500 swords, 5,000 bayonets and 10,000 military uniforms are all on retired colonel’s shopping list as he plans auction to help bomb blast victims

James & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Pictured is David James with 1930's Gypsy Major propellor. Picture: Ian Burt James & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Pictured is David James with 1930's Gypsy Major propellor. Picture: Ian Burt

Friday, July 4, 2014
8:13 AM

Swords, bayonets, military uniforms, badges and buttons are not the usual sort of items people would put on a shopping list.

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James & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Pictured is David James with a World War II telescope. Picture: Ian BurtJames & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Pictured is David James with a World War II telescope. Picture: Ian Burt

But they are all featured on one drawn up by a retired colonel planning an auction aiming to raise £1m to help bomb blast victims.

David James, chairman of the Fakenham and District branch of the Royal British Legion, is running the Great Centenary Auction at the 17th-century Raynham Hall, East Raynham, near Fakenham, in September.

It will raise money towards The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College, London.

The plans were announced in April when an appeal was made for the public to donate items to be auctioned.

James & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Picture: Ian BurtJames & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Picture: Ian Burt

Now Mr James, who runs Fakenham auction business James and Sons, has drawn up a shopping list of items he wants for the auction.

He is urging people to hunt through their sheds and attics to find: 500 swords; 5,000 bayonets; 10,000 military uniforms; 25,000 badges and 100,000 military buttons.

Mr James also wants compasses, binoculars, webbing medals, miniature medals, pamphlets, books, posters, postcards, prisoner of war letters, censored mail, photographs, bank notes, coin and stamp collections, silver and gold jewellery, bygones, antiques, railwayana, anything collectable, trench art and treen tins, trunks, cannons and muskets.

Mr James said: “This is what we will need to raise £1m.”

James & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Pictured are a pair of World War I swords. Picture: Ian BurtJames & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Pictured are a pair of World War I swords. Picture: Ian Burt

To encourage donations, Mr James, who served with the army for 30 years, has donated his own uniform to the auction.

He said: “Many families have old uniforms and military mementoes of service life.

“People often attach sentimental value to them, but it is difficult to know what to do with them.

“Helping bomb blast victims is far more important than sentiment, in my view.”

James & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Picture: Ian BurtJames & Sons in Fakenham is running a major auction at Raynham Hall in September. Picture: Ian Burt

He added: “Uniforms always attract interest from collectors, reinactors, theatre groups and film companies.”

Mr James has received a wide variety of interesting and unusual items, including a rare 1930s Gipsy Major propeller; a general’s military bed from the Crimean War and a collection of books on magic as well as wartime uniforms, swords and binoculars.

He said “Everything is really starting to take off now, but that support has to continue.

“A Victoria Cross would be fantastic and could fetch around £120,000 which would out us well on course.”

James and Sons will hold this month’s sale at Raynham Hall on July 30 at 10am as a rehearsal to the Great Centenary Auction, on September 21.

For more information and to see how you can donate, go to www.greatcharity.org, www.facebook.com/GreatAuction or www.twitter.com/great_auction or call 01328 855003.

Have you got a Fakenham story? Email adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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