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Norwich war hero Sidney Day's Victoria Cross to go on auction

PUBLISHED: 20:11 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 20:11 07 February 2018

The awards of Corporal Sidney Day: (left to right) Victoria Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

The awards of Corporal Sidney Day: (left to right) Victoria Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

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A Victoria Cross and other awards won by one of the most extraordinary survivors of the First and Second World Wars, are to go on auction later this month.

Corporal Sidney Day, Suffolk Regiment, wearing his Victoria Cross. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan WebbCorporal Sidney Day, Suffolk Regiment, wearing his Victoria Cross. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

Norwich-born Corporal Sidney Day, who won his VC in 1917, was one of only two men of the Suffolk Regiment ever to be awarded Britain’s highest gallantry decoration.

He later went to live in Portsmouth where he narrowly escaped death in the 1941 Blitz.

An artist’s illustration of Corporal Sidney Day winning the Victoria Cross in August 1917. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan WebbAn artist’s illustration of Corporal Sidney Day winning the Victoria Cross in August 1917. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

His Victoria Cross, the three campaign medals that he was awarded for the First World War and two medals for the coronations of George VI and Elizabeth II will be auctioned by Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins, medals and jewellery specialists, in London on February 28. They are being sold by order of his family along with an emotive archive of material.

This includes a cigarette case given to him by the parents of a young officer whose life he unsuccessfully tried to save, a leather compass case which stopped a bullet that could have killed him and a government document compensating him for the destruction of his home and business by German bombers.

The leather compass case which stopped a bullet that might otherwise have killed Sidney Day. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan WebbThe leather compass case which stopped a bullet that might otherwise have killed Sidney Day. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

The lot is expected to fetch £120,000 to £140,000.

Mark Quayle, medals specialist at Dix Noonan Webb said: “Sidney Day’s survival in the First World War was nothing short of miraculous.

Sidney Day outside the ‘Sidney Day VC Tea Rooms’, Portsmouth in the years between the two world wars. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan WebbSidney Day outside the ‘Sidney Day VC Tea Rooms’, Portsmouth in the years between the two world wars. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

“He suffered five wounds, was saved from serious injury on two occasions when equipment and personal possessions deflected bullets and was twice forced to crawl back to British lines. He was eventually taken prisoner.”

Mr Day won his VC for heroics during the capture of a complex German trench system at Hargicourt on August 26, 1917.

The reverse of Sidney Day’s Victoria Cross engraved with his name and the date on which he won Britain’s highest gallantry decoration. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan WebbThe reverse of Sidney Day’s Victoria Cross engraved with his name and the date on which he won Britain’s highest gallantry decoration. Picture: Courtesy Dix Noonan Webb

His later plan to live a quiet life by opening a tea room in Portsmouth went awry when his business and home were destroyed by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War.

“Needless to say he survived the bombing,” said Mr Quayle.

After years of declining health, partly the result of his old wounds, he died on July 17, 1959 and is buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth.

A stone commemorating Day in front of the Norwich War Memorial was dedicated on August 26, 2017 – exactly 100 years after the deeds

that won him the Victoria Cross.



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