Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (25 & 26 November 2015)

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Date of Auction: 25th & 26th November 2015

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

Sold by Order of a Direct Descendant

‘It is no exaggeration to say that in a service manned by heroes he was universally admitted within three months to be one of the most brilliant and daring. Major Bishop, V.C., was under his command in the squadron, and he himself told me at a later date that for cool and unshakeable courage he never in his experience met Scott’s equal. Readers of Bishop’s book will remember the part played by the “Major” in one of its most thrilling episodes. The “Major” was Jack Scott. He had accident after accident, escape after escape, and those who knew him began to say he bore a charmed life … ’


Group Captain A. J. L. “Jack” Scott’s obituary in The Times, written by the Lord Chancellor, the Rt. Hon. Earl of Birkehead, refers.
The outstanding Great War ace’s C.B., M.C., A.F.C. group of five awarded to Group Captain A. J. L. “Jack” Scott, Royal Air Force, late Sussex Yeomanry and Royal Flying Corps, a gallant New Zealander who overcame serious leg injuries to gain ace status during his tenure of command of No. 60 Squadron in 1917: although he had to walk with sticks and often had to be helped into his cockpit, he won a reputation for being a most determined fighter who had a habit of flying off alone over the lines and getting into trouble - a habit shared by one of his Flight Commanders, “Billy” Bishop, who was awarded the V.C. on Scott’s recommendation

Post-war, he wrote the history of No. 60 Squadron and commanded the Central Flying School at Upavon, in addition to serving as Secretary to Winston Churchill in his capacity as the Secretary of State for Air - in which role he acted as the great man’s flying instructor: undoubtedly marked out for the highest echelons of command, he succumbed to influenza in early 1922, his extensive obituary in The Times - written by the Lord Chancellor - describing him as ‘one who had no conception whatever of the meaning or pressure of fear’


The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military Division), Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; Air Force Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Col. A. J. L. Scott, R.A.F.), together with a set of related miniature dress medals, good very fine or better (10) £6000-8000

Footnote

C.B. London Gazette 10 October 1920.

M.C.
London Gazette 26 July 1917:

‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has on several occasions attacked and destroyed enemy aircraft, and taken successful photographs under heavy fire. He has constantly shown the greatest courage in attacking numerous hostile machines single handed, during which on two occasions his own machine was considerably damaged. His great coolness, dash and resource have set an excellent example to his squadron.’

A.F.C.
London Gazette 1 January 1919.

Alan John Lance “Jack” Scott was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in June 1884 but completed his education in the U.K., where he studied law at Merton College, Oxford and was Master of the University Draghounds. As recalled by the Lord Chancellor, the Rt. Hon. Earl of Birkenhead, in his obituary notice for Scott in The Times, ‘he was the bravest man I ever saw riding to hounds’.

A pre-war volunteer, having been gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Sussex Yeomanry in 1911, Scott was living in London and was a pupil barrister on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914. Mobilised in the same month, he quickly gained attachment to the Royal Flying Corps and gained his aviator’s certificate on 20 November 1914 (No. 975), a distinction obtained at the cost of two badly broken legs:

‘On one occasion [during his pilot training] his machine collapsed when he was 2,000 feet in the air. During the terrible fall that followed he was working and trying and testing, and when some 60 feet from the ground he regained a degree of control which saved his life but left him permanently a cripple. He lay for many months in hospital, during which the doctors could give no assurance that he would ever leave his bed. An immensely strong constitution asserted itself, and he was later found working on the R.A.F. staff ... ’ (Scott’s
Times obituary notice, refers).

Notwithstanding his injuries - he had to walk with the aid of sticks and be helped in and out of the cockpit - Scott pressed for more active employment, a wish finally granted by a posting to France in early 1917, where he joined No. 43 Squadron as a Flight Commander, under Major Sholto-Douglas.

Squadron C.O. - 60 Squadron - “Black April” and beyond

His appointment was short-lived, however, for in March he took command of No. 60 Squadron, a crack Nieuport unit blessed with a host of talented pilots, among them S. B. Horn, G. L. “Zulu” Lloyd and K. L. “Grid” Caldwell.

Another recent arrival was the Canadian, W. A. “Billy” Bishop, who, as confirmed in his wartime memoir
Winged Warfare, greatly admired his new C.O., the pair of them regularly participating in shared combats, not least in the period of “Black April” when an R.F.C. fighter pilot’s life expectancy amounted to 11 days. It was on the back of Scott’s recommendations that Bishop won his first distinctions and the V.C. Yet the Canadian’s active service career was nearly curtailed after just two days, when he wrote off an aircraft and was ordered to return to the U.K. for further training: it was as a result of Scott’s intervention that the order was rescinded.

Contrary to abiding practice, Scott refused to follow the rules that ordained that Squadron C.Os remain firmly on the ground: “I will not send my boys to fight unless I go with them. Lower my rank if you like, and then I can fight.”

Moreover, with a tendency to fly off over the lines on his own, he regularly encountered trouble of the hair-raising kind, evidence of which was to be found in his office which was decorated with bits and pieces taken from his shot-up aircraft. In truth he was not a gifted pilot but his determination to seek out and engage the enemy - often at the cost of considerable damage to is own aircraft - brought him just reward.

On 31 March 1917, in a combat over Heninel, north-east of Arras, he shared in the destruction of an Albatros DIII with Captain C. T. Black; “Billy” Bishop also scored on this occasion.

On 8 April 1917, in a combat over the Douai-Fouquieres sector, he destroyed an Albatros CV; later in the day, he appears to have shared in the destruction of another Albatros two-seater with “Billy” Bishop, in a combat over Douai.

On 22 April, while employed on a photographic patrol, Scott’s Nieuport was jumped by five enemy aircraft, luckily an incident witnessed by “Billy” Bishop, who dived to his assistance.

On 30 April 1917, Scott was able to add to his office’s decor after being forced to land his damaged aircraft after a combat with Leutnant Karl Deilmann of
Jasta 6.

On 2 May 1917, in a combat with six enemy aircraft over Eterpigny, Scott destroyed an Albatros DIII; this day, “Billy” Bishop fought no less than nine combats.

Close shave - dawn patrol clad in pyjamas, Burberry and bedroom slippers

On 28 May 1917, Scott was forced to land his much damaged Nieuport at Monchy le Preux after a combat with Leutnant Karl Allmenroder of
Jasta 11, the latter’s 21st victory; it was no doubt a further opportunity to add some ‘bits and pieces’ to his office.

Minor differences in date aside, this would appear to be the combat described in
Sixty Squadron R.A.F.:

‘One day in early June General Allenby, then commanding the 3rd Army, was to inspect the squadron at nine o'clock in the morning. The Squadron Commander [Scott] had gone out by himself in his Nieuport at dawn, unshaved, in pyjamas, a Burberry, bedroom slippers and snowboots, a costume which many of us used to affect on the dawn patrol.

The line was unusually quiet that morning, so he ventured almost to Douai, and on turning west saw a formation of eight or nine machines over Vis-en-Artois, near the front line, well below him at about 8,000 feet. They turned, and the sun glinting on the fuselage showed a bright flash of red. This meant that they were Huns, and not only Huns but “the Circus.” Having the advantage of height, and as the formation was very near the line, he determined to try and do a little damage. He flew towards them from the east and from the sun, and diving on the top machine, fired a burst and pulled sharply up, being careful to retain his height. After a few dives of this kind without doing much apparent damage, an S.E. 5 patrol of 56, which had seen the scrap, bustled up, and a very pretty “dog-fight” ensued, in the course of which one of the Huns detached himself from the melee and appeared to be going home. This was the Nieuport's opportunity, so, hardening his heart, he dived right in, making good shooting. The Albatros appeared to take no notice, but flew straight on (In parenthesis it may be observed that this is a good sign, as it usually means the pilot is dead, for if the opposing machine begins to perform frantic evolutions, the pilot is as a rule very much alive, and not in the least “out of control”). Flushed with excitement, the Nieuport man put the stick (control column) between his knees, and going down on the tail of the Albatros, began to put a fresh drum of ammunition on to his Lewis gun, with which alone this type of machine was armed. While thus busily engaged something made him turn his head to see about twenty yards behind him the white nose of a grim-looking Albatros. Swifter than thought the Nieuport was wrenched to the right, and even as she turned the Albatros's Spandau guns spat out a burst, which riddled the engine and cut the bottom out of the petrol tank, allowing all the remaining petrol to pour on to the pilot's feet. The height of both machines at this moment was about 5,000 feet, the locality just east of Monchy-le-Preux, and but for the attentions of the Boche machine it would have been comparatively easy for the Nieuport to glide back to Arras and perch on one of our advanced landing-grounds, or on the race-course; but with a bloodthirsty Hun on one's tail and a dead engine, the problem, however, was not such a simple one. Twisting and turning like a snipe, the Nieuport began to descend, taking care to make his turns as much as possible towards our side of the line. Mercifully the wind was from east. Close behind followed the Albatros, short bursts at frequent intervals, but wide, because it is not easy to hit a machine whose pilot knows you are there. It was a stout Hun, however, who would not be denied, but continued the chase down to 300 feet, a few hundred yards west of Monchy-le-Preux, when he suddenly turned and flew home to report, no doubt, a British machine destroyed. With a gasp of relief the Nieuport pilot turned his attention to the ground, and, seeing nothing but shell-holes beneath him, made up his mind that a crash was inevitable.  Suddenly a strip of ground about a hundred yards long and very narrow, but free from shell-holes, caught his eye, and, putting in a couple of “S” turns, he made a good slow landing. The machine ran on and had almost stopped when a shell-hole appeared, and she ran very gently into it without doing any damage whatever.

A couple of dusty gunners walked up and before speaking produced a packet of Woodbines, one of which the Nieuport pilot greedily took and lit. Inquiries showed that an advanced anti-aircraft section was nearby, where the officer-in-charge gave the airman breakfast and, better still, produced a telephone, with the help of which he got in communication with his squadron, and ordered a car to come straight through Arras and up the Cambrai road. It was getting late, and an Army Commander's inspection was not a thing to be treated lightly. Further inquiries disclosed an Artillery Ammunition Column in a little valley who lent him a horse and an orderly. There was no saddle, but the pilot climbed gratefully onto the animal, which had very rough paces and a hard mouth, and set out towards the road. In a short time he met the car and drove furiously through Arras and back to Le Hameau, only to see Allenby, the R.F.C. Brigade Commander (General J. R. Higgins), and George Pretyman arriving at the station. His costume being hardly that prescribed for inspections, the wretched officer dived into his hut, did the quickest shave on record, and timidly approached the glittering cortege.

Everyone was furious with him except General Allenby, who was rather amused and very kind. He got, however, a well-deserved and proper “telling-off” from the Brigadier and Wing Commander, and saw the troupe depart with a feeling of profound relief.’

Ace status - wounded - M.C.

On 5 June 1917, Scott drove down an Albatros DIII in flames after a combat over Monchy; the enemy pilot, Leutnant Oscar von Neudorff of
Jasta 3, was killed.

Towards the end of June, news was received of Scott’s pending award of the M.C. and No. 60’s mess was swiftly decorated for a celebratory ‘bust’.

Finally, on 10 July 1917, in a combat over Quiery la Motte, he destroyed another Albatros DIII but was himself seriously wounded in the left arm. His Flight Commanders were early visitors to his hospital, where they found him ‘in the best of spirits ... he had been trying to ‘pump’ a Hun observer, who was in his ward, by asking him whether he liked doing artillery work on our part of the front, but the old Boche wouldn’t give him an answer.’

On recovering from his wound, Scott was posted to 11 Wing Headquarters in the Ypres sector in rank of Wing Commander but before the end of 1917 he returned to the Home Establishment to take up appointment as Commandant of the Central Flying School at Upavon, in which capacity he was advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel and awarded the A.F.C.

Winston’s secretary and flying instructor

In 1919, he was appointed Secretary to Winston Churchill, the Secretary of State for Air, an appointment that also witnessed him acting as the great man’s flying instructor. Churchill had originally undertaken pilot training in 1913-14 but on account of his wife’s protestations he abandoned the course. By all accounts a keen aviator, he was also prone to take risks, a characteristic that may have accounted for his crash at Croydon in July 1919. Scott, who had been advanced to Group Captain, remained employed as his Secretary until 1921 and was awarded the C.B.

He had meanwhile written his history
Sixty Squadron R.A.F., which was published to much acclaim in 1920 and remains a classic of the genre to this day.

Tragically, in January 1922, after returning from a ski-ing trip to St. Moritz, he was struck down by double pneumonia and died four days later, aged 39. He was buried at Brompton Cemetery, London.

In closing his obituary notice in
The Times, the Lord Chancellor stated:

‘There can be no doubt that he would have risen to the highest position in his profession, and I may, perhaps, be bold enough, now that he is dead, to say that the present Secretary of State for Air told me recently that he thought him an officer likely to become one day Chief of Air Staff.’

Sold with a magnificent photograph album, red leather binding, gilt initials ‘A. J. L. S.’ to front cover, and containing around 60 - mainly large format - photographs pertinent to his time at Oxford (circa 1906-07), thus plenty of University Club, hunting and polo scenes; some of the left hand pages containing later additions to the album, around 20 of which cover subject matter from his Yeomanry days, pilot training and beyond; together with another dozen or so unmounted photographs, all of them pertinent to his R.F.C. and R.A.F. days, and one or two of them as used to illustrate his
Sixty Squadron R.A.F. history, including Bishop, V.C. and “Grid” Caldwell.

So, too, with a fine presentation copy of his history, blue leather binding with gilt spine and decoration, including an R.A.F. fighter to front cover, gilt page ends, etc., and with ink inscription, ‘To Mother from her son, Jack, Xmas 1920’; an ‘In Memoriam’ card and a copy of his
Times obituary.