Museum acquires rare medals
The Military Cross and Bar to Major ME Fisher is one of only four to the Royal Warwick’s for World War II. He was the first member of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment to be awarded a Military Cross during the conflict. He was awarded the Military Cross for operations during the night of 4th/5th April. This was during what is called the ‘Phoney War’ prior to Dunkirk, and as such it is unusually early for such a gallantry medal to be awarded.
The official report for 4th-5th April 1940 said ‘The officer led a patrol nearly a mile into the German line, where he lay in ambush for a probable enemy approach. An enemy patrol appeared and was engaged at very short range. A German subaltern was killed and our fire was returned. The enemy, however, ran away, and as a result of the action valuable identification was obtained.’
His second Military Cross, referred to as a bar, was for gallantry in Italy in October 1944 when he was attached to the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.
The citation for October 1944 says that ‘Throughout both these operations Major Fisher’s handling of his Company was first class. Whenever the attacks faltered he would appear shouting encouragement to his men and directing from completely exposed positions, showing a complete disregard for his own safety and magnificent contempt for enemy fire. His Company accomplished everything it was ordered to do, and inflicted severe casualties on the enemy.’
The medals were purchased thanks to a generous gift from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and invaluable support from the Friends of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Royal Warwickshire).
Major Fisher was a career soldier who was commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the 1st July 1938. He then served all the way through the War with the 2nd Battalion. During the War he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, but reverted to Major in the post-War run down of the British Army. In 1949 he was posted to the Malay Regiment, where he received the General Service Medal, before retiring in 1955.
As well as the Military Cross (1940) and Bar (1945) he was given a 1939-45 Star; an Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-45; and General Service Medal 1918-62, with clasp for Malaya.
The V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
The annual grants budget, currently £750,000, is provided by Arts Council England (ACE).
Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 200 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.