Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (23 September 2011)

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Date of Auction: 23rd September 2011

Sold for £6,200

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A particularly fine civil O.B.E., Great War M.C., D.F.C., inter-war K.P.M. group of nine awarded to District Superintendent P. B. Wilkins, Bombay Police, late Royal Engineers, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, who, having been twice wounded in the trenches, completed a daring tour of night bombing raids into Germany territory as an Observer in No. 100 Squadron

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Civil) Officer’s 2nd type breast badge; Military Cross, G.V.R., the reverse engraved, ‘2nd/Lt. Paul Wilkins’; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R., the reverse engraved, ‘Lieut. Paul Wilkins’; King’s Police Medal, G.V.R., 2nd issue (Paul B. Wilkins, Indian Police Service); 1914-15 Star (108080 Cpl. P. Wilkins, R.E.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. P. Wilkins, R.A.F.); Jubilee 1935, engraved ‘P. B. Wilkins, I.P.’; Coronation 1937, the earlier awards with some contact wear and a little polished, but generally very fine or better (9) £4000-5000


O.B.E. London Gazette 11 June 1942.

M.C. London Gazette 18 October 1917:

‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He himself laid out the assembly tapes for the first wave over a wide front, and was slightly wounded while doing so. In spite of this, when a whole section of tape was destroyed by shell fire, he returned and replaced it, and afterwards directed the laying of the second and third waves. He had previously reconnoitred the whole ground under heavy shell fire.’

D.F.C. London Gazette 3 June 1919. The original recommendation states:

‘This Observer has done excellent work, participated in 23 night bombing raids and has at all times shown a fine offensive spirit, devotion to duty and unfailing energy, and a great keenness. Full of pluck, on several occasions he has done two or three raids in a night. His skill as an Observer is remarkable.’

K.P.M. London Gazette 9 February 1931. The original recommendation states:

‘For distinguished services in a difficult district. He has a high reputation as an Investigating Officer and leader of men.’

Paul Burgman Williams was born in Carmarthenshire in August 1896 and was educated at Swansea Grammar School and the South Wales School of Mines, prior to enlisting in the Royal Engineers in May 1915. Entering the French theatre of war as a Corporal in 124th Field Company, R.E. (36th Welsh Division), at the end of the same year, he was wounded in July 1916 while attached to the 1st Army Topographical Section - ‘Gun shot wound left foot’. Evacuated to the U.K., he was commissioned in March 1917 and returned to active service with the 2nd Field Company, R.E., in the following month, and sustained further wounds in the process of winning his M.C. that August.

Subsequently transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in October 1917, he qualified as an Observer and was posted to No. 100 Squadron out in France in May 1918, where he remained actively employed until the War’s end, notching up a tally of 23 operational sorties and, according to an old Sotheby’s catalogue reference from 1982, two “kills” - though these remain unconfirmed. Initially operating in F.E. 2bs, No. 100 was re-equipped with Handley-Page 0-400s in August and, working in conjunction with No. 55 Squadron and Naval ‘A’ Squadron, became the nucleus of the Independent Force, charged with undertaking the strategic bombing of Germany. A full record of Wilkins’ 23 daring sorties is to be found in
The Annals of 100 Squadron, written by his C.O., Major C. Gordon Burge, O.B.E., in which he is listed as having served as Observer to several pilots, but predominantly Captains H. M. Coombs, D.F.C. and R. C. Savery, D.F.C., and Lieutenant R. A. Martin - thus a flurry of operational activity against German targets, sometimes as the only participating aircraft. He was awarded the D.F.C.

Placed on the Unemployed List in May 1919, Wilkins joined the Indian Police in Bombay in November 1923, and was subsequently awarded the K.P.M. in February 1931 and the O.B.E., while serving as District Superintendent at Poona, Bombay, in June 1942.

Sold with original Home Office letter regarding a Buckingham Palace investiture for the award of his K.P.M., dated 9 February 1931, and a copy of a supplement of The Times, dated 4 June 1919, with the announcement of his D.F.C., together with recent edition of Burge’s Annals of 100 Squadron and a large file of research, the latter including several copied photographs from a family archive belonging to another ex-member of 100 Squadron, one portrait being tentatively identified as Wilkins.