cables had been cut.

    This raid behind enemy lines was a classic Special Forces mission, executed with daring and professionalism, a mission that could not have been done from the air. The success of the operation proved that even in the age of modern hi-tech warfare, there is still a need for well trained forces on the ground.
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