SAS founder's medal group makes daring climb to £60,000
Jack Byrne's WWII medals excited bidders at Dix Noonan Webb, ahead of a George Cross
Dix Noonan Webb's typically impressive medal auction concluded at the end of last week with an impressive performance across the 1623 lots on offer.
Of the 20th century lots, three stuck out in particular:
Firstly, there was a fine Boer War DSO group of five awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel H B Burnaby. Hugo Beaumont Burnaby was born in May 1874, a nephew of the famous explorer Colonel Fred Burnaby of the Royal Horse Guards (and "Ride to Khiva" fame), and was educated at Uppingham.
Sharing his uncle's fondness for adventure, young Hugo found employment in ranching in British Columbia in 1893 but, with the advent of hostilities in South Africa, he quickly returned to the UK and enlisted in the Wiltshire Imperial Yeomanry. His part in the action in Foriesburg District on August 16 won him his DSO.
Expected to sell for £2,500-£3,000, the set hammered down at £6,200.
A George Cross was also on offer in the sale. A George Cross is the highest award that can be given for actions when not facing enemy soldiers in war (for which the equivalent Victoria Cross is the highest honour).
The Cross in question was awarded to Assistant Surgeon George David Rodriques for his actions 'for services rendered in connection with military operations in Malabar 1921-22' (hand-to-hand combat at the start of the Moplah rebellion). It sold as expected for £8,200.
Top lot in the sale was as expected, however as the group belonging to Jack Byrne of the SAS outdid its expectations.
Byrne was a founder member of the original L-detachment (as it was originally called) and survived the group's disastrous first parachute mission to become a daring saboteur. Though captured by the Germans, he escaped and returned to perform a daring raid on D-Day.
The WWII DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal) group of eight sold for £60,000, beating even the £40,000-50,000 estimate. Further news on Dix Noonan Webb's sale will follow shortly, and we will bring you the on another SAS member's medals selling at Bonhams later in the month.
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Images: Dix Noonan Webb