S.A. LUIGI FRANCHI (BRESCIA)
AN EARLY 12-BORE DOUBLE-TRIGGER OVER AND UNDER SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 1084,
dated 1938, 28 3/8in. (72cm) nitro barrels with raised solid tapered file cut top-rib, 2 3/4in. chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 1/2 choke, Boss style action with hold-open toplever, manual safety, articulated front trigger, profusely engraved with scrolling acanthus on a matted background, the lockplates with the makers name in scrolling banners, bright and blued finish overall, 14 1/2in highly-figured stock including 3/4in. rubber recoil pad, weight 7lb. 7oz.
Provenance: This Lot was the property of Brigadier J.B. Bester, DSO, (1911-1985) of the South African Witwatersrand Rifles. He led a distinguished military and civil career, seeing action during the Second World War in East Africa, North Africa and Italy. During the campaign in North Africa he had a number of lucky escapes, the closest being on 26th May 1942 when a Stuka dive bomber dropped a bomb directly onto the roof of his command post. Although it detonated miraculously both Bester and the other occupant of the post were shaken but complete unscathed. On page 315 of the official history of the Witwatersrand Rifles, A Bugle Calls by S. Monick, a photograph is reproduced of an unexploded artillery shell which also penetrated the roof of another of his command posts. He was awarded the DSO for his leadership during the second battle of El Alamein in October 1942 which saw his battalion sustain losses of 41 killed and 148 wounded during bitter fighting. His citation reads as follows:
'During the battle of El Alamein of 23/24 October and succeeding days the FFB commanded by this officer met the severest resistance of any Bn in the Div. (1 SA Division). This resistance threatened to hold up the attack and what might have developed into a very serious position arose. Lt-Col. Bester went forward under heavy fire to the sector affected, and by his skill and personal bravery was able to restore to the attack such impetus that all objectives were taken. Throughout his service both in E. Africa and in 8 Army he has at all times set a standard of leadership, devotion to duty and personal courage that has been an inspiration to those about him and a powerful factor in the high morale of his command.'
He returned to South Africa in 1946 and left the army to become Chief Superintendent of the Railways Police. In this capacity he was responsible for the security of the Royal Train during the 1947 Royal Tour of South Africa. In 1952 he moved to South African Airways rising to Deputy Commercial Director. He was a very active member of the Witwatersrand Rifles Regimental Association and was made Honorary Colonel of the Regiment in 1972.
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