Victoria Cross Auction


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Peter Badcoe would be amongst the bravest, if not the most courageous, soldier to leave South Australian soils.

A model military man, Adelaide's Major Peter Badcoe epitomized selflessness, courage and determination.

As a training team officer serving in Vietnam he was well known for putting his own safety aside ´┐Ż repeatedly throwing himself in the direct line of fire for the sake of others.

Carey Badcoe was only a little girl when her dad went to war. While her memories may be distant, his remarkable acts of bravery she'll never forget.

"Other friend's fathers who were in the army would say to me you had to be a soldier to know how good a solider your father was," says Carey.

"It makes me very proud. I was really proud of the kind of man he was. He was that kind of gentle person but he could also put himself right at the front and really show great leadership over something that was really important as well."

Major Peter Badcoe must be one of this country's most decorated soldiers winning the U.S. Purple Heart, Silver Star with oak cluster and a Victoria Cross for rescuing an injured comrade under fire and for twice leading a charge to capture enemy posts, losing his life in the process.

In his battle field recordings, Major Badcoe never boasted about his triumphs. He also played down the dangers, but when it came to the U.S. tactics, he reveals a scathing soldier's view of his allies.

"The Marines, I'm disenchanted with. They are dirty,scruffy un-millitary, rather stupid organisation´┐Ż. I don't know how they stay alive," he wrote.

Those sentiments were often echoed in letters he'd write weekly to his wife Denise and their three daughters.

Usually when a V.C. has been awarded there doesn't tend to be this sort of archive documentation and here we have 37 letters as well as actual tape recordings of him that were sent home to his family and he wrote in great detail of what was really happening on a day to day basis on the front line so it's incredibly interesting reading.

James Hendy from Bonhams and Goodman is selling the military memorabilia: the medals, including the VC, the letters, the audio tapes and a number of photographs at his auction, in Sydney tomorrow night.

"There were only four issued to Australians who served in the Vietnam War. Two of those are already with the War Memorial. One was sold privately last year, so this is the only remaining Victoria Cross," says James.

For the last three decades it's been on display at the Australian War Memorial but now that it's being sold, it could end up in a private collection, even overseas.

Because the VC was awarded posthumously, it's regarded a class b which means with an export permit it can be taken out of the country.

"We just hope that the legislation is firm enough that that wouldn't happen and our confidence in them not being able to leave Australia is part of our decision to sell we would be really, really unhappy if through any circumstances, they went out of Australia. We'd be devastated actually," says Carey.

Carey and her family won't reveal why they're selling the precious memorabilia except to say the decision is a personal one.

Liberal MP Iain Evans, along with some local members of the RSL, want the State Government to buy this significant piece of South Australian history.

"All of the other Victoria Crosses won in Vietnam are already in museums so this is the last opportunity for the government to step in and buy them and why wouldn't you want to honour such a fantastic South Australian, such a unique South Australian, such a courageous young man as Peter Badcoe. I don't think there'll be any criticism of the government spending money buying this collection and preserving what is a very special South Australian's memory," says Iain.

And while all our Vietnam Vets deserve to be honoured, Major Badcoe really was one of a kind.

April 7 1967 the 33 year old was gunned down in what would be his final act of bravery. And only weeks before his death he sent this message to his loving family.

"You are by far the best family that anyone could ever have and Petey knows it and needless to say I miss you tonnes and tonnes and tonnes and tonnes and I'm looking forward terribly to coming home."