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Rare WW II air medal explodes prices at sale

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The biggest shock for the auctioneers at Cannon & Cannon’s at their recent sale in Hilton was the price fetched by what seemed an ordinary group of soldiers’ medals.

Among the six medals in one lot was a hidden gem: the scarce and sought-after “Air Crew Europe Star” and clasp – and it sent the bidding for the medals soaring to a staggering R47 000. The medals’ presale estimate was just R2500.

Cannon’s catalogue entry described the lot: “A group of six World War II medals, comprising the 1939-1945 Star with ‘Battle of Britain’ clasp, The Air Crew Europe Star with ‘Atlantic’ clasp, The Africa Star, The Defence Medal, The War Medal and The George VI Royal Air Force Long Service and the Good Conduct Medal inscribed ‘FG OFF RWE Jarrett RAF’.” .

Cannon’s says the decorations belonged to the seller’s grandfather who served in the Indian army. He later settled in Durban.

The “Air Crew Europe Star” is a military campaign medal, instituted by the UK in May 1945 as an award to British and Commonwealth air crews who undertook operational flights of 60 days and more over Europe from British bases.

Other Cannon & Cannon auction highlights were:

* A large Edwardian silver tea tray by William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, 1902: R18 000.

* Pair of 19th century French silver soup bowls: R13 000.

* Pair of gilded Empire-style wall mirrors: R36 000.

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