THE first Conspicuous Gallantry Cross group to appear at auction also became the highest-priced lot to sell via ATG's live bidding platform the-saleroom.com when it was hammered down for £88,000 at Dix Noonan Webb on September 18.
The estimate was £40,000-£60,000.
Lance Corporal Justin R. Thomas of 40 Commando division of the
Royal Marines was awarded the first CGC of the Iraq War for his
extreme bravery in a commando attack mounted against an enemy
battalion in the Abu-al-Khasib area near Basra in the early days of
the campaign on March 30, 2003.
Pinned down by hostile fire and with many of his comrades in
exposed positions, he ran from a place of comparative safety and
climbed onto an open-top vehicle where he manned the mounted
He singlehandedly returned a heavy weight of sustained fire for
a continuous period of nearly 15 minutes while small arms and
rocket-propelled grenades landed all around him.
"I'm not exaggerating, there were hundreds of rounds coming
close to all of us on any given day.," he said. "You wouldn't be
able to count the number of times you could have died."
A 17-page chapter detailing his exploits appears in the book
In Foreign Fields by Dan Brown.
The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross was instituted as a result of
the 1993 review of the British honours system and is second only to
the Victoria Cross in seniority. It was awarded for the first time
as a result of the Bosnian War in 1995 and to date 33 have been
Lance Corporal Thomas's C.G.C. was the first of 13 awarded
during the Iraq conflict and, as most remain with their recipients,
it is believed to be the only example to have appeared on the
market to date.
Justin Thomas, 30, has now left the Marines and works as a civil
Dix Noonan Webb told ATG there were a number of bidders hoping
to acquire the rare group, sold together with related ephemera
including letters of congratulation, photographs, military issue
maps, record book, identity card and four pieces of clothing
bearing the Royal Marine Commando insignia.
Internet bids of this magnitude are unusual as buyers incur an
additional three per cent buyer's premium to use the online service
- bringing the total bill here to £108,240.
Previously the highest successful bid posted on the-saleroom.com
was the £38,000 for a cello by William Forster, London c.1780, sold
by musical instrument specialists Brompton's in November 2008.
The top lot of the September 17-18 sale of Orders, Decorations,
Medals and Militaria was the C.B.E. and Polar Medal awarded to
Commander John Robert Francis "Frank" Wild (1873-1939), the only
man to explore Antarctica five times during the so-called Heroic
Wild was among those to volunteer for the National Antarctic
Expedition under Scott in 1901 and famously was second-in-command
of the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17.
Between April 24 and August 30, 1916 he performed the onerous task
of holding a party of men together on the desolate Elephant Island
while Shackleton made his famous rescue voyage to South
His four-clasp Polar Medal sold here at £110,000 is unique.
By Roland Arkell