The important Military Medal Group awarded to Corporal Michael Eccles 42 Commando, Royal Marines, Plymouth.
This year marks the 40 anniversary of the Falklands Conflict when some 9,000 personnel created a Naval Task Force and headed out to the South Atlantic to re-take the Falkland Islands after their surprise capture by the Argentine military.
The brave soldiers were involved in numerous day and night time battles against strongly held Argentine positions.
The Battle of Mount Harriet on 12th June 1982 was an intense night attack led by ‘K’ Company. Corporal Michael Eccles bravely led his men under fierce machine gun and rocket fire to successfully over run the Argentine position, thus securing the critical high ground over Port Stanley eventually leading to the Argentine surrender on 15th June 1982.
For his gallantry during these operations Corporal Eccles was awarded the military medal. Of the 9,000 personnel only ten of these medals were issued and only four were issued to 42 Company.
Michael Eccles (born 1949-) was a keen sportsman and won various cups for football. He often said “All Battles are Won by Corporals” He is featured in a photograph in the book ‘March to the South Atlantic’ by Nick Vaux, leading a fighting patrol to Mount Harriet and is also listed as one of the four commando’s from 42 Commando that was awarded the MM.
He also served in Northern Ireland, Northern Iraq, and Southern Turkey. He currently lives in Plymouth.
The set comprises:
Military Medal, EIIR, for Bravery in the Field, (P028263C Cpl M. Eccles RM), General Service Medal GSM, for Campaign Service, with two clasps ‘Northern Ireland’ and ‘N. Iraq & S. Turkey’, (RM 28263 M. Eccles MNE RM), South Atlantic Medal 1982 with rosette (Cpl M. Eccles PO 28263 C), Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, LS & GC, (Sgt M. Eccles PO28263C RM) EIIR with additional Long Service Bar. Together with a miniature set.
The published citation which can be found on the Commando Veterans Archive reads as follows
On 12th June 1982 ‘K’ Coy was the leading company for a unit night attack against a strongly held Argentine position on Mount Harriet. After surprising the enemy fierce fighting followed at close quarters amongst the rocks in which decisive and inspiring leadership at section level proved critical. Corporal Eccles set an outstanding example in this respect by leading from the front to encourage his section to exploit shock action and successfully overrun the position. This was only achieved, in fact, by a series of assaults against machine gun positions and groups of snipers. Several ranks were wounded, including another section commander, while the troop became even more depleted as increasing numbers of the enemy surrendered and had to be guarded. Corporal Eccles pressed on relentlessly, however, to inflict sufficient casualties for the remainder to abandon further resistance.
The Eccles family have now decided to put the set of four medals and miniatures up for auction at Plymouth Auction Rooms on 12th October, where they carry an estimate of £30,000 to £40,000.
Auctioneer Paul Keen “It’s a privilege to handle the sale of these important medals on behalf of the Eccles family. The bravery of Michael Eccles is remarkable”.