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Silver war badge awarded to Lance-Corporal Harold Mugford VC – £2400 at Dominic Winter.

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Estimated at £100-150 at Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) on November 17, the 39mm diameter badge sold for £2400 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) to a buyer thought to be a private collector.

Henry Meadows of Dominic Winter said: “The vendor bought this badge in a job lot from a local auction house and a friend who collects medals looked it up for him, joking at the time ‘imagine if he was a VC winner…’.”

Mugford (1894-1958) served on the Western Front with 8th Squadron, NCG and was indeed awarded the Victoria Cross for an action at Monchy-le-Preux, near Arras, France on April 11, 1917. Despite being severely wounded and his No 2 being killed almost immediately, he stayed in position to inflict severe losses on counter-attacking enemy troops.

Mugford was evacuated to England and underwent six operations. Both legs were amputated above the knee and shrapnel was removed from his hip, tongue and jaw. He was confined to a wheelchair for much of the rest of his life.

Silver badges were instituted in September 1916 as a reaction to the white feathers for supposed cowardice which could be handed out to men not in uniform – on occasion to war veterans or even injured servicemen. These badges were given by the War Office to be worn as a brooch pinned to civilian clothes to show their service after early discharge, normally due to injury. More than a million were issued but because they were numbered recipients can be traced.

Mugford was awarded the badge on July 20, 1918. His VC is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Medal Collection at the Imperial War Museum.