A UNIQUE Falklands War medal marking the ‘phenomenally brave’ work of a bomb disposal expert has sold for what is believed to be a record price at auction.
The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal
awarded posthumously to Staff Sgt Jim Prescott, who was killed
trying to defuse an Argentine bomb on HMS Antelope, went
for £95,000 in the March 28-29 sale after being estimated at
David Erskine-Hill of London
Dix Noonan Webb, who sold the medal group, said: "There have
only been three Conspicuous Gallantry Medals issued during the
present Queen's reign and this is the only one to an Army
recipient, and a posthumous issue, so it is unique - and unique too
for the Falklands War.
"Everything about it is absolutely a
one-off, and I think it is important, too, as it is a closed
history now the CGM is no longer awarded and, of course, the
Falklands War is over.
"If it was still around and some were
being awarded in Afghanistan then you wouldn't know what the final
number might be, but this is finite, we know it, it's unique and
that's it, end of story.
"It's an enormously difficult thing to
put a price on and we are just happy it made its estimate, but
above all clipped the top end of it."
Sgt Prescott was part of a two-man
Royal Engineers bomb disposal team sent to HMS
Antelope on May 23, 1982, but unknown to them the device
had a 28-second delay and went off, killing him instantly and
severely injuring his colleague, Warrant Officer John Phillips, who
lost his left arm.
A photograph of the vessel sinking has
become one of the most memorable images of the war.
Mr Erskine-Hill said that a collector
bought the CGM, among a group of four awarded to Sgt
CGMs were introduced by the Navy in
1855 as the naval equivalent to the Distinguished Conduct Medal and
included the RAF in 1943 to recognise gallantry while flying in
operations against the enemy. The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross
replaced the CGM in 1993.
Dix Noonan Webb sold a CGM for just
over £60,000 last December. It dated from the defence of the
Legations in the Boxer Rebellion of 1901.
"We have sold quite a lot of Falklands
material and more and more is appearing in the market," said Mr
While a lot of this is down to demand
during the 30th anniversary of the conflict, it "goes right across
the board to, for example, the always popular awards to the Royal
Marines and the Paras, and one or two examples we had not that long
ago were to those who were in the original RM detachment who became
prisoners when the Argentinians invaded".
The sale of Sgt Prescott's CGM came on
the back of that December 2011 auction which included not only the
Distinguished Service Cross awarded to his bomb disposal partner
Warrant Officer Phillips but also the Distinguished Service Medal
awarded to Chief Petty Officer Townsend of HMS
Argonaut - aboard which ship both Prescott and Phillips
had undertaken bomb disposal work the previous day to their
medal-winning exploits on the Antelope.
Indeed, Townsend had won his DSM for
working close to the unexploded bomb to which they were
Mr Erskine-Hill said: "Phillips's DSC
- another unique award for Army bomb disposal work in the modern
era - achieved a hammer price of £120,000, while Townsend's DSM
raised £65,000, results that in the company of the £95,000 hammer
price paid for Prescott's CGM add further weight to the recent
surge of interest in post-War conflicts."
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