Wartime mementoes go under the hammer

The Relief of Kimberley, the Atlantic convoys, the Battle of Britain and Monte Cassino - their names will always live in the collective wartime consciousness of the country.

The Relief of Kimberley, the Atlantic convoys, the Battle of Britain and Monte Cassino - their names will always live in the collective wartime consciousness of the country.

Now the lives of East Anglian war heroes who served at these pivotal points in history are set to take pride of place at a north Norfolk auction house.

Among the precious items are seven medals which belonged to Sgt Frederick William Oliver, of Sutton Bridge and Fakenham, who served with distinction in the 1899-1902 Boer War, fought in the trenches of the first world war and helped defend Britain against the Nazi menace as part of the Home Guard.

The medals, photographs and letters of servicemen who served from the Boer War to post-second word war conflicts are to go on sale at Keys of Aylsham tomorrow.

Included are poignant mementoes of soldiers who never made it home - dog tags and a sweetheart brooch belonging to Royal Engineer 2nd Cpl EH Moules, of Gorleston-on-Sea, who died in the trenches in August 1917 aged 33.

There are also unopened family letters to Pte Bryan James Wilson, from Exning, Suffolk, a soldier with the Cambridgeshire Regiment who died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1943 aged just 24.

Most Read

Andrew Bullock, from Keys, said: “People put these items up for sale because they would rather have a collector buy them and truly appreciate them than just see them gather dust in a box or cupboard.

“Sgt Oliver's medals do remind me a bit of Cpl Jones from Dad's Army, who served in the army for many years before proudly joining the Home Guard to defend his home from invasion.

“Soldiers like Sgt Oliver did sterling work for their country and that is truly represented by some of the fine medals we have here.”

The splendid collection of militaria will be going under the hammer after Keys held a recent valuation day, which saw scores of families from across the region dust off their relatives' belongings to try and find out about their ancestors' wartime exploits

The seven medals of chief engine room artificer Percy Evan Browning highlight the vital role the Royal Navy played in keeping the sea lanes open so that vital supplies and troops could travel to and from Britain during the second world war.

The medals, valued at up to £700, include the Atlantic Star, the African Star with North Africa Clasp, the Burma Star with Pacific Clasps and a much sought after British Empire Medal.

Other military decorations in the Keys collection include Great War pair medals, Italy Stars, a 1939-45 star, (Battle of Britain Clasp), and Northern Ireland and Malaya campaign service medals,

Also included is a 96in snake made out of beads by a Turkish prisoner of war who was captured at Gallipoli in the first world war, Zulu spears, Luger holsters and RAF flying helmets.

The Keys sale also includes dolls, model railway collections and toys. Among the sports catalogue is a rare cricket bat from 1934 signed by the English and Australian teams and which is up for sale at £600. What makes the bat even more special is that the autographs include arch rivals Don Bradman and England fast bowler Harold Larwood.

The pair famously fell out during the controversial bodyline tour of 1933, when English bowlers were accused of destroying the spirit of cricket by bowling straight at batsmen's chests.

Keys' collectors sale starts at 10.30am in the Palmer's Lane salerooms. For more information call 01263 733195 or visit www.aylshamsalerooms.co.uk