Auction Results

£100,000 for WWII medal collection


Sir Mark Henniker, a founding member of the British 1st Airborne Division
Image courtesy of Noonans Mayfair.

Twelve medals worn by one of Britain’s most heroic World War II officers have realised £100,000 at auction in London.

The medals were the property of Sir Mark Henniker (known by the nickname Honker), who lived in Somerset.

Sir Mark was a major figure in the British military, a founder member of the 1st Airborne Division who helped to plan the Bruneval Raid of 1942.

One of the targets of the Bruneval Raid planned by Sir Mark.

The Bruneval Raid – or Operation Biting – was a daring assault on German radar installations in northern France. British troops were dropped by parachute, successfully attacked their targets, and were then picked up from a beach on the French coast.

London auctioneers Noonans sold the medals. Medal specialist Mark Quayle specialist told the BBC: “[This is] an outstanding group of medals, and of particular importance

“Brig Sir Mark Henniker’s involvement in all things Airborne during the Second World War must be without parallel.”

Sir Mark went on to play a major role in Operation Market Garden, a huge (and ultimately unsuccessful) airborne operation dramatised in the film A Bridge Too Far. He masterminded the rescue mission that helped recover 1st Airborne Division troops who were left behind.

His family said: “It is important to us that the heroics displayed by the British Airborne Forces during the Second World War, and the sacrifices made by them, continue to live on in the public conscious for generations to come.

“By selling these medals now we hope to highlight their story.”

Sir Mark died in October 1991 at the age of 85.

The medals include decorations from the 1953 “Malaya Emergency”, a D.S.O (Distinguished Service Order) and a Military Cross.

Military medals and decorations have value in the collectibles market. There is a definite hierarchy to their worth – personal stories, acts of heroism, historical moments.

The most valuable medals are Victoria Crosses. In 2017, £1.5 million was paid at auction for a VC won by Captain Albert Ball, a World War I pilot.

Australia’s highest military honour posthumously awarded to a World War II soldier has sold for a record price of $1.46 million. Last year a VC awarded to Corporal John French during a famously heroic attack in WWII realised A$1.46 million (around £760,000) at auction in Australia.

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