Major Joseph Morris Hall MBE and Despatches

In our April 7th Antiques and Collectors auction we have an MBE belonging to Major Joseph Morris Hall MBE (1923 – 1988).  Also included in the lot is a Despatch notice from the Secretary of the State for War for distinguished service.  There are also a number of photocopies of images of Major Joseph Morris Hall as a boy soldier and throughout his career. It is nice to be able to put a face and story to the MBE. We include a brief summary of his remarkable life and career which saw service.

Major Joseph Morris Hall MBE (1923 – 1988)

Born in July 1923 in Rhodesia, Worksop and living in Whitwell, he left school at 13, unable to read or write, to work as an Apprentice Pit Welder. At 14 he joined the British Army – The York and Lancaster Regiment as a Band Boy (drummer boy). He was the Middleweight Boxing Champion of the 48 Infantry Division, spending his time on leave knuckle-fighting in pubs in the village to get extra money for his mother.

During the period 1938 – 1945 he served mainly in Burma and was mentioned in Dispatches for fighting in Kohima as part of the 14th Army Chindits (Special Forces). When he was with the Chindits, he was dropped behind enemy lines in Burma and they had to fight their way back to their own lines in hostile conditions and often marching naked due to dysentery. His final year in Burma saw him in the Tunnels area of the Arakan. He was known during his time in Burma as Irrawaddy Joe, for
swimming across the crocodile-infested River Irrawaddy.

He then served with the Parachute Regiment in India, Palestine and Germany, at which time he gained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). He was known as Thumper Hall by his men whilst serving as RSM as he gave them the option of being charged and losing money or going round the back of guardroom and fighting him to teach them a lesson, then proceeded to take them back into his office and share a bottle of whiskey with them. When serving in Palestine, he spent 6 months on the roof tops of Hafia as a sniper, and helped with the evacuation of the British Troops.

In 1954, he was seconded to 6th Battalion Malay Regiment, serving until Nov 1955, during which time the Battalion held the record for the highest number of terrorist eliminations. It was for this distinguished service that he was awarded the MBE. In Malaya he qualified as an interpreter passing the Malayan Government exams. He returned to the York and Lancaster Regiment continuing his Army career gaining the rank of Major, and being posted all over the World including Singapore, Cyprus, Germany from which he retired aged 55, having served 41 years. He died aged 65.

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