Lapel Pin belonging to real life great escape hero sold for 5x its asking price at auction

The pin is engraved withe the name of the Dutch aviator. Picture: LOCKDALES

The pin is engraved withe the name of the Dutch aviator. Picture: LOCKDALES - Credit: LOCKDALES

A rare jewelled lapel pin belonging to one of only three men to escape from a German prisoner of war camp, a story which inspired the film The Great Escape, was sold at a Suffolk Auction house for nearly five times its asking price.

The pin, that was awarded to celebrated Dutch aviator Bram Van Der Stok after he used a parachute to bail out of a stricken aircraft, was sold at Lockdales’ Coins and Collectables auction to a UK based collector for £2,700.

After the pilot’s fighting exploits in the Second World War, he was captured and sent to a German prisoner of war camp from which he later escaped.

The pin was awarded by The Catapillar Club, an association of people who have successfully used a parachute to eject out of a broken or damaged plane.

Chris Elmy from Lockdales said: “We did expect the pin to sell well, perhaps reaching a thousand pounds but we didn’t really expect it to reach what it did.

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“We had viewings for two weeks in advance and we became excited about the piece when we saw people’s reactions.

“We managed to verify that the pin was real and that it belonged to Bram Van Der Stok through our war memorabilia experts and no one that saw it disputed that.

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“There were a few phone bidders and it was nice to see so much interest.”

The pin was estimated to earn £500-£600 at auction but the price quickly soared past that mark before the hammer finally fell with the price in the thousands.

Mr Van Der Stok was one of the 75 prisoners who attempted to escape from Stalag Luft III, a notorious prisoner of war camp in the German province of Lower Silesia, which is now part of Poland.

The escape plan involved digging three tunnels leading from the prisoners’ huts to the forest outside the perimeter fence.

Only three managed to evade recapture including the Dutchman, who used forged papers to travel across Europe by train before finally making his way to Great Britain where he rejoined the war effort as a pilot.

Sadly, the other soldiers were re-captured and 50 of them were executed on Hitler’s orders.

The distinctive pin is of a gold caterpillar which has red bejewelled eyes.

It is only 2cm wide and Mr Van Der Stok’s name and rank is engraved on the reverse of the golden pin.

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