Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria
Auctioneer: Spink Location: 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 4ET
Contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4000 Fax: +44 (0)20 7563 4066
Date: 20th November 2014 Time: 10:00AM
Details: Viewing Details:
Wednesday 19 November 2014, 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Private Viewing by appointment only
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Auction Lots - Page 1


Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... The K.C.M.G., C.B. Group of Six to Lieutenant-Colonel Sir J.G. Baldwin, Royal Artillery, Later Consul-General to Romania; British Representative on the Rhine, Elbe, and Odar River Commissions; and Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary on the European and International Commission of the Danube
a) The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Knight Commander's set of Insignia, neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Star, silver, silver-gilt, gold, and enamel, with gold retaining pin, minor red enamel damage to one arm of cross on Star, with neck riband
b) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Civil Division, Companion's (C.B.) breast Badge, silver-gilt (Hallmarks for London 1903), converted for neck-wear, with neck riband
c) India General Service 1854-95, one clasp, Burma 1889-92 (Lieut. J.G. Baldwin No.6 Bo: Mt. By.)
d) Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, three clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal (Capt: J.G. Baldwin. R.G.A.)
e) King's South Africa 1901-02, two clasps (Capt: J.G. Baldwin. Imp: Yeo:)
f) Coronation 1911, unnamed as issued, traces of lacquer, good very fine or better, mounted as originally worn, with the following related items:
- The recipient's related miniature awards, mounted as worn
- Various Medallions relating to the European and International Commission of the Danube, some named to the recipient
- Bestowal Document for the K.C.M.G., named to Lieutenant-Colonel John Grey Baldwin, C.B., and dated 3.6.1929, together with Central Chancery enclosure and a copy of the Statues of the Order
- Document appointing the recipient as Consul-General for the Kingdom of Roumania, dated 1.10.1913, and signed 'George RI' and 'E. Grey'
- Document appointing the recipient as Representative on the European and International Commission of the Danube, dated 1.4.1924, and signed 'George RI' and 'Ramsay MacDonald'
- Document appointing the recipient Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary of the Commonwealth of Australia, dated 10.10.1930
- Document appointing the recipient Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary of the Dominion of New Zealand, dated 14.10.1930
- Document appointing the recipient Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, dated 5.11.1930
- Letter of congratulations on the award of the K.C.M.G. from the Foreign Secretary, dated 30.5.1929, and signed 'Austen Chamberlain'
- Letters to the recipient on the occasion of his retirement from the Foreign Secretary, dated 1.5.1933, and signed 'John Simon'
- The recipient's Passport
- Various letters and documents relating to the European and International Commission of the Danube
- Portrait photograph of the recipient, housed in a embossed leather photograph frame, together with various other portrait photographs
- A large number of official photographs relating to the European and International Commission of the Danube
- Newspaper cuttings containing the recipient's obituary
- La Commission Européenne du Danube 1856-1931, a substantial volume on the Commission's work, 526 pp, with photographs, maps, and diagrams, heavily bound in blue leather, in damaged slip-case (lot)
K.C.M.G. London Gazette 3.6.1929 Colonel John Grey Baldwin, C.B., Member of the various Commissions set up under the Treaties of Peace of 1919 for administering international rivers.
C.B. London Gazette 1.1.1912 Major John Grey Baldwin
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Grey Baldwin, K.C.M.G., C.B. was born in January 1867, and educated at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Commissioned Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in September 1885, he served in Burma on the Tonhon and Wuntho Expeditions, and in operations of the North East Column, 1889-92. Promoted Captain in March 1896, he served with the Artillery during the Boer War, and was wounded in the leg at Moedewil, 30.9.1901; during his convalescence he served as Assistant to the Military Governor in Johannesburg. For his services in the Boer War he was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 10.9.1901) and promoted Brevet Major. In 1902 he entered the Consular Service, and was appointed Consul-General of Lourenco Marques in 1904; Consul-General of French West Africa in 1907; Consul-General of Liberia in 1909; and Consul-General of Romania in 1912, a post which carried with it the important work of British Representative on the European Commission of the Danube. When Romania was over-run by the Germans in the Great War, Baldwin returned to Britain via Russia, and was employed by the Foreign Office for the remainder of the War. In 1919 he went to Paris to sit upon the Inter-Allied Committee which drew up the Statutes of the European and International Commission of the Danube, and of the new Rhine, Elbe, and Odar Commission, which were set up under the Treaty of Versailles, and subsequently he was appointed British Commissioner on each separate River Commission and British Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary on the European and International Commission of the Danube. Appointed a K.C.M.G. in 1929, he retired in 1933, having spent 20 years working on International Waterways. He died in April 1939.
Click to view full image... x A Boer War C.M.G. Pair to Colonel F.G. Hamley, Army Pay Department
a) The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Companion's (C.M.G.) breast Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, reverse centre depressed, with integral silver-gilt riband buckle
b) Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, three clasps, Cape Colony, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1901, date clasp loose on riband (Lt: Col: F.G. Hamley, C.M.G., A.P.D.), traces of adhesive in places, good very fine (2)
C.M.G. London Gazette 23.4.1901 Major Francis Gilbert Hamley, Army Pay Department
'In recognition of service during the operations in South Africa up to the 29th November 1900.'
Colonel Francis Gilbert Hamley, C.M.G., born February 1851, the son of General Hamley, C.B.; educated at St. John's College, Auckland, New Zealand; Commissioned Lieutenant, Royal Cornwall Rangers (Militia), February 1872; transferred to the Control Department, September 1873; appointed Paymaster, Army Pay Department, September 1881; promoted Major, September 1891; Staff Paymaster, August 1896; served with the A.P.D. in South Africa, Mentioned in Sir Redvers Buller's Despatches for the Relief of Ladysmith (London Gazette 8.2.1901) and appointed a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George; advanced Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief Paymaster, 7.8.1901; Colonel, 9.5.1904; retired, 1.2.1911; died, 14.9.1918.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... A Fine Military Division C.B.E., Second War '1942' Wing Leader's D.S.O., '1940' Immediate Battle of France D.F.C. Group of Ten to Hurricane 'Ace' Group Captain P.R. 'Johnnie' Walker, 1 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Who Claimed At Least 8 Victories, 6 of Which Were Claimed During 10th-20th May 1940, During Which Period He Was Also Shot Down Twice. He Converted to Spitfires and Became Wing Leader at Tangmere, in Time to Plan For, and Take Part in, Operation Jubilee, 19.8.1942; He Commanded 135 Wing, as Part of the 2nd T.A.F., July 1944-May 1945
a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Military Division, Commander's (C.B.E.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel
b) Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R., silver-gilt and enamel, reverse of suspension bar officially dated '1942', with integral top riband bar
c) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1940'
d) 1939-1945 Star
e) Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany Bar
f) Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaf
g) Coronation 1953
h) Belgium, Kingdom, Order of Leopold, Military Division, Officer's breast Badge, 85mm including crown and crossed swords suspension x 40mm, silver-gilt and enamel, French motto, obverse central medallion loose, with rosette on riband
i) Netherlands, Kingdom, Order of Orange-Nassau, Military Division, Commander's neck Badge, 84mm including crown suspension x 56mm, silver-gilt, silver, and enamel, in case of issue
j) Belgium, Kingdom, Croix de Guerre, L.III.R., with bronze palm on riband
k) France, Third Republic, Croix de Guerre, reverse undated, with bronze palm on riband, good very fine and better, breast awards mounted court-style for display purposes, with the following related items:
- The recipient's associated miniature awards, mounted court-style for wear
- M.I.D. Certificate, dated 1.1.1946
- Bestowal Document for the Distinguished Service Order, dated 11.9.1942, this glazed and framed with a portrait photograph of recipient in uniform
- Bestowal Document for Belgian awards, with Air Ministry enclosure, 17.6.1947
- Bestowal Document for Dutch Award, dated 7.5.1947
- Original Citation for the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme, dated 15.2.1943
- R.A.F. Pilot's Flying Log Book (10.11.1946-31.10.1960)
- Scrap book containing photographs, newspaper cuttings, and telegrams relating to various stages of recipient's career
- File of research, leather bound, and embossed with recipient's name and rank (lot)
C.B.E. London Gazette 1.1.1958 Group Captain Peter Russell Walker, D.S.O., D.F.C., Royal Air Force.
D.S.O. London Gazette 11.9.1942 Wing Commander Peter Russell Walker, D.F.C. (37435), Royal Air Force
'This officer has completed numerous sorties since April, 1942. By his meticulous planning and forethought, combined with his great skill and tenacity in action, he has won the complete confidence of his fellow pilots. In the recent Dieppe operations, Wing Commander Walker led formations of aircraft on 2 sorties. Throughout his operational career, he has displayed the highest standard of devotion to duty. He has destroyed 8 enemy aircraft.
The Recommendation states: 'Wing Commander Walker went as Senior Flight Commander with No. 1 Squadron to France at the outbreak of war. He remained with that Squadron until the end of May, 1940, when he was transferred for instructional duties to the O.T.U. at Aston Down. In October, 1940, he took over command of No. 253 Squadron, which he held until November, 1941, when he left to become Wing Commander Flying in the Kirton Sector. On April 28th, 1942, he took over the duties of Wing Commander Flying in the Tangmere Sector. He has completed considerably over 400 operational flying hours, and is officially credited with 8 aircraft destroyed. He has led some 35 offensive sweeps.
His meticulous planning and attention to detail; his tenacity of purpose and personal skill, combine to make him a Wing Leader of outstanding ability, in whom the Squadrons place implicit faith.'
Covering remarks of Station Commander: 'On August 19th, during the attack on Dieppe, he led two Wing sorties, one of two Squadrons and, finally, one over the returning convoy, comprising five Squadrons. The attention that he gives to his duties as Second in Command of the Sector, and to the training, both in the air and on the ground, of the Day Squadrons under his control, show him to be an officer in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.'
D.F.C. London Gazette 7.6.1940 Flight Lieutenant Peter Russell Walker (37435), Royal Air Force
'In March, 1940, this officer was leading a section of three aircraft which attacked nine Messerschmitt 110's near Bozanville. Two of the enemy aircraft were destroyed. In May, 1940, Flight Lieutenant Walker led a section of five aircraft in an attack on fifteen Messerschmitt 110's, which were escorting bombers. In this engagement eight enemy aircraft were shot down. Flight Lieutenant Walker has led his flight in many combats, and has personally shot down six enemy aircraft.'
The Recommendation (originally for a D.S.O.) states: 'On 29.3.1940 at 1400 hours F/Lt. Walker leading a section of three Hurricanes attacked 9 Me 110s near Bozanville, and the section shot down one in France and probable one other in Germany. Between 10/5 and 20/5 F/Lt Walker led his flight with courage and determination on the enemy. On 11/5 with five Hurricanes he attacked 15 Me 110s escorting bombers north of Laon and eight were shot down. During this period he lead his flight in many combats during which he shot down six enemy aircraft and was shot down twice himself. I attribute largely to his leadership the number of enemy aircraft shot down by his flight and the few casualties sustained.
Belgian Order of Leopold, Officer London Gazette 27.6.1947 Acting Group Captain Peter Russell Walker, D.S.O., D.F.C., Reserve of Air Force Officers
'In recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with the liberation of Belgium.'
The Recommendation states, 'Group Captain Walker has commanded No. 135 Wing throughout the European campaign and under his leadership the squadrons have operated continuously in a fighter and fighter-bomber role in close co-operation with the Army. The efficiency and personal example of this officer has led to the smooth running of the Administrative services and the Wing's excellent operational achievements. His maintenance of a high standard of welfare amongst officers and men has led to a cheerful and contented Wing.
The Close co-operation of a Belgian Squadron and the other British and Dominion Squadrons in the Wing was undoubtedly due to this officer's influence.'
Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, Commander London Gazette 31.10.1947 Wing Commander Peter Russell Walker, D.S.O., D.F.C. (37435), Royal Air Force
'In recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with the war.'
The Recommendation states, 'Group Captain Walker commanded No. 135 Wing from the time of the invasion of the Continent until after V.E. Day. During the period of the liberation of the Netherlands, the main task that devolved upon this Wing was the maintenance of air superiority and attacks on enemy transportation deep inside enemy territory. By his cheerfulness and his good organising ability, the spirit of the Tempest squadrons in the Wing always remained at a high level and the successes achieved were a direct reflection of this officer's leadership.'
Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm London Gazette 27.6.1947 Acting Group Captain Peter Russell Walker, D.S.O., D.F.C., Reserve of Air Force Officers
'In recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with the liberation of Belgium.'
France, Croix de Guerre (Proposed by French Government, 1943, Accepted same year) Wing Commander P.R. Walker
The Recommendation states, 'A Wing Leader of exceptional merit, after having played an especially outstanding role in the operations of the French campaign, he lead the fighter group 'Ile de France' against the enemy on 29 separate occasions during the campaign of the summer of 1942, exhibiting the qualities of an unparalleled combatant and tactician.
Group Captain Peter Russell Walker, D.SO., D.F.C. (1914-1972), born Hatcheston, Suffolk. He was educated at Woodbridge School, where he was Head of School and captain of Rugby and Cricket. Walker joined the Royal Air Force as a pupil pilot in 1935. After training he was posted as a pilot to 1 Squadron (Hawker Fury I's), Tangmere, 1937. The squadron had established a reputation for aerobatics and Walker flew in the unit's aerobatic team for the 1937 Hendon Air Pageant. In the same year they flew to Zurich, as guests of the Swiss Air Force, for a demonstration in aerobatics at the International Air Meeting. Walker advanced to Flight Commander in 1939, and with the outbreak of the war immediately went overseas with the squadron as part of 67 Wing of the Advanced Air Striking Force. Walker flew his Hurricane to his new base at Octeville, Le Havre, 8.9.1939. For the remainder of the month the squadron acclimatised itself with reconnaissance flights before moving to Norrent Fontes. They made their first foray over enemy lines in October, with occasional combats as the 'Phoney War' progressed.
The First Bf.110 to Fall to an R.A.F. Fighter
Flying from Vassincourt Walker was involved in shooting down the first Bf 110 to fall to an RAF fighter:
'At 14.00 hours on 29.3.1940 I [Walker], as Green Leader, and with F/O Stratton, Green Two, and Sgt. Clowes, Green Three, was ordered to patrol centre front at 25,000 feet.
At about 14.30 hours the Section was flying in a northerly direction east of Metz, when I heard Green Three on the R/T saying he could see something to the east. I turned and flew in that direction and suddenly saw three machines coming straight towards us and about 500 feet below... At the same time as I recognised them I saw six more. They were flying in sections of three lying astern. At this time we were just about over Bozanville.
At the time we recognised them as German Me. 110's they recognised us and immediately started a steep turn to the right to get on our tails. I warned Green's Two and Three of their numbers and gave the order to attack. I immediately went into a sharp right hand turn and tried to get on the tail of Me. 110 which was the last of the circle. From then on it developed into "Dogfight" and it was a case of every man for himself.
The Me. 110 I was attacking manoeuvred very well and my first bursts were rather wild. After a short time I managed to get in a better one and he did a half roll and dived towards the clouds. It was obvious that he was not badly damaged so I followed him down to 18,000 feet. He outdistanced me but I kept him in sight. At 18,000 feet he pulled out of the dive and did a stall-turn. This enabled me to catch him and we started to "mix it" again, but a small amount of smoke was coming from his port engine, and his manoeuvres were followed fairly easily.
At this time I was joined by Green Two who proceeded to put in some good bursts. Also we were amongst the clouds and the Me was not using any evasive tactics at all except dodging in and out the clouds. Both his engines were giving out a great deal of smoke and the port one nearly stopped. By this time we were down to 3,000 feet and over the Front. Both of us has used up our ammunition and the Me. 110 was last seen gliding in an easterly direction giving out clouds of smoke.' (Combat report refers)
Battle of France
The German aircraft crashed over Allied Lines. The pilot was taken prisoner of war, whilst the gunner was killed. The squadron moved to Berry-au-Bac in April 1940. Over the next month things 'hotted up', and the fighting was to become intense. On the 20th Walker Destroyed a Bf.109 of 7/JG53 over Redange. Between 10th-20th May Walker had claimed at least 6 Victories and been shot down twice (as referenced in his D.F.C. citation, and 8 by the time he was recommended for the D.S.O.). Given the hectic and confusing nature of the times during the collapse of France, squadron records are unsurprisingly limited for the period. Squadron records and claims would not have been high on the list of priorities given that on the 17th May the squadron was driven out of its base at Berry-au-Bac by bombing. This began a series of retreats from base to base until a return to the UK at the end of the month.
On the 10th May Walker shared a Do. 17 near Longuyon. The following day he led his flight in a contact with about 40 enemy bombers, escorted by 15 Me. 110s. In the ensuing fight Walker Destroyed a Me. 110 near Mezieres, and had another unconfirmed east of Vervines. The Combat Report offers the following detail:
'No. 1 [Walker] attacked first enemy aircraft from rear and first bursts had no effect. One enemy aircraft got on to No. 1's tail and our aircraft changed the position and got on enemy aircraft's tail and gave one burst as enemy aircraft did climbing turn. Enemy aircraft burst into flames, pilot jumped by parachute and enemy aircraft was seen to crash in wood. No. 1 then attacked second enemy aircraft and deflection shooting had no effect. No. 1 then got in a second deflection shot with remaining ammunition and enemy aircraft was seen to go on its back direct towards the ground from 4,000 feet. Enemy aircraft was not seen to hit the ground. Position east of Vervines.'
The Squadron Records give the following for the 16th May, 'More raids today - Aerodrome defence machines took off several times after raiders, but failed to make contact. Paul Richey qualified as a member of the Caterpillar Club by leaping successfully once again, but had the satisfaction of knocking off one Me. 110. In this same encounter, F/Lt. Walker added a further 2 Me. 110's to his score, as did also Soper one and Kilmartin one. Refugees have been streaming past the camp for some days.'
Walker's Combat Report dated for the 17th gives:
'Detailed for offensive patrol [Walker, Brown, Palmer, Kilmartin, Soper] against dive bomber east and west of Sedan.
On reaching Vouziers at a height of 8,000 feet (base of cloud) in a break a strong formation of enemy fighters (Me. 110), was seen above. As the cloud was decreasing towards the east it would have been impossible to fulfil a mission against Dive Bombers with enemy fighters in such strength above. I climbed to attack this fighter formation which turned S.W. into the sun. I obtained a satisfactory position at 18,000 feet and attacked. As the fight developed more and more Me. 110's entered the combat, up to a total perhaps of 25. In the combat No. 1 [Walker] shot down one enemy aircraft. No. 2 shot shot down one enemy aircraft. No. 3 was seen to be going down emitting black smoke. No. 4 shot down one enemy aircraft and No. 5 two enemy aircraft.
On return to the aerodrome No. 1 was unserviceable due to a cannon shot through the wing and aileron... The pilot had to land at a French aerodrome where a temporary repair was done with a hammer and chisel.'
On the 19th Walker led his flight in action north-east of Rethel and, 'Red 1 [Walker] delivered several attacks and later attacked one with its wheels down. This E.A., after a good burst, emitted smoke from both engines and glided down toward the ground. Ammunition being exhausted, Red 1 landed at French aerodrome, then returned to base.' (Combat Report refers)
Walker left France on the 24th May, and shortly after his return to the UK was awarded a hard earned D.F.C. After the intensity of the last few weeks, Walker was taken out of the firing line and posted as an Instructor at 5 O.T.U., Aston Down. The unit was re-designated as 55 O.T.U. and he continued to serve with them until November 1940. On the latter date Walker was appointed to the command of 253 Squadron (Hurricanes), Kenley. He led the squadron for the first time on the 17th, and they were tasked with mainly flying interceptions. On 1.12.1940, 'I [Walker] was Red 1 leading the squadron and when over Maidstone at 25,000ft. sighted 6 Me. 109's just below travelling in a westerly direction. 605 Squadron who were leading attacked the enemy who were in no particular formation. After giving a "Tally-Ho" I turned and attacked one E/A from astern who had just finished attacking a Hurricane and was breaking away. I saw small pieces fall off after which the E.A. went into a fast dive and I was unable to close range. I pursued E/A to the coast but was unable to get any closer.' (Combat Report refers)
Wing Leader Tangmere
In the New Year the squadron moved north to Leconfield, and then on to Skeabrae from where it was mainly involved in convoy patrols. In November 1941 Walker was appointed Wing Commander Flying in the Kirton Sector. He held this position until April 1942 when he was posted as Wing Commander Flying in the Tangmere Sector. He took over the role from "Dutch" Hugo, and was almost immediately thrust into the planning of the air element of the Dieppe operations.
Walker led at least 35 offensive sweeps at the head of his Spitfire Wing. 29 of those were at the head of the Group 'Isle de France', over the summer of 1942. On August 19th, during the attack on Dieppe, he led two Wing sorties, one of two Squadrons and, finally, one over the returning convoy, comprising five Squadrons.
In September 1942 Walker was appointed Station Commander at Tangmere. He subsequently served at HQ, 11 Group, before serving as Commanding Officer of 135 Wing (2nd T.A.F.), June 1944-May1945. Having advanced to Group Captain, Walker's subsequent post-war appointments included as Commanding Officer R.A.F West Malling and Station Commander at Fassberg, Germany. He retired to Lympstone, Devon.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... Family Group:
An Important Second War C.B.E., Great War 'Western Front' 1917 M.M., 1948 K.P.F.S.M. Group of Eight to Chief of Fire Staff and Inspector in Chief National Fire Service A.P.L. Sullivan, Late Corporal, Royal Field Artillery, Who Served During the Second War Co-Ordinating the Fire-Fighting Arrangements Throughout London at the Height of the Blitz, and Was Also Sent by the Home Secretary to take Temporary Charge of Southampton and Liverpool Following Enemy Air-Raids
a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Civil Division, Commander's (C.B.E.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, with neck riband, in Garrard, London, case of issue
b) The Most Venerable Order of St. John, Officer's breast Badge, silver and enamel
c) Military Medal, G.V.R. (49655 Dvr: A.P. Sullivan. R.F.A.)
d) King's Police and Fire Services Medal, for Distinguished Service, G.VI.R. (Insp.-in-Chief Albert P.L. Sullivan, C.B.E., M.M., N.F.S., H.Q.), edge prepared prior to naming
e) 1914-15 Star (49655 Dvr. A.P. Sullivan. R.F.A.)
f) British War and Victory Medals (49655 Cpl. A.P. Sullivan. R.A.)
g) Defence Medal, light contact marks, traces of verdigris to star, nearly very fine, the KPFSM good very fine, mounted as originally worn, with the recipient's London Fire Brigade Good Service Medal (Station Officer A.P.L. Sullivan); and the following related documentation &c.:
- The recipient's related miniature awards
- Institution of Fire Engineers Past President's lapel Badge, gold (9ct) and enamel, the reverse engraved 'A.P.L. Sullivan C.B.E. M.M. President I.F.E. 1946-1947'
- Bestowal Document for the C.B.E., named to Albert Patrick Loisel Sullivan, and dated 8.6.1944, together with Central Chancery Investiture letter
- Bestowal Document for the M.B.E., named to Albert Patrick Loisel Sullivan, and dated 12.6.1941, together with Central Chancery Investiture letter
- Twelfth Division Distinguished Conduct in the Field Card, named to Gunner A.P. Sullivan
- Hand-written War Diary of the 12th Division Trench Mortar Batteries, covering extracts of the period 12.8.1916- 31.1.1919, together with a bound typed transcript
- The recipient's Certificate of Transfer to the Reserve, dated 23.7.1919
- London Fire Brigade Certificate of Commendation awarded to Fireman A.P.L. Sullivan, and dated 14.8.1922
- Two Institute of Fire Engineers Certificates, appointing Albert Patrick Loisel Sullivan an Associate Member, dated 1.7.1930, and an Honorary Member, dated 22.6.1971
- The recipient's National Fire Service Certificate of Service, dated 30.11.1947
- Letter to the recipient informing him of the award of the K.P.F.S.M., dated 31.12.1947
- Letter to the recipient from the Home Secretary on his retirement, dated 25.11.1947, and signed 'J. Chuter Ede'
- The recipient's Royal Artillery unit insignia and buttons
- Various portrait photographs of the recipient
- Various group photographs and newspaper cuttings
Four: Fireman W. Sullivan, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Late Able Seaman, Royal Navy
Jubilee (London County Council Metropolitan Fire Brigade) 1897 (William Sullivan); Coronation (London County Council Metropolitan Fire Brigade) 1902, bronze (William Sullivan); London Fire Brigade Good Service Medal (William Sullivan.); Khedive's Star 1882, unnamed as issued, very fine, with a portrait photograph of the recipient
Seven: Constable P.W. Sullivan, Metropolitan Police, Late Leading Aircraftsman, Royal Air Force
1939-1945 Star; Africa Star, with North Africa 1942-43 Bar; Italy Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals; Police Long Service & G.C., E.II.R. (Const. Patrick W. Sullivan), very fine or better, last in named card box of issue, together with the recipient's Royal Air Force Service and Release Book; and a photograph of the recipient (lot)
C.B.E. London Gazette 8.6.1944 Albert Patrick Loisel Sullivan, Esq., M.B.E., M.M., Deputy Chief of the Fire Staff and Deputy Inspector-in-Chief, National Fire Service
M.B.E. London Gazette 12.6.1941 Albert Patrick Loisel Sullivan, Esq., M.M., Chief Superintendent, London Fire Brigade.
Officer, Order of St. John London Gazette 1.1.1946 Arthur Patrick Loisel Sullivan, C.B.E.
M.M. London Gazette 18.6.1917 49655 Dvr. A.P. Sullivan, R.F.A.
K.P.F.S.M. London Gazette 1.1.1948 Albert Patrick Loisel Sullivan, C.B.E., M.M., formerly Chief of Fire Staff and Inspector-in-Chief, National Fire Service Headquarters.
Chief of Fire Staff Albert Patrick Loisel 'Sully' Sullivan, C.B.E., M.M., K.P.F.S.M., born Kensington Fire Station, October 1898, the son of Fireman W. Sullivan; enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery, 14.10.1914, and served during the Great War on the Western Front from April 1915 in the Trench Mortar Batteries, 12th (Eastern) Division; promoted Corporal, 24.9.1918; discharged, 23.7.1919, and joined the London Fire Brigade, based at Manchester Square; Commended for his part in rescuing from a third floor window Mrs. Bloss, the cook of a public house on Oxford Street, after the building had caught fire, 14.8.1922; promoted Station Officer, Headquarters Waterloo Road, 9.7.1933; awarded Long Service Medal, 16.5.1935; promoted District Officer, 9.1.1938; promoted Superintendent, 1.8.1939; on the outbreak of the Second World War seconded to the Home Office 'for the purpose of assisting the Chief Officer in connection with the co-ordinating of fire-fighting arrangements throughout the London fire defence area', 4.9.1939, a period which included many of the worst air raids of the Blitz; and also sent by the Home Secretary to take temporary charge of Southampton (Acting Chief Officer), Liverpool (Acting Chief Officer), and Merseyside (Acting Fire Force Commander) following enemy air-raids; he also visited Swansea, Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Dover during or following enemy air-raids: 'This was not an easy task, because apart from the colossal operational problems, and in some instances low morale, there were political and "personality" complications to be overcome. "Sully", as he became known to his contemporaries and subordinates, dealt with this situation magnificently. While at the outset a visit from a senior officer of the London Fire Brigade was not always welcomed by the chief fire officer, or his committee, it soon became clear to them that they were dealing with an officer of outstanding technical ability and integrity whose easy manner and cheerfulness made co-operation less difficult than they had anticipated.' (recipient's obituary, Fire, September 1981 refers); promoted Chief Superintendent, 8.9.1940; appointed Deputy Chief of Fire Staff, National Fire Service, August 1941; additionally appointed Deputy Inspector-in-Chief, N.F.S., February 1943; whilst that the Home Office Sullivan was also involved in the preparations for D-Day, and subsequently visited France, Germany, Belgium, and Holland in connection with the organisation of the National Fire Service Overseas Column, October 1944 to April 1945; promoted Chief of Fire Staff and Inspector-in-Chief, March 1947; relinquished his command, November 1947, and appointed Chief Fire Service Officer, Ministry of Civil Aviation, 1948. Sullivan retired in 1950, and died, 28.7.1981.
Fireman William Sullivan, born Queenstown, Co. Cork, Ireland, October 1863; enlisted in the Royal Navy, and present during the Egyptian Campaign 1882; joined the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, January 1892; awarded Long Service Medal, 13.7.1907; retired, 1.8.1907.
Constable Patrick William Sullivan, born 7.4.1922, the son of Chief of Fire Staff A.P.L. Sullivan and grandson of Fireman W. Sullivan; enlisted in the Royal Air Force, 23.6.1941, and served throughout the Second World War in North Africa, 1942-43, Italy, 1943-44, and the south of France, 1944-45; discharged, 19.7.1946; subsequently joined the Metropolitan Police.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... The Outstanding 1945 'Pacific Operations' D.S.O., 1940 'Immediate' Battle of Britain D.F.C. Group of Nine to Hurricane Ace, Squadron Leader J.A.A. 'Johnny' Gibson, Royal Air Force, Accredited With At Least 12 Destroyed, 1 Shared Destroyed, and 11 Damaged. Shot Down Twice During the Battle of France, Twice During the Battle of Britain, and Once By Flak During Operation Varsity, Gibson Went On To Rack Up 26 Claims On Enemy Aircraft During 1940. He Commanded 15 Squadron (R.N.Z.A.F.), And Completed Three Tours Against the Japanese Over the Solomon Islands. After the War He Was Employed As the Personal Pilot For Both Field Marshal Montgomery and Marshal of the Royal Air Force Tedder
a) Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R., silver-gilt and enamel, reverse of suspension bar officially dated '1945', with integral top riband bar, minor enamel damage, reverse cypher slightly bent
b) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1940'
c) 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain Bar
d) Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany Bar
e) Pacific Star
f) Defence Medal
g) War Medal, M.I.D. Oak Leaf
h) New Zealand War Service Medal
i) Rhodesia General Service Medal (7338 Flt Lt J.A.A. Gibson), light contact marks overall, generally very fine, mounted court-style for wear, with the following related items:
- The recipient's nine associated miniature awards, the first eight as full size the last a Dunkirk Commemorative medal, mounted for wear
- Caterpillar Club Badge, gold with 'ruby' eyes, reverse engraved 'A/F/Lt J. Gibson. D.F.C.'
- Two R.A.F. Pilot's Flying Log Books (16.5.1938-8.10.1940 and 13.4.1941-19.4.1955), the logs privately bound together, and annotated 'Second Log Book lost owing to Enemy Action'
- Ministry of Civil Aviation Personal Flying Log Book (13.12.1946-31.3.1948)
- Africair Pilot's Flying Log Book (19.4.1955-30.4.1964); Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Department of Civil Aviation Personal Flying Log Book (5.5.1964-6.6.1977)
- A number of African Commercial Pilot's Licences; Certificate of Registration as a Citizen of Rhodesia, dated 29.6.1972; named booklet given to recipient from the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a memento on becoming a Citizen of Rhodesia, dated 29.6.1972
- Correspondence from later in life, a large quantity of photographs from various stages of recipient's life, and other ephemera
- Corgi Limited Edition, The Aviation Archive - Aces of the Commonwealth, Model of P-40 Kittyhawk IA -NZ3040 Flt. Lt. Johnnie Gibson, 15 Sqn RNZAF, Whenuapai, New Zealand 1942, in original box (lot)
D.S.O. London Gazette 16.3.1945 Acting Squadron Leader John Albert Axel Gibson, D.F.C. (40969), R.A.F.O., 15 Sqn
'In recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations in the South-West Pacific area.'
The Recommendation states: 'Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements as a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, this officer has further distinguished himself both in England and more recently in the Pacific, where he has made three tours in the Solomons area.
He has destroyed a total of 14 1/2 enemy aircraft, adding to his earlier record one Japanese fighter which was fiercely attacking an Allied formation over Rabaul Harbour.
Acting Squadron Leader Gibson, who is a brilliant pilot and a born leader, has to his credit the exceptional total of 669 hours of operational flying, covering 383 missions.
On his two latest tours in the Pacific this year, he has commanded a Squadron, and his enthusiasm and fearless leadership have been outstanding. His personal courage, both in aerial combat and in ground strafing and fighter-bomber missions, and his long experience, have been of inestimable value to his Squadron, which has earned the high praise of Allied Commanders.'
D.F.C. London Gazette 30.8.1940 Pilot Officer John Axel Gibson (40969)
'In August, whilst on an offensive patrol over Dover this officer engaged and destroyed a Junkers 87 and was afterwards shot down himself. Although his aircraft was in flames he steered it away from the town of Folkestone and did not abandon the aircraft until it had descended to 1,000 feet. Pilot Officer Gibson has destroyed eight enemy aircraft, and has displayed great courage and presence of mind.'
The Recommendation states, 'On 15th August, 1940, P/O Gibson, whilst on an offensive patrol over Dover destroyed one Ju. 87 and was then himself shot down in flames. Although this officer's aircraft was in flames he steered it away from the town of Folkestone and did not abandon it until at 1,000 feet.
P/O Gibson has now eight confirmed and two unconfirmed enemy aircraft to his credit and has at all times displayed great courage and presence of mind.'
Remarks of the Air Officer Commanding [Air Vice-Marshal K.R. Park]: 'This gallant young New Zealand Pilot has displayed presence of mind and great courage. He has shot down eight enemy aircraft. For his qualities and successes I strongly recommend him for the Immediate Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.'
Squadron Leader John Albert Axel Gibson, D.S.O., D.F.C. (1916-2000), born in Brighton his family emigrated to New Zealand four years later. He was educated in New Plymouth High School before applying for a R.A.F. Short Service Commission in 1937. Having been accepted he sailed for the UK in April the following year. Gibson carried out his training at No. 4 E. & R.F.T.S., Brough, and No. 3 F.T.S., South Cerney. On completion of his training Gibson was posted to the School of Air Photography at Farnborough, where he was to become an army co-operation pilot.
Battle of France - A Last Minute Replacement
Having primarily only flown Hawker Henley's, Gibson was posted for operational flying in May 1940. He was sent to France as a reinforcement for 501 Squadron - having never flown a Hurricane before! Based in Anglure Gibson was up on his first patrol, 23.5.1940, the day after his arrival. The squadron was involved in desperate fighting on a daily basis and Gibson quickly adapted to his new surroundings. He gained his first success, 27.5.1940, 'Patrol South Abbeville. Shot Down Heinkel & Shared Half Each With Sgt. Dafforn Of Another. Squadron Attacked 24 Heinkel IIIK's 20 Me.110's - Me. 110's Quit Leaving Heinkels. 10 He. IIIK's Shot Down.' (Log Book refers)
On the 29th, during the second scramble of the day, 'Sighted 2 He. III's & Gave One All I had. He Dived Into The Clouds But Was Not Seen To Go Down.' The following day was to prove even more eventful, when Gibson Destroyed another He. III, and Damaged a further He.III before being shot down himself, 'Patrol Boos. Shot Down Heinkel In Flames & Fired At Another. Squadron Attacked 20 He. III's Covered By 12 Me. 110's. Five He. III's Shot Down. We Lose Two. Myself Shot Down & Crashed In Field.' (ibid)
The Squadron had retreated to Le Mans, and Gibson's activity is recorded thus in his Log Book, 5.6.1940, 'Flap Scramble. Attacked A Me. 110. 1 Possible. Squadron Attacked 7 Me. 110's. 3 Shot Down 1 Hurricane Loss', and 8.6.1940, 'Escort Battles. Abbeville Attacked By 80 Me. 109's Battle Bombing Successful. Squadron Shoots Down Five Me. 109's. I Get One In Flames.'
Before the Squadrons' move to Dinard, Gibson had another eventful patrol, 10.6.1940, 'Led Section Patrol Le Havre. Scrap With 20 109's. Got One In Flames. Then Caught Fire. Baled Out.' He led another patrol on the same day, despite being shot down, and recorded his final claim during the Battle of France, 14.6.1940, 'Led Section Patrol Seine. Attacked 16 Ju. 86's + 50 Me. 110's. 1 Possible. Squadron Attacked Me. 110's. Possible 4 Me. 110's Shot Down. Lots Of Bailing Out & Shooting Up On Our Part. No Pilots Lost.' (ibid)
The Squadron evacuated from Dinard on the 18th June, and operated the following day from St. Helier, Jersey, to cover the B.E.F.'s evacuation from Cherbourg.
Battle of Britain - Flight Commander 501 Squadron
Gibson re-assembled with 501 Squadron at Croydon, 21.6.1940. The Squadron immediately began to build up its strength in aircraft and personnel. It was heavily involved in the Battle of Britain, serving throughout in 11 Group and being in the forefront of the German attacks over Kent.
Gibson was made Flight Commander of 'A' Flight in July 1940. The day before the Battle commenced, Gibson Damaged another He. III over Portland. He further added to his account, 13.7.1940, by Destroying a Do. 17 also over Portland. Gibson's Log Book records a particularly heavy engagement for 28.7.1940, 'Patrol Dover. Squadron Attack On 50 Ju. 87's. 3 Confirmed. 5 Probable. 4 Damaged. Self: One Confirmed In Flames. One Damaged.'
There was no let-up, with the Squadron making three or four scrambles daily against large German formations, 29.7.1940, 'Patrol Dover. Squadron Attack On 50 Ju. 87's + Me. 109's. Nine Ju.'s And Four Me.'s Confirmed. Five Hurricanes Lost.' With casualties starting to mount every success was vital, and Gibson claimed another Do. 17 Damaged, 31.7.1940.
A Lot Can Happen In A Day - 3 Patrols, 2 Destroyed, 1 Damaged, Forced to Land, and Crash Landed In A Bomb Crater
The 12th August started a prolific three and half weeks for Gibson. On the latter date during his first patrol of the day, 'Patrol Folkestone. Squadron Attack On 36 Unescorted Ju. 87's. One Confirmed & One Damaged. Force Landed', his Log Book goes on to record for his second sortie of day, 'Patrol Dover. Section Attack On Mixed Bag Of Heins, Do. 17's Escorted By Me. 109's. One Me. 109 Confirmed. Crashed On Landing In Bomb Crater.' The first two aircraft had been engaged over Folkestone, and the last over The Kent Downs, Lympne.
Three days later Gibson Destroyed a Ju. 87 and Damaged another over Folkestone, before being set alight by return fire, steering his hurricane away from Folkestone and bringing it down to 1,000 feet before baling out. His Log Book gives, 'Engaged 30 Ju. 87's Shot One Down. Gala Day With Ju. 87's. Shot Down By 3 Ju. 87's. Baled Out Over Hawkinge. Awarded D.F.C.'
On the 24th August Gibson Destroyed a Ju. 88 during a bombing attack. The Squadron shot down seven enemy aircraft, but lost five hurricanes during the attack. Four days later he Damaged a Bf. 109 over Folkestone, and on the 29th he Destroyed another Bf. 109. During the latter combat he was shot down in flames again, this time he baled out over the sea and was picked up by boat two miles offshore.
Gibson met with further success during the first week of September. The Squadron was now operating out of Kenley, and on the 2nd Gibson Damaged a Do. 17 over Maidstone. He closed his account for the Battle, according to his Log Book, with one Me. 109 Destroyed on the 6th September, and another the following day.
As September progressed the pressure eased off the Squadron. Gibson still carried out patrols, but with nothing like the frequency of the previous few weeks. In October he was wounded, and admitted to R.A.F. Hospital Halton, 18.10.1940. He was transferred to R.A.F. Hospital Torquay and was finally discharged, 8.12.1940. He was passed fit to fly the following day, and posted as an Instructor to Marshal's Aerodrome, Cambridge. Gibson was then posted to 271 Squadron (Harrows), Doncaster, before returning in an instructional capacity at 53 O.T.U., Heston, 11.5.1941. He commanded the Air Firing Flight, and moved with the O.T.U. to Llandow. Having progressed to Chief Flying Instructor, Gibson returned to operational flying when he was posted as a Flight Commander to 457 Squadron (Spitfires), R.A.A.F., Andreas, Isle of Man, January 1942.
On To The Pacific - Three Tours Over The Solomons
Gibson served with the squadron for three months before his short service commission came to an end. He arrived back in New Zealand at the end of May 1942. Gibson was attached to the R.N.Z.A.F., and posted to the newly formed 15 Squadron (Kittyhawks) the following month. He was posted as a Flight Commander and oversaw the training of the newly qualified pilots of the squadron. Having made it ready for operations he moved with the Squadron to Tonga.
Gibson returned to New Zealand in December 1942. He served on a Staff appointment at Air HQ, Control Group until May 1943. Gibson completed another staff course before returning to 15 Squadron in October 1943. He originally joined the Squadron as operations officer, but took command of the Squadron mid-November. Based on New Georgia the Squadron took part in the heavy fighting of the Bougainville landings. Gibson Destroyed a Japanese Zeke, 7.1.1944, 'Escort TBF's Rabaul Strike. One Zero Confirmed.' (Log Book refers)
Having flown numerous escort missions and strikes the Squadron returned to New Zealand for a rest in February 1944. The Squadron re-equipped with Corsairs, and Gibson led them firstly to Guadalcanal in May, before moving to Bougainville in June. Tour-expired Gibson returned with the Squadron to New Zealand in late July. He left the Squadron in August, having completed three tours in the Pacific, and set out for the UK at the end of October.
80 Squadron - On The Continent
Gibson converted to Typhoons at No. 3 T.E.U., Ashton Down, and then transitioned on to Tempests at No. 83 G.S.U. He was posted for operational flying to 80 Squadron (Tempests), Volkel, March 1945.
Gibson flew with the Squadron as part of the fighter cover for the Rhine Crossings (Operation Varsity), 24.3.1945. This time Gibson suffered at the hands of flak:
'He made a forced landing and his Tempest broke its back, but he escaped with a severely jarred right shoulder.
The incident occurred when Field Marshal Montgomery's group crossed the Rhine. Squadron Leader Gibson was leading Tempests giving air cover to an airborne operation when the sky was filled with towing aircraft and gliders. There was no enemy air opposition and later the Tempests swooped on an autobahn lined with motor transport.
Flak immediately filled the sky and Squadron Leader Gibson's aircraft was hit in the engine. Oil covered his cock-pit head, making it difficult for him to see where he was going and at 5,000 feet his engine stopped abruptly. He got it started again and managed to make a forced landing on the British side of the Rhine. He returned to England for treatment to his shoulder.' (Newspaper article refers)
Gibson had in fact broken his shoulder, and after making a full recovery he was posted to 109 O.T.U., Crosby-on-Eden, June 1945. He converted to Dakotas, and was posted to 187 Squadron (Transport Command), India, October 1945. He left the service in August 1946, and was employed by British European Airways for two years.
In 1948 Gibson was invited to re-join the R.A.F on another short service commission. He was posted to 24 Squadron, Bassingbourn, May 1948. Reunited with Dakotas he spent the next two years flying VIP flights, acting first as Field Marshal Montgomery's pilot, and then as Air Marshal Tedder's.
Gibson's subsequent postings included the Command of Communications Squadron, 12 Group, and a similar position with 81 Group, before a posting as GC1 at Middleton St. George. He retired from the R.A.F. in 1954.
A Quiet Life In Africa - The Biafran War
In 1954 Gibson moved to South Africa, and was initially employed as CF1 flying for the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg. He was subsequently employed as a Captain by Africair until 1966. He then formed Bechuanaland National Airways and later Botswana National Airways. He started with a single Dakota, and built a fleet of aircraft.
During the Biafran War, 1967-1970, Gibson operated out of Gabon flying in supplies and evacuating children. He set up the short-lived Jagair, before being employed as operations officer by the Department of Civil Aviation in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe until his retirement from flying in 1982. He returned to the UK five years later, and lived out the remainder of his life in Nottinghamshire.
Click to view full image... x A '1918' Great War D.S.O. Group of Three to Captain A. Witham, Royal Field Artillery
a) Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, minor enamel chip to reverse central medallion, and this slightly depressed, with integral top riband bar
b) British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaves (Capt A. Witham), rank partially officially corrected on VM, nearly extremely fine (3)
D.S.O. London Gazette 1.5.1918 Lt. (T./Capt.) Alexander Witham, R.F.A.
'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an enemy attack he maintained the fire of his battery throughout the day in close support of the infantry, and finally man-handled his guns for 400 yards to a position whence the teams could hook in and saved all the guns. He showed the greatest coolness and resource.'
Captain Alexander Witham, D.S.O., born February 1880; served during the Boer War in the ranks and present at the Relief of Kimberley, operations in the Orange Free State, including the action at Paardeberg, operations in Transvaal, including the actions at Johannesburg and Diamond Hill, and operations in the Orange River Colony, including the action at Wittebergen (awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with five clasps and the King's South Africa Medal); Commissioned Second Lieutenant, Royal Field Artillery, 27.9.1914; promoted Lieutenant, 9.6.1915; Captain, 29.3.1918; served during the Great War on the Western Front from 25.11.1915 (wounded three times, and twice Mentioned in Despatches, London Gazettes 21.5.1918 and 23.12.1918).
Captain Witham was originally awarded the Military Cross (
London Gazette 18.2.1918); this was subsequently cancelled and 'upgraded' to the D.S.O.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image... The Superb O.B.E., Second War 'Augsburg Raid' Immediate D.F.C. Group of Ten to Lancaster and Mosquito Pilot Wing Commander B.R.W. 'Darkie' Hallows, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, For his Gallantry During the Spectacular Daylight Attack on the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg Factory at Augsburg, 17.4.1942: 'His Leader Was Shot Down in Flames... He Then Took Over Command of the Remainder of the Section... Throughout the Whole Operation, he Showed the Greatest Possible Determination and Pluck.' Squadron Leader J.D. Nettleton, Who Led the Raid, Was Awarded the Victoria Cross
a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Military Division, Officer's (O.B.E.) breast Badge, silver-gilt
b) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1942' and additionally privately engraved 'B.R.W. Hallows Augsberg [sic] April'
c) The Most Venerable Order of St. John, Serving Brother's breast Badge, circular type, silver and enamel
d) 1939-1945 Star
e) Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany Bar
f) Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaf
g) General Service 1918-62, G.VI.R., one clasp, Palestine 1945-48 (Sqn. Ldr. B.R.W. Hallows. R.A.F.), rank partially officially corrected
h) Coronation 1953
i) Air Efficiency Award, G.VI.R. (Act. Wg. Cdr. B.R.W. Hallows. R.A.F.V.R.), good very fine, mounted court-style as worn, with the following related items:
- The recipient's related miniature awards
- The recipient's two identity tags
- The recipient's two Flying Log Books, covering the period 24.6.1938- 11.9.1959
- The recipient's Scrapbook, containing a diary of Operational Flights with newspaper cuttings and illustration of operational aircraft flown
- Postagram to the recipient from Air Marshal A.T. Harris, congratulating him on the award of his D.F.C., dated 25.4.1942
- At First Sight, a factual and anecdotal account of No.627 Squadron, R.A.F., by Alan B. Webb, 244pp, First Edition co-Author's copy, the front plate named to Wing Commander B.R.W. Hallows, O.B.E., D.F.C.
- The Augsburg Raid, by Jack Currie, D.F.C., 144pp, signed by the author (lot)
O.B.E. London Gazette 1.1.1951 Acting Wing Commander Brian Roger Wakefield Hallows, D.F.C. (77787), Royal Air Force.
D.F.C. London Gazette 28.4.1942 Flight Lieutenant Brian Roger Wakefield Hallows (77787), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 97 Squadron
'On the I7th April, 1942, a force of twelve Lancaster heavy bombers was detailed to deliver an attack in daylight on the diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Southern Germany. To reach this highly important military target, and return, a most daring flight of some 1,000 miles over hostile country was necessary. Soon after entering enemy territory and whilst flying at a very low level the force was engaged by 25 to 30 enemy fighters. Later, the most intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire was encountered. Despite this formidable opposition 8 of the bombers succeeded in reaching the target and in delivering a successful attack on the factory. The officers and airmen who participated, in various capacities, as members of the aircraft crews, displayed courage, fortitude and skill of the highest order.'
The Recommendation, dated 19.4.1942, states: 'Flying Officer Hallows took part in an attack on the Diesel Factory at Augsburg. This flight entailed a daylight crossing of enemy occupied territory of approximately 900 miles. On reaching the target, Flying Officer Hallows (who was in No.2 position of the Leading Squadron) attacked from a very low level and, in spite of intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire, dropped his bombs in the target. His aircraft was repeatedly hit by anti-aircraft fire.
Immediately after releasing his bombs, his Leader was shot down in flames. Flying Officer Hallows then took over command of the remainder of the Section and continued to lead until darkness overtook them. Throughout the whole operation, Flying Officer Hallows showed the greatest possible determination and pluck.'
Order of St. John, Serving Brother, London Gazette 4.4.1967 Wing Commander Brian Roger Wakefield Hallows, O.B.E., D.F.C.
Wing Commander Brian Roger Wakefield 'Darkie' Hallows, O.B.E., D.F.C., A.E., was Commissioned Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 7.3.1940, and promoted Flying Officer, 7.3.1941. At C.F.S. he had won a trophy for being 'best all-round cadet', and had won a reputation 'for the use of language over the radio which caused some Watchtower WAAFs to giggle, some to blush. He was known as "Darkie" on the Squadron, not just for his jet-black hair and full moustache.' (The Augsburg Raid, by Jack Currie refers). After a spell with No.25 O.T.U., he joined No.97 Squadron (Manchesters), Coningsby, 28.9.1941. His first Operational Sortie was over Emden, 15.11.1941, after which he and his crew had a month off, preparing formation flying for his second raid, the attack on the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, both in dry dock in Brest Harbour, 18.12.1941: 'After much preparation in formation flying we were told we were to attack Brest to keep Salmon and Gluckstein [sic] pennedin. The weather was good and 11 aircraft took off. All went well up to target area when very intense flak was encountered, we were hit three times, self and navigator being hit by flying Perspex but no damage. We bombed in formation at 15,000 feet, and dived away to right.' (The recipient's Scrapbook refers). The raid, described by the B.B.C. as 'One of the most spectacular daylight raids of the War', was a success, but not an out-right victory, and on the 9th January 1942 Hallows and his crew returned on a night sortie, although this time cloud cover prevented a further attack. On the 15th January, the target was Hamburg: 'It was a lovely sight, over 300 small fires across the centre of the town. Target hit (14 x 400lb incendiaries). Huns very attentive!' (ibid).
Between January and April 1942 No.97 Squadron was re-equipped with Lancasters. These gave some teething problems, but operations resumed on the 8th April, with a gardening trip over Heligoland Bight. This was followed nine days later with the raid on the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg Diesel Engine Factory at Augsburg in Bavaria.
The Augsburg Raid, 17.4.1942- All the Crew Were Valiant
'After 3 days of long formation cross countries we were briefed for this trip. Plenty was said about how important it was and all that stuff, so we were obviously not intended to come back in any strength. Fighter Command had been on the job for several days hounding the German fighters, and when we were on the job we saw no fighters at all, all the way. We set course from Woodhall at 15:00hrs, crossed the coast at Selsey Bill at 16:15, French coast at 16:50 and from there to south of Paris, then down to Lake Constance, which included a good view of Switzerland, thence nearly to Munich and north to the town of Augsburg. On the way we shot up a passenger train in a large station, and saw an aerodrome crowded with Ju.90's. The target was easily picked out and we bombed the hell out of it. Waddington's formation were just ahead of us, and the gunners were ready for us, and it was as hot as hell for a few minutes. Our leader was hit and caught fire in the port inner tank and crashed and blew up about 10 miles north of the town. I led the remaining aircraft back, without any opposition. The quintessence of loneliness is being five hundred miles inside enemy territory with only one serviceable turret!' (ibid).
The raid on the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg Factory, described by the press with the headline 'War's most Daring Raid', was a spectacular success, completely destroying half the production capacity of Diesel engines for German U-boats. Although Hallows' Lancaster B-Baker was hit by an enemy shell that went clean through the starboard wing, close to the fuselage, it fortunately did not cause the structure serious damage. Squadron Leader John Nettleton, who led the raid, was awarded the Victoria Cross, and nineteen other airmen received awards, including Hallows, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross: 'His leader was shot down in flames... he then took over command of the remainder of the section... Throughout the whole operation, he showed the greatest possible determination and pluck.' (D.F.C. Recommendation refers). Of the remainder of his crew, Wireless Operator Louch and Rear-Gunner Goachea were awarded the D.F.M., and the other four crew members were Mentioned in Despatches. Seven of the twelve Lancasters that took part in the raid did not come back. Prime Minister Winston Churchill hailed the raid as 'a memorable feat of arms in which no life was lost in vain.'
The Thousand Bomber Raids
Hallows and his valient crew followed the Augsburg raid up with further operational sorties over Stuttgart, 5.5.1942; Heligoland Bight, 22.5.1942; and Operation Millennium, the 1,000 Bomber raid on Cologne, 30.5.1942: 'We took off with over 1,000 others to destroy Cologne. The fires were seen over 60 miles away on the way out. Fires were tremendous. We hit the town with 1 4,000lb bomb. On the way back we encountered a Me109, but he did not open fire. Fires were visible at the Dutch coast on return.' (ibid). This was followed by the 1,000 Bomber raid on Bremen, 25.6.1942: 'Another 1,000 raid. Well over 1,100 were briefed. We were warned of low cloud and we found it. All the way in over Holland and Germany we were shot at quite heavily. Several fights seen.' (ibid); and then further raids on Duisberg, 23.7.1942; Hamburg, 26.7.1942; and Dusseldorf, 31.7.1942: 'Opposition was quite good over whole Ruhr and we saw 7 aircraft shot down. There were good fires in the target area. 150 searchlights all round the town. We were "coned" once but escaped by pelting like hell out of it. Landed base just before the fog closed in' (ibid).
Hallows finished his first tour with raids over Mainz, 12.8.1942; Nuremburg, 28.8.1942: 'Hit in 3 places. Battle with E/A' (Log Book refers); Munich, 19.9.1942; Keil, 13.10.1942 : 'Returned on 3 Engines from Danish coast. Flak in port outer radiator' (ibid); and Genoa, 6.11.1942: 'A grand trip. The target was lit up by its own very ineffective flak and searchlights before any bombs or flares were dropped. We bombed with no trouble!' (Recipient's Scrapbook refers).
His first tour over, Hallows was posted to No.5 Group Headquarters, and was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 14.1.1944), before moving from No.1668 Lancaster Heavy Conversion Unit, Bottesford, to take over command of No.627 Squadron (Mosquitos), Woodhall Spa, 24.1.1945: 'Having met the chaps, I went on to RAF Barford St. John for a quick Mosquito familiarisation. This consisted of two trips, totalling less than two hours. I then went solo by day, and later by night, and returned to Woodhall Spa. I remember the change from Lancaster to Mosquito was quite startling. On the 20th February I did my first night operation, to mark the Mitteland Canal. Low cloud prevented anyone marking the target and the raid was abandoned. On the 21st February the raid was repeated, and the Canal was well and truly marked and clobbered. I did not drop markers as the aiming point was well marked and backing up was not required.
On the 24th February I was "Breeze Leader" with three other Mosquitos, with the job of finding an accurate wind for the heavies in the Nijmegan area. There was much cloud but we got a good wind, however, the Lancasters had to abandon the raid due to the cloud, not wishing to cause unnecessary casualties to the Dutch population. However, I found I had ruptured myself- heaven knows how and when- and reported sick, having to go into Rauceby RAF Hospital for a minor operation. I was fit again in June 1945, but was firmly told that my flying days were over, as no second tour pilots were going to the Far East on "Tiger Force". In the event of course no one went there.
So that was my tour with No.627 Squadron: 28 days in Command, two night and one daylight operations, and a hernia!' (At First Sight, A History of No.627 Squadron, by Alan Webb refers).
Promoted Squadron Leader, 1.9.1945, and Wing Commander, 1.1.1952, after the War Hallows was posted to Standing Group N.A.T.O., Pentagon, Washington D.C., flying out of Andrews Field, January 1955. He returned to the United Kingdom in June 1957, and retired in October 1959, to Sheringham, Norfolk, having flown a total of over 2,220 hours.
  x A Great War 'Western Front' M.B.E. Group of Three to Major J.H. Slayter, Canadian Army Medical Corps
a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type, Military Division, Member's (M.B.E.) breast Badge, silver (Hallmarks for London 1918)
b) British War and Victory Medals (Major J.H. Slayter.), toned, extremely fine, together with a large file of copied research (3)
M.B.E. London Gazette 3.6.1919 Slayter, T./Capt. John Howard, C.A.M.C.
Captain John Howard Slayter, M.B.E., born Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, June 1865; Commissioned Captain, Canadian Army Medical Corps, 24.9.1917; served during the Great War on the Western Front as Chief of Medical Division No. 10, Canadian General Hospital; promoted Major, 29.5.1919; relinquished his Commission, 21.11.1919; died in Gaspereaux, Nova Scotia, Canada, 8.1.1926. His son, Rear-Admiral William Rudolph Slayter, C.B., D.S.O., D.S.C., served alongside him in the Great War, and was awarded the D.S.C.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... The Outstanding Second War 'Battle of the Bulge' M.C., 'POW Clandestine Operations' D.C.M., 'Operation Colossus' M.M. Group of Nine to Lieutenant, Late Sergeant, P.P. 'Clem' Clements, Parachute Regiment and X Troop 11 SAS. One of the Founding Members of the Airborne Forces, As Senior N.C.O. for X Troop He Took Part in the First British Airborne Raid, Operation Colossus, 10.2.1941. Taken POW after the Raid, He Undertook a Secret Role For MI9, Before Successfully Escaping from Sulmona Camp, 12.9.1943. Commissioned into the Parachute Regiment, He Led His Men With Distinction Against Heavy Armour in the Forests of Ardenne, 1945. He Was Wounded Four Times Fighting a Rearguard Action, Before Passing Out Due To Loss of Blood
a) Military Cross, G.VI.R., reverse dated '1945'
b) Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.VI.R. (2564415 Sjt. P.P. Clements. Leic. R.)
c) Military Medal, G.VI.R. (2564415 Sjt. P.P. Clements. Leic. R.)
d) India General Service 1936-39, one clasp, North West Frontier 1937-39 (2564415. Sjt. P. Clements. Leic. R.), partially officially renamed
e) 1939-1945 Star
f) Africa Star
g) Italy Star
h) France and Germany Star
i) War Medal, generally very fine or better, with the following related items:
- Escaper's Compass, used by recipient
- Escaper's map of the Swiss Frontier area; Emergency Ration tin
- Diary, recorded in pencil whilst evading capture
- Soldier's Service and Pay Book
- Letter of thanks from MI9 to recipient, for work carried out in the POW camp, dated 16.11.1943
- Letter of congratulation on the award of the D.C.M., from Lieutenant Colonel L. Winterbottom, MI9, dated 26.4.1944
- Note written by recipient, whilst wounded in the Ardenne, requesting an ambulance for two wounded soldiers, signed and dated 6.1.1945, subsequently added to by recipient 'I started to write this but could not finish it off'
- Letter of congratulation on the award of the M.C., from the commanding officer 12th Parachute Battalion
- Portrait photograph of recipient in uniform, and a file of copied research into Operation Colossus (lot)
M.C. London Gazette 12.4.1945 Lieutenant Percy Priestley Clements, D.C.M. (327224), Army Air Corps (Nottingham)
The Recommendation states: 'On 5th January 1945 Lt. P. Clements commanded a platoon which was given the task of occupying a position on the feature North of Grupont dominating the area in which the 12th and 13th Parachute Bns were operating. The patrol reached its objective by 0300 hrs and took up a position as ordered. During the following nine hours the platoon lay up in a wood on the feature, which was also occupied by the enemy, reporting enemy movements and inflicting casualties including the killing of the officers of a recce group which approached the position.
At about 1200 hrs the platoon came under accurate fire from close range. Lt. Clements, although fully exposed to enemy fire, personally passed the necessary fire orders for the artillery to engage the area held by the enemy. The enemy then brought up at least one Tiger tank which engaged the area held by the platoon. By this time the platoon was coming under accurate fire from the rear as well as the front. Lt. Clements then decided that the platoon must withdraw. He organised the withdrawal down the very exposed slope of the feature.
At the first ...rd he was wounded in the stomach. Although he could not move himself he continued to command the platoon, and issued necessary orders for the remainder to withdraw. Throughout this period the platoon had no food and was exposed to very severe weather conditions. It was entirely due to the fine leadership, determination and example of this officer that the platoon carried out its task and was able to withdraw when this task had been completed.'
D.C.M. London Gazette 2.3.1944 No. 2564415 Sergeant Percy Priestly Clements, The Leicestershire Regiment.
'In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field.'
The Recommendation by MI9 states: 'Sgt. Clements was a member of a party of parachutists dropped in Calabria in February 1941 to blow up an aqueduct, who were subsequently captured by the Italians. Shortly after capture they were taken to Camp 78, Sulmona, where Officers and Other Ranks were placed in separate compounds, no communication between them being allowed. Despite this regulation Sgt. Clements, who took charge of the most secret communications in the Other Ranks compound, managed to maintain clandestine communication with the Officers, and exchanged with them particulars of all secret messages received from the War Office. He also arranged the despatch of similar messages to the War Office in selected Other Ranks letters and later, when the Officers were moved to another camp, was responsible for maintaining all communication between the Camp and the War Office.
On 12 September 1943, following the Italian armistice, when all attempts to escape were strictly forbidden, Sgt. Clements escaped to the hills. From there, on 14 September 1943, he watched the Germans enter the camp, and he then made up a party with Sgt. Lawley and Private Rae, both of the Parachute Regt. and started walking South. Pte. Rae was unable to keep up and fell out at an early stage of the journey, but Sgt. Clements and Sgt. Lawley continued walking as far as Morrone, their journey lasting twenty-two days. At Morrone they hid up for a week until they were able to join the British Forces at Casacalenda on 13 October 1943. Throughout their escape Sgt. Clements was in charge.
In view of the fine work of a secret nature which this N.C.O. rendered, in addition to his initiative in making his escape, I strongly recommend him for the award of the D.C.M.'
M.M. London Gazette 20.6.1946 No. 2564415 Sergeant Percy Priestly Clements, The Leicestershire Regiment (since commissioned in Army Air Corps)
Lieutenant Percy Priestley Clements, M.C., D.C.M., M.M. (1910-1998), enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment, August 1928. He served with the 2nd Battalion in Germany and at Catterick before being drafted into the 1st Battalion. He served with the latter in India from September 1930, taking in postings at Ambala, Multan, Jubalpore, Razmak and the hills stations of Kasauli and Dalhousie. A naturally fit man, Clements represented the battalion at both football and rugby. Having advanced to Sergeant he returned to England in September 1939. He was briefly posted to Ripon as a Sergeant Instructor under the Hore Belisha Training Scheme. Clements was then posted back to his parent unit when the 7th and 8th Battalions were being raised in April 1940. Keen to be in thick of things he decided to volunteer for special service, 'told that an entry requirement was the ability to fit through a 2 foot diameter hole, he suspected that he was headed for the commandos and submarine hatches. He was surprised to find himself in No 2 (Parachute) Commando which became the first SAS unit, 11 SAS, and to discover that the hole was in fact in the floor of a Whitley bomber!' (Obituary refers)
'X' Troop 11 SAS Battalion
The British airborne establishment was formed, at the order of Winston Churchill, in June 1940. The first airborne unit to be formed was Clement's unit - No. 2 Commando. This in turn was renamed No. 11 Special Air Service Battalion. Carrying out training, primarily at Ringway, for the rest of the year approximately 60 were selected for advanced training. In January 1941 the numbers were once again reduced and Clements helped form X Troop 11 SAS.
Operation Colossus was the codename to be used for the first airborne operation undertaken by the British military. The force was to be parachuted in and destroy a fresh-water aqueduct over the River Tragino near Calitri in south-western Italy, thus cutting off the main water supply to the strategically important province of Apulia, including the town of Taranto. It was also an important propaganda exercise to show the reach of the British military.
Finally selected, 'X' Troop 'counted eight officers and 31 other ranks; seven officers and 29 men were scheduled to drop in the actual operation. One officer and two other ranks were held in reserve as replacements.
Moving from their billets at Knutsford to a special accommodation at Ringway itself, 'X' Troop immediately started a rigorous training programme. It lasted six weeks. Each morning, before breakfast, the men had a three mile run, followed by thirty minutes P.T. After breakfast, they had a 15 mile march with full kit. During the day, they had aircraft or container drill, gun practise or lectures on withdrawal and escape. At night, they practised night drops.
A full-scale wooden mock-up of that part of the aqueduct to be attacked was erected in Tatton Park behind Tatton Hall... Here the troops spent the afternoons and evenings training the attack and practising the demolition routine. Plans called for about half a ton of explosives to be placed against the aqueduct piers. In time, the engineers became so efficient that they could do it in just over half an hour.' (Tragino 1941: Britain's First Paratroop Raid, K. Margry)
Operation Colossus - The First British Airborne Raid
Clements, who was the senior non-commissioned officer on the raid, provided his account of the operation in the Leicestershire Regiment's journal (The Green Tiger) in May 1944. Obviously given the date at which it was written and the secret nature of the operations he was involved in, including during his time in the prison camp, it is a contemporary if rather toned down account:
'My story begins in June, 1940, when volunteers for paratroops were first asked for... Among the seven of us who volunteered were Sergt. Cook Cpls. Lymer and Shutt... Shortly after our first interview, three of us were notified that we had been selected for this new branch of the Service, and Cpls. Shutt and Scott and I duly presented ourselves for training at a Northern aerodrome. Better pens than mine have described the training undergone by paratroops, yet I would like to add that after six months' ground and air training I felt fitter than I'd ever been before.
Towards the close of 1940 volunteers were asked for the purpose of carrying out work of sabotage in enemy territory and practically all the personnel of the first four troops (officers and 200 men) volunteered. It was at this time, too, that the first demonstration was given to the General Staff. This took place on a perfect day, and I'm sure we left behind a very good impression, both in the ground and on the minds of the spectators. On this particular day I set up records for low drops and getting from plane to ground. But I was too scared to think of that at the time. In fact, my fright was so great that I just sat there limply in the harness and waited for the bang. Imagine my surprise when I landed perfectly with the chute covering me like a shroud.
Early in January, 1941, about sixty of us were detailed for "an advanced course" in demolitions and automatic weapons, plus plenty of forced marches at five and six miles to the hour. Even on the first day I felt sure that this was destined to be much more than a course, and when later it came out that we were rehearsing our first operation everyone tried to outdo the remainder in keenness. We were told eventually that it was a night job and speculation was lively among us all as to where we were droppingin. Most of us, I'm sure, thought it was bound to be one of three places - France; somewhere in North Africa; or in front of General Wavell's army, which was sweeping up towards Tripoli. The last guess was somewhere in Abyssinia.
Finally, thirty-six of us were selected and we took off for an unknown destination from an eastern aerodrome on the evening of 7th February. We arrived the following morning and found we were in Malta. Then for three days we carried out our final preparations.
At 4pm on 10th February we were given air photographs of our objective and were told it was an aqueduct on the Italian mainland. Shortly afterwards orders came to get out to the planes, and to the tune of "Oh, what a surprise for the Duce!" we drove out to the waiting Whitleys [8 aircraft made up from from 51 and 78 Squadrons].
We took off at about 5pm and made ourselves snug and comfortable....We were still up at about 4,000 feet and could not recognize the ground below; fifteen or twenty minutes later, though, we were down to 500 feet and looking at a broad valley which we had seen many times back in England. We had studied models and maps so much that it was almost like working at home again. Our pilot sent word back that he would fly over the objective three or four times before sending us out. This he did, and we all saw the aqueduct below as we made these dummy runs. I was No. 1 and the signal to go was "Red light, stand by 15 seconds; green light, go." I can't say I felt unconcerned as I sat there, but I do know I was not worrying much. Then the fun started. The signal came green - red just like that and I almost went out. Again we circled, and again it came green - red, only this time with a half-second pause between the two. I had almost gone and shouted to the two behind me to grab my harness. They did so, and I spent the next ten minutes hanging out of the Whitley while we went round again. This time everything was in order, and when green came I just said "Let go." My chute had just developed when I heard a short burst of machine-gun fire. I was looking up at the time and saw flashes from the rear turret of the plane I'd just left. It was the rear gunner's farewell salute to us.
The ground was ploughland with lots of water in furrows, and I made my softest drop ever. But whilst in the air I'd been able to pick out only two other chutes, and when the section closed we found that our arms containers had failed to drop. After contacting No. 1 Section at the aqueduct we discovered that theirs, too, had failed to drop. So we felt much happier when No. 3 Section came up and reported present and correct, and we all shared their quota of arms. No. 4 and 5 planes came over with R.E. and explosives, and the job was started; No. 6 plane had reported engine trouble at Malta, and nothing more had been heard of it. So in the absence of Capt. Daly, R.E., 2/Lieut Paterson, R.E., assumed command of the charge-laying. He had 1,500lb. of explosive instead of 2,500lb. brought out, and as the aqueduct was reinforced he decided to cut the western pier and use a lifting charge under the abutment on the same end. Only about twenty civilians had been encountered and six were employed to carry up the containers. The remainder were too terrified to try to get away and stayed put in their houses.
At 0017 hrs, one slab of guncotton was exploded as a
signal that everything was ready, and around this time a plane fled past at about 4,000 feet. We learned ten days later that it was No. 6 and the section were dropped seven miles too far east.
All sections now withdrew to a point 300 yards west of the aqueduct and the final touch came when it went up. The C.O., Major T.A.G. Pritchard, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was dancing with joy when he came up to tell us that we had cut it in two over the mined pier. This meant that all fresh water and the electric power generated from the system were cut off for Foggia, Bari, Brindisi and Taranto. We received ample confirmation of this weeks later.
Well, the job was done, and now all that remained was to get back to the appointed rendezvous with the submarine Triumph. We had seventy or eighty miles of country to cross, and we split into three sections of eight, eleven and eleven. We didn't know at this time that Capt. Daly and four men were even then starting back, too, from where they had been dropped to the east.
My section was commanded by a grand little Scots-Canadian, 2/Lieut. Jowett. That first night's travel was something to remember. Although we kept on for over three hours, we covered only about eight kilometres in actual distance owing largely to the hills and also the mud, which was well above the knees for the greater part. All three sections rested for the following day within a radius of about three miles, and at 7.30pm on the 11th we were off again. Dogs barking marked our progress practically the whole way. At midnight we crossed the snow line, and then started down on our journey to the coast. In all, that night from 7.30 to 2.15am, we covered about twenty-five miles of very broken country, during which our section's interpreter, F/Lieut. Lucky, R.A.F., had to drop out with a damaged knee. We finally halted for a day on a small, bushy mud island out in the centre of the Sele River. When dawn came we were wet and cold and stiff, but had great hopes of pulling through. But at 8.30am first a dog and then an old man saw us hiding. Scores of people were working on the near bank of the river, and we decided to make for the hills again. So we pushed off and hid again on a hill about 900 feet high with lots of cover. We had been seen, however, and by 11.30am we were surrounded by about 250 civilians with shot guns and 150 carabinieri and infantry. Against this we had one tommy-gun, seven pistols and three knives.
However, Mr. Jowett said he would cover our dash down hill and we would try and burst out of it. After burning our maps, photographs, etc., I took the lads out and down. Lieut. Jowett fired a long burst over the civvies' heads, and they scattered about; two ran diagonally towards him, and these he put down with two bursts of rounds, and then he hit an Italian officer who was coming up the hill. By this time the Italians below had opened up, and how we got down the hill I have no recollection. It was a mad scramble, and when we finally took cover in a plantation below we were still encircled by the "Ities", who continued showing their skill as rapid firers.
Finally, as six of us could not even fire back, we were compelled to surrender. Everything we carried was stolen either by the troops or the civvies, and then they heard for the first time that the two Italians up on the hill were dead.
We were marched over to a bare patch where the bodies lay, and a very hysterical civilian with two pistols assumed charge of a firing squad of twelve civilians armed with some very ancient double and single barrel shotguns. To us the bores seemed to be a foot in diameter. What saved us was the fact that the hysterical chap liked to hear himself talk, and while he was still raving a W.O. of the carabinieri came up and took over. We were marched back to the nearest village and were told there that another section had been caught about seven miles away. Our treatment at this time was not too bad and we were moved to another place - Calitri, where we found that every one of the three sections had been caught. From here we were sent to Naples jail, and we were shackled together with the worst handcuffs and chains I have ever seen. Our wrists and hands were useless when the irons were taken off. At Naples we were photographed and finger-printed, and underwent seven or eight interrogations. Six days after arriving there the last section of No. 6 plane came to keep us company. They had lasted from the Monday night till Saturday afternoon before being caught, and they were very close to the coast. Three weeks saw us moved from Naples and we arrived in our new home, Sulmona Camp. At this time there were only 350 prisoners in the whole of Italy, and we were treated fairly well with lots of food to eat.
For two months we were kept separate from the remainder whilst Rome decided what action to take against us. Eventually we were told that we would join the other prisoners of war. Before this took place, though, we read in the Italian papers that one member of our party had been executed at a place near Rome. His name was Fortunato Picchi, aged 45. Before the war he worked as a waiter in the Savoy Hotel, London, and volunteered for the job from an internment camp. It goes without saying that he was an exceptionally brave man to go with us. For us, caught, there was still a chance to live - but for him none at all.
For the first seven months at Sulmona we actually had too much to eat and even had to burn bread, macaroni and potatoes so that the Italians would not cut the ration down; then we lost all fresh fruit, eggs, fish, etc., and had the other rations cut by 50 per cent. This lasted until September, 1942, and then the ration was cut again by 60 per cent. This meant that each man received 6 2-5 lb. of food every week, and for ten weeks of this period no Red Cross parcels arrived. Luckily no one died, but towards the end everyone in the camp began to complain of stomach cramp, and another month or six weeks would have just about finished us.... Many attempts were made to escape from Sulmona by different fellows. None succeeded, though, and it has the record for Italian camps, as it was used in the last war for Germans and Austrians, and no one got away from there then.... In August and September of last year [1943] American Liberators boosted our morale by making two attacks on Sulmona station and the railway and a munitions factory nearby. Prisoners stood waving on the roofs and window sills as bombs blasted the targets. What a diversion for us! Then, on 8th September, we got news of the armistice whilst a football match was in progress. At first no one would believe it, and even when the truth sank in we shook the Italians by keeping quiet about it and carrying on as before....
Though I have not dwelt in detail when speaking of life in a prison camp, I cannot stress too strongly the great effect such life has on a prisoner from the mental point of view, and I swear that I will never be caught again. Barbed wire has its uses for us, but to appreciate it fully it should only be looked upon from the outside after having first studied its holding properties from inside.'
Tragino 1941: Britain's First Paratroop Raid adds further detail to the capture of Jowett's men, 'More trucks arrived, this time with armed troops. With these firing over their heads, the peasant force began moving up the hill from both sides, spread out in lines abreast. As the first line topped the mound below them, Jowett loosed a few shots above their heads. When this did not halt the advance, he fired three aimed bursts. Three men, a carbinieri and two civilians, fell and the rest scuttled down the hill. Jowett ordered a shift in position to a small copse a bit further down, telling the men to run down to it while he occupied the Italians. They all made it, except that Trooper Crawford was hit in the arm by an Italian bullet. They joined the fight with their pistols, but it was a lost battle. The Italian fire intensified and the copse was riddled with bullets. Jowett ordered the others to surrender but Sergeant Clements refused to give up without him. Only after the lieutenant agreed to come with them, did Clements rise and signal surrender with a handkerchief.
The Italians were in a foul mood. Jowett's bursts had killed two of them and several more had been wounded. A civilian, armed with a rifle, two pistols and with two crossed bandoliers across his chest, took charge and ordered the prisoners stripped to the waist. They were marched down the hill, lined up against an outcrop of rock and 20 men lined up facing them. With a shock, the Britons realised they were going to be executed. Lucky tried telling the Italian that they were now prisoners protected by the Geneva Convention, but the little man reacted by putting his pistol against Lucky's head, shouting that they were murderers and ex-convicts. Next, he began an excited speech, inciting the crowd to avenge the death of the two Italians and have no mercy on the British bandits. He raised his arm and the firing squad took aim. He was about to give the command when, from the right, an army officer on horseback appeared, at the gallop and shouting 'Militari! Militari!' He halted between the firing party and the prisoners, leaped from his horse and with a gloved hand struck the bumptious Italian across both sides of the face. Next, he turned to the prisoners and explained, in English, that they were now safe in Army hands and would be treated as prisoners-of-war.'
POW - Clandestine Operations
Clements took on a special and secret role once imprisoned at Sulmona Camp, establishing clandestine communication between the prisoners and the War Office. The men of 'X' Troop once imprisoned, 'showed that they were of a different brand. Pritchard soon set up an escape committee, and he was the leading spirit behind many plans. Although not all attempts were successful, all officers of 'X' Troop made at least one escape attempt. Lea and Deane-Drummond made a daring attempt on the night of December 8/9 disguised as electricians and using a makeshift ladder. Jumping down the other side of the wall, Lea was hit in the leg by a sentry and only Deane-Drummond got away. He almost made it to Switzerland. While he was away, Lucky escaped across the wall with a ladder too, but did not get very far before being recaptured. As punishment, Pritchard, Paterson, Lucky and Deane-Drummond were sent to Campo 27, a special camp for dangerous prisoners in a monastery near Pisa...
Meanwhile, back at Sulmona, Jowett had escaped too. Helped over the wall by Sergeants Clements and Lawley, he managed one train journey towards Switzerland, but was recaptured while changing to another train. For their part, the sergeants and men of 'X' Troop worked on a tunnel for three months and it had already progressed some 172 feet when it was discovered.' (ibid)
In September 1943, as the German Army arrived at the camp to transport the prisoners back to Germany, Sergeants Clements and Lawley made good their escape. After a gruelling four-weeks march south through the mountains they reached Allied lines on the 13th October. In difficult mountainous terrain, poor weather and with scant rations they covered over a hundred miles in 22 days.
Extracts from the pencil diary that Clements kept during the escape give a flavour of the conditions, and the German hunt for other POW's at large:
Mon 20th - Bad head and chest cold. Reached C.M.M. at 9.30. Met an English speaking couple there. Received eggs, bread and cheese from some women and carried on for Schiavi D'Abruzzi. Met Sgt. Law and another Sgt. at C.M.M. gave us English tobacco for a roller. German ambulance passed us on road we were 25 yds away feasting on raw eggs and dry bread. Scared a man, his wife and daughter. Thought we were Js. Warnes us to carry on as Jerry patrols were near Schiavi. Crossed Tragino River. Jerry plane flew over us at height of 200ft.
Mon 27th - German column moving NE on secondary road from Casacalenda through Guadalfiera i Palato - borrowed glasses to observe better but were too weak.
Thurs 30th - Continuation of yesterday's bombing far off. Heard our lads are only 25 kilos away - but have heard since that it's another false alarm. Italian took 6 through to Foggia but was stopped by Jerry lines which stretch from Termoli to Benevento. Decide to hang on a bit longer here as 3 of us cannot obtain civvies at all and the country past Casacalenda is all open.
Mon 4th - Went for a walk with glasses and saw very large Jerry force moving N on Casacalenda secondary road. Lots of tanks. Our planes bombed during the evening N of us.
Tues 12th - Casacalenda ridge flattened by our artillery impossible to sleep at night - Jerry destroyed the bridge at Guardalfiera and 4 or 5 extremely heavy explosions heard south and west - probably other demolitions by Jerry on Campobasso road.
Weds 13th - Went for a walk... heard we were at Casacalenda (TRUE) so we returned to Chapel... 50 yds from there man and woman screamed at us to escape quick because Jerry patrol from Maronne had come down and was waiting for us... we fled and arrived at Casacalenda just after one. Met our troops there and were moved back to S. Croce di Magliano.'
Clements returned to the UK and was recommended for the D.C.M. by MI9, for his activities as a POW, and his subsequent escape. He was commissioned in to the 12th (Yorkshire) Battalion Parachute Regiment in August 1944.
Battle of the Bulge
In December 1945 Clements was dispatched with his battalion from England to help counter the German offensive in the Ardennes. On the 5th January 1945, Clements' platoon was ordered to occupy a hill on the feature north of Grupon dominating the town of Bure in Belgium. The conditions were horrendous, and the lightly armed Paras faced 'some hours of fighting, enemy armour, including a Tiger tank... Clements called down artillery fire from an exposed position but found his troops were all but surrounded. He gave orders for them to withdraw but during the first bound was wounded in the stomach. Although he could not move himself, he continued to command and gave the necessary orders for the remainder to withdraw. Without food, and in the bitterly cold snow of the Ardennes, he successfully extracted his platoon and continued to engage the enemy with artillery until his own evacuation could be arranged. He was by now severely wounded in the arm, leg and stomach and both bearers carrying his stretcher were killed.' (Obituary refers)
Clements passed out due to loss of blood. When he came round again he was in bed and horrified to see snow covered pine trees. He was convinced he was still in the Ardennes, but as luck would have it he was in an officers' hospital at Gleneagles.
Due to the severity of his wounds Clements was invalided out of the Army. A position was found for him in the Ministry of Defence, and in 1946 after all witnesses had been released from POW camps and debriefed on the first airborne operation he was awarded an M.M. for his gallantry during Operation Colossus.
A D.S.O., four M.C.s and four M.M's were awarded for Operation Colossus. Clements was one of the most highly decorated members of the airborne forces, of which he had been a founder member.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... The Outstanding and Scarce 'Final Stand at Arnhem Bridge' M.C. Group of Ten to Colonel B.W. Briggs, 1st Parachute Brigade and Leicestershire Regiment, Who Served With the Paras in North Africa, Sicily and Italy Before Commanding a Composite Force During Operation Market Garden. One of the First To Reach the Bridge and One of the Last to Leave it, His Wireless Conversation With Johnny Frost Exemplifies the Spirit of the Defence -
Captain Briggs: The position is untenable. Can I have your permission to withdraw?
Frost: If it is untenable you may withdraw to your original position.
Captain Briggs: Everything is comfortable. I am now going in with bayonets and grenades.
a) Military Cross, G.VI.R., reverse dated '1945', unnamed as issued
b) 1939-1945 Star
c) Italy Star
d) France and Germany Star
e) Defence and War Medals
f) Korea 1950-53, 1st 'Britt: Omn:' type, M.I.D. Oak Leaf (Major B.W. Briggs. M.C. Leicesters.)
g) United Nations Medal for Korea
h) Africa General Service 1902-56, E.II.R., one clasp, Kenya (Major B.W. Briggs. M.C. R. Leicesters.)
i) General Service 1918-62, E.II.R., one clasp, Arabian Peninsula (Lt. Col. B.W. Briggs. M.C. R. Leicesters.), generally very fine, mounted as originally worn, with the following related items:
- Original Para Red Beret, complete with Badge, recipient's name stitched into lining, as worn on Arnhem Bridge, slightly moth-eaten
- M.I.D. Certificate, dated 10.10.1952
- A quartered card diary (in pencil) used by recipient from his "arrival" in Arnhem to his repatriation to the UK
- Aden Protectorate Levies Car Pennant
- Several photographs from various stages of his service career (lot)
M.C. London Gazette 20.9.1945 Captain (temporary) Bernard Walter Briggs (129061), The Royal Warwickshire Regiment
'In recognition of gallant and distinguished services at Arnhem.'
The Recommendation states: 'Early on the night of D Day (Sep 17) Capt Briggs was given command of a mixed force of Bde HQ, Signals, RE and Ordnance personnel, and ordered to hold an important sector East of Arnhem Bridge. The position was difficult to hold as fruit trees and shrubs gave the enemy a covered line of approach.
During the following two days the enemy repeatedly attacked this position with tanks and infantry in greatly superior numbers. They were driven back each time with heavy losses. The position was under continuous mortar fire. During the afternoon of D + 2 and morning of D + 3 the situation was made more difficult by the enemy setting fire to the houses Capt Briggs' party was occupying. In spite of this and resulting enemy infiltration he continued to hold the position until every house was burnt down.
He then skilfully withdrew the remnants of his force to "A" Coy's position and continued to fight with them.
Capt Briggs skilful and inspiring leadership was an example to all and it was undoubtedly largely due to his efforts that the most important and difficult position was held for so long.'
M.I.D. London Gazette 10.10.1952 Maj. B.W. Briggs, M.C. (129061), R. Leicesters (129061)
Colonel Bernard Walter Briggs, M.C. (1914-1989), mobilised from the Territorial Army he served in the ranks for 238 days. He was commissioned from 162 OCTU into The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 27.4.1940. He served as Acting Captain, 12.12.1941-11.3.1942 and Temporary Captain 12.3.1942-9.7.1945. Briggs served with the 1st Parachute Brigade in North Africa, Sicily and Italy before serving with HQ 1st Parachute Brigade for Operation Market Garden.
The 1st Parachute Brigade consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Parachute Battalions, together with Headquarters (of which Briggs was a part) and its defence platoon. The 1st Parachute Brigade and the 1st Air Landing Brigade were the first to jump out of a collective force of just shy of 9,000 men allotted for the operation. The remainder were to jump the the next day. Briggs, as his diary relates, 'dropped Arnhem 1407hrs 17 Sep 44', at Landing Zone 'X'. Briggs pressed on to the bridge at Arnhem, with the soon to be isolated force under Frost, 'we must return to the bridge and the men who had captured it by nightfall of the first day, and who still held on with grim tenacity long after all hopes relief or reinforcement had vanished. The destruction of the German armoured cars and half-track vehicles which sought to cross the bridge and enter Arnhem on the morning of the 18th showed the enemy that the Parachutists were strongly established and in force. He therefore began to mortar the houses and positions near the bridge; these were held by the 2nd Battalion and remnants of the 3rd, supported by elements of the Headquarters of the 1st Parachute Brigade, of the Royal Engineers, the R.A.M.C. and R.A.S.C., of the Light Regiment of Artillery and one troop of anti-tank guns. The mortar fire continued as long as there were any airborne troops on the area.' (By Air To Battle, The Official Account of the British Airborne Divisions, refers)
On the night of the 17th, after the drop, Briggs had been given command of the mixed force of Brigade HQ, Signals, Royal Engineers and Ordnance personnel and led his men in an infantrymen role in support of Frost's 2nd Battalion. They took up a position east of the bridge with 'A' Company, 'in the afternoon of the 18th an enemy attack succeeded in driving some of the Brigade defence platoon out of their houses, but the two German tanks leading it were eventually knocked out, one by a six-pounder, the other by a Piat; and just before dark, four houses were set on fire and their garrisons had therefore to leave them. All through that day there had been many rumours that the 1st and 3rd Battalions would arrive with much needed reinforcements, but by late afternoon no one had appeared and hope died, to be revived, however, by the news that the South Staffordshires and the 11th Parachute Battalion were fighting their way towards the bridge. In an endeavour to deal with Frost and his men before their arrival, the Germans, about sunset, formed up for an infantry attack but were forestalled by the parachutists. Shouting their battle-cry, "Whoa, Mohammed!" they charged the enemy with the bayonet.
After an uneasy night with many alarums and excursions the captors of the bridge preared at dawn on the 19th to deal with further counter attacks. These did not develop immediately, for at first the enemy contented himself with heavy mortaring and shelling, the shells being fired by tanks which had crept up to a position close to the river bank. This fire lasted throughout the morning until Captain A. Frank [A Company] dealt with the tanks by means of Piats... the defenders of the bridge held on and did not falter, not even when a Tiger tank moved down the road just before dark and pumped shells into each house in turn.' (ibid)
Briggs' key position had been under continuous fire from the 19th-20th, with the houses in which his men were positioned in flames. Despite this, 'the spirit of the defence is best exemplified by the following wireless dialogue which was overheard.
Captain Briggs: The position is untenable. Can I have your permission to withdraw?
Frost: If it is untenable you may withdraw to your original position.
Captain Briggs: Everything is comfortable. I am now going in with bayonets and grenades.' (ibid)
Despite his continued best efforts Briggs was burnt out of his position by midday of the 20th. His men took up positions with 'A' and 'B' Companies to the north of the Bridge.
The Final Stand
Having repositioned, and with the number of wounded mounting, a two hour truce was arranged with the Germans. During the truce the wounded, including Frost, were evacuated. The Shrinking Perimeter, by M. Bowman, illustrates the position that the beleaguered Paratroopers were in, 'When the last wounded soldier was taken away the battle began again - there were only about 150 men capable of fighting - and it was decided to split into two parties which at dawn on Thursday would occupy a group of ruined buildings on the river bank. But by midnight the defence was 'greatly weakened'. The 2nd Bn, commanded by Major Tatham-Warter, whose conduct was exemplary even amid so much gallantry, had suffered heavy casualties, so had its supporting troops, among whom must be numbered the signallers fighting as infantrymen under Captain Bernard Briggs. Ammunition was running short and the key houses commanding the north end of the bridge had been burnt down. The Germans posted in houses further back nearer the town, though making no attempt to infiltrate, kept the whole area of the defence under more or less continuous small arms and automatic fire. By now those of the defenders who were not beneath the bridge were holding slit trenches hastily dug in the garden of the houses from which they had been driven by fire.'
Now under attack from enemy aircraft, tanks and artillery the situation became critical, 'the final stand was made, first in a warehouse, and then underneath the bridge, the total number still capable of fighting being about 110 men and five or six officers. The position was shelled by a German tank and armoured car, but they were unable to hit that part of the underside of the bridge where the defence was holding out. It was at this juncture that Lieutenant Grayburn, whose valour earned him a Victoria Cross which he did not live to receive, led a series of counter-attacks, in one of which the Germans laying charges to blow the bridge were killed and the charges torn out. Every time a patrol went out it suffered casualties, and with each hour the situation became more and more hopeless. There was no more ammunition, there had been no food for a long time, and hardly a man but was wounded. The very ground on which the defenders stood or crouched was constantly seared by flames from the burning houses about it, and no man could remain there and live.
So in the end the gallant remnant were dispersed or captured.'
The Paras, in isolation, had held the Bridge for 80 hours. Briggs was one of the final men to leave it, as his diary laconically records, 'Captured Arnhem am 21 Sep (Thurs). Spent day in ruined Church, & evening in Mission Hall. moved early am.'
Prisoner of War
Briggs' diary show his movements once captured:
'Arrived house outskirts Arnhem am 22 Sep. Left for Zutphen aft. 24 Sep. Massacre on way.
Arrived warehouse Zutphen pm 24 Sep. Left for Enschede am 25 Sep.
Arrived warehouse Enschede pm 25 Sep. Left for Oberusel aft. 26 Sep. Journey down Rhine.
Interogation Dulag Luft Oberusel pm 27 Sep. Left for Wetzlar aft. 6 Oct. 9 1/2 days Solitary
Arrived Transit Camp Wetzlar pm 6 Oct. Left for Limburg am 10 Oct.
Arrived Transit Camp Limburg pm 10 Oct. Left for Diez pm. 16 Oct.
Arrived Interogation Centre (Army) Diez pm 16 Oct. Left for Limburg aft. 19 Oct. Solitary for 3 days. Lost Douglas. He rejoined at Hadamar 23 Oct.
Arrived Transit Camp Limburg aft. 19 Oct. Left for Hadamar aft. 20 Oct.
Arrived Transit Camp Hadamar aft. 20 Oct. Left for Eichstatt aft. 21 Jan (3 months)
Arrived Permanent Camp Eichstatt aft. 23 Jan. Left for Modsburg pm (2 3/4 months) March Route
Arrived Permanent Camp Modsburg am 22 Apr. Liberated Apr. 29th 45. (32 weeks since drop).'
Korea, Kenya and the Arabian Peninsula
Briggs arrived back in England, 10.5.1945. He advanced Captain 6.12.1945, before transferring to the Leicestershire Regiment, 22.2.1947. He was promoted Major, attached Parachute Regiment, Depot Airborne Forces, 6.12.1950. He served at the Midland Brigade Training Centre prior to returning to the Leicestershire Regiment for service in Korea.
In October 1951 the 1st Battalion embarked at Hong Kong for Korea. Briggs commanded 'D' Company 1st Battalion in Korea. On 5th November the Battalion (mainly made up of young inexperienced national servicemen) took part in what was afterwards known as the Gunpowder Plot Battle (the battle of Maryang San).There the Battalion won the last two Battle Honours of The Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Briggs was MID for this campaign.
Having returned to the UK Briggs was appointed to the command of 'C' Company in 1953, before commanding the 1st Battalion's Coronation Detachment, 2.6.1953. He served at the Army Air Transport Training & Development Centre, 1953-55; before rounding off a remarkable career serving in another two campaigns, firstly with the 1st KAR, in Kenya, 1955-57; and lastly as Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding 1st Mobile Battalion Aden Protectorate Levies, on the Arabian Peninsula 1958-61; he retired 27.9.1961. In later life he changed his name to Myddleton-Briggs.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... A Fine Second War Fighter Ace's 1942 'Immediate' D.F.C. and '1945' Second Award Bar Group of Eight to Spitfire, Hurricane, Kittyhawk and Tempest Pilot, Squadron Leader R.L. 'Spud' Spurdle, Royal Air Force, Who Flew As Sailor Malan's No 2 During the Height of the Battle of Britain, And Was Forced to Bale Out, 22.10.1940, When His Spitfire Broke Up Mid-Air in Pursuit of an Enemy Fighter. He Accumulated a Score of 10 Destroyed, 2 and 1 Shared Probable, 9 and 2 Shared Damaged, and Countless Ground Targets Over the Western Front and the Pacific. Having Amassed 720 Operational Hours in the Air Fighting Against Both the Germans and the Japanese, Spurdle Decided to Try His Hand On Land. He Was Attached to the 6th Airborne Glider Group for Operation Varsity, and Served for the Remainder of the War, Attached to the 11th Armoured Division, Calling in Fighter-Bombers on 'Cab Rank' Sorties
a) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1942', with Second Award Bar, reverse officially dated '1945'
b) 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain Bar
c) Atlantic Star
d) Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany bar
e) Pacific Star
f) Defence Medal
g) War Medal, M.I.D. Oak Leaf
h) New Zealand War Service Medal, generally good very fine, mounted court-style for wear, with the following related items:
- No 1 Jacket, complete with medal ribands, N.Z. Wings, and New Zealand shoulder flashes
- R.A.F. Pilot's Flying Log Book (20.8.1940-2.8.1945), replete with additional annotations, photographs, and drawings
- Portrait photograph of recipient in uniform, framed and glazed
- A copy of The Blue Arena, by Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle, and a bound copy of research (lot)
D.F.C. London Gazette 14.8.1942 Acting Flight Lieutenant Robert Lawrence Spurdle (44230) No. 91 Squadron
'This officer is a keen and determined pilot. He has destroyed 5, probably destroyed 4 and damaged several more enemy aircraft. His devotion to duty has set a praiseworthy example.'
The Recommendation states: 'This officer joined 91 Squadron in February 1941, but after three months he was posted to M.S.F.U. He returned to 91 Squadron on 17.2.1942 and became "A" Flight Commander on 11.4.1942.
Between September 1940 and May 1941 he accounted for 4 destroyed, 4 1/2 probably destroyed and 4 1/3 damaged.
In October 1940 he was forced to bale out and landed successfully.
With 91 Squadron he has shown great keenness and has carried out many shipping and weather recces. He has completed 300 operational hours.'
Covering Remarks of Sector Commander: 'Strongly Recommended. This Officer shot down another Me.109 on the 25th July, 1942.'
D.F.C. Second Award Bar London Gazette 26.1.1945 Robert Lawrence Spurdle, D.F.C. (44230), R.A.F., 80 Sqn
The Recommendation states: 'Since being awarded the D.F.C. this officer has carried out 367 sorties. He has destroyed four enemy aircraft and damaged a further six, and in addition to this he has destroyed or damaged a number of ground and sea targets.
S/L Spurdle has always shown a fine offensive spirit and has set a standard that has been exemplary. He has completed a total of 720 operational hours, and has fought both in the Pacific and on the Western fronts. S/L Spurdle has experience of nearly every type of fighter operation, and has shown himself to be an outstandingly courageous and skilful leader.'
Remarks by the Commander of the Wing: 'Since joining the Wing S/Ldr. Spurdle has displayed outstanding keenness to engage the enemy. He is a first class leader with an exceptional operational record, which well merits the award of a bar to the D.F.C.'
Squadron Leader Robert Lawrence Spurdle, D.F.C., born Wanganui, New Zealand, 1918. He was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School before applying for a short service commission in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He reported for ground training at Rongotai in September 1939. Having carried out training at No. 1 EFTS, Taeri and No.1 FTS Wigram Spurdle embarked on the S.S. Rangitata for the UK. He was posted for further training to 7 OTU, Hawarden, 4.8.1940. Whilst learning the basics of the Spitfire Spurdle managed to entertain himself, 'It was a grand day and I was on sector reconnaissance (officially) but for the fun I was hurtling up and down the brown tussock-clad hills of Wales. Low flying, strictly forbidden, is the most marvellous thrill but here there were no houses or roads, so no one to report me. But what's this? A long line of army types in line abreast struggling up a slope. Let's add some realism to the manoeuvres; so around we go, my Spitfire and I, in a tight bank, white contrails peeling back from each wing tip. It was a most satisfactory beat-up, with the 'brown jobs' throwing themselves down enthusiastically each time I roared over.
But back at Hawarden the Wing Commander had me on the mat.
'If you weren't so badly needed I'd have you thrown out! Do you know what you did?'
'Yes sir! Beat up some brow... er, army exercise, sir.'
'Did you, hell! That was Lord... [I have forgotten] grouse shoot you ruined. Now get out of here and don't put a foot wrong again in my command!' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers).
74 Squadron - Sailor Malan's No 2
Having successfully converted to Spitfires Spurdle was posted as a pilot for operational flying to 74 Squadron, Kirton-in-Lindsey, 21.8.1940, 'Wally and I stood before Sailor Malan and gazed at our new CO with deep respect. 'You pilots will be trained hard in the next few weeks. Your life expectancy will be in direct ratio to your ability to learn. Spurdle, you are being put into 'A' Flight - your commander is Flight Lieutenant Freeborn. You, Churches, are in 'B' Flight with Mungo Park. This is a famous squadron and I expect you both to remember it. In the last war Major Mannock won the VC flying for 74. He shot down 73 enemy aircraft. Soon you, too, will have plenty of targets. I'm sure you'll do well!' (ibid)
The squadron was heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain and Spurdle carried out his first patrol on the 28th August. He moved with the squadron to Coltishall and did not have to wait long for his first success, 14.9.1940, 'Patrol [Intercepted HE III], Near Lowestoft (green section), Heinkel IIIK (damaged) shared with F/Lt. Freeborn + Sgt. Kirk. E/A's St'd motor heavily hit + fuselage riddled' (Log Book refers).
He moved with the squadron to Biggin Hill, 15.10.1940, and 'by now had been involved in several air battles. As Malan's No 2, I had seen enough to have the greenness bleached a little - I knew what it was all about. Had shot and been shot at. Had puked my guts out before getting into my Spit and flown almost automatically until the call Tally Ho!' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers).
However none of the above helped Spurdle when he nearly came to an untimely end seven days later during his third scramble of the day, 'two spitfires patrolling at 20,000 feet over the London area sighted two Messerschmitts 109. One of the pilots was a New Zealander. The other, his C.O., was a South African. Each selected a Nazi and dived. As the New Zealander swept down on the yellow-nosed German fighter he felt his aircraft shudder. In a second he saw the right wing of his Spitfire crumple and rip away like tissue paper. A split second later the cockpit hood was shattered by blast.
The New Zealander, as he expressed it afterwards, found himself "shot out" of the Spitfire. The speed at which he was travelling caused his helmet and his sheepskin-lined, zipp-fastened boots to be plucked from his spinning body.
At that height it was icy cold, and divorced so abruptly from his oxygen supply he became semi-conscious. But instinct prompted him to pull the rip cord of his parachute, and he began a leisurely four mile drift to earth.
Dazed, and with his yellow "Mae West" lifebelt scrappled round his head, he could see nothing of the fighting he had left so unceremoniously as he swung backward and forward under his silken umbrella.
A Nazi spotted him, however, and swooped on him, sending a stream of bullets at the helpless New Zealander. The odds were against him landing alive. But the Nazi's hope of killing a "sitter" was squashed abruptly by another New Zealand pilot and British pilot with the D.S.O. and D.F.C. and bar to his name. They circled round the dangling pilot and protected him from the Nazi, although at that time they were not sure whether he was a British or German airman, and eventually the New Zealander landed safely in a ploughed field... The New Zealander, who thus joined the Caterpillar Club, was Pilot Officer R.L. Spurdle, of Wanganui. Pilot Officer E.W.G. Churches (Auckland) was the New Zealander who had unconsciously protected his close friend - they travelled to England in the same ship - and the British airman, who finally chased off after the Nazi, was Pilot Officer H.M. Stephen.' (Newspaper article refers)
Spurdle's aircraft crashed at Hadlow Place near Tonbridge. He was back in the air almost immediately claiming a Bf109 Probable south of Kenley at the end of the month, and a Bf109 destroyed (Oberfeldwebel Fritz Noller) over Maidstone, 2.11.1940. The squadron took every opportunity of action and in November destroyed 26 aircraft, and 12 the following month. Spurdle contributed to this tally on the 14th November with a Ju 87 destroyed and 2 others damaged. His patrol had intercepted at least 30 enemy aircraft over Dover, with his log book recording, 'Junkers 87 (Prob) intercepted over Dover - shot at + damaged two others - blew entire cockpit covers off third + killed rear gunner.' His autobiography offers more insight, 'At last! After weeks of trying and waiting: after dozens of fighter versus fighter interceptions, we caught a large formation of the hated Ju 87s flying in to attack Dover. They were under a cloud layer at about 16,000 feet in tight vics, tier upon tier. About fifty of them and their escort of 109s had stupidly gone above the cloud layer! And with Mungo's 'Tally Ho' we got stuck in.
In a few seconds there were machines all over the sky. Timid Huns broke for home but the leader and many others bored on regardless and these brave men were cut to pieces... Flaming bombers fell out of the grey sky trailing red comet-tails to crash and burn on the Channel's cold waters... The Brownings hammered and pieces flew off to flick past and away. His rear gun stopped firing and stuck up vertically, waving slowly from side to side as the gunner sagged down. I throttled back, went into fine pitch and the Spit slowed... I didn't trust the rear gunner being completely harmless and out of it. Full bore again and around and back in a screaming 'S' turn. This time there was no return fire and I saw my De Wildes winking along the Hun's fuselage and wheel spats. Its motor belched puffs of smoke and the propeller windmilled slowly. It's finished and I dived on to the next one.
Again the rear gunner opened up and again my eight Brownings enveloped the diving Hun. Bits jerked off and I left him to move on to yet a third and pour all my ammunition into it from the rear. There was a shower of fragments and the whole of the enemy's canopy came away. A quick turn and back onto his tail. I could see the pilot, helmet off, bent forward in his cockpit and to keep behind him I lowered my flaps. The Spit heaved up and I forced its nose back down and drew a bead on the stricken plane ahead. Only one gun fired! I was out of ammo! Of all the bloody luck!'
The 'Distractions' of Biggin Hill
Like most young fighter pilots of the time Spurdle chose to wind-down in one of the pubs around Biggin Hill, his preference being The Old Jail Inn, but sometimes there was just no escape, 'One cold night, staggering back to Biggin from the Old Jail, I was caught in a bad raid. The flash and crump of bombs, the falling debris unnerved me. Feeling dreadfully alone and surrounded by empty fields I put my arms around the trunk of an ancient oak. It was alive! Clinging to it, kneeling in the grass, I drew comfort from its great strength.
It had been here when my forebears had set out for New Zealand; it had been here when German Zeppelins had droned over on their way to London in the First World War.
I was suddenly intensely aware of the abominations in the air above, of the insult, of the sheer disgusting invasion of our homeland, and in getting furious, my rage overcame my fear. This night and this wonderful old tree changed my entire outlook and attitude towards the war. Up to this moment war had been a fantastic if scary adventure. Now it became a crusade against the evil things Hitler's Germany had spawned.' (ibid)
On the 5th December Spurdle rounded off 1940 with a Bf109 destroyed over Dymchurch, 'On one occasion Spurdle actually flew in between two 109s which were patrolling about 60 yards apart.
"I had an oily film over my windscreen", he said, "and I didn't realise they were two Huns at first. I gave the one on my right a quick squirt. Then I throttled back and got on the tail of his friend, and he went down after a few short bursts.' (newspaper cutting refers)
A Hangover Helps - Two Destroyed, and One Damaged
With the advent of the New Year the squadron continued on the offensive flying fighter sweeps as often as the weather permitted. Spurdle, during a moment's respite, was briefly attached to No.1 Ferry Pilots Pool, Air Transport Auxiliary. He returned to 74 Squadron at the end of February. Spurdle quickly illustrated on the 4th of March that he had not got 'rusty', despite it being 'the day after my twenty-third birthday and wearing a monumental hangover.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers). He accounted for two Bf109's and one Damaged, as an article that appeared in the Evening Post records:
'It was 4pm on a day this month when a Spitfire squadron took off and in a few minutes were over occupied France hoping that the Luftwaffe would answer the challenge.
For 20 minutes the Spitfires flew up and down, unhindered. Suddenly three Messerchmitt 109s streaked towards the formation. Then seven more came at them from almost straight ahead.
The Pilot Officer [Spurdle] describes what happened:
"I pulled straight up (set his machine into a climb) and opened fire on the leader. The target changed from semi-head-on to full broadside. My fire went straight into the enemy aircraft's belly. Almost instantaneously there was a burst of flame behind the pilot.
My Spitfire stalled, and fell in a spin. I let her spin until I had lost 5000ft in height. Then I climbed again after the enemy formation which had now turned north. They were descending too.
I opened fire again. This time it was on the rearmost aircraft. I got in three bursts. The enemy turned right and half-rolled.
Faint white mist came from under the right wing-root. The remainder interfered and I was forced to break contact.
As I was flying back over the Channel I saw a Me. 109 stalk and shoot at the squadron leader's Spitfire. Then he did a climbing turn to the left. He had not seen me.
I opened fire and closed to point-blank range. He had big black numerals and a bright green nose. The enemy aircraft started to send out clouds of black smoke and flames. It appeared to be out of control and burning fiercely."
On the 24th and the 25th March Spurdle was engaged in Convoy Patrols, making contact with enemy aircraft south-east of Ramsgate on both days. He shared a Ju 88 Probable before claiming a Do. 215 Damaged, 'E/A made a head-on attack - only time for a half sec burst - received bullet in St'd Wing - the first yet' (Log Book refers).
Whilst on patrol on the 6th April, 'F/Lt. Bartley D.F.C. & self attacked Me. 109 on ground & I shot down an Me. 110 (Prob.) which belly landed in field. My machine received 2 cannon shell + 4m/gun hits.' An article that appeared in The Star added the following with regard to Spurdle's contact, 'With a cannon-shell hole through his propeller blade and one of his aileron controls shot away in a fight over Northern France, a Spitfire pilot not only reached home safely, but shot down an Me. 110 on the way.
He had started using clouds as cover, but blind flying was almost impossible.
"I came out of cover and there was an Me. right in front of me going in the same direction," he said.
"I opened fire and the enemy turned left and crash-landed in a big field."
91 Squadron, Hawkinge
Seven days later Spurdle was posted for operational flying to 91 Squadron (Spitfires) at Hawkinge, 'Things had changed from my early days with 74 and it had become an unhappy divided squadron for me. I had never been at ease with Freeborn, but, protected to a degree by the awesome Malan, it had been a rude shock to learn that Sailor was indeed promoted Wing Commander and was to lead the Biggin Wing. So I had put in for a posting to another squadron, choosing 91 as it had been recommended by Malan and sounded exciting. Malan thought its' particular role more suited to my temperament than that of a conventional squadron. The posting came through and Wally and I said goodbye. We'd shared the high honour of flying as Malan's No 2's almost exclusively.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers).
The squadron were tasked with a number of duties including Rhubarbs over the continent, shipping recces into the North Sea and escorting the Air-Sea Rescue Lysanders and Walruses as they went over the Channel to pick up aircrew in dinghies. It was whilst on one of these Lysander escorts that he claimed a Me. 109 Probable, south-east of Margate, 7.5.1941, 'Intercepted in act of shooting down Balloon on Convoy. (Over 1000 rounds into him at 50-100 yds!).'
Spurdle claimed another Me.109 Damaged on the 18th May before ending his tour five days later. He had completed over 180 hours and 173 sorties. Spurdle was posted to the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit at Speke. Whilst at Speke he learned to operate catapult Hurricanes. During his time with the unit Spurdle made two trips to the USA, in the Camships Eastern City and Novelist. He returned to Spitfires and 91 Squadron in February 1942. Spurdle was appointed 'A' Flight Commander in April and was detached at Lympne aerodrome. At the latter, 'we were quartered in the great mansion of the late Sir Phillip Sassoon, Under Secretary of State for Air. It was magnificent - a swimming pool, crushed brick tennis courts and even one extra special loo built like an armchair with a padded velvet seat... As our operational hours crept up and we slowly grew tired, our sense of propriety blurred and our excesses became bizarre. We drank far too much and any excuse for fun would start a party or madcap escapade. Heapo [Johnny Heap] and I developed a dangerous sport.
Donning our heavy sheep-wool and goon-skins and steel hats, we'd position ourselves one at each end of a 50 yard lawn lined with clipped hedges. As the sun set tiny bats would flit along from one end to the other catching moths. We'd try to shoot them. It called for a lot of skill as they jinked about and at the flash of a gun you'd duck your head. Pellets would hiss past or ping off harmlessly. But you couldn't afford to blink in case you missed that red flash!' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers)
Despite such high-jinx Spurdle flew seventy-four sorties between 5th April-26th May, including on 'the last day we had a panic scramble to search for and find Group Captain 'Batchy' Atcherley who'd got himself shot down in the channel.'
In a change of tactics 'the Jerries were sending over lone weather recce fighters in increasing numbers and it became a mania to catch them. Heapo and I would scramble and be vectored around by GCI (Ground Controlled Interception). We spent hours at it.' Spurdle's Log Book for June is replete with the phrase 'Tried To Trap Hun'.
A Return to Form - Bagging a German Ace
Success returned in July following the recall of the detachment to Hawkinge. Over the course of the 25-26th Spurdle accounted for a Bf109f destroyed, a FW 190 destroyed and another FW 190 damaged. The Blue Arena takes up the story, 'Got one! An Me 109 off Calais. I needed this - he seemed green or lost or stupid. No real fun - just flew up to him and zapped him down into the sea. He baled out too late, his chute not opening fully... 'Knobby' Clarkson had 1500 hours of flying experience as an instructor and I felt rather foolish leading him. Still, he was new to the game and there is only one way to learn air-fighting - the hard way. For days now we had flown as a team and tried to trap the Hun weather recces which came across the Channel every evening... It was hot and hazy and Knobby and I were patrolling off Dungeness, waiting for the sweep squadrons to come back from Dieppe. Our duty was to scout for E/A's hanging around trying to pick off stragglers... Back and forth, necks craning and eyes watering, continually searching the blue above and around us, the blazing heat of the midday sun beat down in great waves through our Perspex hoods and we cursed the sweep and cursed the Huns. The deep purr of the Merlins was almost soporific... Hullo - there were four planes way up against the opaque sky - about 8,000 feet, I guessed. They passed overhead and away to starboard. We were heading east in line abreast, and they west in line astern - only our planes hadn't flown that formation for a year!
The four strange kites circled above us in the same starboard turn. I couldn't make out what they were and we reached about 5,000 feet before I got a clear view.
'Christ! 190's! Tally Ho!'
Knobby slid into line astern... The Huns were now only a few hundred feet above... I could see their squat radials and stiff wings... Clean and fierce-looking, their camouflage bluey-grey with black spinners - Knobby's first real fight... The Hun leader peeled off - over and over he tilted his plane; now he was clearly visible as he hurtled down from above, his No 2 following close on his tail.
'Turning port!' I shouted and heaved 'K' around. The Hun leader flashed past and I got a snap shot at his No 2. Knobby broke to starboard and I saw the second Hun leader with his No 2 pass above and away.
It was easy to see Jerry's game; we were each to be attacked by a Rotte of two and it was just too bad if we made a mistake. I worried for Knobby but he seemed to be doing OK and was already on the tail of his Hun's No 2. My two playmates zoomed up half a mile away in a climbing turn; it is going to be a head-on attack and I laughed to myself. Jerry No 2's aren't supposed to fire, they are merely stooges to watch their leader's tails and tricks and to pick up the idea of the game. A head-on attack! I laughed again. Malan had been my teacher.
Down they came - two black specks streaming thin brown trails to stain the blue behind. I throttled back, drew a bead on the leader and gave a short burst at some 400 yards. I jinked and gave the second 190 a squirt. The guy's a clot, following his leader much too closely. He jinked violently as my guns flamed, but his leader was made of sterner stuff and never wavered as he flashed beneath me.
Before the second Hun began to break to port, I whipped 'K' over on her side and heaved back the stick. 'K' shuddered - it was just above stalling point and, opened up, I roared after the last Hun.
The leader didn't seem in a hurry to turn but his No 2 was in a flap and weaved violently. Below me Knobby raked the second leader with a shrewd burst. I saw a cannon shell explode on the 190's shiny armoured nose and another blow a cloud of fragments from a wing...
My Hun section was turning fast and to avoid over-shooting I chopped the throttle and went into full fine pitch. I could just get a shot at the second Hun. I followed him round, the dot fair on his cockpit, then I tightened the turn... I pressed the gun-button and the machine guns spluttered way out on the wings while the cannons thumped and coughed... Here they came again. I pressed the button and the cannon's thudding drowned the machine gun's splutter. The leading Hun dipped, lifted. Suddenly a white cloud burst down its fuselage; his tail tore off and, dragging, whipped at the end of a tangle of cables. God! Hit his oxygen bottles! Blown his bloody tail off!'
Having driven off the No 2, Spurdle returned to some interesting news at Hawkinge. The pilot of the FW 190 he had destroyed had managed to parachute to safety, having been captured it was ascertained that he was 'Lt. Horst Benno Kruger, Iron X 1st & 2nd Class, Goering's bronze medal and had destroyed 17 Allied A/C. He was Swarme Leader Richthofen Squadron!' (Log Book refers).
On the 28th July Spurdle damaged another FW 190 over Dungeness, and on the 3rd August damaged a Bf 109 south of Dover.
Leading the Squadron for Operation Jubilee
At a Group briefing on the 18th August 1942, at which Spurdle was 91 Squadron's acting CO, the plan for the air element of Operation Jubilee was laid out, "Tomorrow we are launching a big raid on a French port. The plan is to try and seize it and hold it for about twenty-four hours. We then will make an orderly withdrawal. One day the invasion must take place to dislodge the Hun. With this raid we can learn a lot about Hun defences and our tactics for the future.
I suggest you all get a very early night - you'll all be up long before dawn. There will be about ten thousand soldiers and sailors involved and we expect a big German reaction both in the air and on the ground. 91's role will be recces to look out for German naval ships - we expect 'E' boats out in force. You will have to cope with lots of ditched aircrew and defensive patrols covering the withdrawal."
On the 19th, 'at dawn I took off for the vital Cape Gris Nez to Ostende recce and to my surprise (and theirs) flew right over and through a convoy of two 1,500 ton coasters, a large 5,000 ton cargo-ship supported by ten flak ships. There was only one thing to do - I dropped right down to twenty feet off the sea and flew directly through the flotilla. In firing at me, the Huns splattered each other! I got in some heavy bursts at a couple of flak ships, did a 180 degree turn and hared back to base to report. Five hairy trips and the day was over. The worst one was to Le Havre in the afternoon with E/A all over the place. Purely by accident I found an airman in the drink who turned out to be one of ours.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers).
Returning Home
By the end of August Spurdle had completed 400 operational hours, having done 214 sorties with 91 Squadron alone. He was found to be 'operationally tired' and was posted to 116 Squadron at Heston on anti-aircraft co-operation duties. Having completed three tours of operations Spurdle requested to be posted to New Zealand. The request was granted and he set sail for New Zealand (via America) in the Queen Elizabeth on the 4th November 1942. On board 'were several well-known faces and, fetching my log book, I approached the most likely prospect.
'Sir, would you do me the honour of autographing my log book?'
Edward G. Robinson [Hollywood Actor] did much more - he quickly made a cartoon sketch of himself, signed it and handed the book on to Sir Alexander Korda [Film Producer and Director]. Much emboldened I approached Douglas Fairbanks Jnr [Hollywood Actor and decorated Naval Officer] who grudgingly signed.' (ibid)
Having returned to New Zealand Spurdle was tasked with setting up the Camera Gun Assessing School at No 2 Observation Training School, 'Some Harvards, Kittyhawks and Vildebeestes were allocated to our school and we were in business. Not having flown either of the first two aircraft, it was an interesting time for us. The Harvard was delightful being a fully aerobatic rugged machine. We had them fitted with .300 machine guns for air to air, and air to ground gunnery.
The Kittyhawks were something else. They had Allison engines which ran very smoothly. They were sturdy, well-made machines with formidable fire power of six .5 machine guns. They had electric trim tabs and a natty little lock-up compartment to carry personal kit around in. They had the flying characteristics of a brick.' (ibid)
Back In The Thick of It - A New Foe
Spurdle, as an experienced fighter pilot was keen to get back in to the fray, 'I got tired of the Gunnery School. Up in the Pacific at Guadalcanal the first of the RNZAF fighter squadrons was in action against the Japanese. It was galling to be on the sidelines training others to go off to the excitement.
By keeping up a barrage of requests and by being a ruddy nuisance, I was replaced as CFI by Roy Bush, who was made an acting squadron leader for the role I had created and held down as flight lieutenant. My chagrin was cured quickly by being appointed as 'A' Flight commander 16 (F) Squadron, working up at Woodbourne 'drome in the South Island.' (ibid)
In June 1943 Spurdle flew with his Squadron to their base on the New Hebrides Islands, 'It was as hot as hell and we were told to take Atabrin tablets to prevent malaria. These eventually turned our skin a sickly yellow. Here we lived in the airy comfortable 'Dallas' huts supplied by the Americans. Everything was strange - coconut palms, fruit bats, a million Yanks, jeeps and trucks.
On the 21st, I flew my first operational flight for ten months - No 395 - anti-submarine patrol.' (ibid)
He moved with the squadron to Guadalcanal in July and flew in Kittyhawks against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands. It was 'at this early stage in Japan's ultimate defeat that I was fortunate enough to participate. From the bloody sophistication of European strife we were now embroiled in a completely different kind of warfare. Where I had flown short sorties of perhaps an hour and a half over some three hundred and seventy odd miles across or along the English Channel, I now regularly flew sorties three times as long and against targets 300 miles distant from our bases.
Where in Europe a downed flier would in all probability be picked up, interrogated and be put in the bag, out here your fate was likely to be decapitation by some bow-legged monkey with a samurai sword. In Europe and the Middle East defeated troops, showing the white flag, were taken prisoner and incarcerated. Here in the steaming jungle the Japanese fought fanatically and had to be virtually exterminated - they didn't quit and surrender even when in a hopeless situation.
There were other nasty hazards - malaria, dengue, yellow jack, yaws, hookworm - a host of diseases. In the jungle spiders and snakes and leeches - in the sea, sharks and stone fish.
But I was back in action and that was all that really counted.' (ibid)
Success In Kittyhawks
The Squadron's role throughout July was primarily as escort to American bomber formations. On the 13th August Spurdle resumed adding to his score a 'Hamp' destroyed and a 'Zero' damaged, 'we did a squadron patrol around Rendova and the Blanche Channel coast-line landing at Segi. We were to operate from this new strip only just completed and now fully operational. Two escort jobs for B24's over Vella La Vella and another to Rekata Bay. One shipping patrol covering seven large troopers and five destroyers. The same day and another scramble! This time over the Wana Wana Lagoon leading Flight Sergeant Pirie as my No 2, and Flight Lieutenant Max De Denne with Flight Sergeant Laurie as his. It was 1450 hours, the fourth flight of the day and feeling a bit blasé, I didn't really expect action. At 1530 hours, and at 21,000 feet, I spotted a gaggle of Zeros and Haps at our height about three miles away. They were looping and rolling around the sky - no formation at all! They looked as if they were on holiday...
Pulling myself together, I 'Tally Hoed' and gave Vega the position number, height and course of the enemy aircraft. It was useless to climb; we had Zeros a thousand feet higher and after the aerobatic display, I just bored straight into the bastards and a dogfight ensued. A Zeke flew directly in front across from port to starboard at about 300 yards range, but I must have missed him not seeing any hits. Turning to port, I attacked another Zeke closing to less than fifty yards and blowing fragments from its starboard wing. Then I saw a Hap slightly below which I was boring in to attack. It half-rolled and I closed diving after it in quick aileron turns. Kittys could dive like falling bricks and I got in about a four second steady burst. Four or five Zeros latched on to me and as their Radial motors loomed a little too large for comfort, it was time to leave. I chased the Hap down to 6,000 feet in a vertical dive throttled back in fine pitch so as not to overshoot. My cockpit misted over, and, pulling out to one side and levelling off, I saw the E/A bury itself in Wana Wana Lagoon.
Another plane crashed about a mile further out. I dived again and at sea level, levelled out and stalked the E/A's still fooling around above as if nothing had happened... I couldn't see my No 2 and hoped like hell his wasn't the other plane that crashed. It was obvious our scrap was over, so I flew to Rendova Island climbing to 4,000 feet... All ended well and we got pretty merry that night on US Navy brandy.' (ibid)
Carrying out anti-shipping patrols between 21st-25th August, Spurdle shared in the destruction of 3 Japanese MTBs, a 300 ton steamer, and the damaging of a motor launch and two barges. Despite this being 'Marvelous sport - the best yet', as recorded in his Log Book, Spurdle wanted aerial combat and this followed on the 26th when he claimed his last victories of the war.
On another close escort mission this time, 'for 27 B24 bombers attacking Kahili air-field with 40 USAAF supporting fighters. Kiwis - three.
'Ma port outer generator's gone blooey - am returning to Cactus,' and a bomber peeled off.
'Having trouble with waist gunner's oxygen' and another went.
Some just turned away without even an excuse. As we neared Bougainville, more and more chickened out until, out of twenty-seven big four-engined bombers, only fifteen remained. In excellent close formation these stalwarts forged on. Of the forty US fighters, only eleven remained.
You could feel the tension mounting as we droned up the Slot climbing to 21,000 feet. To my surprise the bomber leader kept on until about five miles inland when we wheeled around in a great curve and began the bombing run... Flight Sergeant Pirie took the starboard side and I the port with Flight Sergeant Laurie as my No 2.
Flak started to burst amongst us and then I saw Jap fighters coming up in a quarter attack from four o'clock at Pirie. I warned him and at the same time saw a mix of eight or nine Zekes and Haps at ten o'clock at our level. These machines bored in, in a semi head-on attack on the bombers behind us. I fired on the leader seeing a few strikes. At 400 yards, he started to fire and, rolling on his back, continued to fire but at nothing - he was stuffed. Black smoke from both wing-roots poured out and, looking back and below, I saw the thing falling in a ball of flames.
Up above us the B24 gunners were hosing away, their white tracer smoke streaming out in great arcs. Away over to starboard I saw Pirie get a Jap which burst into flames and hurtle down. Sergeant Laurie had somehow gone over to him and now he came back to drive a Zero off my tail. The fight got very confused, the only focal point being the great bombers which released their eggs in long streams to plaster the airfield below. With bombs away, the squadron commander gave his turbo-charge Pratt and Whitney's the gas. His whole squadron began to climb! We couldn't stay with them; our Allison motors wheezing away in the thin air. Steadily the gap between us widened and now the three of us were left to the Jap hornet swarm. Soon we three became separated in the melee. There was only one thing to do and that was put our noses down in screaming dives for the deck.
Ahead of me, I saw a lone Kitty and drew up to it - Noel Pirie... Formating together, Noel and I flew along at fifteen thousand feet below the B24's. Above them several Japs were milling about and suddenly there was a huge white bomb-burst near the bombers. Great streaming tentacles of white smoke hung down from the central cloud. The buggers were trying to bomb the big planes with a new sort of weapon... There was nothing we could do about it and heading towards a patch of smoke on the NE tip of Ganongga Island, we found two small ships on fire. We tickled them up a bit with the last of our ammo...
Back at base more criticism for 'having left the bombers.'
'Left them? Left them? The bastards left us!!'
What a bloody lovely situation.
I was having a miserable time at night with pain from the injuries received on my bale-out from the crippled Spitfire in England. The heat and sweat were making my life hell and continual frustrations of these pitiful bomber escort jobs became more than I could bear.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers)
Disenchanted with life in this theatre of operations Spurdle requested a return to operations in Europe. He returned to New Zealand before leaving for the UK in December 1943. Travelling via Melbourne, Ceylon, the Suez Canal and Gibraltar he disembarked on the 26th March 1944.
Back To Blighty
Spurdle's attachment to the RNZAF ceased and he joined the newly re-formed 130 Squadron at Lympne, 13th April 1944. Here he was re-united with Spitfires, '130 was a good bunch and, flying as a section-leader, I did six ops before being summoned by Wing Commander 'Hawkeye' Wells [another Kiwi] to Hornchurch for an interview...
'Now, how would you like to join my wing? You'd come in as a flight commander and in line for your own squadron.'
'Wizard! What's the squadron and what are we flying?'
'80 - they're just back from Italy with an excellent record and are being re-equipped with Spitfire 9A's. You'll join them at Sawbridgeworth.' (ibid)
D-Day, And A Day Trip To France
Spurdle was appointed to the squadron in May, and began the routine of bomber escorts, sweeps and armed recces in preparation for the invasion. On the 6th June, 'Then all of a sudden everything changed and we were running to our kites. Glider close escort! As soon as we strapped our Spitfires on, we took off to join a glider 'train' of Albemarles towing Horsa gliders at 6,000 feet. Then a group of giant Stirling night-bombers black and menacing hove in sight lugging huge Hamilcar gliders to join our group.
Below, stretching as far as one could see, were rows of ships of all sizes. Some towed silver barrage balloons which floated in the air like kids' toys. We weaved back and forth riding 'shotgun' for the otherwise almost defenceless 'train'.'
As the invasion of Normandy progressed Spurdle was tasked with numerous fighter sweeps over the beach heads, including on the 12th June when the squadron intelligence officer, 'had advised us that an emergency landing strip had been formed at St Croix sur mer. This I must try out! Sure enough four of us managed to burn up enough fuel to make a landing imperative and down we dropped. Bugger this for a lark! The strip was very short! While the kites were being refuelled, after being pushed under trees and covered with camouflaged netting, the four of us stretched our legs into the village. No money, and liqueurs to be bought!
Hey! There was money in our plastic escape-kits and, breaking the seals, we had 100 francs each. Well, it was for emergencies! At a little estaminet, we bought a queer meal of tinned foods. A passing Tommy told us of a booby-trapped Hun nearby and we viewed the gruesome bloated corpse. Just then in a howling dive came a FW 190 chased by three Spitfires. The ruddy local Bofors guns opened up and through streams of flaming shells the fighters tore. Cannon fire thudded out and the Jerry went down in a ball of fire. It was time to get back home.'
CO 80 Squadron
On the 20th July Spurdle was promoted to the command of 80 Squadron. Based out of West Malling the squadron began to re-equip with the new Tempest aircraft, 'Our Tempests arrived! Brand new; shining in the sun! They seemed huge after our dainty Spitfires. But could they go! We found they cruised at almost 100 mph faster than the Spits, climbed like rockets and dived at incredible speeds. They were magnificent gun platforms and, apart from a slight tendency to swing on take-off, had no real vices. We were delighted... Now we were practising wing and squadron formation flying for our raids across the channel.' (ibid)
On the 10th September Spurdle led his squadron in an attack on Leeuwarden Airfield in Holland, 'We took off, formed up with the 274 Squadron Tempests and flew low across the Channel. Nearing Texel we climbed steeply and crossed the island at about fourteen thousand feet. Below, on our starboard, was the long causeway across the Zuider Zee which 'pointed' almost directly at the big airfield.
With the target in sight 80 peeled down in a screaming dive with each flight of four aircraft almost in line abreast.
'Drop tanks!' and the auxiliary fuel tanks tumbled away. Some heavy flak opened up but far too high and, as our altimeters unwound and we neared four thousand feet, we were doing over four hundred and fifty miles an hour. Light flak started to stream up at us from dozens of positions but, excited in action, we ignored it and rapidly scanned the airfield's perimeter and around hangars and tarmac for E/A.
I saw a twin-engined kite by a hangar and opened fire. There was a brilliant flash in my cockpit! The bloody gun-sight light-bulb had fallen out and swung on its wiring scaring me rigid until I identified what it was. I held the gun button down and steered the dancing cannon stream over the Hun machine.
Perspex shattered, exploding shells winked over its wings and a brown haze enveloped its fuselage. Pulling out of the dive I gave two hangars a good pasting before climbing for the sky.'
Three days later, 'Squadron Leader Wigglesworth, CO of No 3 Squadron, and I flew off together hunting V2 rockets south of the Hague.
We flew along about 400 yards apart in line-abreast at about five hundred feet ignoring the odd bursts of light flak. Suddenly I spotted a huge Meillerwagen V2 transporter under some trees and then the fifty foot needle-pointed rocket standing upright ready for launching.
'Target at 2 o'clock under trees! Break starboard!'
Wigglesworth was quite close to it and turning quickly he opened fire while still banking. I saw his shells flashing on the monster and then a colossal explosion as almost eight tons of liquid oxygen and ethyl alcohol blew. The war head of over a ton exploded and my comrade flew directly into the huge ball of flame - and didn't come out.
Absolutely horrified I flew around the scene of desolation - the huge crater and flattened trees. Odd nameless lumps smoked and fumed on the ground; brush burned, but there was nothing to indicate what had been a Tempest.' (ibid)
Operation Market Garden and the Continent
Despite this experience Spurdle was up looking for more V2's the following day. The hunt for rockets was combined with Spurdle leading armed recces, which resulted in the destruction of numerous types of armed transport including trains. On the 17th September the squadron flew anti-flak operations to cover the Arnhem landings (Operation Market Garden), 'Anti-Flack for Airborne Troops - 4 small armed ships (tug type) dest'd & sunk. Shared with 4 others. Horrible Flack at Wemeldinge. "Blondie" bought it (20m/m) while silencing gun posts with Heapo. Heapo + my Kites hit' (Log Book refers).
The following day Spurdle's Log Book gives, 'Anti-Flack For Gliders - multiple 20m/m Flack post silenced at least 2 bods. Lofty Haw killed. Shot up by 20 m/m Flack while attacking gun posts at Zijpe. MacLachlan attacked and dam'g'd Flack ship in Mustgat and was hit by Flack-ok. Bob Hanney missing.'
On the 29th September Spurdle's squadron moved to Belgium, and then on to Holland, to extend their range. Being not far from the German lines they 'were living pretty rough, having found some abandoned Dutch houses with plenty of straw for bedding. Food, cooked in field kitchens, was shared by all, ground and air-crew - a good thing which brought officers and men together. Our mixed nationality squadron was a joy to belong to - so many different life styles and backgrounds - so much to compare and discuss. Not just beer, sex, football, sex and what was happening back in Whakatara.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers)
80 Squadron roamed over the German areas behind the lines on armed recce and operational patrols; whilst based on the Continent it destroyed 170 motor vehicles, 13 locomotives, 11 trucks and 37 aircraft. Spurdle, in his Tempest, made a large contribution, 'We started armed patrols to seek out ground targets and on 5th October I found, near Zwolle, a PZ11 tank.
This was for me!
'Railroad aircraft maintain angels four. Black leader and Black two going down.'
My number two slid behind me and down we dived. Half a mile ahead there was a stationary tank with its turret hatch open and, standing in front of it, hands on hips, one of the crew.
He just stood there, legs apart, arms akimbo, looking up at me. He was blown away with the first few shells. One of the explosive projectiles must have entered the open hatch, setting off the tank's ammunition, because there were violent flashes from inside its turret. To our great surprise and delight a series of perfect smoke rings were ejected from the opening to rise and expand in the still air... Soon the tank glowed dull red and we flew off seeking other prey. We got a small truck before going home.
On the 5th, we found a loco in the Zwolle marshalling yards and all had a go... My No 2 and I got two trucks and a trailer and, on finding another train, I made a hash of my attack and screamed over the railway siding seeing dozens of troops dashing for cover... Attacked five giant Tiger tanks discovered on railway flat-cars. Our 20mm shells winked all over them and damaged paint work. However, we reported them in clear over our RT and a squadron of Typhoons were scrambled and rocketed them to destruction.' (ibid)
In the second week of October 1944 Spurdle's squadron joined 122 Wing at Volkel. They continued in the same vein of form, 1.11.1944, 'Weather Recce. 1 train destroyed (Engine blew up). 30/40 tucks dam'g'd. 1-1/2 track truck dest'd (Flamer) - Wonderful time - train + trucks in Utrecht marshalling yards - half track near Deventer - great pillar of smoke.' (Log Book refers)
Throughout November and into December, 'I drove myself harder by leading every sortie against the foe. In the next thirteen flights we attacked and destroyed - or at least heavily damaged - fourteen locos, ninety plus loaded railway trucks, a three-ton truck and trailer, two searchlights and their barrack buildings, two multiple flak posts, a steam tractor and trailer and several assorted motor vehicles. On 8th December, Sortie 555, along with Pilot Officer G. Dopson, Captain O. Ullestad, Flight Lieutenant Johnny Weston (Mex), Flying Officer W. Long and Flying Officer A. McLachlan we strafed Bielefield 'drome, catching Ju 188's on the ground, of which I got two, Johnny Weston hacked down a foolish 109 from a timid gaggle, orbiting their base. As we had already shot up two locos, twenty to thirty rolling-stock and a factory, we were low on ammunition and couldn't risk the 109's, so flew away cursing with frustration.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers)
It is Safer in the Sky!
Due to poor weather on the 16th December Spurdle went off to find other entertainment, 'I collected Frank Lang, Louis, Gilly and Olaf for two nights in Antwerp - we took our two little Opel Kadets (liberated from Belgian collaborators), and, slithering and spinning the cars in the snow for fun, covered the seventy five odd miles to the city putting up at the Century Hotel.
Next day, with aching heads, we decided to go to the big Rex Theatre just across the road and see the movies.
'Hey! Hold on! I've forgotten my cap! I won't be a minute' and with that I dashed upstairs. On rejoining the others in the foyer we stepped out into the street. There was a fearful crash, glass flew and we were bowled over against shop fronts in a dusty, panting heap. There was a hot blast of air, a heavy rumble and another boom. Our startled faces looked up at the great white finger lanced down from the stratosphere at us. A V2 rocket! The Rex was just a smoking hole in the ground. Bodies lay all around, some still, some crawling or staggering like broken dolls. Bricks, bits of plaster and broken timber strewed the De Keyserlei Avenue and a huge cloud of stinking smoke enveloped a scene like Dante's Inferno.
Picking ourselves up, appalled at what had happened and marvelling at our fantastic good luck, we ran across to see if we could help the survivors. This one rocket killed 567 people, 296 of them being servicemen. Another 291 were wounded, 194 being servicemen. More than 130 buildings were damaged.' (ibid)
"You've Done More Than Your Share"
Spurdle flew his last operational sortie on the 4th January 1945. Group Captain 'Jamie' Jameson called him in, 'Sorry, Spud, you've had Ops. I wanted you for Wing Leader but HQ says you're operationally expired. Hell! You've done over seven hundred hours Ops. You've done more than your share.'
It was good-bye to 80 and my pilots. I put in recommendations for some of the boys to get gongs and said my farewells. It was good-bye to the strongest bond a man can know; the brotherhood of arms.' (ibid)
On the 15th January Spurdle was posted as a Briefing Officer to No 83 G.S.U., Westhampnett.
Operation Varsity - Attached 6th Airborne Glider
Spurdle spent nearly two months in this role, before, 'one day the price of this lazy job would have to be paid and, sure enough, here came the collector. A wing commander who called us into an office and after a brief introductory bit of nonsense, asked for volunteers for a special job. By this time we were all so brassed off with our petty chores, we would have volunteered for anything.
'Anything' turned out to be more than we'd bargained for, and cost (as these jobs always do) several lives. We got the impression we were to be radio controllers of aircraft used in airborne landing behind enemy lines (true). We got the distinct impression we'd be floating around in C47's (Dakotas) detailing off gliders etc. by numbers when to go in and land, etc. etc. (false).
Safe enough with dozens of our fighters milling about and shooting up flak posts for us, etc. etc. The etceteras should have warned us.
Beaming cheerfully, his job well done, the Wingco left. A few days later a signal came through; Squadron Leaders Vincent and Spurdle to report to 83 Group Headquarters.
We took an Oxford to Eindhoven, only to find some fool had transposed 83 for 38. We turned around and flew back to England via Volkel, Helmond, Dunsfold, Netheravon, Dunsfold, Brussels, Volkel, Brussels, Northolt... and at the end of this 'odyssey' we had the twitch properly. Now we knew the price - and didn't like it.
We were to be lent to the 1st Airborne Corps based near Rickmansworth and would be trained by them in Army co-operation as to their ground support, using TAF fighters and fighter bombers. We were told that the reason, the real reason, for the failure at Arnhem, was that the crystals used to align the army radio sets with the US Airforce long-range fighter-bombers had been the wrong ones. Air-ground support fire had bogged down. Fighters couldn't be directed onto ground targets to break up Jerry tank and infantry formations. We were told that as the next large-scale air-borne crossing was to be in Montgomery's sector, he had insisted that RAF crew and equipment be used for all air liaison.
This is what we were told. This was what was being organised now and 'Varsity' was the code name for the airborne Rhine crossing. We were to be part of the 6th Airborne Glider Group and would be landed immediately after the parachutists were dropped, in the first wave of gliders. Our job would be to set up radio contact as quickly as possible and direct our aircraft against German resistance. We felt very important, but scared. This would 'really be sumpin'. We were to wear Army uniforms, but with Air Force insignia. No one could mistake us for Majors (the equivalent Army rank) so instead of ordering, we had to ask - this was to prove a damn nuisance to everyone except our own little teams.
My team comprised Flight Lieutenant Dowlin, Sergeant Simpson, LAC Holmes and myself as leader. We were issued with khaki battle dress, parachutists' coveralls, camouflage net scarves, gaiters and huge, heavy, horrible boots. We received the coveted Red Berets and wore them with intense pride.' (ibid)
On the 24th March Spurdle took part in his last operational sortie of the war, his Log Book records the following, 'Airborne Landing over the Rhine. The Big Day. We cross the Rhine in gliders (towed by Stirling) to land with the 6th Airborne Div. as "Contact-Cars" (1 jeep + trailer with radios etc) to handle the Army calls for Air Support. We made a crash-landing, the front wheel collapsed, also one of the main wheels. Mortar fire + machine guns + snipers! It was horrible - NEVER, NEVER again!! Bodies all over the place. We operated for 5/6 days advancing with the Army to near the village of Erle. We were withdrawn on the 29th completely clapped-out. Hoot!!'
The survivors of the RAF crews were flown out and Spurdle was ordered to report in person to Air Vice Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst at Eindhoven. Having made his report to the AOC 2nd TAF, 'It was obvious the war would soon be over... I chanced my luck.
"Sir, I have a request to make; the war's practically over. Can I go on with a ground control unit? Please don't send me back to the UK now that the end is in sight!' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers)
Broadhurst agreed, and after the loan of a Spitfire and one day's leave back to the UK, Spurdle joined up with the 11th Armoured Division working its way through Germany. Keeping up with the 11th Armoured Division he worked in a radio tank (Comet) controlling 'cab-rank' fighter support, 'more and more I enjoyed the tank life. Our Comet monster rolled along and squashed things most satisfyingly. It could push over quite large trees, demolish brick walls and flatten cars effortlessly... We were often shelled by 88's and we just pulled the lid down and hoped we'd make it to shelter. Shrapnel rattled off the hull, and machine gun and rifle bullets clanged away harmlessly.'
Spurdle reached the River Elbe as the war in Europe ended. On the 18th July 1945 he was posted to the Central Gunnery School at Catfoss, 'It was time to plan my next move - the Japanese were fighting every inch of the way; retreating island by island back to their homeland. I intended to get in at the kill - who was better qualified than I to lead a wing against this old enemy? I had myself posted to the Central Gunnery School at Catfoss to learn how to shoot accurately, something I should have found time for years ago... On the 6th August, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and with it my dreams were gone forever.' (The Blue Arena, Squadron Leader Bob Spurdle refers)
Spurdle transferred back to the RNZAF and set sail for New Zealand in September 1945. The vessel was the Rangitata, the same vessel he had arrived on five years earlier. Spurdle was placed on the Reserve in 1946. He set up his own engineering business in Wanganui, where he built the first surveyed catamaran in New Zealand. He sailed the latter to Japan, and published a book called Into the Rising Sun, on his sailing experiences. He published his autobiography of the war years, The Blue Arena, in 1986.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... A Good 1942 'Evader's' D.F.C. Group of Twelve to Hurricane and Spitfire Pilot, Squadron Leader F. Fajtl, Czechslovakian Air Force and Royal Air Force, Who Shared 2 Destroyed Do. 17's During the Battle of Britain, And Was in Command of 122 Squadron When He Was Shot Down, 5.5.1942, Over Occupied France. He Evaded Capture For Over Three Months Before Successfully Returning to The UK. Fajtl Formed a Czech Squadron Attached to the Russian Air Force, and Flew With Them On the Eastern Front During 1944
a) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially engraved '1942'
b) 1939-1945 Star, with old copy Battle of Britain Bar
c) Air Crew Europe Star
d) War Medal, M.I.D. Oak Leaf
e) Czechoslovakia, Republic, War Cross 1939, bronze, with four gilt linden sprays on riband
f) Czechoslovakia, Republic, Bravery Medal, bronze, with two gilt linden sprays on riband
g) Czechoslovakia, Republic, Military Merit Medal, First Class, silvered-bronze
h) Czechoslovakia, Republic, Army Commemorative Medal, one clasp, VB, bronze
i) Czechoslovakia, People's Republic, Military Order of the Red Star, breast Badge, 43mm, silvered and enamel
j) Romania, Kingdom, Order of the Crown, 2nd type, Officer's breast Badge, 55mm including crown suspension x 38mm, silver, gold, and enamel, with rosette on riband
k) Russia, Soviet Union, Medal for Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941-45, gilt
l) France, Republic, War Medal 1939-1945, two clasps, France, Liberation, bronze, good very fine, with the following related items:
- Czechoslovakian Air Force No. 1 Uniform, complete with trousers and cap, the latter slightly moth-eaten
- M.I.D. Certificate, 'A/Wing Commander F. Fajtl, D.F.C., Czechoslovak Air Force, dated 14.1.1944
- Three Commissions appointing recipient, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Pilot and Major, dated 26.2.1934, 7.6.1940 and 30.8.1945 respectively
- Two Czechoslovakian Air Force Flying Log Books (28.8.1934-21.8.1938 and 21.8.1938-4.3.1939), with a bound photo-copy of recipient's French flying Log Book (14.10.1939-19.6.1940)
- A number of photographic images, mostly with annotations in pencil, and other ephemera (lot)
D.F.C. Approved 1942. 82544 Acting Squadron Leader Frantisek Fajtl, Czechoslovak Air Force, 122 Squadron, Fighter Command, the Recommendation states, 'Squadron Leader Fajtl throughout the period in which he operated from Hornchurch Sector showed unfailing resolution, dash and determination in the face of the enemy, first as a Flight Commander and then as Squadron Commander. In all he has flown 191 hours of offensive patrols and has destroyed one enemy aircraft, shared in the destruction of three others and a damaged a fifth.
It is recommended that his services be rewarded by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.'
The following additional recommendation gives the following, 'This officer was in command of a fighter squadron escorting a bomber force in a daylight raid over Lille, on the 5th May 1942, when after destroying two Me. 109'S, his aircraft was damaged and he crash-landed in Northern France.
Leaving his parachute near the airplane, he ran a short distance in one direction, dropping his gloves on the ground, and then re-tracing his steps, ran in the opposite direction. In this way he mislead the enemy as to the direction of his escape. He later hid in a ditch within a stone's throw of enemy headquarters until nightfall, when, despite a thorough search during which patrols stood within ten yards of him, he commenced his journey southwards by using the flashes from the torches of the search parties as a guide. He finally got clear by crawling five hundred yards to pass between two sentries.
Although by now a hue and cry had been raised, he succeeded in obtaining a disguise and eventually reached Paris.
Boldly enlisting a most unusual source of help, he proceeded on his journey, finally arriving in Unoccupied France in a hungry, exhausted and feverish condition. Without faltering however, he continued on his way, ultimately crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, whence he was repatriated to this country on the 21st of August 1942.
Throughout the whole of his evasion, Squadron Leader Fajtl showed the greatest resource and determination.'
Squadron Leader Frantisek Fajtl, D.F.C., born Donin, Czechoslovakia, 1912. He was educated at the Business Secondary School, Teplice, before initial service in the Army. Fajtl attended the Military Academy at Hranice na Moravie in 1933. He commenced flying training the following year. After graduation, in 1935, Fajtl was posted as a Lieutenant-Pilot to Air Regiment 2, 63rd Reconnaissance Flight. In 1938 the unit received Tupolev SB 2s (high speed bombers). Fajtl escaped to France (via Poland) after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. He was seconded to l'Armée de l'Air, and received fighter training at the Centre d'Instruction de Chasse Chartres. Fajtl was posted to the Escadrille Légère de Defence Chartres, 18.5.1940. He served in III/7 and III/9 Groupes de Chasse until the fall of France.
Battle of Britain
Fajtl escaped to the UK, via North Africa, and was commissioned into the R.A.F. in August 1940. Initially posted to 310 (Czech) Squadron, he carried out further training at No. 6 O.T.U., before settling at 17 Squadron (Hurricanes), Debden, 25.9.1940. Now in a Hurricane and on equal footing with the enemy, he was quickly into the action, 2.10.1940, sharing in the destruction of a Do. 17 over Pulham. On 24.10.1940 Fajtl shared in the destruction of another Do. 17, this time over St. Neots.
C.O 122 Squadron - An Evader
Fajtl shared in damaging another Do. 17, 13.11.1940. He was posted to the newly formed 313 (Czech) Squadron (Spitfires), Catterick, 25.5.1941. The Squadron was primarily tasked with east coast convoy patrols, until its' move to Portreath in August. Having moved with the Squadron Fajtl carried out offensive sweeps and bomber escorts. He was appointed Flight Commander, 15.12.1941. Now flying out of Hornchurch the Squadron was tasked with Ramrods.
On the 10th April 1942 Fajtl Damaged a Bf. 109, south of Gravelines. Two days later he shared in damaging a Bf. 109, north of Hazebrouck. On the 27th April Fajtl took command of 122 Squadron (Spitfires), also operating out of Hornchurch.
On the 5th May, whilst escorting bombers to Lille, Fajtl was shot down by Lt. Artur Beese of I/JG 26. Before he crashed landed west of Hardifort he had Destroyed a Bf. 109 (his Recommendation for the D.F.C. gives two Destroyed in this action). Fajtl managed to evade capture, and returned to the UK at the end of August 1942. Having been awarded the D.F.C. he was posted to the Inspectorate of the Czech Air Force and attached to HQ 11 as Liaison Officer. He served at HQ 10 Group, October 1942-May 1943. During the latter period he wrote Sestelen (Shot Down), detailing his escape from France.
Between June-September 1943 Fajtl served as Station Commander of R.A.F. Church Stanton, R.A.F. Skeabrae and R.A.F. Ibsley. He subsequently served as commanding officer of 313 Squadron, Ibsley, September-December 1943.
The Eastern Front
Fajtl volunteered for service in Russia, and in February 1944 he took twenty-one Czech pilots with him. Upon arrival he formed and became the CO of the 1st Czechoslovak Fighter Air Regiment. Flying Lavochkin fighters he operated over the Carpathians and Slovakia with the Russian Air Force.
Fajtl remained in the Czech Air Force after the war, graduating from the War College in Prague during 1945. The following year he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel, and served as Temporary Commander of the 1st Division, and as an instructor at the War College.
Despite being a decorated war hero Fajtl was arrested and dismissed from service during the Communist coup of February 1948. Two years later he was once again arrested, imprisoned and stripped of his military rank. Fajtl then worked as a labourer until 1964, when he was partially restored to the fold, becoming a Colonel of the Reserve. With the fall of the Communist Regime in 1990, he was re-instated with the rank of Brigadier General retired.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image...Click to view full image... The Superb 1943 'Air-Sea Rescue' A.F.C., 'Immediate' Battle of Britain D.F.M. Group of Seven to Spitfire Sergeant Pilot, Later Squadron Leader, R.F. 'The Pied Piper of Harrogate' Hamlyn, 610 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Who Achieved 'Ace-In-A-Day' Status During the Height of the Battle, And Went on to Score At Least 10 Victories, 8 of Which Were Recorded Between 14th-30th August 1940
a) Air Force Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1943'
b) Distinguished Flying Medal, G.VI.R. (580244. Sgt. R.F. Hamlyn. R.A.F.)
c) 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain Bar
d) Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany Bar
e) Defence and War Medals
f) Coronation 1953, generally very fine or better, mounted court-style for wear, with the following related items:
- Royal Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book (1.4.1938-31.5.1957), superbly annotated with illustrations and additional details; pre-war (29.6.1936-31.3.1938) and post war (1.6.1957-26.6.1958) logs not extant
- A fine scrapbook of later compilation replete with original photographs, official photographs, newspaper cuttings, all of which relate to various stages of Hamlyn's service, and original documents including named Investiture invitation and Invitation from the BBC to broadcast "Bringing Down Five German Bombers" (lot)
A.F.C. London Gazette 1.1.1943 Flight Lieutenant R.F. Hamlyn, D.F.M. (45277) No. 275 Squadron Valley
The Recommendation states: 'For the last nine months Flight Lieutenant Hamlyn has been in command of No. 275 Air Sea Rescue Squadron and its present high state of efficiency is mainly due to his efforts. This officer's gallant conduct in flying in almost impossible weather has not only been the means of saving several lives but has also been an inspiration and encouragement to all his personnel.'
D.F.M. London Gazette 13.9.1940 580244 Sergeant Ronald Fairfax Hamlyn, R.A.F.
The Recommendation states: 'At 08.25 hours on 24th August 1940 Sgt. Hamlyn was on an offensive patrol near Ramsgate and destroyed one Ju 88 and one Me 109.
At 11.35 hours the same day he engaged a Me 109 and chased it across the English Channel finally destroying it over Calais where it crashed in flames.
Again at 15.55 hours he destroyed one Me 109 fives miles north of the Isle of Sheppey and a second Me 109 10 miles further north making a bag of 5 enemy aircraft in one day.
Previous to the 24th August 1940, Sgt. Hamlyn has destroyed one Do 17 and one Me 109 and one Do 215 unconfirmed.
This pilot's feat of destroying 5 enemy aircraft in one day shows great skill, courage and good marksmanship.'
Air Officer Commanding's Remarks [Air Vice Marshal K.R. Park]: 'This N.C.O. has shot down 7 Enemy Aircraft. In one day he destroyed 5 Enemy Aircraft - he has shown great skill, courage and good marksmanship. I recommend him for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.'
Also Recommended for the United States of America Air Medal: F/Lt. (A/S/Ldr) Ronald Fairfax Hamlyn, A.F.C., D.F.M. (45277), 276 Squadron
'S/Ldr. Hamlyn has been in command of No. 276 Air/Sea Rescue Squadron since 8.12.1942. During this period his Squadron has been responsible for the rescue of over 60 aircrew from the sea, amongst which were U.S.A.A.F. personnel from the operations on 29th May, 1943, and 28th June, 1943. His personal courage and leadership has been an inspiration to this Squadron and has been responsible for the saving of many valuable lives. Much of the work done by this Squadron involves many hours of fruitless searching and S/Ldr Hamlyn's fine example has been communicated to his aircrew. By his drive and enthusiasm he has raised the standard of Air/Sea Rescue in No. 276 Squadron to a very high level.'
Squadron Leader Ronald Fairfax Hamlyn, A.F.C., D.F.M. (1914-1991), born Harrogate, North Yorkshire. He was educated at Pocklington Grammar School; and joined the Royal Air Force by direct entry for pilot training in 1936. Hamlyn carried out his training at 11 E. & R. F.T.S. Perth, and 8 F.T.S. Montrose. He was posted as a Sergeant Pilot to 72 Squadron (initially Gladiators, then Spitfires from April 1939), Church Fenton, with whom he was serving at the outbreak of the war. He moved with the squadron to Leconfield as it was made operational. He then moved with them to Drem, Scotland, where they flew East Coast patrols for three months. Hamlyn mainly flew in convoy patrols until 1st June when the squadron was rushed to Gravesend to fly on patrols over the Dunkirk beaches.
610 Squadron - The Battle of Britain
Hamlyn was posted to 610 Squadron (Spitfires), who were also based at Gravesend, 6.6.1940. After flying a mixture of offensive and reconnaissance patrols he moved with the Squadron to Biggin Hill, 2.7.1940. The next day brought his first success, when he shared a Do. 17 off Folkestone. On 29.7.1940 his Log Book records, 'X Raid Dungeness 1 Do. 215 attacked and badly damaged.'
Hamlyn was part of a patrol that intercepted 600 enemy aircraft approaching Dover, 14.8.1940. In the ensuing combat he damaged a Bf109E (his Log Book records it as Destroyed).
Ten days later Hamlyn performed a remarkable feat - becoming the first R.A.F. to shoot down 5 enemy aircraft in one day during the Battle of Britain. Starting at dawn on the 24th August, his first patrol is recorded in his Log Book as lasting one hour and ten minutes and accounting for 1 Ju. 88 Destroyed and 1 Me.109 Destroyed over Dover. His second, slightly less productive, patrol lasted one hour and thirty five minutes and accounted for 1 Me. 109 over Dover. His third and final patrol of the day lasted just forty-five minutes and accounted for 2 Me. 109's Destroyed over East London. Or as Hamlyn states in his Log Book, 'The Ju.88 was with 15 others and fell in the Channel off Ramsgate one Me.109 with it. The next Me.109 fell at Calais and the last two over London.'
Hamlyn was awarded an immediate D.F.M., and was to be whisked off to the BBC on the 30th August to give a broadcast on his momentous achievement. However, as his wife was to illustrate in the Daily Mirror this left him with a couple of days to fill before his broadcast, 'Sergeant R.F. Hamlyn was awarded the D.F.M. for bringing down five enemy planes in one day. Now let Mrs. Hamlyn tell you what happened. "As soon as he learned it was this feat that had won him the medal," she said, "he went straight to the runway, took his plane up and brought down two more Nazis." Next day he scored another success.'
On the 26.8.1940, 'Folkestone Patrol 2 Me. 109's Destroyed. 1 Me.109 was shot down in flames while dive bombing Folkestone. The other with it.'
Two days later he Destroyed another Me. 109 over Dover, and on 30.8.1940, 'Patrol Dover and Biggin Hill. 1 Me. 109 Destroyed. 1 Me.110 Prob. Destroyed' (Log Book refers). On the latter date he would have had just enough time to scrub-up, and arrive at Broadcasting House for his 6pm performance. In six days Hamlyn had destroyed at least eight aircraft.
Out Of The Spotlight
After being very active in the early stages of the Battle, often engaging large enemy formations two or three times a day, 610 Squadron was moved from Biggin Hill to Acklington at the end of August for a rest. Tasked with the defence of Newcastle the squadron carried out convoy patrols and occasional scrambles. Hamlyn followed the squadron back into the offensive when it joined the Tangmere Wing, December 1940. Flying out of Westhampnett Hamlyn flew on Channel sweeps and Blenheim escorts. He was commissioned Pilot Officer 29.1.1941.
Frustratingly for Hamlyn this new role did not meet with the same earlier success, 13.3.1941, 'Sweep Calais, 30,000ft. Me.109 fired at - hit but no results seen owing to breakaway. Felt certain I got it but didn't claim it'; and 28.4.1941, 'Dawn Patrol of Base. Ju.88 and Me.109 Sighted - Ju.88 Attacked - Escaped in Cloud.' (Log Book refers).
Hurricanes - And Bigger Prey
Hamlyn was posted to 242 Squadron (Hurricanes), North Weald, 13.6.1941. The squadron had a cosmopolitan air with Poles, Czechs, Australians and French pilots as well as British. Equipped with Hurricane II's the squadron took part in bomber escorts until in August it concentrated on Roadsteads, attacking shipping, principally flakships, R-boats and E-boats, along the Continental coast. As one of the more experienced pilots Hamlyn returned to success, 4.7.1941, with a Me. 109 Destroyed whilst on bomber escort to Bethune. On the 27th July Hamlyn was to record his last success in the air of the War, 'Escort for Motor Torpedo Boats on Attack on large German Destroyer and 5 E-boats Off Dunkirk. 1 Me. 109 Destroyed.' (Log Book refers)
Hamlyn was promoted to command 'B' Flight at the end of July 1941. The following month he led his flight on seven offensive patrols sinking three ships, damaging three others and being hit in his oil tank on two separate occasions. These operations were costly and the squadron was withdrawn, non-operational, from South-East England in September. Hamlyn remained with the unit until his tour was completed in October.
C.O. 275 (Air-Sea Rescue) Squadron
Hamlyn was posted to form and command 275 (ASR) Squadron at Valley, Anglesey, 15.10.1941. The new squadron was equipped with Lysanders and Walruses, and tasked with air-sea rescue in the Irish Sea. On 5.1.1942 he flew his first operational rescue, 'Beaufighter in sea - found + one dead body picked up by boat. Did not land on sea.'
Instead of battling with the enemy he was now battling with the elements, and often was to be confronted with dead bodies as well as successes, 7.1.1942, 'Anson in sea - found. Also crew of four in rubber dinghy. Landed and picked them up two at a time. All landed safely at their home station'; 10.6.1942, 'Rescue - Anson in Sea off Liandwrog. Smashed Anson Located. Landed Alongside - Crew Dead. Rescued Everything Available'; 29.6.1942, 'Rescue Spitfire 20 miles S.S.W. of I.O.M. Body Located - Landed Alongside. Crew Dead. Landed Andreas with Everything' (Log Book refers).
C.O. 276 Squadron
Hamlyn was awarded the A.F.C. for his work at R.A.F. Valley. He was then promoted Squadron Leader to command 276 Squadron at Harrowbeer, Devon, 8.12.1942. The squadron was equipped with Lysander and Walrus. Hurricanes, Defiants, Spitfires and Ansons were then supplied, the fighter aircraft being used for spotting downed aircrew at sea. Perhaps unsurprisingly Hamlyn chose to re-acquaint himself with the Spitfire.
Hamlyn was posted to the staff of Bomber Command as ASR Officer, 3.9.1943. He was then posted to Normandy as Tactics Liaison Officer to 71st Wing, 9th U.S.A.A.F., March 1944. After a brief posting to the Air Ministry, he served as C.G.I. at 41 and 58 O.T.U.'s. In September 1945 Hamlyn was appointed to the command of R.A.F Station Maiduguri, West Africa. Subsequent appointments before retirment in 1957, included as O.C. Flying Wing No. 2 A.S.S., R.A.F. Halfpenny Green.
  A Well-Earned Order of St. John Group of Five to Leading Sick Berth Attendant A. Cottam, Royal Naval Auxiliary Sick Berth Reserve
a) The Most Venerable Order of St. John, Serving Brother's breast Badge, circular type, silver and enamel
b) Defence and War Medals
c) Royal Naval Auxiliary Sick Berth Reserve Long Service & G.C., G.V.R., 2nd 'coinage head' type (X4568 A. Cottam. L.S.B.A. R.N.A.S.B.R.)
d) Service Medal of the Order of St. John, with Six Additional Award Bars (11375 Sgt. A. Cottam. Thorley Div. No.4 Dis. S.J.A.B. 1933.), contact marks, very fine, mounted as worn (5)
Click to view full image... x A Boer War D.C.M. Group of Three to Battery Sergeant Major W.G. Phillips, Royal Field Artillery
a) Distinguished Conduct Medal, E.VII.R. (51398 B: Sjt: Maj: W.G. Phillips. 28th. B: R.F.A.)
b) Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, five clasps, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal (51398 Bty: S-Mjr. W.G. Phillips. 28: B, R.F.A.)
c) Army Long Service & G.C., E.VII.R. (51398 Bty. Sjt. Mjr. W.G. Phillips. R.F.A.), light contact marks, generally very fine or better, with contemporary top silver 'triple' riband bar (3)
D.C.M. London Gazette 27.9.1901 Battery-Sergeant-Major W.G. Phillips, Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery
'In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa.'
51398 Battery Sergeant Major W.G. Phillips, D.C.M., Mentioned in Lord Roberts' Despatch, London Gazette 10.9.1901.
Click to view full image... A Fine 1914 'Battle of La Bassée' D.C.M. Group of Five to Driver H.T. Cox, Army Service Corps, Later Sergeant, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Attached 7th Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps, For Conspicuous Gallantry Near Neuve Chapelle, 29.10.1914, When, Despite Being Exposed to Enemy Fire, He Brought His Horsed Ambulance Wagon Up To the German Front Line on Two Occasions And Assisted in the Evacuation of Wounded Men From the Royal West Kent Regiment
a) Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (T.25142 Dvr: H.T. Cox. A.S.C.)
b) 1914 Star, with Bar (T-25142 Dvr: H.T. Cox. A.S.C.)
c) British War and Victory Medals (T-25142 T. Sjt. H.T. Cox. A.S.C.)
d) Army Long Service & G.C., G.V.R., with 'Regular Army' bar suspension (...Sjt. H.T. Cox. D.C.M., R. Innis. Fus.), obverse of medals polished and worn, therefore fine, the reverses better (5)
D.C.M. London Gazette 18.2.1915 T/25142 Driver H.T. Cox, Army Service Corps
'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Neuve Chapelle, when he brought his wagon up on two occasions in front of the German lines and thereby enabled his section to remove our wounded, who would otherwise have been left in the enemy's hands'.
T-25142 Sergeant Henry T. Cox, D.C.M., enlisted in the Army Service Corp, April 1907; served during the Great War on the Western Front from 15.9.1914, attached to the 7th Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps; awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his conspicuous gallantry at Neuve Chapelle, 29.10.1914, when he brought his horsed ambulance wagon close to the German front line on two occasions under a heavy fire, and assisted in the evacuation of wounded men from the Royal West Kent Regiment, and also a number of Indian soldiers who had sought refuge in an isolated farm building following their attack and withdrawal from Neuve Chapelle the previous day- the following report by Major T.E. Fielding was entered into the 7th F.A. War Diary for the 29th October: 'At 4pm I received a message from the D.A.D.M.S 3rd Division to bring all bearers and ambulance wagons to Divisional Headquarters with a view to going to Neuve Chapelle to clear that village of wounded which had been left behind after an encounter with the enemy during the night... I left all the RAMC personnel and transport at this point, under the command of Captain McQueen and went forward to Brigade HQ at Richebourg to learn the situation and receive instructions. Brig-Gen McCracken gave me verbal orders as to the road to take, the furthest point forward for the ambulance wagons and instructed me to get into communication with the O.C. 1st Bedfords (Major Allason), and having obtained all available information from him, to use my own discretion as to further action. In conclusion, Gen McCracken told me I was not to expose my command to unnecessary risk of loss... The personnel with Lieut Smith and myself proceeded along the main road running south-east from Pont Logy until we came into touch with the Cheshire Regiment. As we passed the dividing line between the Cheshires and the Bedfords, firing broke out chiefly from our own trenches, but, in a few moments, this fire was returned by the enemy and it became necessary to take cover. For about three-quarters of an hour, we were compelled to remain stationary, but, after that time, as the firing had practically ceased, we proceeded on our way and I found the Bedfordshire Regiment and saw Major Allason. He told me that Neuve Chapelle was occupied by Germans who had been firing on our own troops during the evening, and that it was inadvisable to send bearers into the village... I decided that it was impossible to take bearers into Neuve Chapelle without running the risk of incurring serious losses, and I accordingly made the following arrangements... an officer of the Royal West Kent Regiment lent me a guide to show me where some of his own wounded were and I collected these as well as some Indians who had been left in a farmhouse on the Neuve Chapelle road. Altogether we picked 16 wounded including 4 Indians. These were taken by hand carriage to the ambulance wagons... As we retired, the firing began again and we soon found we were still within range, for two wagons were hit, although neither men nor horses were injured'.
Cox subsequently transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and advanced Sergeant; awarded Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, 18.9.1931; discharged 1933.
Click to view full image...Click to view full image... An Emotive K.P.M. Group of Four to Fireman, Later Chief Fire Officer J.H.R. Yabsley, for the Silvertown Explosion, 19.1.1917, one of the Worst Civilian Tragedies of the Great War.
a) King's Police Medal, G.V.R., 1st type (James Henry Rich Yabsley, Fireman, West Ham F.B.), with Gallantry riband
b) Corporation of West Ham Bravery Medal, silver, obverse featuring the Corporation's Arms, the reverse featuring a shield bearing a fireman's helmet and axe, 'Presented for Bravery' inscribed around, and the shield engraved 'To Fireman James H.R. Yabsley', the edge inscribed '19th January 1917'
c) Association of Professional Fire Brigade Officers Long Service Medal, silver (Sec. Officer J.H.R. Yabsley. 1919)
d) National Fire Brigades Association Long Service Medal, silver (Hallmarks for Birmingham 1924) (2922 James H.R. Yabsley.), with 'Twenty Years' top silver riband bar, good very fine or better, with the following related items:
- The recipient's two riband bars, pre and post the 1933 change in the gallantry riband for the KPM
- The recipient's Great War 'Stone Hall' Masonic Medal, silver (Hallmarks for Birmingham 1925), reverse named 'Bro. J. Yabsley. No.1828'
- Various Certificates of Discharge from the Merchant Navy, and letters of recommendation
- Large portrait photograph of the recipient
- Various other photographs, and a large file of research on the Silvertown Explosion (lot)
K.P.M. London Gazette 1.1.1918 Fireman James Henry Rich Yabsley
The Recommendation states: 'On the 19th January 1917, a very serious explosion took place at Silvertown. The West Ham Fire Brigade were summoned and on arriving with their engine were told to save themselves as they could do no good. Nevertheless, though well aware of the danger, they began to couple their hose. The explosion took place blowing away the engine. Sub-Officer Henry Vickers and Fireman Frederick Sell were killed, and Station Officer Samuel Betts, and Firemen James Betts, Henry Chapple, and James Yabsley were injured.'
Chief Fire Officer James Henry Rich Yabsley, K.P.M., born Salcombe, Devon, February 1869; enlisted in the Royal Navy, March 1885; invalided out, February 1889; subsequently served in the Merchant Navy before joining the West Ham Fire Brigade; served throughout the Great War and present at the Silvertown Explosion, 19.1.1917, where his crew of six was the first to attend the chemical factory where fire had reached 50 tons of T.N.T.; seriously wounded in the head by the explosion, Yabsley was fitted with a silver plate in his crown for the rest of his life; subsequently appointed Chief Fire Officer at Penge. He retired in 1935
The Silvertown Explosion
The Brunner Mond Chemical Works was established at Crescent Wharf, Silvertown, East London in 1893 for the production of caustic soda. Production ceased in 1912 but the building remained. With the onset of the Great War and the huge demand for munitions, the plant was reactivated but was this time utilised for the purification of the high explosive T.N.T. On the evening of the 19th January 1917, a fire broke out in the factory. As the news spread, many living in the immediate area and knowing the nature of the plant fled. Others, like the plant's chief chemist Andreas Angel (awarded a posthumous Edward Medal), knowing full well the danger they were in, rushed to tackle the blaze. Amongst the first on the scene were firemen from a nearby station, including amongst their number, Fireman James Yabsley.
At 6.52 p.m. a huge explosion ripped through the factory, utterly destroying the place and devastating the surrounding area. The shock waves of the explosion were felt throughout London and the explosion heard over 100 miles away, and the resulting fires could be seen over 30 miles away. More than 900 homes were destroyed; a further 60,000 others were damaged to some degree; red hot metal was blasted far and wide causing subsidiary fires - a gas holder on the Greenwich Peninsula blew up as a result and many dockside warehouses caught fire. 73 people lost their lives, including several firemen, with a further 400 injured. It was one of the worst civilian tragedies of the War.
  x A Great War 'Western Front' M.M. Pair to Corporal H. Constant, Canadian Engineers
a) Military Medal, G.V.R. (272 Cpl. H. Constant. Can: E.)
b) British War Medal (272 Cpl. H. Constant. C.E.) nearly extremely fine (2)
M.M. London Gazette 11.2.1919 272 Cpl. Constant, H., 5th Bn., Can. E.
Corporal Hector Constant, M.M., born St. Polycarp, Quebec, September 1894; enlisted in the Canadian Engineers, April 1915, and served with the 5th Field Company C.E. during the Great War on the Western Front from April 1917; discharged, May 1919.
Click to view full image... x A Second War 'Link Trainer's' B.E.M. Group of Five to Flight Sergeant P. Moote, Royal Canadian Air Force
a) British Empire Medal, Military Division, G.VI.R. (R.89934 Sgt. Percy Moote. R.C.A.F.)
b) 1939-1945 Star
c) Defence Medal
d) Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, with Maple Leaf bar
e) War Medal, nearly extremely fine, mounted as worn (5)
B.E.M. London Gazette 8.6.1944 R.89934 Sergeant Percy Moote, Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Recommendation states: 'This N.C.O. has been employed as a Link Trainer Instructor for the past three years, and has completed over three and a half thousand instructional hours. By his untiring efforts and outstanding devotion to duty, he has made an invaluable contribution to the efficiency of this Link Trainer Instructors' School.'
R.89934 Flight Sergeant Percy Moote, B.E.M., born St. Catherine's, Ontario; enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, April 1941; served during the Second War and awarded the B.E.M. for his work as a Link Trainer in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan; medal presented 25.5.1945.
Click to view full image... x A Good Military Division B.E.M. Group of Nine to Staff Quartermaster Sergeant J.T. Dalton, Royal Engineers, Who Served with the 4th Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers at Arnhem
a) British Empire Medal, Military Division, E.II.R. (1877365 Sgt. Joseph T. Dalton. R.E.)
b) 1939-1945 Star
c) Africa Star, with 1st Army Bar
d) France and Germany Star
e) Defence and War Medals
f) General Service Medal 1918-62, G.VI.R., three clasps, Palestine 1945-48, Near East, Cyprus (1877365 Cpl. J.T. Dalton. R.E.)
g) Coronation 1953
h) Army Long Service & G.C., E.II.R., with 'Regular Army' bar suspension (1877365 Sgt. J.T. Dalton. R.E.), number and rank officially corrected on last, light contact marks throughout, generally very fine or better, mounted as worn, together with the recipient's Certificate of Service book, cap badge and cloth insignia, and various copied research (9)
B.E.M. London Gazette 1.1.1955 1877365 Sergeant Joseph Terence Dalton, Corps of Royal Engineers
The Recommendation, dated 23.7.1954, states: 'Sergeant Dalton began his Airborne Service by qualifying as a parachutist in 1943 and in 1944 fought with the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem. In the course of his tour with the Army Air transport Training and Development Centre as a Training Wing Instructor and later as a Senior Sergeant Instructor, Sergeant Dalton has shown qualities which prove him to be an N.C.O. of the highest intelligence and efficiency.
He has been responsible for instructing officers and N.C.O.'s of all arms in the preparation of heavy equipment for parachuting and in the loading of equipment into aircraft for movement by air, both in this country and in the Middle East. He is an exceptionally competent instructor whose strong personality has been apparent at all times. His bearing and manner is exemplary and is particularly suited to the sometimes difficult task of instructing officers. Recently he has been involved in instructing, assisting and supervising units of 16 Airborne Division (TA) in parachuting heavy equipment on platforms from rear loading aircraft, being largely responsible for the successful dropping of 150 loads in the last 15 months. On TA exercises his efforts are untiring and no matter how long the hours to be worked he has given of his best. All units of the TA with which he has worked have commented on his ability and efficiency.
Sergeant Dalton is an experienced parachutist who has made over 70 descents. Over the last five years he has cheerfully accepted the risks attendant on experimental parachuting, having in many cases dropped with experimental equipment. The present advanced stage of heavy equipment dropping owes a great deal to his suggestions, and to his willingness to offer himself for test work at considerable personal risk. He has consistently accepted much more responsibility than would normally be placed on a Sergeant and has put in much longer hours of work, voluntarily and without complaint, than could have been expected of him. He has shown an example of leadership, enthusiasm, intelligence, cheerfulness and drive which does the greatest credit to his Corps and the Army.
1877365 Staff Quartermaster Sergeant Joseph Terrence Dalton, B.E.M., born York, 9.7.1922; enlisted in the General Service Corps as a Boy Soldier, 1.7.1936; transferred to the Royal Engineers, 27.6.1939; served during the Second World War in North Africa from 14.10.1942; posted to the Airborne Forces Depot, 28.10.1943; served in North West Europe from 18.9.1944, with the 4th Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers at Arnhem; promoted Corporal, 11.12.1946; Sergeant, 1.4.1952; posted to the Army Air Transport Training and Development Centre, 1.4.1952; promoted Staff Quartermaster Sergeant, 5.12.1956; discharged, 8.7.1962, after 26 years and 8 days' service.


Click to view full image... The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Companion's (K.G.) Garter, 400mm, the motto in gold thread letters on blue silk, with finely decorated gold buckle, nearly extremely fine, scarce
Click to view full image... x The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Military Division, Companion's (C.B.) breast Badge, gold (Hallmarks for London 1828) and enamel, Hallmarks and maker's mark 'AJS' on suspension ring, the badge lacking split ring and bar suspension, minor white enamel flaking and green enamel damage to reverse, otherwise very fine
Click to view full image... x The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Military Division, Companion's (C.B.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, minor green enamel damage to reverse wreath, otherwise extremely fine, with neck riband, in Garrard, London, case of issue
Click to view full image... x The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Civil Division, Companion's (C.B.) breast Badge, silver-gilt (Hallmarks for London 1898), about extremely fine, with integral silver-gilt riband buckle, in Garrard, London, case of issue
Click to view full image... x The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Companion's (C.M.G.) breast Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, nearly extremely fine, converted for neck wear, with neck riband, in original Garrard, London, fitted case of issue
  x The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Companion's (C.M.G.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, minor enamel damage to dragon on reverse central medallion, therefore nearly extremely fine, with neck riband, in Garrard, London, case of issue
  The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type, Military Division, Commander's (C.B.E.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, nearly extremely fine, with miniature width neck riband, in Garrard, London, case of issue
  x The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type, Civil Division, Commander's (C.B.E.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, nearly extremely fine, with neck riband, in Garrard, London, case of issue
  The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Military Division, Commander's (C.B.E.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, nearly extremely fine, in Garrard, London, case of issue
  x Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar, good very fine, in Garrard, London, case of issue
  x Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, obverse centre slightly depressed, good very fine, with integral top riband bar
  The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type, Military Division, Officer's (O.B.E.) breast Badge, silver-gilt (Hallmarks for London 1919), nearly extremely fine
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Military Division, Officer's (O.B.E.) breast Badge, silver-gilt, nearly extremely fine, in Royal Mint case of issue (2)
Click to view full image... Imperial Service Order, E.VII.R., Member's (I.S.O.) breast Badge, silver, silver-gilt, and enamel, extremely fine, in Elkington, London, case of issue
  The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type, Civil Division, Member's (M.B.E.) breast Badge, silver (Hallmarks for London 1919), nearly extremely fine, in Garrard, London, case of issue
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Military Division, Member's (M.B.E.) breast Badge, silver, nearly extremely fine, in Royal Mint case of issue (2)
Click to view full image... x Royal Red Cross, E.II.R., First Class (R.R.C.) Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, undated, extremely fine, with bow riband
  x Military Cross, G.V.R., reverse contemporarily engraved in large serif capitals 'Capt. W.G. Haslam. 13th. Bn. Cheshire Regt. Oct. 21st. 1916.', toned, nearly extremely fine
M.C. London Gazette 11.12.1916 Temp. Capt. Wilfrid Graham Haslam, Ches. R.
'For conspicuous gallantry in action. He assumed command of and handled his battalion with great courage and skill, gained his objective, and captured many prisoners.'
Major Wilfrid Graham Haslam, M.C., Commissioned Second Lieutenant, Cheshire Regiment, 24.12.1914; promoted Lieutenant, 29.12.1914; Captain, 1.9.1915; served with the 13th Battalion during the Great War on the Western Front from 25.9.1915, and awarded the Military Cross for gallantry on the 21st October 1916, on which date the Battalion was involved in the attack on the Regina Trench- the War Diary records that the whole Battalion went over the parapet at 12:06pm, the German Trenches were entered, and 250 prisoners were taken, with the Battalion suffering 210 casualties. Appointed acting Major, 19.9.1917, Haslam relinquished his commission 'on account of ill-health caused by wounds' and retained the rank of Major, 19.3.1919.
  Military Cross, G.V.R., reverse later engraved in large sans-serif capitals 'F.A. Briggs Lt. 24th London Regt Somme Aug 22 1918', nearly extremely fine
M.C. London Gazette 1.2.1919 2nd Lt. Frederick Arthur Briggs, 1/24th Bn., Lond. R.
'On the 22nd August, 1918, near Bray-sur-Somme, he repeatedly reconnoitred advanced positions under heavy artillery and machine gun fire, returning to advanced brigade headquarters with information as to our dispositions. During operations on the 30th August near Le Forest he again rendered valuable assistance by a daring reconnaissance under heavy shell fire, and his work at the forward intelligence station was of the greatest help.'
Second Lieutenant Frederick Arthur Briggs, M.C., Commissioned Second Lieutenant, London Regiment, 18.12.1917.
  x Military Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1946', extremely fine
Click to view full image... x A Crimea 'Thin Red Line' D.C.M. to Corporal W. Sinclair, 93rd Highlanders
Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Corpl. William Sinclair, 93rd Highlanders), suspension neatly re-affixed, having previously been recorded as 'soldered and no longer swivels', edge bruising and contact marks, therefore good fine
D.C.M. Recommended 8.1.1855
Sergeant William Sinclair, D.C.M., born Wemyss, near Kirkland, Fifeshire; enlisted in the 93rd Highlanders, September 1843; served with the Regiment in North America; in the Crimea (entitled to Crimea Medal with clasps for Alma, Balaklava and Sebastopol, and Turkish Crimea Medal); and in India (entitled to Indian Mutiny Medal with clasps for Relief of Lucknow and Lucknow); awarded L.S. & G.C., 1864; discharged with the rank of Sergeant, October 1864.
Click to view full image... A Scarce Great War 1918 French Theatre 'German Spring Offensive' D.C.M. to Private J.E. Hammond, Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry)
Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (41610 Pte. J.E. Hammond. M.G.C.), good very fine
D.C.M. London Gazette 3.9.1919 41610 Pte. J. E. Hammond, 3rd Sqdn., Cav. M.G. Corps (Northampton).
'For consistent good work and gallantry throughout the war. On 24th March, 1918, at Menessis he was sent back with, a message across the railway to headquarters of a regiment. He delivered this successfully under heavy fire, and whilst he was there the enemy came along the railway, and got between him and his sub-section. Nevertheless he successfully took back an answer. At Moreuil on 30th March, 1918, he did very good work as No. 3 on the gun. At Thennes on 1st April, when the team came under heavy machine-gun fire and the corporal was wounded, he again behaved with great coolness and set a splendid example.'
One of only 34 D.C.M.s to Machine Gun Corps Cavalry.
Click to view full image... Distinguished Service Medal, G.V.R. (D.A.9156. R. Barron, 2nd. Hd: R.N.R. H.M.Dr. Belos. Patrol Services 1915-6.), nearly extremely fine
D.S.M. London Gazette 22.5.1917 2nd Hand Richard Barron, R.N.R., O.N. 9156D.A.
'In recognition of services in the Destroyer Patrol Flotillas, Armed Boarding Steamers, &c., during the period which ended on the 30th September 1916.'
  Military Medal, G.V.R. (50811 Cpl. C. Gold. 73/By: R.F.A.), good very fine
M.M. London Gazette 23.8.1916 50811 Cpl. C. Gold, R.F.A.
Click to view full image... Medal of the Order of the British Empire, Civil Division, unnamed as issued, toned, extremely fine, in John Pinches, London, case of issue
Click to view full image... British Empire Medal, Civil Division, G.VI.R. (Robert Edward Summerton), good very fine
B.E.M. London Gazette 11.5.1943 Robert Edward Summerton, Assistant Steward (in a joint citation with Captain Joseph Wilson and First Officer Andrew Charles Murray Black [both awarded the O.B.E.]; Junior Engineer Officer Samuel Baxter Allan [awarded the M.B.E.]; and Able Seaman Ephraim Addison, Assistant Steward Trevor Roach, and Quartermaster William James Shuckford [all awarded the B.E.M.])
'The ship was torpedoed and badly damaged. As she immediately began to sink by the head, orders were given to stand by the boats. Within ten minutes another torpedo hit the ship and abandonment was then ordered. Although the weather was very bad, with heavy seas, all on board got away safely. A nearby ship came to the assistance of the survivors, but rescue operations were exceedingly difficult. A number of the boats capsized and the occupants were thrown against the side of the rescuing ship. The First Officer was conspicuous throughout. He remained on board to the last, assisting in and directing operations. It was mainly due to his courageous leadership and example that the vessel was abandoned so efficiently. Quartermaster Shuckford was outstanding in his efforts in getting the boats, raits and floats away from the ship. He remained voluntarily with the First Officer and gave him great help. Captain Wilson was the master of the ship which went to the rescue of the survivors. In the worst possible conditions, over 100 persons were picked up from the boats, rafts and sea. But for the courage and exceptional seamanship displayed by Captain Wilson, there is no doubt that many more lives would have been lost. During the work of rescue, a number of exhausted men were thrown against the side of the rescuing ship and Mr. Allan volunteered to go to their assistance. He was lowered over the ship's side and succeeded in saving the lives of two men. Later, he again went over the side and succeeded in rescuing a completely exhausted man from a waterlogged boat. Assistant Stewards Roach and Summerton did excellent work, being lowered over the side of the ship to assist survivors in the water. Both were in grave danger from the high seas which were continually crashing the boats and rafts against the sides of the rescuing vessel, but each managed to rescue a survivor. Good rescue work was also done by Addison, who descended into one of the boats alongside the rescuing ship and assisted the exhausted occupants on board.'
  British Empire Medal, Civil Division, G.VI.R. (Wilfred G. Smith), good very fine
B.E.M. London Gazette 24.6.1946 Wilfred George Smith, Foreman of Storehouses, H.M. Naval Victualling Depot, Sydney.
Click to view full image... British Empire Medal, Civil Division, G.VI.R. (Walter Scott), good very fine
B.E.M. London Gazette 2.1.1950 Walter Scott, Leading Fireman, South Eastern Fire Brigade, Hawick
  British Empire Medal, Civil Division, G.VI.R. (Frederick W. Frost), extremely fine, in Royal Mint case of issue, and named outer card box of issue, together with the following related documents:
- Named Buckingham Palace enclosure for the B.E.M.
- Letter to the recipient from the Prime Minister advising him of the award of the B.E.M., dated 27.12.1951, signed on the Prime Minister's behalf
- Letter to the recipient from the Ministry of Fuel and Power congratulating him on the B.E.M., dated 19.12.1951
- Enclosure letter accompanying the B.E.M. from the Minister of Fuel and Power, dated 4.4.1952, and signed 'Geoffrey Lloyd'
B.E.M. London Gazette 1.1.1952 Frederick William Frost, Leading Turbine Driver, South Eastern Division, British Electricity Authority. (West Croydon, Surrey.)
Click to view full image... British Empire Medal, Civil Division, E.II.R. (Spec. Const. William Finch, Coventry Police), extremely fine, in Royal Mint case of issue
B.E.M. London Gazette 1.1.1953 William Finch, Special Constable, Coventry City Police Force.
Click to view full image... x British Empire Medal, Civil Division, E.II.R. (Miss Kikue Shiroko), nearly extremely fine, on lady's bow riband


Click to view full image...Click to view full image... A Fine Great War Divisional Commander's 1917 C.B., 'Boer War' D.S.O. Group of Twelve to Major-General C.G. 'Old Black' Blackader, Leicestershire Regiment, Who Commanded the 2nd Battalion On the Western Front, October-December 1914; He Commanded the Garhwal Brigade With Distinction, January-November 1915, Including at Festubert, 15.5.1915, The First British Night Attack of The Great War; He Commanded the 177th Brigade During the Easter Rising, And Presided Over the Court-Martials of Five of the Seven Signatories To The Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Returning To The Western Front, He Served as GOC 38th (Welsh) Division, July 1916-June 1918
a) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Military Division, Companion's (C.B.) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel
b) Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, centres depressed, large enamel damage to reverse of one arm, lacking top riband bar
c) East and West Africa 1887-1900, two clasps, 1897-98, 1898 (Capt. C.G. Blackader. 1/Leicester Regt.)
d) Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, four clasps, Talana, Defence of Ladysmith, Laing's Nek, Belfast (Capt. C.G. Blackader. D.S.O., Leic: R.), partially officially corrected
e) King's South Africa 1901-02, two clasps (Capt. & Adjt. C.G. Blackader. D.S.O. Leic. R.), minor official correction to '&'
f) 1914 Star, with Bar (Lt: Col: C.G. Blackader. D.S.O. Leic: R.)
g) British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaves (Maj. Gen. C.G. Blackader)
h) Coronation 1911
i) Belgium, Kingdom, Order of Leopold, Military Division, Commander's neck Badge, 103mm including crown and crossed swords suspension x 59mm, gilt and enamel, bi-lingual motto, with neck riband
j) Belgium, Kingdom, Croix de Guerre, A.I.R., bronze
k) France, Republic, Croix de Guerre, bronze, reverse dated 1914-1917, with bronze palm, generally very fine or better, unless otherwise stated, with photographic image of recipient (12)
C.B. London Gazette 1.1.1917 Col. (temp. Maj-Gen.) Charles Guinand Blackader, D.S.O., A.D.C., 'For valuable services rendered in connection with Military Operations in the Field.'
D.S.O. London Gazette 27.9.1901 Captain Charles Guinand Blackader, Leicestershire Regiment, 'In recognition of their services during the operations in South Africa.'
Belgium, Order of Leopold, Commander London Gazette 11.3.1918 Major-General Charles Guinand Blackader, C.B., D.S.O.
Belgium, Croix de Guerre London Gazette 11.3.1918 Major-General Charles Guinand Blackader, C.B., D.S.O.
France, Croix de Guerre London Gazette 10.10.1918 Major-General Charles Guinand Blackader, C.B., D.S.O.
Major-General Charles Guinand Blackader, C.B., D.S.O. (1869-1921), born Richmond, Surrey, son of Charles George Blackader, M.A. and Charlotte (nee Guinand); educated in France and at Aldin House School, Slough, by the Reverend Hastings; after passing out from R.M.C. Sandhurst, Blackader was commissioned Second Lieutenant, Leicestershire Regiment, 22.8.1888; served with the 1st Battalion in Bermuda, India, Nova Scotia, and Jamaica; Lieutenant 22.7.1890; served as Captain, attached 1st Battalion, West African Frontier Force, 27.11.1897-24.6.1899; served with the battalion in operations on the Niger, including the expedition to Lapia (M.I.D. London Gazette 23.5.1899); served with the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment in South Africa, 1899-1902, including operations in Natal (1899), actions at Talana and Lombard's Kop, the Defence of Ladysmith, operations in Natal (March-June 1900), action at Laing's Nek (6th-9th June), operations in the Transvaal, east of Pretoria, including actions at Belfast (26th-27th August) and Lydenberg (5th-8th September); he also served as Commandant at Witbank and afterwards was Station Staff Officer (D.S.O.; M.I.D. London Gazette 8.2.1901 and 10.9.1901); Adjutant of 1st Volunteer Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, 1902-04; Major 10.9.1904; served with the 1st Battalion in India, Shorncliffe, and in Fermoy, Ireland; he won an Army Tennis cup with Captain Challenor, 1908; appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion in India, September 1912; led the battalion to France in October 1914, and commanded them in action until December; promoted Brigadier-General, and commanded the Garhwal Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division of the Indian Corps, 8th January-30th November 1915; the Brigade comprised of 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, 3rd Battalion London Regiment (T.F.), 2/3rd Battalion Gurkhas, 1/39th and 2/39th Garhwalis; led the Brigade with distinction at the battles of Neuve Chapelle, March 1915 (for which he was Commended by his Corps Commander, General Willcocks, and two of his men were awarded the Victoria Cross), the night assault on Festubert (the first British night attack of the War), 15.5.1915, and at Loos, September 1915; served as A.D.C. to the King, 1.1.1916-31.12.1917; on the withdrawal of the Indian Corps from Europe, in 1916, he took command of 177th Brigade, Home Forces; and was serving in this capacity during the Easter Rising; following the Rising, many of those believed by the British authorities to be responsible were tried by military courts; ninety were sentenced to death, of whom fifteen were eventually executed; Blackader, as a senior officer, chaired a number of courts-martial, including those of Éamonn Ceannt, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, and Joseph Plunkett, five of the seven signatories to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic; he served as GOC 38th (Welsh) Division in France & Flanders, 12.7.1916-8.6.1918 (M.I.D. London Gazette 17.2.1915, 7.8.1915, 1.1.1916, 4.1.1917 and 25.1.1917); advanced Major-General, 1.1.1918; he resigned his commission, June 1918, having been bitten by a rabid dog for which he received Pasteur's treatment; he returned to Ireland as Commander of Southern District, but his health deteriorated and he died at Millbank, London, 1921, aged 51. There is a memorial to him in Leicester Cathedral.
Blackader's East and West Africa Medal is unique to the Leicestershire Regiment.
Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria
Auctioneer: Spink Location: 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 4ET
Contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4000 Fax: +44 (0)20 7563 4066
Date: 20th November 2014 Time: 10:00AM
Details: Viewing Details:
Wednesday 19 November 2014, 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Private Viewing by appointment only
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