For Sale at Bonhams

Medals, Bonds, Banknotes and Coins
13 Jun 2018
London, Knightsbridge

Medals awarded to John "Jack" Burford, from Ellesmere Port, driver to General – later Field Marshal – Montgomery from El Alamein to the end of the war are to be offered at Bonhams Medals and Coins sale in London on Wednesday 13th June. The treasured wartime collection – among them the Military Medal presented by King George VI – is estimated at £4,000-6,000.

The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) driver won his medal for his" great gallantry and devotion to duty under fire, on dangerous missions during fierce fighting around Sicily's Mount Etna in August 1943. In his award citation, Monty wrote: "He never failed or faltered in his duty. His personal courage under fire was an example to us all."

Then just 23, Jack was presented with his Military Medal by King George V1 at the UK, HQ of the 21st Army Group on May 22, 1944. A copy of the War Office photograph of the presentation, later signed by the Monarch at the request of Montgomery is included in the sale.

Montgomery's handwritten message on his photograph sent to Jack in April 1946 reflected his admiration for his driver. "Who has marched with me from Alamein across France to Tunisia, over to Sicily, halfway up Italy and from Normandy to the Baltic- and who never failed to do his duty. With my best wishes, Montgomery of Alamein. Field Marshall."

Chris Jarrey, Senior Valuer at the Chester-based Bonhams North West said: "Monty had his well-documented problems with his fellow Generals but enjoyed the complete loyalty of his men. Jack's story says it all."

Also included in the sale are photographs of driver Burford at the wheel of his jeep with Monty and Churchill as passengers and Jack at the German surrender at Luneberg Heath.

John Millensted, Head of Bonhams Coins and Medals Department said: "Jack's collection tells a wonderful story of bravery, loyalty and mutual respect between two soldiers at the opposite ends of the Army's pecking order."

Jack Burford was serving in the Territorial Army when he enlisted in the RASC and was assigned to Monty's headquarters in October 1942 shortly after the General had been appointed commander of the Eighth Army in the Western Desert. On demobilisation he was employed as a panel beater at Offley Brothers, working there for over forty years before emigrating to Australia.

He died, in 2006, aged 85, having never uttered a word to family, friends or the media about his wartime experiences driving Monty throughout his greatest campaign triumphs.

Renowned for his ultimate discretion and a wry sense of humour, Jack was asked At Monty's funeral to feature in a TV documentary on the great man's life. He smiled and told the producer: "You can have my name, rank and number- but that's it."


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