Orders, Decorations and Medals (8 December 1994)

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Date of Auction: 8th December 1994

Sold for £2,300

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000

A superb Second World War C.G.M. (Flying) awarded to Flight Sergeant James Hall, 180 Squadron, Royal Air Force

CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY MEDAL (Flying), G.VI.R. (605494 F/Sgt. J.M. Hall, R.A.F.); 1939-45 STAR; FRANCE AND GERMANY STAR; DEFENCE AND WAR MEDALS, these last four privately named, two small edge bruises and light contact marks to the first, otherwise very fine and scarce (5)

Footnote

C.G.M., London Gazette, 27 April, 1945. The following extract was taken from 'In action with the enemy' and gives an expanded version of the official citation:

James Mansfield Hall came from Jamaica, where his father was the Assistant Director of Medical Services. He had completed seventy-two operations with 180 Squadron, as an air gunner in their Mitchell bombers, when he was detailed to fly a mission to bomb the marshalling yards at Bocholt, on 21st March.

They took off at 9.15 that morning, in Mitchell HD386, from their Belgium base at Melsbroek, so their target was only 120 miles distant to the north-east. The pilot was Pilot Officer Dick Perkins. The Allied armies were massing for the Rhine crossing but were still relying on the men of the R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F to pave the way and make sure the enemy's lines of supply were disrupted so as to enable the crossing to be made with the minimum number of casualties. Everyone fully expected the crossing of the Rhine would be defended with all the energy the Germans could muster.

On arriving at the target they found the flak defences quite severe and the raiding force had a tough time. One aircraft was seen to suffer a direct hit whilst actually dropping its bombs, and exploded, while another Mitchell was seen with its port engine on fire and a large hole torn in its fuselage. Yet another B25 was hit and damaged, its wireless operator having one leg almost shot away. The pilot had to make an emergency landing. Meanwhile, Perkins was taking their Mitchell into the bomb run. On and on they flew, flak exploding about them and Jim Hall began to wonder if their bombs were ever going to drop. Only moments before he'd seen the exploding Mitchell cartwheel down, taking with it Warrant Officer Roy Clipsham, a second tour man, who on this mission was carrying an R.A.F. cameraman, Flying Officer Smith, to cover the attack. He was destined not to get back with his film.

Then the gun turret was hit. Hall lost consciousness and when he came to a few seconds later, the Mitchell was in a dive. He was choking with smoke that swirled about him and quickly extricated himself from the turret. As he did so he heard someone calling the pilot. When he had joined the R.A.F. he had wanted to be a pilot but failed during his dual instruction days in Canada, having on one occasion failed to see a red Very light from the control tower as he came in to land. When the flak hit them, they had just released the bombs, and Perkins had felt a heavy blow, and his right leg was knocked off the rudder pedal, just as the Mitchell began to dive. He fought to regain level flight but the controls felt like lead. He tried with his feet to get more leverage but found his right leg useless. There was a jagged hole in the cockpit where the flak shell had burst. One shell fragment had smashed throughout his right thigh and also entered his left leg, coming out the other side. The first man to reach him was Jim Hall. Jim looked down and saw the blood pumping out of Perkins' leg at an alarming rare. As the Mitchell had dual control Hall clambered into the right hand seat and grabbed the control column. It had been eighteen months since he had last flown, apart from a few minutes' dual that Perkins had given him. However, Hall found the control column was useless, and it just flapped about in his hands. Their only chance was to get Perkins out of the pilot seat.

Hall and the navigator, Pilot Officer Robertson, managed to do this, and Hall sat down and took over the controls. The other gunner, Flying Officer Butler, tended to their wounded pilot, applying a tourniquet to his let and giving him a shot of morphine. The port engine was now giving problems and the intercom was dead, so on the VHF set, Hall sent out a 'Mayday' call but then that radio too became u/s. At that moment Hall saw an airstrip ahead, but it looked terribly small and made out of steel planking (PSP). It was British but obviously just a fighter strip as he could then see Spitfires dispersed on the ground. Perkins began to talk Hall down. Looking at the instrument panel, Hall found he had no airspeed indicator, no rev counter, and no boost gauges working, and the port engine was still giving concern. To add to his problems, the hydraulics were found to be damaged and the bomb doors were hanging down. His main concern was losing vital flying speed as he came in, and stalling. They fired off two red distress flares, and flak helmets were put on Hall and the wounded Perkins. He eased the Mitchell down gently, coming over the runway at 50 feet then they struck the ground. Metal screeched on metal, tearing off the bomb doors. They bounced to 60 feet or so; Perkins shouted to him to turn off all the switches. Hall did so, avoiding the possibility of fire. Then the Mitchell was on its belly, finally sliding to a halt. No one was hurt in the crash and all were safe. Perkins' injuries kept him in hospital for the next two years but he survived, although he was left with a limp. On the 22nd, Hall was recommended for the C.G.M. and Perkins the D.S.O.