“Bravest” Passchendaele Victoria Cross and Charge of the Light Brigade Crimean Medal steal the headlines


The Victoria Cross awarded to one of “Britain’s bravest soldiers of World War One”, decorated for gallantry during the Battle of Passchendaele, recently sold for £372,000

Posthumously awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel Bertram Best-Dunkley, the award fetched a hammer price of £300,000 at Spink & Son Auctioneers in London. The sale smashed the asking price of £180,000. With the buyer’s premium, the total value of the lot was £372,000.

Young Best-Dunkley received a commission in the British Army before leaving the military shortly afterwards to work as a schoolteacher. After the outbreak of war in 1914, he returned to the Lancashire Fusiliers and arrived on the Western Front in July 1915.

Reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel, the 26-year-old led his battalion through four separate engagements on the Somme, developing a distinct “customary squint and twitch of the nose” due to shell shock.

On July 31, 1917, the 2/5th Battalion moved to the front with orders to assault the ridges above the city of Ypres as part of the Battle of Passchendaele. With the order to go over the top signalled, the men of Best-Dunkley’s battalion left their trenches, but as a soldier of ‘C’ Company, 2/5th Battalion wrote: “Suddenly we were rained upon with bullets, men were being hit everywhere.”

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