Nazi Germany

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  4. Shot by Gestapo: The awful story behind Polish pilot's pin

    Martin Lewes


    This small gold pin badge, up for sale at the 1818 Auctioneers at Crooklands, has behind it a story of war, heroism, and murder.

    Ken Payne with pin

    It is the badge of the Caterpillar Club, worn by pilots who have parachuted from disabled aircraft, and it was won by a Polish officer, Kapitan Stanislaw Zygmunt Krol, who flew Spitfires, in 1942.

    Stan, as he was known, was shot down and captured, ending up after several escape attempts in the Stalag Luft III camp made famous in the movie, the Great Escape.

    The film told the true story of a massive break-out, in which Stan took part, after which he was among 76 prisoners murdered by the Gestapo police.

    The pin's vendor is anonymous, but she inherited the badge from a couple who Stan made his next of kin, because they looked after him when he arrived as a refugee in Britain.

    The online auction runs until 4 October, and the pin is expected to sell for between £800 and £1,000.

    Quote Message: It’s his war service that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up." from Ken Payne Auctioneers valuer
    Ken PayneAuctioneers valuer
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