Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (8 December 2016)

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Date of Auction: 8th December 2016

Sold for £20,000

Estimate: £20,000 - £30,000

The unique Great War and Waziristan Operations D.S.O., Fighter Ace’s ‘Immediate’ D.F.C. and Second Award Bar group of seven awarded to Captain, later Group Captain H. P. Lale, 48 and 20 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. A master exponent of the Bristol Fighter, who went on to claim at least 23 victories during the Great War, often in multiples, invariably in minutes and sometimes in moments. As an aggressive pilot who adapted to his role and terrain, Lale subsequently developed into a precision bomber often attacking specific individual targets during his various sorties on the North West Frontier

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top-riband bar; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar; British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaves (Capt. H. P. Lale. R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 3 clasps, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919, Mahsud 1919-20, Waziristan 1919-21 (F-Lt. H. P. Lale, R. A. Force) with unofficial rivets, top lugs filled with retaining rod for mounting purposes; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Southern Desert, Iraq (S/L. H. P. Lale. R.A.F.); Coronation 1937, mounted court-style as originally worn, generally good very fine (7) £20000-30000

Footnote

Provenance: The Aviation Collection, Spink, May 1998.

D.S.O. London Gazette 12 July 1920, the recommendation for Waziristan states:

‘For gallantry and devotion to duty throughout the recent operations. The following are instances of great gallantry and distinguished conduct displayed by this officer. On the 10th January he carried out a highly successful reconnaissance over Splo, Toi, Skhur, Tangi, Sarwakai, Deba and Zir Kach obtaining 72 successful overlaps.

On the 17th January he carried out a bombing and Photo reconnaissance near Deracol camp. He observed about 200 enemy in a nullah and in spite of exceedingly heavy fire from the ground he descended very low and dropped 6 bombs on the tribesmen, and fired 300 rounds S.A.A. into them causing many casualties. He broke up the laskhar entirely. Upon his return it was found that his machine was badly shot about.

On the 2nd February he carried out a bombing reconnaissance over Janjai and obtained O.K.s on the village, also four bombs on two villages on W. bank of the Tank Zam river. He fired 600 S.A.A. in these villages causing much damage.

On the 6th February he carried out a very successful photo reconnaissance over Dwatoi Shahi obtaining 42 successful overlaps.

On the 19th February he carried out a highly successful bombing reconnaissance on Maidan and obtained 7 direct hits two of which were on the house of Malik Marwat.

On 23rd February he carried out another very successful bombing reconnaissance in the course of which he dropped 8 bombs and fired 300 S.A.A. on to Maidan and 8 bombs and 120 S.A.A. into a village 3 miles N.E. of Sararogha, inspite of heavy enemy fire.

On the 20th March he led the Squadron formation of 13 machines to raid Sheranni. He led with great precision and judgement and brought the formation very low for bombing inspite of heavy and concentrated fire from the ground. He himself obtained 6 direct hits and fired 150 S.A.A. with excellent effect. On this day at least 40 direct hits were obtained on the target.

On the 28th March he carried [out] a highly successful raid on [a] Wazir encampment on the Speraragha plain and obtained 7 direct hits and fired 200 S.A.A. causing great panic and many casualties to tribes people, cattle etc.

Since November 1st 1919 he has flown over 100 hours War Flying, and carried out 34 bombing reconnaissances, 4 reconnaissances , and 4 photo-reconnaissances.

By his personal gallantry and administration ability, he has kept his flight in a high state of efficiency, and has set a very fine example to all officers and men under him.’

D.F.C. London Gazette 3 December 1918, the recommendation states:

‘A bold and courageous officer, who leads his patrol with marked skill and judgement. He has accounted for twelve enemy aeroplanes - five crashed, four shot down in flames, and three driven down out of control. On 6th September he led his his patrol of nine machines to the assistance of some formations that were attacked by thirty or forty enemy aircraft; in the engagement he and his Observer accounted for two Fokkers; eventually the enemy was driven off, five of their machines being destroyed and three shot down out of control.’

D.F.C. Second Award Bar London Gazette 12 July 1920, the recommendation for Waziristan states:

‘During the period November 1st 1919 to December 18th 1918 he has carried out eighteen Day Bomb raids, three night raids and two reconnaissances. Through his leadership he is responsible for the following results. On 2nd December 1919 during the Bomb raid on Marobi, Mullah Fazil Dhin’s house was destroyed. This was caused by leading his flight to such a low altitude, and proving that one house could be picked out as a target and effectively bombed. Intelligence reports considerable damage done.

On 6th December 1919 Maidan was bombed, the special target being the house of Malik Marwat, which was hit under similar circumstances. Intelligence reports great damage done. During the night raids his results were excellent, the inhabitants getting no sleep day or night, causing the N. Northern Mahsuds to propose peace terms.

On December 11th he carried out an offensive reconnaissance leaving the ground in a bad sand storm. Two miles west of Gumatti Post, his machine was heavily fired upon. He made three attempts over this area to find the enemy. On the 3rd attempt flying at 50 feet his engine was hit and the water pump shattered. He climbed at 200 feet and dropped his bombs. By careful manipulation he managed to reach Bannu Polo ground. His engine entirely failed as he was coming in. Through his skill he not only made an excellent landing but also saved his engine. Subsequent Intelligence reports say that fifteen enemy were killed and many others wounded.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 11 July 1919.

Horace Percy Lale was born in April 1896, and was commissioned Second Lieutenant (Temporary), Royal Flying Corps in September 1916. He was posted as a Pilot for operational flying to 48 Squadron (Bristol F.2b’s), La Bellevue, France in April 1917. Lale did not have to wait long for his first taste of success, when on 24 June 1917 he forced down out of control an Albatross DIII over Douai. By the end of September he had accounted for another 3 Albatross forced down out of control.

Lale transferred to 39 Squadron (B F.2b’s), a Home Defence unit based at Woodford. The squadron had gained a reputation for successful actions against airships, in particular when Leefe Robinson had won his Victoria Cross in 1916. The lack of ‘action’, however, did not appeal to Lale’s aggressive flying style and as such he would have been delighted when he returned to operational flying in France during the Summer of 1918. Now a Captain, and a Flight Commander, he joined up with 20 Squadron (Bristol F.2b’s) at Boisdinghem. He opened his new account on 30 June 1918, when he destroyed a Fokker DVII north-west of Menin.

A Purple Patch - One of the finest exponents of the Bristol Fighter

Over the next four months, Lale and his respective Observer, accounted for 2 enemy aircraft in a day on 4 separate occasions, and 4 enemy aircraft in one day. 25 July represented the first of his “braces”, when he destroyed two Fokker DVII’s over Comines, the Combat Report adding the following, ‘while on Offensive Patrol with 9 Bristol Fighters, between 20 and 30 E.A. were encountered over Menin after 7 112lb bombs had been dropped on that town. A strong westerly gale blowing, the Leader of the Bristol Fighters, led his formation nearer the Lines, and when over Comines, found several of the E.A. below. The encounter then developed into a dog fight..... Machine No. C4718 (Pilot - Capt. Lale. Observer - 2/Lt. Ralph) was attacked from the rear and below by one E.A. and the Pilot, turning slightly, enabled the Observer to fire 5 long bursts into it at about 100 yds. range. This E.A. went down in a straight dive, finishing up by hitting the ground vertically just N. of Comines.’

The second of the aircraft destroyed was shared with another pilot from the formation, somewhat of an unusual occurrence for Lale who usually accounted for his victories only with the help of his Observer. On 11 August 1918, having led his formation in a raid against Courtai Station, in an act of opportunism he destroyed an enemy kite balloon, at the same time diving down to 50 feet to harass the engineers attending to it. Three days later he forced down out of control a Fokker DVII over Dadizeele.

On 21 August 1918, in a matter of minutes, Lale and his Observer (Second Lieutenant Ralph) accounted for three enemy aircraft, sharing another with the patrol he led shortly afterwards. The Combat Report gives the following, ‘an Offensive Patrol of 11 Bristol Fighters, after dropping bombs on Comines Railway Junction, met 15 E.A. over Menin. The leader of the Bristol Fighters led his patrol into the E.A. and attacked. During the fight the leader, Capt. Lale (Pilot) and 2/Lt. F. J. Ralph (Observer) in Machine No. E2467 dived on a Pfaltz Scout and, after the second burst, the right wings of the E.A. crumpled up and 2/Lt. Ralph saw it crash N.E. of Gheluwe. Immediately after Capt. Lale dived on an Albatross Scout which, after 100 rounds were fired at it, fell out of control but was not watched to the ground.

Capt. Lale was then attacked from above by 7 Fokker Biplanes and his Observer fired about 100 rounds with double Lewis Gun at the nearest. This E.A. turned over and fell, crashing West of Menin-Roulers Railway. The rest of the E.A. were at that time being engaged by other Bristol Fighters in the formation.’

On 3 September Lale, whilst out on an Offensive Patrol with nine Bristols, lead the formation into a dogfight with 12 Pfalz Scouts and Fokker Biplanes. He fired a long burst at a DVII but it succeeded in getting on to his tail, only to be quickly shot off by Ralph in what was to be their final victory together. A few minutes later Ralph was shot dead, a fact which Lale only discovered after coming out of the fight. Two days later Lale was back on track, this time with Second Lieutenant H. L. Edwards as his Observer, when the pair accounted for another Fokker DVII destroyed South East of Cambrai.

The morning of 6 September saw another two Fokker DVII’s destroyed in flames over St. Quentin, when ‘Capt. Lale collected his formation [9 Bristols] and, flying South, saw formations of D. H-4’s, Dolphins and S.E5’s going towards St. Quentin about 2,000 feet below. Following them over, the Bristol Fighter formation arrived just as about 30 to 40 E.A. dived on the Dolphins.

One Fokker Biplane passed within 30 yards of Bristol Fighter E2181 (Pilot - Capt. Lale, Observer - 2/Lt. Edwards). Capt. Lale put about 50 rounds into it and sent it down in flames. The Observer (2/Lt. Edwards) was in the meantime firing with Double Lewis Gun at another E.A. about 40 yards away on the left. This E.A. first spun, then appeared to gain control, but a few seconds later burst into flames.’ (Combat Report refers)

The following day the pairing accounted for another enemy aircraft destroyed, ‘whilst leading a formation of Bristol Fighters North of St. Quentin, 7 Fokker Bi-planes were observed about 4,000 ft. below to the East. The leader of the Bristol Fighters ... Capt. H. P. Lale... dived on one E.A. getting a good burst into it. The E.A. stalled, then fell out of control and later crashed N.E. of St. Quentin. Capt. Lale then opened fire on a second E.A. but after a short burst, the Vickers belt broke. The E.A. in the meantime made off East before the rest of the formation could get to them.’ (Combat Report refers)

Lale finished his Great War operational service with a flourish in October 1918, accounting for another forced down out of control on the 3rd; two destroyed on the 26th within minutes of each other, and two destroyed on the 30th within moments of each other.

Precision bombing on the North West Frontier

By the end of the Great War Lale had claimed at least 23 Victories. Many of them had been with 20 Squadron, and he moved with them for service in India six months after the war had ended. The squadron began a 20 year association with policing raiding tribesmen on the North West Frontier. Stationed at Risalpur the squadron served in an army co-operation capacity as part of the 52nd Wing. Lale, still flying the machine that he had achieved so much success in, adapted to the role and the conditions admirably. He soon built up a reputation as something of a ‘pinpoint’ bomber, leading low-level raids on individual targets (see recommendations above). The results of such raids leading to him being gazetted, in the same gazette, for the D.S.O. and the Second Award Bar to his D.F.C. He was presented with the former by the King at Buckingham Palace, 22 February 1922.

Lale was promoted Flying Officer in May 1920, and he returned to the UK to join the School of Technical Training at Ramsgate. Subsequent postings between 1921-24 included: the School of Technical Training at Manston; 24 Squadron at Kenley, and as Squadron Leader (I/C) 32 Squadron at Kenley, 15 April 1924. After four years serving at H.Q. Fighting Area Uxbridge (Air Defence Great Britain), he returned to operational service when appointed Squadron Leader (I/C) of 30 Squadron (Wapitis), in Iraq.

Promoted Wing Commander, Lale was posted to command 503 Squadron, No. 1 Air Defence Group, at Lincoln in February 1930. He advanced to Group Captain in 1936, and served during the Second War in the Department of the Chief of Air Staff, and was for several years a member of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund’s Grants Committee. He died in April 1955.

Sold with extensive copied research, and several photographic images.