When an A. Lange & Sohne watch, was brought into the Ladywood saleroom by a local gentleman a fascinating tale of bravery and honour supported the item’s provenance (rightful ownership).
The vendor of the item, now aged 88, was a rear gunner in the famous Bomber Command that flew Wellington, Stirling and Lancaster Bombers in World War II. Then only 20, the young man had flown and survived a staggering 44 missions including several trips at night to Berlin. He also crewed during a daring daylight raid on the famous Eagle’s Nest (Adolf Hitler’s Alpine retreat) in May 1945, just after his death.
When returning from a night time bombing mission to Essen the crew became aware that there was a German fighter in the bomber stream. Because of bad weather the plane was diverted to Dyce, Aberdeen and on landing saw the German plane land behind them. The pilot surrendered and was then taken away to captivity. He apparently asked the vendor: “If I was not in the bomber stream would you have shot me down?” To which the vendor replied: ”Of course I would.” At this point the German pilot, prior to being taken away as a prisoner of war, gave his prized watch to the vendor.
Auctioneer Roy Stokes said: “A. Lange & Sohne pilot watches are amongst the finest in the world and pre 1940s models are particularly rare. Master craftsman Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded the company in 1845 and was based in Glashutte near Dresden. The establishment was well known for producing over-sized wrist watches for German airman in World War II.
“The vendor’s story quite touched auction staff here because it demonstrated the honour that existed between these very brave and courageous men who risked their lives for future generations.
“To use a modern analogy it’s like today’s footballers exchanging strips with rival teams, a ritual that signifies honour and respect. This watch, in its own right, is very sought after indeed but coupled with the increasing market demand for World War II memorabilia, we have high expectations of attracting a lot of auction interest.”
The item will be included in Biddle & Webb’s regular Fine art, antique, silver and jewellery sale on the 7th September and has a sale estimate of £3000 to £5000.
For information on other items included in the sale and pre-sale viewing times visit: www.biddleandwebb.co.uk