terça-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2010

Alexander Gault MacGowan

Grupo de medalhas e ordens que pertenceram ao correspondente de guerra ( jornalista) Alexander Gault MacGowan.

Foi na Guerra dos Boers que se estabeleceu o direito aos correspondentes de guerra de receberem medalhas iguais à dos militares envolvidos na campanha. Nesta guerra foram atribuidas cerca de 150 aos jornalistas.

(Esta era a medalha da campanha respectiva, retirada do Blog "British Army Medals" .

Voltando ao nosso grupo de medalhas e ordens.
Claramente se pode ver a Ordem de Cristo ( segunda a contar da esquerda no conjunto de baixo). O conjunto foi vendido em 1986 por £4300 pela DNW.

Resumo retirado da página web da Dix Noonan Webb.

An unusual and interesting group of nineteen awarded to Alexander Gault MacGowan, an accredited War Correspondent in the 1939-45 War, whose extraordinary career commenced with service as a subaltern in the Manchester Regiment and as an R.A.F. Observer in the Great War: having been wounded in North Africa in 1943, he was captured by the Germans in France in 1944, but escaped ‘through a series of adventures that would make a Hollywood scenarist bite his nails with envy’ - and briefly fought alongside the Maquis

1914-15 Star (2 Lieut., Manch. R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut., R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; France and Germany Star; War Medal 1939-45; French Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver, silver-gilt and enamel; French Croix de Guerre 1939-1940, with bronze star riband fitment; French Palms Academic, Officer’s breast badge, gilt metal and enamel, with rosette on riband; French War Commemorative Medal 1914-18; French Somme Commemorative Medal; French Colonial Medal, 2 clasps, Algerie, Maroc; French War Commemorative Medal 1939-45, 1 clasp, Liberation; Medal of Liberated France 1947; Moroccan Order of Ouissam Alaouite Cherifien, Officer’s breast badge, gilt metal and enamel, with rosette on riband; Portuguese Military Order of Christ, Officer’s breast badge, silver-gilt and enamels, with rosette on riband; U.S.A. Purple Heart, gilt metal and enamel, the Legion of Honour severely chipped in places and the Portuguese piece less so, otherwise generally good very fine (19) £1000-1200

Alexander Gault MacGowan, who ‘crammed more dangerous adventures into his lifetime than most men would care to experience’, was born February 1894 and was educated at Manchester Grammar School. Mobilised as a pre-war member of the Cheshire Yeomanry on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, he was commissioned into the 24th (Oldham) Battalion, Manchester Regiment in October 1915 and is believed to have been wounded by rifle-grenade fragments in the head and legs on the Somme in July 1916. Declared as ‘unfit for anything other than mounted duty’, he transferred to the Royal Air Force and went on to serve as an Observer on the Italian front in 1918.

Commencing his career as a journalist in 1922, when he worked as a correspondent for the Associated Press out in India (where MacGowan also held a commission on the Indian Army Reserve of Officers), he moved to a new appointment in Mesopotamia in the following year. Indeed for much of the 1920s and 1930s he travelled extensively, working variously for the Times and Daily Express, and others newspapers, and was credited with discovering a new pass into Little Tibet, for which he received the thanks of the Survey of India, in addition to participating in the first flight over the Orinoco Delta and the Venezuelan Ilanos, between Trinidad and Maracay, and the first flight between Trinidad and British Guiana.

Added to which he had further adventures during an epic motor car trip across the desert from Kurdistan and Mosul to Syria, the first of its kind. He later reported, ‘Hold ups were frequent, and an officer who tried it after me was stripped of everything and had to walk naked into the Lebanons!”

In 1934 MacGowan joined the New York Sun, for whom he reported on the Spanish Civil War and produced two controversial features entitled “The Scarlet Pimpernel of Spain” and “The Red Vultures of the Pyrenees”, for he had no time for the Spanish loyalists and their left-wing sympathisers. He also had an assignment with the French Foreign Legion out in Algeria and Morocco in 1937, in addition to covering the coronation of George VI in the same year. In fact, MacGowan was still working in London on the renewal of hostilities, and accordingly he was assigned to cover the events of the Battle of Britain, in addition to acting as ‘Press Observer with the Commandos in the raid on Dieppe’.

As an accredited War Correspondent with the American forces, he next travelled to North Africa and was with the French when they attacked Jabel Mansour in April 1943, when he was ‘wounded in the leg ... and was awarded the Purple Heart by special order of President Roosevelt. For the same incident he was cited for bravery and awarded the Croix de Guerre by General Henri Giraud.’ Both awards were announced in the New York Times. In the following year he reported on the Allied landings in Normandy and was attached to General Omar Bradley’s forces, riding in the jeep of the first American to reach the historic island of Mont Saint Michel. But, as subsequently confirmed by German radio, such scoops were shortly thereafter curtailed, for he was captured at Chatres on 15 August 1944:

‘MacGowan’s experience, following his capture, was unusual. Upon arrival at Chalons-sur-Marne with Makin [another correspondent who had been mortally wounded when their jeep was originally fired upon by two German armoured cars], he was placed in the temporary custody of a group of German war correspondents of the Presse-kompanie. They treated him well, but eventually delivered him to a prisoner of war camp on the line of the German retreat. From there he was started on a journey eastward aboard a train, en route to Germany. At 2 a.m., after six hours in the slow-moving train, and as the guards drowsed, MacGowan opened the compartment door and jumped from the car, fell and ran, with bullets flying about him. Still in France, he was fortunate in reaching a group of Maquis, or French resistance forces. Once he had established his identity, they hid him until the U.S. forces had advanced to the area in September. Interviewed for the World’s Press News after his return to England, the publication described British-born MacGowan as the only “British correspondent” ever known to have escaped after capture, with the exception of Winston Churchill in his escape from the Boers during the South African War in 1899’ (Europe Made Free: Invasion 1944 refers).

Having ‘lived a life like Robin Hood’s’ with the Maquis, and accompanied them with the advancing Americans at the capture of a local town, MacGowan duly reported to the bar of the Paris hotel that served as a press H.Q. - the rest of his colleagues almost dropped their glasses, ‘for the usually immaculate MacGowan was dressed in borrowed French civilian clothes that fitted him like Europe fits Hitler - too big in some places, too tight in others’. In October he returned to the Sun’s offices in New York, for the first time in five years, where he was hailed as a conquering hero, ‘trim and fit in his war correspondent’s uniform, with a chest full of campaign ribbons and decorations from two World Wars.’ Returning to N.W.E. in the Spring of 1945, MacGowan accompanied General Patton’s forces and visited the scene of Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” at Berchtesgaden at the War’s end. He subsequently reported on the “Big Three” Potsdam conference.

MacGowan - a ‘tall, dark-haired man, with a “devil-may-care” look in his eyes” ’ - was European Manager of the New York Sun 1946-50, during which period he reported on U.N.O. and N.A.T.O. forces, and latterly editor and publisher of European Life.

In so far as his foreign Honours and Awards are concerned, it would be impossible to ascertain the validity of his entitlement to the French War Comemmorative Medal 1914-18 and Colonial Medal, although given his Great War services were purely with the British, the former seems unlikely. However, relevant editions of Who’s Who do verify the following:

‘Officier de l’Instruction Publique, 1930 [a.k.a. Palms Academic]; Officer of Military Order of Christ, Portugal, 1933; Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, 1934; Officer of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, Morocco, 1938; Croix de Guerre, 1943; Medaille de la France Liberee, 1949’, together with mention of his Purple Heart.

Sold with an extensive file of research, including correspondence with MacGowan regarding his career and his original French Somme Commemorative Medal certificate, dated 29 August 1979.

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