A review of our recent Aviation & Military History, Medals & Militaria sale

Henry Meadows MRICS, our medals and militaria expert, reflects on a highly successful specialist auction of Aviation & Military History, Medals & Militaria here at Dominic Winter on 23 May and looks ahead to a number of highlights coming up in the next sale in the Autumn.

Our sale had a healthy 538 lots including 200 lots of Orders, Decorations and Medals. There were several highlights, including the Victorian 'Tel-El-Kebir' V.C. dress miniature medal group attributed to Major William Mordaunt Marsh Edwards, Highland Light Infantry.

Edwards led a party to storm a redoubt and rushed alone into the battery, killing the artillery officer in charge before being knocked out and later rescued. The lot comprised the Victoria Cross as well as Coronation Medals, Khedives Star and Turkish Order of the Medjidie and sold for a premium inclusive £7440 (£2000-3000 estimate).

This is not the first time that we have sold a good miniature Victoria Cross group. In 2017 we sold the unique and unusually interesting miniature V.C. group attributed to Surgeon Major (later Colonel) Edmund Baron Hartley for a premium inclusive £6200. Hartley was attending the wounded under fire during an attack on Morosi’s Mountain, South Africa on 5 June 1879. From an exposed position, on open ground, Hartley carried in his arms a wounded corporal of the Cape Mounted Riflemen. Hartley and then returned under severe enemy fire in order to dress the wounds of the other men of the storming party.

Both miniature V.C. groups showed great market strength and Dominic Winter are certainly the go-to auctioneers for similar groups.   

Another good medal group was the  Ashanti 1900 pair to Captain R.E.L. Townsend, 2nd Central Africa Regiment. The “Ashanti  1900” medal was awarded for the Third Ashanti Expedition also known as the “War of the Golden Stool”.

In March 1900, the British representative, Sir Frederick Mitchell Hodgson, committed a political error by insisting he should sit on the Golden Stool. He did not understand that it was the Royal throne of the Ashanti Kingdom and therefore highly sacred. The Ashanti were enraged and attacked British soldiers. Townsend was a commanding officer of a native force at the time and distinguished himself in this bloody jungle warfare war.  Captain Townsend continued to serve during WWI and was killed in action on 2 March 1918. The lot sold for £2356 (£1000-1500 estimate).

Earlier in the year, we collected a WWI training horse from a Devizes storage warehouse. The horse had formerly been on display at the Devizes Museum in Wiltshire. A substantial piece measuring 204 cm high x 208 cm long, this would have been one of a number of carved wooden horses used by the cavalry and yeomanry to train their soldiers and may well have been used by the Wiltshire Yeomanry. There was considerable interest and it sold for £3720 (£2000-3000 estimate). This horse will again be displayed in a well-known military museum.

Another collection of items formerly on display at the Tonbridge Battle of Britain Museum were consigned by the owner Malcolm Pettit. Malcolm spent over 50 years locating crash sites in the South East of England and further afield in Holland and France. We had sold around 150 lots for Malcolm last year which generated over £120,000. The Tonbridge items offered in our May sale were the last remaining items from his private collection and included Dambusters relics from Lancaster AJ-M (M Mother) which was flown by John Vere ‘Hoppy’ Hopgood on the Dambusters  Raid 16/17 May 1943. The aircraft was hit by flak and subsequently crashed, killing all crew.

A cased collection of relics including a section of spinner and radio components sold for £1302 (£600-800 estimate) and a smaller but similar collection sold for £806 (£300-500 estimate).

An aviation sale wouldn’t be the same without a “Scramble Bell” and this auction included a good example of the highly sought-after 1940 “Battle of Britain” edition. 

Many collectors romance about these bells ringing and pilots rushing from their Lloyd Loom chairs to their aircraft. This example is engraved with the small crown motif, sold for £3472 (estimate £2000-3000).

That was a brief summary of our last auction and now we look to the future with our next sale which takes place in November.

We are delighted to offer the WWII RAF logbooks kept by the famous Dambusters veteran Flight Lieutenant William ‘Bill’ Townsend, C.G.M., D.F.M. The logbooks record the Dambusters Raid on 16-17 May 1943. 

Townsend was the pilot of Lancaster AJ-O which left  RAF Scampton  (home of the famous 617 Squadron) at 0014 on Sunday 17 May. After three bombing attempts on the Ennepe Dam, Townsend returned home. He was the last pilot to land his aircraft safely on the night of the Dambusters Raid. There are two paintings also included in the auction that show Townsend’s "Take-Off" and "Return" (see image below). 

There are several important medal lots included in the auction, including the historically important and rare WWI ‘Gallipoli’ C.G.M. group awarded to Petty Officer Frederick Gibson, who was serving in HMS Albion during the 1915 Gallipoli landings.

Gibson jumped overboard with a line and got his boat beached to complete the bridge from River Clyde to shore. He then took the wounded to River Clyde under heavy fire. Gibson distinguished himself by not only trying to get the boats into position, but also in assisting to get the wounded from the beach and lighters back to the River Clyde. For this he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal which is offered here in November with an estimate of £20,000-25,000.

The November auction also includes a huge collection of militaria, comprising, helmet plates, badges, swords, bayonets, antique pistols, RAF memorabilia and much more.
Keep an eye on our auction calendar for future auctions at Dominic Winter Auctioneers.  

For further information about any of these lots or to consign, please contact our specialist Henry Meadows on 01285 860006 or send him an email (henry@dominicwinter.co.uk). Alternatively, you can use the valuation form on our website.


Upcoming Auctions


Printed Books, Maps & Caricatures, Angling Books: A Private Collection, Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson

Printed Books, Maps & Caricatures, Angling Books: A Private Collection, Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson

24th Jul, 2024 10:00

To see a page-turning version of our catalogue, please see the Virtual Catalogue.

Live bidding is available on our website on sale day, a BID LIVE button will appear 60 minutes before the sale starts. Please register at least 24 hours before the sale starts. Commission bids can be left on our website up to 1 hour before the sale commences. For telephone bids, please call the office on 01285 860006.