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That example took £4500, showing the demand for these very personal and evocative items.

A year later, this attraction was underlined again at Richard Winterton’s (22% buyer’s premium) auction in Tamworth on September 27, when another example came up estimated at £400-600. The hammer fell at £11,000 – but that payment fell through. However, a subsequent deal involving the underbidder still ended up with an impressive £10,000 price in the end.

Both owned by Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses, the latest cape offered had belonged to Jess Winifred Carey.

After the D-Day landings in 1944 she served in Belgium, mainly in the eye wards of the military hospitals, and continued this same work back in England for a while.


Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse Jess Winifred Carey whose cape made £10,000 at Richard Winterton.

Carey was given many mementos from the servicemen she helped and these were sewn onto her cape as a reminder of her services.

Like other medical staff, she treated wounded personnel of all nationalities and this is evident on the cape, featuring British, Polish, US, German, Dutch insignia and much more, ranging from medal ribbons and formation patches to shoulder titles and rank insignia.

The Sworders cape belonged to Esme Kathleen Robinson (d.2017) who was based in Churchill Hospital, Headington, Oxford, from 1942-45. While the scarlet lining of that example was covered in badges, the navy side had none. Carey’s cape, however, had 300 over both sides.

Also from the Carey collection, in the Richard Winterton October 25 auction six further lots of badges she accumulated (but not attached to any garment) sold for a total of £1540.