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Estimated at £800-1200 but sold for a hammer price of £9000 (plus a 20% buyer’s premium) was a Special Boat Section/Service attributed Second World War enamel beret badge depicting Excalibur rising from the water with red enamel letters SBS.

The original owner was key to the price: CSM later Captain George Barnes, Grenadier Guards then No 8 Commando and Folboat Sections of 1 and 2 SBS.

Barnes was one of the original nine members of the 1st Special Boat Section (later the Special Boat Service). His SBS raids in 1941 and 1942 earned the Military Medal and Bar, and he also took part in the failed attack on Rommel’s headquarters.

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Special Boat Section/Service Second World War Commando insignia attributed to Captain George Barnes sold for £2200 at the Bosleys auction on July 3.

Relics from the early days of special forces as they were being formed are particularly collectable. Many of these units emerged during the Second World War, with a huge range of formations such as the Long Range Desert Group, No 2 Commando and  L Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade eventually morphing into now renowned formations normally referred to as the SAS, SBS and Parachute Regiment.

Extremely rare

The badge at Bosleys on July 3, sold to a private room buyer, was one of 14 special forces items linked to Barnes consigned by a private source. Another lot, a Commando SBS cloth shoulder title estimated at £300-500, was bought for £2200 by an overseas private bidder via thesaleroom.com.

Steven Bosley from the auction house said: “The SBS was originally an army commando unit then become part of SAS then the Royal Marines post war. The badge was an official early Second World War one though extremely rare. We sold the only other one we know of nearly 25 years ago.”

Commando badges

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A grouping of nine Second World War Commando cloth shoulder titles estimated at £100-150 sold for £2300 at the C&T auction.

Further special forces demand was evident at Kent auction house C&T on July 10. A grouping of nine Second World War Commando cloth shoulder titles estimated at £100-150 sold for £2300 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).

The Commandos were formed by the British in 1940 to carry on the fight after evacuation at Dunkirk, the name inspired by highly mobile Boer volunteer units of guerrillas.

These British soldiers carried out raids and reconnaissance on a scale which grew in size as the war progressed – although the large 1942 Dieppe raid in conjunction with Canadian troops proved a disaster.