The medals belonging to a founding member of the SAS are set to be auctioned in London on 21st July. Warrant Officer Arthur ‘Taffy’ Lawley was awarded the prestigious Military Medal for his part in the daring top-secret raid upon the Tragino Aqueduct in Southern Italy during February 1941 codenamed ‘Operation Colossus’.
Born in Wales, Lawley served with the South Wales Borderers during the 1920s and was a London bus driver before the War. He joined the war effort as a Driving Instructor in the Royal Army Service Corps. However, at the age of 35 he clearly wished to see front-line action as he volunteered for Sir Winston Churchill’s newly-formed Commando unit in 1940.
Thirty eight men, including Lawley, were selected to take part in the first ever SAS operation under the cover of darkness to destroy the aqueduct. Upon successfully blowing the aqueduct, the blast and the sound of the torrent of water awoke the sleeping Italian forces in the valley, leading to Lawley and the others being captured. Lawley’s Military Medal, awarded for his part in the Operation is just one of four awarded for the mission and the first to the SAS.
Lawley then spent three years as a POW in Italy, before successfully hatching a plan and escaping from his captors, marching over a hundred miles to safety. His war was not over however, being parachuted in on D-Day, later crossing the Rhine during ‘Operation Varsity’ and being involved in the Advance to the Baltic, earning himself a mention in dispatches.
The medals are to be auctioned by Spink and Son, with an estimate of £10,000-15,000 (US$13,400-20,100).
Medal Specialist Marcus Budgen said “The gallantry displayed by Lawley on the inaugural SAS mission makes this group of medals extremely rare and desirable. We are confident that strong bidding will be required to secure the exceptional medals to one of the founding members of the SAS”
For more information, please contact Marcus at +44 (0)20 7563 4059 or [email protected].
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