Woolley & Wallis is offering the honours of Captain Andrew Legg, SAS and Royal Hampshire Regiment, on May 3. It follows the top-estimate £30,000 sale of SAS Iranian Embassy siege veteran Ian White’s medals group at the Salisbury auction house last November.
But while the 1980 embassy siege – Operation Nimrod – was an unqualified success, Legg’s service in the Falklands War (1982) included an aborted mission of less popular acclaim.
Operation Mikado was the extraordinary and in retrospect ill-conceived plot to put the SAS into Argentina to find and destroy aircraft that threatened the Falklands Taskforce.
Legg led seven men on a hair-raising journey that involved them parachuting into the freezing waters of the South Atlantic, before being taken to land in a Sea King helicopter whose intrepid crew were trained to fly using night vision goggles.
A series of twists and turns, not to mention foul weather, led to them being withdrawn, by stages, without having made contact with the enemy. It is now known that, had they done so, the patrol of eight men would have faced approximately 3000 opponents equipped with state of the art weaponry and forewarned of a probable incursion.
Bravery and judgment
W&W militaria specialist Ned Cowell strongly believes the full story behind this ill-fated mission shows bravery and judgment in the finest tradition of the SAS. “Hampered by an almost total lack of intelligence, extreme cold, and with a supply of rations inadequate for an effective reconnaissance, Legg was determined that the lives of his men should not be expended needlessly,” he said.
“The verdict of many of the participants was that Operation Mikado might better have been called ‘Operation Certain Death’.”
In the absence of a meaningful military objective, Captain Legg’s “officerly conduct spared the lives of seven men from that certainty”.
The lot estimated at £10,000-20,000 includes Captain Legg’s General Service Medal with clasp for Northern Ireland and South Atlantic Medal with Rosette – the latter awarded for service in the Falklands War – together with his SAS beret and a rudimentary small-scale map of Tierra del Fuego.