Cliptone Colliery miner’s war medals fetch £156,000

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The medals of a decorated former soldier have fetched more than £156,000 after being put up for auction.

Colour Sergeant James Harkess, a former miner at Clipstone Colliery, put his medals under the hammer to supplement his pension after being left unable to work.

The 46-year-old, who gave 22 years’ service, had a clutch of awards including the rare Iraq War Conspicuous Gallantry Cross - Britain’s highest combat gallantry award after the Victoria Cross.

Only 58 have been awarded since its inception in 1993.

And while it was thought they would go for six-figure sum, the final total raised a few eyebrows.

“This was a tremendously strong price for a group of medals awarded to a soldier who displayed extraordinary and sustained gallantry in Iraq, “ said a spokesman for Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins and medals specialists.

“The medals sold for more than their pre-sale estimate.”

Colour Sergeant Harkess, was honoured with the Gallantry Cross for his ‘extraordinary’ bravery in Iraq.

He experienced intense urban warfare against the Mahdi Army militia in the lawless Iraqi town of Al Amarah during 2006.

Incidents included him securing a safe route for his platoon through 50 heavily-armed militiamen during a brutal fire fight and refusing to take cover during another key street battle, fighting for six hours.

He said: “It wasn’t as though we even had time to be nervous or scared. It was so intense, you just don’t have time to think about anything else.”

In addition to the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, he also received the General Service Medal with clasp for Northern Ireland, the NATO Medals for Former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the Iraq Medal, the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, the Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and the Military Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

“I suffer from ill-health which has meant that I have not been able to work since I left the Army,” said James, who was in Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

“Because of this I am dependant on my Army pension so the sale will help me financially.”