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A very fine Combined Operations 1st Special Service Brigade D-Day 6th June 1944 Lander’s British Empire Medal group awarded to Staff Sergeant R.W.C. Barnes, Royal Army Service Corps, a member of the 1st Special Service Brigade since its inception, he served as a Chief Clerk with the Headquarters Company, and would have been piped ashore with Lord Lovat when he landed on D-Day on Sword Beach at Ouistreham in the Queen Red sector.
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A very fine Combined Operations 1st Special Service Brigade D-Day 6th June 1944 Lander’s British Empire Medal group awarded to Staff Sergeant R.W.C. Barnes, Royal Army Service Corps, a member of the 1st Special Service Brigade since its inception, he served as a Chief Clerk with the Headquarters Company, and would have been piped ashore with Lord Lovat when he landed on D-Day on Sword Beach at Ouistreham in the Queen Red sector.

Product Code: CMA/20245
Price: £1,250.00
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Description:

A very fine Combined Operations 1st Special Service Brigade D-Day 6th June 1944 Lander’s British Empire Medal group awarded to Staff Sergeant R.W.C. Barnes, Royal Army Service Corps, a member of the 1st Special Service Brigade since its inception, he served as a Chief Clerk with the Headquarters Company, and would have been piped ashore with Lord Lovat when he landed on D-Day on Sword Beach at Ouistreham in the Queen Red Sector.

Group of 5: British Empire Medal, GVI 1st type cypher, Military Division; (S/217057 S/SGT REGINALD W.C. BARNES R.A.S.C.); 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with a Masonic Royal Hospital Jewel with Patron Clasp, the reverse engraved: ‘BRO. R.W.C. BARNES NO.4268’.

Reginald William Carlile Barnes was born on 29th March 1912 in Bruton, Somerset, and having then resided in Twickenham, Middlesex, and worked as a clerk, with the outbreak of the Second World War, enlisted into the British Army on 15th August 1940 as a Private (No.S-217057) with the Royal Army Service Corps.

Having been taken on a clerk, he was then posted to the Headquarters Company of the Special Training Wing, and was then attached to the Shoreditch Technical Training Group for a three months shorthand course on 11th November 1940.

On 17th February 1941 Barnes was posted to the Headquarters & Holding Company Military Training Wing of the 12th Training Battalion (Supply Branch) Royal Army Service Corps. On 12th March 1941 he was posted to the Headquarters of the Special Service Brigade, being based variously at Theale, Inveraray, and Castle Douglas, and appointed to Acting Lance Corporal on 2nd December 1941, and then to Lance Corporal on 14th December 1941. Barnes was appointed to Acting Corporal on 9th March 1942, and appointed to Acting Sergeant on 20th May 1942 whilst located at Ardrossan, before being promoted to War Substantive Sergeant on 24th October 1942, whilst based at Sherborne.

On 8th November 1943 Barnes then found himself attached to the 1st Special Service Brigade in the ‘field’, and on the same date was appointed to Acting Staff Sergeant. Barnes was confirmed in the rank of Staff Sergeant on 29th April 1944. At this time the 1st Special Service Brigade was undergoing training for Normandy.

The plan was for 1st Special Service Brigade comprising Nos 3, 4, 6 and 45 (RM) Commandos to land on D-Day, the 6th June 1944, at Ouistreham in Queen Red sector (the most easterly). No 4 Commando were augmented by 1 and 8 Troops (both French) of No 10 (Inter Allied) Commando. No 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando was formed in January 1942 and included Nos 1 and 7 Troops (French), 4 Troop (Belgian), Dutch Troop, Norwegian Troop, Polish Troop, X Troop (German and Austrian, Hungarians and Greeks), Yugoslav Troop, which often served detached in other theatres.

The assault on Sword Beach began at about 03:00 with an aerial bombardment of the German coastal defences and artillery sites. The naval bombardment began a few hours later. At 07:30, the first units reached the beach. These were the amphibious DD tanks of the 13th/18th Hussars; they were followed closely by the infantry of the 8th Infantry Brigade, part of the British 3rd Division.

The 1st Special Service Brigade, under the command of Brigadier Lord Lovat, were piped ashore in the second wave led by No 4 Commando with the two French Troops first, as agreed amongst themselves. The British and French personnel of No.4 Commando had separate targets in Ouistreham – the French a blockhouse and the Casino, the British two batteries which overlooked the beach. The blockhouse proved too strong for the Commandos' PIAT Projector Infantry Anti Tank) weapons, but the Casino was taken with the aid of a Centaur tank. The British Commandos achieved both battery objectives only to find that the guns had been removed. Leaving the mopping-up to the infantry, the Commandos withdrew from Ouistreham to join other units in their brigade, moving inland to join-up with the 6th Airborne Division.

Lord Lovat reputedly waded ashore wearing a white pullover under his battledress, with "Lovat" inscribed on the collar, while armed with an old Winchester rifle. He instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin, to play the commandos ashore, in defiance of specific orders not to allow such an action in battle.

Barnes is confirmed as having landed with the Headquarters of Lord Lovat’s 1st Special Service Brigade on D-Day, 6th June 1944.

Lovat's forces pressed on, Lovat himself advancing with parts of his brigade from Sword Beach to Pegasus Bridge, which had been obstinately defended by men of the British 6th Airborne Division who had landed in the early hours. The commandos arrived almost exactly on time, (late by about two minutes), for which Lord Lovat apologised to Lieutenant Colonel Richard Geoffrey Pine-Coffin, of 7th Parachute Battalion. The commandos ran across Pegasus Bridge, to the sound of Bill Millin's bagpipes. Despite rushing across in small groups, twelve men were killed by sniper fire, mostly shot in the head; the men crossing the bridge wore helmets rather than berets from then on. They went on to establish defensive positions around Ranville, east of the River Orne. The bridges were relieved later in the day by elements of the British 3rd Infantry Division.

During an attack on the village of Bréville on 12 June, Lord Lovat was seriously wounded while observing an artillery bombardment by the 51st Highland Division. A stray shell fell short of its target and landed amongst the officers, killing Lieutenant-Colonel A. P. Johnston, commanding officer of the 12th Parachute Battalion, and seriously wounding Brigadier Hugh Kindersley of the 6th Airlanding Brigade.

On 1 August, the Brigade was ordered to seize and hold a section of high ground by dawn the following day. This was in support of a further advance to Dozule, by 6th Airborne Division. No.4 Commando led with Nos.3, 45 and 6 following. The Brigade infiltrated the enemy line and reached their objective before the Germans realized it. There were four counter-attacks throughout the day but the brigade held firm. 1st Special Service Brigade returned to England on 8–9 September 1944, landing at Southampton and Gosport. During this period new volunteers were recruited and trained. No.4 Commando was later sent back to the continent to take over from the shattered 46 (RM) Commando, which was down to a strength of 200 men.

Barnes embarked with the Brigade from Normandy on 7th September and arrived home on 8th September 1944, and did not see any further service overseas. On 2nd June 1945 he married Ivy Lillian Mortimer at the Parish Church in New Southgate, London, being eventually transferred to the Army Reserve on 4th March 1946, his personal report reads: ‘Sgt Barnes has been employed in the duties of Chief Clerk. He is completely reliable and I have the utmost confidence in him. Intelligent and well balanced he will be a asset to any civilian employer.’ This report was written by Major D. Dumble, Holding Commando Overseas (Light). 

Barnes was awarded the British Empire Medal in the London Gazette on 9th January 1946, having originally been recommended for the award by the Chief of Combined Operations. Barnes died on 21st November 1988 in Cranleigh, Surrey.