Northern Ireland news

Lord Haw Haw walking stick going under the hammer in Belfast

Auctioneer Karl Bennett holding a walking stick belonging to Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw. Picture by Press Eye/PA Wire 
David Young, PA

An auctioneer who is making a habit of selling walking sticks owned by historical figures is at it again with one belonging to Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw.

Last month, Karl Bennett sold a stick used by Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins for £52,000 and one owned by the first prime minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, for £10,000.

The latest lot to go under his hammer at Bloomfield auction house in east Belfast reputedly belonged to William Joyce.

Dubbed Lord Haw Haw, Joyce was notorious during the Second World War for broadcasting Nazi propaganda to the UK on radio, beginning his recordings from Hamburg with the famous phrase “Germany calling”.

He was captured and returned to Britain in 1945 and was hanged a year later for treason.

Joyce was shot during his capture near the Danish border and Mr Bennett explained that a nurse who treated him was a woman called Mary Kerr who was originally from Garvagh in Co Derry. He said Joyce gave Ms Kerr the walking stick as a token of his appreciation.

Mr Bennett said he expected the item to sell for between £4,000 and £7,000.

He said the auction house also has a copy of Ms Kerr’s memoir and s copy of a letter she wrote about the walking stick.

Other lots in the sale on Tuesday November 30 include a confessional screen that would have been used by prisoners in Crumlin Road jail in Belfast during the Troubles. It is estimated to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000.

There is also a medal from McKelvey Gaelic athletic club in Belfast, which was formed by members of the original IRA in 1924, and a dossier of old Royal Ulster Constabulary documents dating from 1932 to 1960.

There are also a variety of artworks on sale, including a biblical painting in the style of Rubens and a limited edition print signed LS Lowry.

“It always amazes me as to the many treasures that are hiding in people’s homes and lofts that find their way here,” said Mr Bennett.

“Next week’s auction will see people come from far and wide as well as via the internet to seek out these historical items for their own organisation or their own private collection.

“This walking stick belonging to Lord Haw Haw comes just weeks after the sale of walking sticks belonging to IRA commander Michael Collins and the first prime minister of Northern Ireland, James Craig.

“Alike Michael Collins’s and James Craig’s, this walking stick also comes with a phenomenal history alongside an interesting link to Northern Ireland through nurse Mary Kerr.

“The confession screen from Crumlin Road jail, the RUC documents and the medal from McKelvey GAC should drum up quite a bit of interest locally, and it would be nice to see the confession screen return to the jail as part of its tourism history.”

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