TWELVE medals awarded to Minehead-born war hero Brigadier Sir Mark ‘Honker’ Henniker have been sold at auction for £100,000.

Sir Mark, a Royal Engineer, was one of the founders of Britain’s 1st Airborne Division during the Second World War, and was hailed as their ‘saviour’ during the retreat from Arnhem.

His medals were described as an ‘extremely important and rare group’ and went to a private collector of medals for significant historical events when they were auctioned by Noonans Mayfair on Wednesday (February 14).

The £100,000 price exceeded the £60,000 to £80,000 expectation of the family, who were keen for the heroics of the British Airborne Forces during the Second World War and the sacrifices made by them to continue to live on in the public consciousness for generations to come.

Sir Mark’s family wanted the sale to highlight the story of the medals and to secure their safekeeping for the long-term future.

The collection of medals to be auctioned on behalf of the family of war hero Brigadier Sir Mark Henniker, who was born in Minehead.
The collection of medals auctioned by Noonans on behalf of the family of war hero Brigadier Sir Mark Henniker, who was born in Minehead. (Noonans)

Head of client liaison for Noonans, Christopher Mellor-Hill, said: “The price achieved for this amazing group of medals awarded to ‘Honker’ Henniker reflects not only his outstanding leadership under fire while severely wounded, capturing 90 Italian prisoners in the Sicily landings, and as a key figure in the famous WW2 raids of Bruneval and Telemark, but in the ultimate accolade of the immediate award of the DSO for his command and planning of the night time rescue and evacuation of some 2,400 men of the 1st Airborne Division trapped by the Germans west of Arnhem as a result of Operation Market Garden, which was commemorated by the famous film ‘A Bridge Too Far’.”

Sir Mark was born in Minehead in January, 1906, and after his long military career he died in December, 1991, aged 85, and is buried in St Peter’s Church, Llanwenarth Citra, Abergavenny.

During the war he was integral to the planning of the famous 1942 Bruneval Raid, the attempted destruction of a heavy water production plant in Telemark, Norway, the same year, and the airborne element of the invasion of Sicily, flying in by glider as part of HQ 1st Airlanding Brigade, in 1943.