Corporal Kenneth Bateman was 24 when he was shot by the Nazis. The framed collection of his medals include the France and Germany Star, 1939-1945 Star, 1939-1945 War Medal, Defence Medal, The Africa Star and The Italy Star.

WW2 medals of Salford SAS hero shot by Nazis after D-Day Operation Bulbasket mission go to auction in Tamworth

MEDALS to an SAS soldier who was murdered by the Nazis during a daring mission behind enemy lines 80 years ago are going under the hammer with Richard Winterton Auctioneers.

Corporal Kenneth Bateman was parachuted into occupied France hours before the D-Day Landings on June 6 1944 as part of Operation Bulbasket.

The Second World War mission was deemed so secret the full story only came out following the release of classified documents decades later.

Serving with B Squadron of the Special Air Services, 24-year-old Cpl Bateman was among a group of elite soldiers working with French Resistance fighters tasked with disrupting the movement of German troops as the Allied invasion got underway.

But Bateman and his comrades were captured by the Germans and shot on July 7 1944 in accordance with Hitler’s infamous ‘Kommandobefehl’ Commando order.

The Salford soldier’s medals were finally claimed by a relative almost six decades later.

The framed collection of six medals include the France and Germany Star, 1939-1945 Star, 1939-1945 War Medal, Defence Medal, The Africa Star and The Italy Star.

Also included in the frame is his 8th Army Bar which would be added to The Africa Star.

The medals, attributed to 5572359 Corporal K Bateman SAS, come with two photos of Cpl Bateman, original ephemera, newspaper cuttings and correspondence with the War Office in the 1940s and the Ministry of Defence in the 2000s.

There is also a book about Operation Bulbasket, in which Cpl Bateman is mentioned numerous times.

The medals come with ephemera, correspondence with the War Office in the 1940s and the Ministry of Defence in the 2000s and a book about Operation Bulbasket in which Cpl Bateman is mentioned numerous times.
The medals come with ephemera, correspondence with the War Office in the 1940s and the Ministry of Defence in the 2000s and a book about Operation Bulbasket in which Cpl Bateman is mentioned numerous times.

The lot is expected to fetch between £800 and £1,200 with Richard Winterton Auctioneers at The Tamworth Auction Rooms on Wednesday, July 10, starting at 9.30am.

The full story of Operation Bulbasket was swathed in secrecy for many years.

“This elite unit of 55 soldiers successfully managed to sabotage the railway lines many times and was tasked with preventing fuel supplies reaching the 2nd Panzer Division,” said Jeff Clark, militaria specialist with Richard Winterton Auctioneers.

“They managed to obtain the whereabouts of a large supply of fuel that was due to arrive where the RAF managed to destroy that supply.”

But on June 28, Corporal Bateman was captured on a sabotage operation to blow up the points in the marshalling yards at Saint Benoît.

The mission was a success but Bateman and his fellow NCO Sergeant Eccles were captured by sentries.

Corporal Kenneth Bateman was 24 when he was shot by the Nazis.
Corporal Kenneth Bateman was 24 when he was shot by the Nazis.

The veterans had hoped their silence would buy time for their comrades to move from the camp at Verrières but changing location proved challenging due to water supply and commanders decided to risk returning temporarily.

At dawn on July 3, the Germans attacked and captured 28 of the SAS of their comrades plus an American pilot who had been shot down and was being helped to escape.

Three further SAS soldiers who had been injured were taken to hospital and believed to have later been executed by lethal injection.

The rest joined Cpl Bateman and Sgt Eccles in a German prison and, on July 7, the prisoners were taken by lorry to the forest of Saint-Sauvant near the village of Rom and executed by firing squad as dictated by the Kommandobefehl.

Three mass graves had already been dug; the bodies were discovered by hunters in December 1944 and the bodies were exhumed and autopsies performed.

The Germans had removed all identification tags but personal possessions and dental records enabled most to be named in due course and the soldiers were reburied in Rom Communal Cemetery.

The framed collection of Cpl Bateman’s medals include the France and Germany Star, 1939-1945 Star, 1939-1945 War Medal, Defence Medal, The Africa Star and The Italy Star.
The framed collection of Cpl Bateman’s medals include the France and Germany Star, 1939-1945 Star, 1939-1945 War Medal, Defence Medal, The Africa Star and The Italy Star.

Born in Salford, Kenneth Bateman became the foster son of Charles and Jane Seddon of Swinton, Lancashire (now Greater Manchester). He joined 1 SAS in 1943.

Inspired by tales of her relative’s service, Cpl Bateman’s niece made an application for his medals which the Ministry of Defence approved in 2003.

Originally from Swinton and later Lichfield, Staffs, she died in February 2023 aged 85.

Her daughter, Cpl Bateman’s great-niece, decided to consign the collection to auction following a period of ill health.

“Mum dug into the story and found out what happened,” said the 66-year-old, from Swadlincote, who asked not to be named.

“She applied for the medals from the Government and had them framed. Mum always wanted to visit his grave in France but sadly never made it over there.

“We are now not in the best of health and would sooner the medals go to someone who will appreciate them.”

Born in Salford, Kenneth Bateman became the foster son of Charles and Jane Seddon of Swinton.
Born in Salford, Kenneth Bateman became the foster son of Charles and Jane Seddon of Swinton.

The July 10 sale at The Tamworth Auction Rooms in Church Street also includes stamps and vintage toys.

The catalogue can be viewed online a week before the auction via our Auction Dates page.

Viewing in person at takes place on Tuesday, July 9, by appointment from 10am to 4pm – to book viewing or a free valuation of medals and any type of militaria, telephone 01827 217746 or email tamworth@richardwinterton.co.uk.

Free home visits for large collections, house clearance quotations or valuations for other types of item may also be arranged by calling The Lichfield Auction Centre on 01543 251081.

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