Colchester: Captain Oates’s belt set to be sold at auction

Auctioneer Timothy Medhurst of Reeman Dansie, Colchester with military dress belts belonging to Capt

Auctioneer Timothy Medhurst of Reeman Dansie, Colchester with military dress belts belonging to Captain Oats - Credit: Archant

A RARE military artefact which belonged to heroic Antarctic explorer Captain Lawrence Oates is up for auction.

The late Victorian officers’ dress belt was part of a uniform worn when he served in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons during the Boer War.

He joined Captain Scott on the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole in 1910 and is best known for the nature of his death when he told his fellow explorers “I am just going outside and may be some time”.

The belt features a sword sling with a lion’s head and serpent clasps and a braided belt with scarlet leather lining.

It was sold to the current owner in 1981 by Captain Oates’ cousin, who was handed down his relative’s uniforms by his aunt when he joined the 6th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.

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The belt comes complete with a glazed oak case and a hand-written note by Captain Oates’ mother, who lived with her family in Gestingthorpe Hall near Castle Hedingham.

The belt will be auctioned at Reeman Dansie in Colchester on Friday and is expected to fetch up to £700.

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Auctioneer James Grinter said: “It’s a lovely historical piece and tells a wonderful story.

“The owner kept it for a number of years but he’s having a clear out.

“We’re valuing it between £500-700. There’s been a huge amount of interest - he’s a particularly emotive character so it could well do better than what we are estimating.”

During the return journey on the Antarctic expedition, Oates suffered frostbite to his feet and knowing he was unable to continue and would endanger the lives of his team, chose to walk out of his tent into a blizzard.

His body was never found and Captain Scott and the others died nine days later.

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