Distinguished Conduct Medal sells for £120k

Spink held an auction this week at which Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid's World War 2 Victoria Cross sold for £348,000 - a world record for a British recipient.

Naturally this was the greatest sale of the day - a VC is always likely to be. But it was not the only rare medal, nor even the only one to achieve a six-figure sum.

A Conspicuous Gallantry Medal alongside a 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star with France and Germany Bar and a very fine War Medal, awarded to RAF volunteer reserve H A Corbin had been expected to sell for £12,000-14,000. Corbin was awarded the former on the strength of four missions flown in the summer of 1944.

Corbin pressed the attack home despite repeatedly coming under heavy fire, to the extent that he required exceptional skill to return at all. In the course of these raids he damaged a Seetier Destroyer, and later sank a U 867. His well deserved award sold for £20,400.

Those interested in WW2 memorabilia may wish to view our Winston Churchill signed photo or General Patton letter

Albert Medal Arthur Rea
Arthur Rea's Albert Medal
(Click to enlarge)

Likewise taken away for £20,400 was an Albert Medal, First Class, awarded to Arthur Rea in 1904 for his actions during the notorious 'North Sea Incident' at Dogger Bank in which Russia mistook a fishing fleet for hostile Japanese torpedo boats.

Second engineer Rea was injured in the shelling, but went to check on the damaged engines of his trawler Crane and tended to them in darkened conditions to prevent an explosion. The sale doubled the highest expected price of £10,000, no doubt due to the story of exceptional bravery accompanying the medal.

The surprise performer of the sale was a Republic of China Order of the Precious Brilliant Golden Grain, again showing the increasing power of Chinese collectors, and related rising prices of Chinese collectibles.

Chinese sash medal
Chinese sash
(Click to enlarge)

The details of the award are unknown, but the sash is a truly beautiful piece; the central insignia is a marvel of silver-gilt and enamel with pearls round the edge and a ruby in the centre. This rare Grand Officer's award more than quadrupled its higher estimate of £5,000 to sell for £22,200.

But of course the six figure sum was achieved by the DCM and associated medals of Lance Corporal M K 'Taff' Townsend and his near single-handed stirring of a fight back from his shocked and demoralised fellows when they received a heavy surprise attack in Western Dhofar, 1975.

We detailed Townsend's story before the auction. Bidders believed his medals and story to be even more valuable than the £40,000-60,000 expected to go for £120,000.

These four pieces are great examples of the depth of interest in the highest awards for gallantry and the stories of heroism.

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