Collector recaptures Colditz escapee's Distinguished Service Order for $53,500
Ronnie Littledale fled the Nazi prison with the help of an orchestra being used as a signalling system
Dix Noonan Webb has completed its sales of the Bill and Angela Strong Medal Collection, with a number of impressive results for rare and historic medals.
It's unlikely that any of these were more eagerly anticipated than that of Colditz escapee Ronnie Littledale, whose Distinguished Service Order group went under the hammer with a listing of £10,000-£12,000 ($20,000).
Littledale's experience of the Second World War more or less began with his capture at the last stand made at Calais in 1940. He then toured most of Europe either as a prisoner or trying to find safe passage home following an escape. He was finally placed in Colditz, a place where persistent escapees were held.
His escape with three companions from Colditz involved crossing a floodlit area which should have been in clear view of the sentries - but Littledale was keen to try it out, given that they seemed lax.
A signalling system was used by which a 'British orchestra' amongst the prisoners, conducted by Douglas Bader, were to stop playing whenever Bader, who had a clear view of the sentries, felt they were distracted.
This obstacle passed (with difficulty), the men had to escape through a chimney flue, which it was only possible to squeeze through naked "…like toothpaste out of a tube!"
Littledale made it safely back to England and was awarded his DSO, though he sadly died later in the war.
In our article announcing the sale, we described the £10,000-12,000 listing as cautious, and so it proved with bidders eagerly battling over the intriguing set. They were finally sold for an impressive £33,000, and will make the new owner a sound investment.
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Images: Dix Noonan Webb