Rare triple WWII medal set snapped up by mystery buyer

Medals Image copyright Hansons
Image caption The sale includes Sir Peter Hilton's medals (top) and those of his wife Lady Winifred

A mystery buyer has stepped in to secure a rare set of World War Two medals which were to be auctioned.

The collection includes three Military Cross awards, believed to be one of only 25 examples such gallantry was recognised in one person.

They belonged to Sir Peter Hilton, who fought at Dunkirk, El Alamein and D-Day, then became Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire and a veterans' campaigner.

The buyer made a "substantial" direct offer to the owners, auctioneers said.

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Valued at up to £10,000, the collection also featured a journal Sir Peter wrote to his wife Winifred when he was sent abroad shortly after they married.

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption Sir Peter was serving as an artillery officer when he had to be evacuated from Dunkirk

Sir Peter was part of the British Expeditionary Force that had to be evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940.

After marrying he was sent to the Middle East, where he was involved in the battle of El Alamein in 1942 and won the Military Cross and bar, as well as needing hospital treatment after being wounded.

His third award of the Military Cross came with the D-Day landings of June 1944.

In charge of a raft bringing vital tanks to the invasion beaches, he struggled against heavy gunfire and a failed engine.

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption Lady Winifred served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force

He managed to flag down a landing craft to get a tow, only to discover it was commanded by his brother. He later was caught in a landmine explosion, in which he suffered a fractured skull and lost an eye.

Sir Peter stayed in the army for some years after the war but also served as Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire from 1978 to 1994 and was president of the Normandy Veterans' Association.

He was knighted in 1993 and died in 1995.

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption Sir Peter placed an appeal in the front of his journal

Adrian Stevenson, militaria specialist at auction house Hansons, said: "Before the auction a buyer came forward and made a substantial offer to the owners.

"We are assured the medals will stay in Derbyshire and it is hoped to have them on public display."

Lady Winifred served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and was also involved with charities and voluntary organisations. Seven of the medals in the 19 strong collection came from her.

She died in 2010.

The Military Cross is the third highest award for bravery against the enemy, after the Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Cross.

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