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It had been estimated at £500-700 at the Bishop & Miller auction in Stowmarket, Suffolk, on April 27 but was bought by a collector based in Switzerland (for £21,700 including buyer’s premium).

The consignor, a local man, is the grandson of the original owner. It was given to the vendor by his mother back in the 1980s and it had belonged to her father, and is it believed that he served in the SAS in the Second World War.

Checks on the age of the item included using UV light. Oilver Miller, managing director of the auction house, said: “UV light is used as an aid in determining the authenticity of items. Modern synthetics tend to glow under UV light so a check is often done to be on the safe side.”

He added: “This is a rare item, and like all Second World War SAS-related items, very desirable to collectors.”

It is thought to be an auction record for such a beret. Miller said that a check on prices shows a number of SAS-related sales and “the closest is a group attributed to Captain Andrew Legg of 22nd SAS Regiment (medals, beret, wings, stable belt etc) which sold for £8000 at Woolley & Wallis in 2018, while a beret similar to the one we sold went for around the £1300 mark earlier this year”.