Orders, Decorations and Medals (8 September 2015)

Date of Auction: 8th September 2015

Sold for £1,800

Estimate: £1,600 - £1,800

A Second World War D.F.C. group of four awarded to Squadron Leader I. A. Stewart, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who was decorated for his services in Hampdens of No. 61 Squadron in 1940-41: a veteran of at least six trips to the “Big City”, he was killed in action while piloting a Lancaster of No. 44 Squadron during a strike on Osnabrück in September 1942

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., the reverse officially dated ‘1941’ and privately engraved, ‘Ian A. Stewart’; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; War Medal 1939-45, extremely fine (4) £1600-1800


D.F.C. London Gazette 18 April 1941. The original recommendation states:

‘This officer has flown as Navigator and as Pilot for 182.40 hours in 27 operational flights, six of them against Berlin. On one occasion, when Navigator, his aircraft opened fire on an enemy aircraft which was last seen in a vertical dive towards the sea. On another, his aircraft, while making a low attack over the target, was hit, and largely owing to the accuracy of this officer’s navigation, was enabled just to reach the English coast before the petrol gave out. Since becoming a 1st Pilot this officer has not hesitated to go to the lowest levels to carry out his attacks and has not been deterred by the worst weather in his search for targets. On one occasion when returning from Berlin in bad weather, his petrol gave out, but his skill enabled him to land his aircraft in a small field without damage. This officer has always set a high example of skill and devotion to duty.’

Ian Adam Stewart was born in Edinburgh in 1918, where he was employed by Fairbairn, Lightbody and Cownie, a company of surveyors, after completing his education at George Watson’s College. He was a keen sportsman and was a member of The North British Rowing Club.

A pre-war entrant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, he was called up in September 1939 and first went operational as a Navigator in Hampdens of No. 61 Squadron in the following year. The Squadron participated in the first raid on Berlin on the night of 25-26 August 1940, most likely too, the first of Stewart’s trips to the “Big City”. As stated in the recommendation for his D.F.C., he qualified as a pilot and completed a full tour of operations.

Returning to the operational scene in the summer of 1942, as a Squadron Leader in No. 44 Squadron, a Lancaster unit operating out of Waddington, Stewart completed sorties to Duisburg and Bremen in September. On the night of 6-7 October, however, he was killed in action during a strike against Osnabrück, his Lancaster crashing at Quackenbrück. He and his crew were buried at the Evangelical Friedhof but their remains were transferred to Rheinburg War Cemetery after the war.

Sold with an original Imperial War Graves Commission letter addressed to the recipient’s mother at 85 Ashley Terrace, Edinburgh, dated 3 July 1957; two wartime photographs, including a studio-quality portrait of the recipient, on card mount; two flying log book ‘target’ postcards in respect of his raids on Duisburg and Bremen in September 1942; and two obituary cuttings.