Bravery medals including George Cross and Military Medal amassed by private collector sell for 312,000 at auctionBachelor William Oakley's collection was unknown to relatives and friendsOnly came to light when he died aged 81 with money going to family
Haul off 33 medals included a George Cross, which sold for 93,000
22:21 GMT, 26 December 2012
A collection of bravery medals secretly collected by a bachelor has sold for more than 312,000.
William Oakley kept the medals in his modest semi-detached house for over 40 years, with his secret obsession unknown to friends and relatives.
The hoard, including a highly sought-after George Cross, only come to light when Mr Oakley died aged 81.
Haul: Collection of 33 bravery medals amassed by bachelor William Oakley sold for more than 312,000 at auction. The haul included a set of medals, pictured, belonging to bomb disposal expert Sgt Mike Gibson. His World War II George Cross, left, sold for a record 93,000
Prized: The collection included a set of medals belonging to Major J.G. Daniels of the Welch Guards, which included a Military Cross
Eccentric: Collector William Oakley, pictured, died aged 81. Proceeds of the medals' sale will go to his surviving family members
His collection totalled 33 medals and sold at auction for 312,456 pounds, with the
proceeds divided between his distant relatives.
The World War II George Cross belonging to Sgt Michael Gibson – the second highest decoration in the UK system – sold for an astonishing 93,000.
A unique Queen's Police Medal posthumously awarded to an inspector who was shot and killed during an armed siege in Blackburn in 1958 sold for 18,200.
The medals were sold by London auctioneers Dix Noonan and Webb.
A George Medal won by a bomb disposal expert who neutralised a mine in a London warehouse was also within the collection.
The soldier had only attended a one day crash course in mine disposal. His medal sold for just under 17,000.
A Military Medal presented to an army corporal by Sir Bernard Montgomery after volunteering for a dangerous mission days after D-Day sold for 14,400.
Christopher Hill, of London auctioneers Dix Noonan and Webb, said: 'This collection is Bill Oakley's lasting legacy and will surprise many people who knew him.
Awards: Major J.G. Daniels receives his Military Cross medal from Sir Bernard Montgomery, left, and bomb disposal expert Sgt Mike Dickson, right, whose George Cross sold for 93,000
Pinned on: Irish Guard Edward Walsh receives a Military Medal from Sir Bernard Montgomery in Normandy. The medal sold for 14,400
'His collection is made up primarily of gallantry medals from the modern era.
'Mr Oakley went around buying up these medals in the 1960s and 1970s when they weren't very fashionable.
'He was a life-long bachelor who lived for many years with his mother in a two-up, two-down house in a small village near Birmingham.
'He was very well known locally, indeed a wooden bench in his memory has been placed near to his house since his death. But I don't think anybody knew about these medals.
'I went to the property to look at the collection. They were hidden away in various nooks and crannies all over the house.
'He had no direct family to leave them to and so they have now been sold as part of his estate and the proceeds will be going to distant relatives.”
Barry Lucas, a former friend of Mr Oakley, who lived in the village of Barnt Green, near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, said: 'He was an eccentric who lived an unassuming lifestyle.
'His house was quite Dickensian in style and it hadn't been decorated since before he moved in to it in the 1950s.'