Medals belonging to Operation Market Garden veteran to be auctioned in Lichfield

A group of nine medals presented to a veteran of Operation Market Garden in Arnhem will be auctioned off in Lichfield next month.

John Johnstone’s medals

An “exemplary” soldier who served his country for nearly 25 years in the military, John Johnstone was a trained specialist paratrooper and completed many Army courses, including tank commander training.

Mounted on a swing on a port bar, his medals are:

  • 1939-45 Africa, Italy, France and Germany Stars
  • Defense and War Medals (not named as issued)
  • General Service Medal with bar, Palestine 1945-48, and mentioned in dispatches bay leaf attached to ribbon, named 1876625 Cpl JJN Johnstone RE (Royal Engineers)
  • Queen’s Coronation Medal 1953 (unnamed)
  • Regular Army LSGC Medal, named 1876625 Sgt JJN Johnstone RE.

The archives – which will be sold by Richard Winterton Auctioneers on September 6 – also include cap badges, photographs and military certificates.

He enlisted in the Royal Engineers at the age of 16 in 1939, before volunteering for the airborne forces in 1942 – a move that saw him drop the German-occupied Netherlands on a glider in 1944.

Three airborne divisions were tasked with seizing bridges over major rivers with the aim of deploying the Allies in Germany. It was a bold plan that was supposed to end WWII in Europe, but turned into the last major defeat suffered by the British military during the conflict.

Johnstone served throughout the siege before being evacuated to the Rhine – one of 71 men from his 194-man unit to come out.

John johnstone

Nick Thompson, militaria specialist at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, said:

“Johnstone and his unit completed the 1st Parachute Brigade and, despite valiant efforts to capture and hold the Arnhem Bridge, the mission failed.

“He was fortunate enough to be evacuated from the city in a daring night-time operation that saw scores of British and Allied men escape as the Germans watched and cross the Rhine to relative safety.”

Nick thompson

After the war Johnstone went to Palestine with the army and was mentioned in dispatches for actions in the conflict.

He retired from the army on December 23, 1963.

“This group represents the best in British combat soldier lore.”

“Groups in Arnhem don’t come to the market very often. “

Nick thompson

The lot is expected to reach £ 350 at auction. Other items in the sale include a group of medals presented to Special Forces soldier Roger Tattersall.


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Terri S. Tomasini