25 November 2022
Going under the hammer in Tennants Auctioneers’ Militaria and Ethnographica Sale on 7 December is a pair of signed letters from two World War II heroes (estimate £150-£200).
One letter is by Bill Sparks, one of the original Cockleshell Heroes, who writes about the raid which ‘took place in December 1942 on the harbour of Bordeaux’ as part of operation Frankton, and the other by David Stirling, the founder of the Special Air Service (SAS). Brought to the silver screen through the 1955 film The Cockleshell Heroes staring Trevor Howard, and more recently, the 2022 series SAS Rogue Heroes, these figures are household names in the history of World War II.
Of note in this diverse sale is a pair of early 19th century Spanish flintlock duelling pistols (estimate: £5,000-£6,000). Made by Astiazaran-Ribas of Placencia, the pistols were presented in 1810 by the Junta de Defensa de Molina de Aragon to Pedro de Villacampa when he was appointed to lead the 2nd Army Division of the Molina Infantry Battalion which the Junta had established. Pedro de Villacampa was a noble-born politician and soldier who in 1852 was appointed Captain General, and President of the Supreme Court of War and Navy in 1854.
Also in the sale are a 19th century Caucasian Shasqua engraved with the Cyrillic cypher of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, a weapon mostly used by Russian and Ukranian Cossacks (estimate: £1,500-£2,500), an early 20th century white metal presentation inkwell in the form of a Kabuto (estimate: £200-£300), presented to Captain Dundas who in 1908 served as the personal aid to Admiral Togo of the Imperial Japanese Navy, often referred to as the ‘Nelson of the East’, and a group consisting of a 19th century Caucasian Khindjal and Caucasian Hardwood Swordstick (estimate: £300-£500).
The sale also includes a fascinating array of military medals including, a Military General Service Medal awarded to Thomas Webber of the 28th Foot (estimate: £2,000-£2,500). The medal features five clasps denoting a lengthy army service in which Webber saw action at Talavera, Albuhera, Vittoria, Pyrenees and Toulouse. The Military General Service Medal has an important place in British medallic history since, along with the Waterloo Medal, it was the first British campaign medal issued to all soldiers regardless of rank. Also of note is a South Africa Medal 1834-1853, awarded to William Roberts of the 45th Regiment of Foot who served in the Eighth Xhosa War (estimate: £600-£700).
Of special interest is a World War IIgroup representing the war service of Sgt. R "Titch" Rickaby, P Troop, 41 Royal Marine Commando (estimate: £1,500-£2,000). The group includes a Fairburn Sykes fighting knife, six World War II medals including the Africa Star, Royal Marine cap badge, commando sleeve insignia, and official war diaries describing events from May 1944 to August 1944.
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