Wally Oakes’ George Cross matches railwayana record

A George Cross posthumously awarded to hero train driver Wally Oakes in 1965 has sold for £60,000 ($77,673).

The piece crossed the block in a major auction of railway memorabilia in Crewe, UK on September 2, hosted by Great Central Railwayana Auction.

Train George Cross

Wally Oakes saved the lives of all his passengers during a train fire in 1965

That result puts it on a par with the £60,000 ($77,673) record for a piece of railwayana, set for the nameplate for the LNER Golden Fleece in 2004.

On June 5, 1965 Oakes was driving Britannia Class locomotive 70051 on the West Coast Mainline from Crewe to Carlisle.

The cab caught fire a short time into the journey. While the fireman was fortunate to escape, Oakes stayed in the burning cab to apply the brakes – sacrificing himself but saving all of the passengers aboard.

He died from his burns a week later.

The George Cross is the highest honour available to a civilian in the UK. Oakes is one of only six railwaymen to receive it.

The record for a George Cross is £260,000 ($336,536) for one awarded to British spy Violet Szabo, who was tortured and executed by the Nazis after being captured in France.

There were also a range of nameplates from various British trains, including one labelled Happy Knight from the LNER Peppercorn A2 Class 4-6-2 No 60533.

The engine worked a variety of routes in southern England and was retired in 1963.

The plate realised £12,200 ($15,791) in the sale.

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