Captain Solomon Clifford Joseph whose DFC and bar made £20,000 at Noonans.

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Offered at Noonans (24% buyer’s premium) on October 11, it was bought by a private collector.

Joseph, of the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force, was the highest-scoring Jewish ace of the Great War – and the only ace of the conflict to hail from Birmingham.

Approximately 66 DFC and Bars were awarded for the First World War. Mark Quayle, Noonans medal specialist, said: “Joseph was a ‘gung-ho’ pilot, whose aggressive flying style and skill accounted for at least 13 aerial victories over the Western Front between May-October 1918. He was no stranger to taking risks, and was wounded in aerial combat, and nearly shot down on many occasions.”

He added: “The group was well contested on the day and has gone to a good home – where it will be appreciated by a collector.”

Eleven actions


Peninsular War medal set awarded to Troop Sergeant-Major William Hanley, £30,000 at Noonans.

Top-seller in the auction, taking £30,000 against a guide of £14,000-18,000, was a unique Peninsular War medal set awarded to Troop Sergeant-Major William Hanley, 14th Light Dragoons.

These had not appeared at auction since the 1930s (they went through various private collections subsequently) and after fierce bidding the lot was bought by a private collector. Hanley is the only known instance of an NCO being mentioned by name in Napier’s famous History of the Peninsula War, for his exploit at Blasco Sancho on July 25, 1812, when his patrol of three men of the 14th Light Dragoons and four men of the 1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion captured a 31-strong piquet of French cavalrymen.

He was awarded a special silver medal by the officers of the regiment at a full dress parade to commemorate his deed, included in this lot.

Hanley was present in every engagement fought by the regiment in the Peninsula and in North America – his Military General Service (MGS) medal 1793-1814 also sold here featured a remarkable 11 clasps (for separate actions) – and was afterwards appointed Foreman of Stores at the Tower of London until his death in September 1859.

War in the US

An MGS medal on offer in Noonans’ November 8 auction bears one clasp: for the little-known Battle of Crysler’s Farm during the War of 1812 with the US. Fought in 1813, a British and Canadian force was victorious.

It was awarded to Lt-Col HR Gore, CB, 89th Foot, one of only three officers of the regiment who lived to claim the clasp for this action. He was taken prisoner at Niagara on July 25, 1814, and detained until the end of the conflict.

Estimate £14,000-18,000.