Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Falklands war veteran's medals sell for record 70,000

Ian Bailey
Capt Bailey said selling the medals was one of the hardest things he has done

Medals belonging to a Falklands war veteran who wanted the cash because his injuries prevented him working have fetched a record £70,000 at auction.

Captain Ian Bailey of Ash Vale, Surrey, was awarded the Military Medal for his part in an attack on two Argentinean positions on Mount Longdon, in 1982.

He said he has been unable to work for several months because of the injuries he sustained in that battle.

The auctioneers confirmed the price fetched had been a record.

Capt Bailey, a 22-year-old corporal in the Parachute Regiment at the time, was shot three times in the battle that killed 23 British soldiers.

Shrapnel injuries

One bullet went through the back of his neck, breaking the cord of his identity tags.

He was also the last man to see Victoria Cross recipient Sgt Ian McKay alive. The pair had been attacking the enemy position with grenades.

The X-ray images of Capt Bailey's shrapnel injuries and his identity tags, which were found during a de-mining operation a year later, were included in the lot.

Ian Bailey's medals
The sale was prompted by a spell of unemployment due to ill health

Auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb said the lot was bought by a private collector in the UK who wanted to remain anonymous.

"It's a record price for a Military Medal," said director Pierce Noonan.

"The reason it sold for so much is because of the significance of him being involved with the last action of Ian McKay."

He added that it was an emotional day for Capt Bailey.

"He was sad to see his medals go but he was happy with the amount of money that they raised," he said.

Capt Bailey has managed to secure a new job, which he started on Monday, but said before the sale he still needed the money from selling his medals.

"It's probably the second hardest thing I've ever done, the first hardest was telling my soldiers to fix bayonets at the bottom of Mount Longdon," he said.

"These medals mean a hell of a lot to me."

The sale was prompted by a spell of unemployment due to ill health linked to his war injuries.

When Capt Bailey said he contacted the veterans minister through his MP about his financial predicament, but was advised to contact a charity for help.

The Ministry of Defence said Capt Bailey received a tax-free pension.

Capt Ian Bailey's identity tags

Capt Ian Bailey was shot three times during the Battle of Mount Longdon

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