The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 30, July 25, 2015, Article 27


I'm not ordinarily speechless, but I can't think of a word to add to this story, which was published Wednesday. -Editor

Violette Szabo Medals awarded to a second world war heroine who was tortured and ultimately murdered by the Nazis are hoped to fetch over £250,000 at auction.

Medals belonging to a Second World War heroine tortured and murdered by the Nazis are expected to fetch more than £250,000 at auction.

The George Cross and four other medals belonging to Violette Szabo, who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in occupied France, are being sold by her daughter, Tania Szabo, 73, who has no offspring to hand them on to.

The sale has sparked calls for the medals belonging to the Anglo-French undercover agent, who was executed at a concentration camp aged just 23 in 1945, to be bought for the nation.

Violette Szabo medals

This week Rosemary Rigby, of the Violette Szabo museum in Herefordshire, said: She fought for us and she died for us and I would like for the medals to stay here.

I would like for the hammer to drop on behalf of the country, and someone buy them in her name.

That would be the greatest compliment.


Mrs Szabo was born in Paris in 1921 but her family moved to Stockwell, London. She married a French Foreign Legionnaire, Etienne Szabo, who was killed at El Alamein in North Africa before their daughter Tania was born. His death encouraged Violette to join the SOE which carried out espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe during the war.

Two days after the D-Day landings, Violette was captured by the SS after running into a road block near Limoges in France. She reportedly killed several Gestapo men before collapsing, exhausted.

She endured months of torture and was shot dead at Ravensbruck concentration camp in January or February 1945.

In December 1946, she was posthumously awarded the George Cross - second only to the Victoria Cross in the honours system.

Tania, then aged four, collected it at a private investiture by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

The lot contains the George Cross, a French Croix de Guerre and three other campaign medals, plus a parachute bag, documents and photographs, some previously unseen.

It is expected to fetch between £250,000 and £300,000 at the auction by Dix Noonan Webb in London today.

Will Bennett of Dix Noonan Webb kindly forwarded a post-sale report on Thursday. Here's an excerpt. Thanks! -Editor

Violette Szabo's George Cross The world-famous George Cross awarded to the Special Operations Executive secret agent Violette Szabό – one of only four GCs to women – fetched a record price of £312,000 (£260,000 hammer price) at Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins and medals specialists, in London today (Wednesday 22 July).

The George Cross and other medals awarded to Violette were bought, along with a unique archive of photographs and documents, by Lord Ashcroft, the British peer who owns the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses and George Crosses. The medals will go on public display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Michael Naxton, Curator of the Lord Ashcroft Collection, who bid for the Szabό medals and archive at the Dix Noonan Webb auction, said afterwards: “We are delighted to have acquired all of this for the collection. They will go on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery very shortly.”

Tania Szabό, Violette’s daughter, who sold the George Cross and related items to secure their future custodianship and her own financial security, said: “This is a very happy outcome. I am so pleased that all this material relating to Violette will stay in Britain and will be on public display. The many people who will visit the Imperial War Museum in the years to come will be able to see for themselves the story of her heroism.”

David Erskine-Hill of Dix Noonan Webb, the auctioneer at the sale, said: “We are delighted for Tania Szabό. This is a fully justified world record price for a George Cross which reflects the extraordinary story and legacy of Violette Szabό.”

The Szabό medals and archive had been expected to fetch £250,000 to £300,000.

The price when the hammer came down was £260,000 but with buyers’ commission added the total paid by Lord Ashcroft was £312,000. The previous record price for a George Cross was £93,000.

The George Cross was sold with Violette’s three Second World War campaign medals and the Croix de Guerre that she was awarded by the French for her gallantry.

The medals and archive constitute one of the most important such collections ever to have been offered for sale in Britain.

God Bless Lord Ashcroft. His pursuit of medals for his collection is relentless, and this latest acquisition will be a centerpiece. My last visit to the Imperial War Museum in London was enjoyable and informative. If memory serves, it was before the Ashcroft gallery opened. Many war medals were already on display, but the new gallery sounds wonderful. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
WW2 heroine Violette Szabo's medals go to auction (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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