Somme hero’s Victoria Cross headlines medal sale

A Victoria Cross (VC) medal awarded to a hero of 1916's Battle of the Somme has sold for £288,000 ($353,260) in the first day of a sale at Dix Noonan Webb.

The lot (which featured a range of other medals, including a military cross) went to Lord Ashcroft, who owns the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses.

VC medal Sanders

Corporal Sanders was one of three Victoria Cross recipients to survive the first world war

The recipient of the VC was corporal George Sanders (1894-1950) of the Leeds Rifles.

Sanders was awarded the honour for his actions on July 1, 1916 (the first day of the battle) when he held a position in the German trenches for 36 hours with a handful of men and minimal supplies.

As Pierce Noonan, co-director of Dix Noonan Webb, explained: “He must have realised that the British offensive had halted and had no idea of when, or even if, his small group would be relieved.

“But he organized the defences and told his men that it was their duty to hold on when many lesser mortals might have decided to surrender.

“It was astonishing gallantry from a young corporal who had been in the Army for just over 18 months.”

Remarkably, Sanders was one of just three VC recipients to survive the first world war.

A total of 628 were presented to soldiers during the conflict, more than half the number ever awarded.

VCs can be extraordinary valuable, with one awarded to captain Noel Chavasse selling for a record £1.5m in 2009 ($1.8m).

This example is to go on display at London’s Imperial War Museum.

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