Jess Winifred Carey served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment during WW2. Inset: The collection of cloth badges is so vast that it covers almost every panel of the garment inside and out and is a fascinating insight into how many different forces Jess encountered.

WW2 VAD nurse’s cape and military badges exceed £11,500 in Tamworth auctions

A NURSE’S cape adorned with military badges gifted by hundreds of wounded personnel whom she helped treat during WW2 has sold at auction for £10,000.

Jess Winifred Carey served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) and accumulated more than 300 medal ribbons, formation patches and shoulder titles given as mementoes.

Sewn on to her cape, the collection of cloth badges is so vast that it covers almost every available panel of the garment inside and out.

Sold with Richard Winterton Auctioneers at The Tamworth Auction Centre, the cape achieved a final hammer price of £10,000.

WW2 voluntary aid detachment cape sold £11,000 at Tamworth on Wednesday, October 27, 2023.
Adorned with military badges gifted by hundreds of wounded personnel, the nurse’s cape sold at auction for £10,000.

Six further lots of badges accumulated by Jess made £1,540 in a subsequent auction, bringing the total of her collection to £11,540.

Born in Northwood, Middlesex, Jess went with her parents and brother to America in 1913, staying there until they returned in 1920.

She attended Harrow County School and then joined the family ironmongery business in Maxwell Road, Northwood, starting and developing the firm’s china and glass department.

She served in the VAD during WW2, seeing action in Belgium after the 1944 D-Day landings and nursing in the eye wards of the military hospitals there and, later, in England.

Six further lots of badges accumulated by Jess includeing these totalled £1,540 in a subsequent auction at Tamworth.
Six further lots of badges accumulated by Jess including these totalled £1,540 in a subsequent auction at Tamworth.

“Patients in her care gave Jess badges as mementoes and these were sewn on to her cape as a reminder of her service,” said Jeff Clark, militaria valuer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers.

“Jess, like other medical staff, treated wounded personnel of all nationalities and this is evident on the cape.

“There are British, Polish, USA, German, Dutch insignia present and much more.

“These range from medal ribbons and formation patches to shoulder titles and rank insignia.

“Patches include Airbourne Brigade, Royal New Zealand Air Force, many different RAF patches and army insignia from Canada.

“This cape is a fascinating insight into how many different forces Jess came into contact with.”

Jess Winifred Carey served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment during WW2. Inset: The collection of cloth badges is so vast that it covers almost every panel of the garment inside and out and is a fascinating insight into how many different forces Jess encountered.
Jess Winifred Carey served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment during WW2. Inset: The collection of cloth badges is so vast that it covers almost every panel of the garment inside and out and is a fascinating insight into how many different forces Jess encountered.

After the war, Jess did not continue nursing but returned to the family shop where she stayed until she retired.

She never married but was godmother to many of her nephews and nieces as well as the children of her many friends, with whom she maintained contact throughout her life.

Jess passed away at the age of 70 in Pinner, Middlesex, in March 1982.

Auctioneer Ben Winterton said: “This lot had quite a story. From those she met and helped along the way, Jess amassed a huge assembly of over 300 medal ribbons, formation patches, shoulder titles of the period which have been sewn to almost every available panel of material.

“The cape attracted a huge amount of interest before the auction and was hotly contested on sale day.”

Militaria valuer Jeff Clark offers free appraisals of military items and medals at The Tamworth Auction Centre in Church Street every Thursday from 10am-4pm. To book, telephone 01827 217746 or email tamworth@richardwinterton.co.uk. Appointments may also be arranged at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, by calling 01543 251081 or emailing office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

Free home visits for large collections or house clearance quotations are also available.

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