A HEROIC First World War soldier's Victoria Cross has fetched £230,000 at auction - £90,000 more than expected.

Private Sidney Godley's medals went under the hammer at London auctioneers Spink at 10am today (July 19).

After fees, the total paid by the buyer - a private collector whose identity is not yet known - will be £276,000.

Pt Godley, who is buried in St John’s Churchyard in Loughton, was awarded the Army’s highest decoration after manning a machine gun under heavy enemy fire for two hours - despite having being shot in the head.

He became the first private of the war to receive the medal after bravely defending Nimy Bridge in Mons on August 23, 1914.

After the war, Pt Godley worked as a school caretaker in Bethnal Green before moving to Torrington Drive, Loughton. He died in St Margaret's Hospital, Epping, in 1957.

John Duffell is secretary of Epping’s Royal British Legion branch and visited Nimy Bridge in 2009.

He said: “As the highest bravery award they are extremely valuable, and quite rare when compared with other medals.

"Private Godley’s was a bit special, being one of the first two awarded in the First World War. It would have been regarded as an inspiration to other servicemen and a morale booster to the civilian population.

"A wave of patriotism swept the country in the early stages of the war, and it would have been fuelled by events such as this. It epitomised the British 'bulldog spirit' – one man holding out against all the odds to protect his friends and comrades."

But Mr Duffell added: "It would have been good if the medal could have gone on public display somewhere, although comparatively few are.

"It would be nice to think that at the very least the medal would stay in the country."