Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Military medals sold for 120,000

Captain M. K Townsend's medals
The medals had an estimate of between 40,000 and 60,000

A set of military medals, including the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for gallantry, have been sold for £120,000 at auction.

Captain Melvill K "Taff" Townsend, from Newport, was in the SAS when he was awarded the DCM for his actions while under ambush in the Middle East.

Also under the hammer were his medals for service in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and the Falklands campaign.

The five medals had an estimate of between £40,000 and £60,000.

A copy of a letter of thanks from the late Princess Diana was also sold.

The princess sent the former soldier a letter in 1997 thanking him for leading the operation for her security protection during her visit to highlight the problem of landmines in Angola.

The auction took place at Spink in London on Wednesday.

Captain M. KTownsend
Captain "Taff" Townsend was awarded the DCM for his "fearless heroism"

A spokesperson for the auctioneers said: "We're very, very pleased. These sort of medals are really worth the money. There's fantastic stories of bravery behind them."

The auctioneers had said that the most important medal in the set was the DCM for gallantry which is second only to the Victoria Cross.

The medals were considered more sought after because they had belonged to a former member of the SAS which tended to be "more glamorous and less conventional than general warfare".

Capt Townsend's DCM was the only one given in the action at Sheerishitti, Western Dhofar, Oman, in 1975, which added to its value.

The citation for the award for Captain Townsend, who was then a Lance Corporal in the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment (Royal Corps of Signals), described his bravery and leadership when under heavy enemy fire in an ambush in January 1975.

Security adviser

The citation read: "The conduct and courage of this junior NCO throughout this very fierce engagement was magnificent.

"He undoubtedly saved the lives of many soldiers in the leading company, besides those of the company to which he was attached. It was an inspiring example of the highest gallantry and military ability."

The Royal Corps of Signals, Captain Townsend's regiment, later commissioned a painting of his DCM action, which hangs in the officers' mess.

Later in his career, Captain Townsend saw action, again in the SAS, in the Falklands war.

He went on to work as a security adviser to several companies and embassies.

It was in this capacity that he conducted the security operation and lead the close protection for Princess Diana on her visit to Angola in January 1997.

He retired in August this year.

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