Collecting militaria to help remember our war heroes

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

Unless you’ve been living under a bush for the last month, you can’t help to have seen the wonderful coverage of the VE celebrations.

Staged over three days, there was a wide range of events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. There was a fabulous parade, a service of thanksgiving, a huge televised star stuffed concert as well as much coverage on radio and TV.

In reflection of those times, many people held street parties with their neighbours just as older and passed family members would have done all those years ago.

It is right that we take time to reflect on the sacrifices that the whole country made during the second world war and one way that I know many people find to do this is by collecting militaria.

There is something deeply comforting in preserving a loved ones clothes, medals and papers from the wars. Collections can be passed on through generations and often it’s not just the items that are treasured.

Along with the aforementioned clothing, a story or saga involving a relative that was once a solider will be retold. I know some families are loathe to give up their memorabilia to antiques centres or auctions as it can be a very personal thing.

However, there are many items still available: uniforms, weapons, armours, caps, badges, medals, trench art and maps are all enthusiastically collected.

Whilst weapons necessarily aren’t an integral part of militaria collecting, there is an interest in knives and bayonets. Most bayonets were engraved with the name of the maker and some may be engraved with the owner’s name and battles they had fought in. Obviously, the more information which is known about items and their owners, the more valuable they will be.

Surprisingly, British militaria does not fetch the highest prices here. Often, it is the memorabilia from the opposing country which is more valuable.

As well as historical interest, there is human interest. A militaria dealer once told me that buyers of these collectables are keeping them in trust to pass on to their descendants as a reminder of all the men who have fought for Britain in the past.