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Consigned by a direct descendant, the VC and DCM group of five awarded to Sergeant Arthur Evans sold for £190,000 on November 27-28.

Evans’ career record was somewhat chequered and much is still a mystery. Operating under an alias, he earned a ‘mention’ with the 3rd Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment during the retreat from Mons in 1914 but then deserted – only to reappear in July 1916 as a soldier in the 6th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment.

Returning to the Western Front, where he was gassed in October 1917, his finest hours came the following year during the Hundred Days Offensive. He received his VC for his actions on September 2, 1918, when he volunteered to swim the River Cojeul before stalking and rushing a well-defended enemy machine-gun post. Despatching and capturing its occupants, it was considered that this individual action enabled the advance of the entire British 4th Division.

Little over a month later at Cambrai he added the DCM to his laurels, again personally rushing an enemy strong-point, and then somehow survived a near direct hit from an artillery round that left him unconscious and buried in the crater.

He received a hero’s welcome (and a gold Waltham presentation pocket watch included with the lot) when he returned home to Bolton.