Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 March 1997)

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Date of Auction: 25th March 1997

Sold for £410

Estimate: £200 - £300

A Second World War campaign group of three awarded to Bombardier Geoffrey Caton, Royal Artillery and 1st Special Air Service Regiment (Special Raiding Squadron), killed in action in Sicily 1943

1939-45 Star; Italy Star; War Medal, these all unnamed but sold with named condolence slip (Bdr. Geoffrey Caton), card box of issue addressed to his Father, and official letter notifying his death in action, extremely fine (3)

Footnote

1455205 Bombardier Geoffrey Caton was killed in action on 10 July 1943. He was serving with the 1st Special Air Service Regiment, temporarily renamed the Special Raiding Squadron, for the invasion of Sicily. Under the command of Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, the SRS made a raid on a large Italian battery at Capo Murro di Porco, on the southeast coast of Sicily, which had to be destroyed before the main Allied landings could take place.

After hitting the beach at 0330hrs on the10th July, the SRS assault teams threw themselves against the cliff and began to claw their way to the summit. They were surprised by the apparent lack of opposition. Most had been expecting a rough ride. Yet the beach was not mined; there was no sudden cutting burst of machine-gun fire; nor the earsplitting explosion of grenades. Once on top of the cliff, the seven-man teams moved in on the battery, silhouetted against the moonlight. The Italian garrison, about 700 strong, was still underground and it was just a matter of winkling them out. Most were too shell-shocked to put up much of a fight; others were just too scared to stick their noses above ground. As the assault teams began rounding up prisoners, demolition squads went into action to spike the guns.

Heavy fighting continued throughout the night with the SRS attacking command posts, bunkers and barracks. The assaults, often carried out at the point of bayonet, were successful and the enemy positions were destroyed. As dawn broke on 10 July, the SRS men were able to see the scale of their success. For the loss of one man killed, Bombardier Caton, and six injured, they had put six heavy guns out of commission, killed around 100 enemy soldiers and captured some 200-300 more. Indeed, the bag of prisoners became so unmanageable that Paddy Mayne ordered the Italians into a convenient field, stripped them of their belongings and told them to wait for the main invasion force.

The lot is sold with further research including an original group photograph which includes Caton.