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Both sets relate to the Falklands War, which is marking its 25 anniversary this year – perhaps showing the importance of association in choosing the right time to consign items for sale.

The group of four medals here belonged to Sgt Tom Collins who “decided to sell the medals to avoid any potential arguments between his four children later on in life,” said auctioneer Richard Bromell.

During the war, Sgt Collins’ operation involved leading a group of four men to the East Falklands to reconnoitre possible landing sites. He and his team dug into the hillside overlooking Ajax Bay in San Carlos Water and stayed there undetected for 16 days. Nicknamed The Interflora Squad, their 18in hides were covered with chicken wire, hessian and grass and were tediously replanted every night. If they had been discovered, there would have been no hope of rescue.

Turning a pensioner next year, Collins and his children were amazed at the opening bid of £15,000 – way beyond the £5000-£10,000 estimate at the Long Street saleroom on September 21. And their amazement grew as the bidding rose to an eventual £40,000 hammer, selling to well-known medal dealer from just outside Newbury on behalf of a client. He was among ten other telephone bidders as well as many private collectors and dealers in the saleroom.

The price comfortably beat the £34,000 paid at Spink on July 19 belonging to Lance-Corporal Martin William Lester Bentley.

Adding to Sgt Collins delight at Charterhouse was an encounter with a fellow Falklands veteran with whom he had served in the war.

By Laura Nightingale