The three top-selling lots caught the eye in particular at the January 26 auction at Dix Noonan Webb (24% buyer’s premium). These added up to a combined £530,000 hammer.
The second-highest price of the sale was achieved by a Battle of France and Battle of Britain fighter ace’s 1940 DFC and 1945 ‘Test Pilot’s’ AFC group of eight. It was awarded to a Hurricane and Spitfire pilot, Wing Commander Peter Lawrence Parrott, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Estimated to fetch £80,000- 120,000, it was being sold by his family.
Parrott, who nearly achieved ‘ace’ in a day status during his first aerial combats on May 10, 1940, flew with 607 (County of Durham) Squadron during the Battle of France, and with 145 Squadron over the beaches of Dunkirk. He was shot up while in combat with a He III over Dunkirk on May 26, 1940, managing to limp home across the Channel and crash-land in a field on the south coast.
He went on to distinguish himself during the Battle of Britain while operating out of the Tangmere Sector and shot down two enemy aircraft on August 8, 1940. Parrott’s photograph, taken during the Battle of France, was used for a well-known recruiting poster – making him quite literally the poster boy of the RAF.
Honours earned by ‘the Few’ these days are always likely to sell well into six figures and the group was bought by a private collector for £200,000.
Highest price in the auction came for an Indian Mutiny Victoria Cross group of six awarded to Private Patrick Donohoe of the 9th Lancers, who went to the aid of his severely wounded officer.
Estimated at £140,000-180,000, the group had not been sold on the open market for over 100 years and had been consigned here by an overseas collector. It went to a private collector, one of six active bidders, at £220,000.
Two Indian Mutiny VCs offered at Morton & Eden in December 2020 made £155,000 and £145,000 while in June last year DNW had set a record for a 19th century VC (from 1891).
Blitz bomb disposal
The January sale also included an “extremely rare, if not unique George Cross” – awarded for bravery not in the face of the enemy.
This was one of several given in 1940 for bomb disposal during the London Blitz.
Sub-Lieutenant John Duppa-Miller, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, had shown great courage and skill in disarming a highly sensitive and dangerous magnetic mine in Barking Creek on September 23, 1940, during the Battle of Britain.
He was recommended for a bar (a second award) for dangerous work disarming the biggest of German bombs. After the war Duppa-Miller went to teach in Africa where he lost his original cross on his travels. He received his official replacement GC in January 1963.
His group of five medals was being sold by the recipient’s family estimated at £30,000-50,000.
It took £110,000 from a “relatively new collector of iconic British medallic stories”.