Militaria Marches to Victory

May 14, 2018

Wessex Auction Rooms recently held their first specialist Medals and Militaria auction of 2018 and it was a huge success with Director and TV antiques expert Tim Weeks taking to the rostrum.

“It was pure rock and roll, with bids flying and strong interest in the saleroom, on the phone lines and on the internet from all across the world, it was an auctioneer’s dream” comments Tim.

Of particular interest was a WWI and WWII medal group belonging to Wing Commander L. Spencer OBE. He began his career in the Royal Flying Corps, progressing through the ranks of the RAF he was twice mentioned in despatches, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and retired as Wing Commander. Together with the medal group was a silver cigar case with presentation inscription to Mr Spencer gifted on his retirement from the Officers of HQ No.63 Group. “I always appreciate seeing a medal group that contains those awarded whilst in the Royal Flying Corps” notes Izzie Balmer, Auctioneer and Head Valuer at Wessex Auction Rooms. “The Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service in 1918 to form the Royal Air Force, as such, collectors value Royal Flying Corps medals for their relative scarcity”. This medal group which spanned two World Wars captured the imaginations of bidders, selling for £900.

An unusual lot was a collection of framed WWII medals to include Polish Infantry and Polish RAF medals, with the 1920 Cross of Valor four times awarded. “The 1920 Cross of Valor is similar to being mentioned in despatches” comments Izzie. “It is awarded to those who have demonstrated deeds of valour and courage on the battlefield and can be awarded up to four times to the same individual. To have the honour of selling this decoration that was awarded to someone who went above and beyond, risking his own life not just once, but four times is just incredible and very humbling.” Also contained in the collection was the Monte Cassino Commemorative medal. The Polish Army were one of the key shock troops at the Battle of Monte Cassino, a series of four costly assaults to the Allies which had the aim of breaking through to Rome. There was some fierce competition for this lot, with the rarity of the Polish medals (awarded to Polish men fighting in the British Army and RAF during WWII) pushing the bids ever higher. The gavel finally fell at £2,200 to an online buyer.

A Boer War Prisoner of War made box, saw strong competition from the room and internet. Dated 1902 with the makers name, the box was made by C.F. Van Tonder, a POW in Bermuda. The box was gifted by Van Tonder to the Quartermaster of the POW camp, Staff Sergeant W. J. Honey. POW ephemera consistently sells well at auction and this box was no exception, selling for £320.

Three relic condition WWII helmets, found at Arthies in France exceeded expectations, selling for £380. The group comprised two Third Reich helmets and a GI helmet and had remained in the vendors family in France since they were first found.

Military swords remain a strong department at auction, with a WWI era German Imperial M1889 sword and scabbard, attributed to the Jager Regiment, selling for £240. The decorative blade was heavily engraved with battle scenes and Solingen makers mark WK&C.

Wessex Auction Rooms will host their next Medals and Militaria auction on Friday 25th May. If you have items you wish to consign, the auction room is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. No appointment is necessary but if you wish to make one please call 01249 720888 or email enquiries@wessexauctionrooms.co.uk