£68,900 'Counter-terrorism medal' defeats expectations
68,900 'Counter-terrorism medal' defeats expectations
'Jacky' Miller disguised himself with boot polish to infiltrate and destroy a guerrilla group in Kenya
Spink's sale of medals and awards last week saw the sale of the DSO medal group of Captain P H "Dutch" Hugo, alongside two Victoria Crosses.
However, none of these was the lot which performed best against its expectations. That turned out to be a set of three medals headed by a Distinguished Conduct Medal from relatively recently: a 1955 conflict in Kenya.
Sergeant Major John Austin 'Jacky' Miller was attached to the Special Branch of the local police in Kenya to assist with the control of the Mau Mau uprising.
A large Mau Mau group was known to be meeting in local farmland, and it was decided that the best way to deal with them was to set up a mock group which could then be used to liaise with or infiltrate the main group.
Jacky Miller's 1955 DCM, service medal and Police meritorious service
The details of this were left to Miller. Despite being blond and blue-eyed, Miller managed to pass himself off as native to Kenya,partly thanks to using boot polish. The citation for his award explains the results of the mission:
"During the period 1 February- 21 March Miller, disguised as a terrorist, attended, with his mock gang, a number of meetings of the top Mau Mau Committee.
"He also managed to eliminate some active terrorists, including one well-known leader. In addition, he was responsible for the recovery of two precision weapons.
"On 21 March he again attended a meeting with all the senior Mau Mau office holders in the course of which he successfully directed a police patrol onto the scene so that all fifteen Mau Mau members were killed or arrested."
Initially estimated at 14,000-18,000, Spink's audience quickly pressed the lot far past that, with Miller's DCM, Africa General Service 1902-56 and Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service (the latter in particularly good condition) finally leaving the stage for 68,900.
Often medals can become much more valuable if there's a strong storyline associated with them, and no doubt the unique nature of Miller's mission and bravery made the medals more desirable.