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Bosleys News

Special Air Service Bravery & SOE Lead 7th March Auction

Our first public action of 2018 featuring original military antiques and collectibles took place on the 7th March.  The highlight of the auction was the WW2 Historically important Military Medal & Bar awarded to Warrant Officer Robert “Bob”Duncan Tait MM & Bar Founding member of “L Detachment”, later the Special Air Service and credited with the design of the most coveted Military Badge in the world “The Winged Dagger”.  A number of bidders competed for this group until the hammer fell at £84,000. Bob’s original SAS wings the following lot sold for world record £2,200 and his Fairburn Sykes fighting knife and silk escape map of North West Europe carried by Bob following the D-Day landings sold for £1,400. The medal section also contained 10 lots dedicated to the Naval General Service Medal, the highest price achieved by a four clasp example, one being for the Battle of Trafalgar selling for £9,000 and this was closely followed by an example bearing the clasp “Lion 15th July 1798”, this being for the action of HMS Lion a 64 gun frigate under the command of Captain Manley Hall Dixon engaged 4 Spanish and French Frigates off Carthagena. The sale also included a number of RNLI Life saving medals and one example awarded to a crew member of the Penzance Life Boat awarded in 1897 sold for £1,300. The RAF were not forgotten with an interesting Air Force Cross group and log books selling for £2,800
Badges once again performed well with a Irish 27th (Enniskillen) Regiment of Foot, Officer’s Regency pattern shako plate circa 1822-29 selling for £3,000, a magnificent 16th (Bedfordshire) Regiment  Officer’s Belltop shako plate circa 1828-44 selling for £2,400 and a Hertfordshire Militia Georgian Officer’s shoulder belt plate circa 1800 selling for £1,900.
This sale also contained the first part of a collection of original Special Operations Executive SOE and Escape and Evasion items. The collection amassed over 40 years contained the full range. concealed button compasses including a rare Royal Navy example, which sold for £600, a rare gents  black Bakelite comb, which will contain a swinger compass or saw blade sold for £3,000. A selection of concealed weapons a must for all agents were included and a “Hat Pin” Assassination Thrust Dagger, the very example illustrated in Fighting Knives by F.J. Stephens sold for £5,500, followed by a concealed small turned spearpoint dagger and scabbard selling for £4,400. An SOE agent camouflage “Jump” suit sold for £4,200 and to complete the outfit £3,200 was paid for the special pattern helmet and goggles. However the item everybody was waiting for was the WW2  “Per Ardua Libertas” the Important Original MI9 Book of Gadgets for the Special Operations Executive SOE / Escape & Evasion. The bidding started at £2,000 with room bidders, several internet bidders and two bidders on the telephones, the bids steadily climbing until the hammer fell at £24,000. 
The Arms and Armour section of the sale contained a number of Napoleonic period swords and one example worn by a senior Artillery Officer, the gilt scabbard embossed with field guns sold for £3,600. The Aviation section included a rare 1939 sales brochure for the Supermarine Spitfire, even giving the buyer the option of which armament you would like to accompany your fighter plane. International interest resulted in a hammer price of £650.
A small uniform and medal grouping worn by Second Lieutenant Sidney Napier Hillier of the South Wales Borderers who was Killed in Action on the 25th March 1918 reminded us that this year is the centenary of the end of the great war, the uniform selling for £1,900 within days of the 100th anniversary of his death.