PUBLISHED: 11:01 13 November 2018
A rare jewelled lapel pin belonging to one of only three men to escape from a German prisoner of war camp, a story which inspired the film The Great Escape, is going under the hammer in Suffolk.
The pin, that was awarded to celebrated Dutch aviator Bram Van Der Stok after he used a parachute to bail out of a stricken aircraft will be sold in Lockdales’ Coins and Collectables sale on November 18.
The Dutchman later successfully escaped from a prisoner of war camp in Germany after being captured by enemy forces.
The pin was awarded by The Catapillar Club, an association of people who have successfully used a parachute to eject out of a broken or damaged plane.
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The distinctive pin is of a gold caterpillar which has red bejewelled eyes.
It is only 2cm wide and Mr Van Der Stok’s name and rank is engraved on the reverse of the pin.
The pin is estimated to earn £500-£600 at the auction which is happening at Lockdales’ Martlesham Heath auction house.
Daniel Daley, Managing Director of Lockdales Auctioneers said: “The lapel pin awarded by The Caterpillar Club to Van Der Stok has real historical interest due to its personal connection to a wartime aviation hero who is also hugely admired for escaping from Stalag Luft III.
“We’ve already had lots of worldwide interest from collectors of such rare military items, so we’re hoping that the lapel pin flies above its estimate.”
Mr Van Der Stok was one of the 75 prisoners who attempted to escape from Stalag Luft III, a notorious prisoner of war camp in the German province of Lower Silesia, which is now part of Poland.
The escape plan involved digging three tunnels leading from the prisoners’ huts to the forest outside the perimeter fence.
Only three managed to evade recapture including the Dutchman, who used forged papers to travel across Europe by train before finally making his way to Great Britain where he rejoined the war effort as a pilot.
The heroic escapades of Mr Van Der Stok and the two other escapees, Norwegian pilots Per Bergsland and Jens Muller, were the later inspiration for the hugely popular film, The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and Charles Bronson.