Orders, Decorations and Medals (8 September 2015)

Date of Auction: 8th September 2015

Sold for £2,000

Estimate: £1,600 - £1,800

A good Great War observer’s M.C. group of six awarded to Lieutenant B. Head, Royal Air Force, late London Regiment, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and Royal Flying Corps, who rescued his dangerously wounded pilot from the wreckage of their downed R.E. 8 and brought him safely to our lines

Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; 1914-15 Star (1754 Pte. [B.] Head, 12-Lond. R.), initial barely visible owing to light impressing; British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Lieut. B. Head, R.A.F.); Defence Medal 1939-45; French Croix de Guerre 1914-1916, with bronze star riband fitment, generally very fine (6) £1600-1800


M.C. London Gazette 22 June 1918. The original recommendation states:

‘For conspicuous gallantry. On 21 March 1918, he showed great coolness and bravery whilst on contact patrol with Captain E. B. Bryson in the St. Quentin area.

While flying at a height of only 200 feet, owing to clouds, under severe rifle and machine-gun fire, he accurately located enemy dispositions and when the machine was forced to land owing to the pilot being severely wounded, he succeeded in destroying the machine, although it was in close proximity to the enemy, and in bringing his pilot back to safety.

He has also, on numerous occasions, attacked the enemy forces with bombs and machine-gun fire from very low altitudes.’

Bertram Head was born at Little Ilford, Essex in April 1891.

A pre-war volunteer, he was a Corporal in the 12th (County of London) Battalion, The Rangers on the outbreak of hostilities. Quickly mobilised, he accompanied the Battalion to France on 24 December 1914 from whence, in the summer of 1915, he returned home to attend the Inns of Court O.T.C. Duly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant - in the 1/5th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers - he saw further action in France.

In the summer of 1917 he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps and, after training as an Observer, joined No. 52 Squadron, an R.E. 8 unit, in October. In the following month, on the 11th, he was slightly wounded in the face. However, it was for his gallantry and resource on 21 March 1918, as cited above, that he was awarded his M.C.

His tour with No. 52 completed, Head returned to the home establishment in June 1918 and was placed on the Unemployed List in February 1919. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre (
London Gazette 21 September 1918, refers).

Head died in London in 1958; sold with copied research but verification for his mention in despatches remains outstanding.