War hero is forced to sell his medals

Soldier's medals
Soldier's medals

A decorated ex-soldier left unable to work after retiring from the Army is to sell his War medals to help him supplement his pension.

Colour Sergeant James Harkess, a former miner at Clipstone Colliery, was honoured for his ‘extraordinary’ bravery in Iraq.

The 46-year-old, who gave 22 years’ service, has a clutch of medals to go under the hammer including the rare Iraq War Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, Britain’s highest combat gallantry award after the Victoria Cross. Only 58 have been awarded since its inception in 1993.

“I suffer from ill-health which has meant that I have not been able to work since I left the Army,” said James, who retired from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment last year.

“Because of this I am dependant on my Army pension so the sale will help me financially. I loved the Army. I have always said that if I was able to do it all over again then I would.

“I miss it but you realise that when it’s your time to leave then you have to go.”

He picked up his prestigious medal for repeated gallantry during intense urban warfare against the Mahdi Army militia in the lawless Iraqi town of Al Amarah during 2006.

Incidents included him securing a safe route for his platoon through 50 heavily-armed militiamen during a brutal fire fight and refusing to take cover during another key street battle, fighting for six hours.

He said: “It wasn’t as though we even had time to be nervous or scared. It was so intense, you just don’t have time to think about anything else.”

In addition to the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, he also received the General Service Medal with clasp for Northern Ireland, the NATO Medals for Former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the Iraq Medal, the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, the Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and the Military Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

They will all be sold as one lot in London on 25th February by medal specialists Dix Noonan Webb, and could fetch up to £120,000.