(Picture: courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb Ltd).
Special forces

Medals Of 007 Inspiration Sold for over £38,000

Sergeant Major Tom Winter captured Ian Fleming's attention by escaping a Prisoner of War camp in disguise.

(Picture: courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb Ltd).

The wartime hero took part in notable operations across the globe (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb Ltd).

The service medals awarded to a daring SAS officer who provided the creative spark behind the James Bond character have been auctioned off in London.

Sergeant Major Tom Winter, a high-explosives expert, served during the Second World War in the Commandos and 11 SAS Battalion before being specially selected for the newly-formed Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF).

Excited members of the public gathered in Mayfair and online to compete for collection, which included a military medal. This decoration is given for bravery in battle on land.

Oliver Pepys of auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb noticed "a spike in excitement and anticipation around the room" before Mr Winter's awards went under the hammer.

"They all knew of the stories behind the lot. I had to calm them down in order to begin the bidding process, which started at £24,000."

The wartime hero took part in notable operations across the globe.

He is documented to have boarded a German naval ship from a collapsible canoe, which led to a watchman jumping overboard to avoid any further confrontation. 

Mr Winter was captured on the failed mission, Operation Aquatint, where he suffered brutal interrogation at the hands of the enemy.

James Bond

At the time, there was Adolf Hitler's infamous 'Commando Order', which called for all Allied commandos captured to be killed immediately.

However, Mr Winter was able to escape the Prisoner of War camp by posing as a French soldier and joining up with liberating forces.

Author of the James Bond novels Ian Fleming encountered the war hero on an operation in West Africa in 1942.

Mr Fleming described his fictional British spy, known across the world for his audacious combat exploits, as "a compound of all the secret agents and commando types I met during the war."

The medals eventually sold for a total of £38,400, a figure that exceeded the Dix Noonan Webb's pre-sale estimate of £24,000 to £30,000. The buyer is said to be "a passionate collector", one of many who take an interest in the stories behind the awards.

Mr Pepys believes it is the history of the decoration, rather than the item itself, that drives up auction prices.

"There's a large fascination in gallantry in battle. These medals are the tangible aspect of wartime bravery."

"Like coin and banknote collecting, this gives people to hold pieces of history in your hand."

The value of military heritage to the public is in no doubt, the auctioneers explaining that a Victoria Cross medal would be expected to sell for "well over £100,000."