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

Date of Auction: 8th December 2016


Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A scarce Second War 1943 ‘North Africa’ D.F.C. and 1945 Second Award Bar group of nine awarded to Blenheim, Boston and Mitchells Pilot, Squadron Leader C. A. H. ‘Tony’ Beck, Southern Rhodesian Air Force, seconded Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He flew in at least 93 operational sorties, his first being as part of Operation Jubilee - the Dieppe Raid, 19 August 1942. Flying with 13, 114 and 98 Squadrons he successfully attacked a huge variety of targets over North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Holland - including two Circus operations in conjunction with Operation Market Garden, and tactical targets such as the bridges at Hedel, Zwolle and Venlo when in close support of the advancing Allied Armies, as they moved ever closer to Germany.

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated ‘1943’, with Second Award Bar, the reverse officially dated ‘1945’; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star, 1 clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star, 1 clasp, North Africa 1942-43; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Rhodesia, Order of the Legion of Merit, 4th Class breast badge, gilt and enamel; Zimbabwe Independence Medal 1980, generally very fine (9) £4000-5000


D.F.C. London Gazette 25 May 1943:

‘This Officer has continually shown unusual dash and daring in attacking the enemy. On one occasion he attacked Bizerte docks from 1,000 feet successfully bombing his target, his gunner silencing a Bofors and putting out a searchlight.

On several other occasions recently he has in the face of much light flak attacked aerodromes from the same height with equally good results.

On the night the Germans broke through the Kasserine Pass F/O. Beck was second off on a scramble take off in weather in which, no other aircraft in N.W. Africa took the air. He found difficult mountain country and successfully bombed M.T. of the German advance forces.

He is an officer who is always cheerful, willing and extremely keen.’

D.F.C. Second Award Bar London Gazette 13 February 1945:

‘This Officer has completed a second tour of operations and has carried out a total of 93 operations, 35 of which have been on his second tour.

Squadron Leader Beck has been a flight commander throughout his tour and has displayed exceptional enthusiasm and leadership and has led Flight or Squadron formations on 31 operations.

Throughout his tour of operations Squadron Leader Beck has been a source of inspiration to the Crews in his flight and the excellent bombing results obtained are largely due to his leadership and devotion to duty.

I strongly recommend that this Officer be awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Remarks by Wing Airfield Commander:

S/Ldr. Beck has at all times displayed determination and gallantry of a high order - both in the air and on the ground he has set an inspiring example. His many successful attacks in the face of heavy odds are a fine tribute to his fighting spirit and unfailing devotion to duty.

I have no hesitation in recommending him for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Remarks by Air Officer Commanding No. 2 Group [Air Vice Marshal Basil Embry]:

I strongly endorse this recommendation for a Bar to the D.F.C. Squadron Leader Beck carried out a large number of successful operations, many of them against very heavily defended targets. At all times he has shown inspiring leadership.’

Cyril ‘Tony’ Aubrey Hudson Beck was born in Bulawayo, 3 August 1922, and was the son of Edgar Hudson Beck, C.B.E., Secretary of Native Affairs and Director of African Education for Southern Rhodesia. He was educated at Rhodes Estate Prep School, Matapos and St. Andrew’s College Gtown. Whilst at Matapos ‘he had an unpleasant experience... when he was out shooting dassies in the kopjies. He came across a loud cacophony of noise from birds, dassies and others which he proceeded to investigate. To his consternation he came upon the scene of the storm a ginyambila which is a very large (11 foot) snake which lives in the kopjies and attacks without hesitation. It reared up its head and came for Tony swaying from side to side. Tony could not run from the attack as he was on top of the kopjie and had therefore to take his chance and shoot at it with his 2.2 rifle. By a stroke of amazing luck and degree of good shooting he managed to hit it in its hood whereupon it dropped momentarily and whereupon he took to his heels to report the incident at the office. He proceeded back to the scene with a few assistants and managed to kill the snake which was displayed and photographed against the tank outside the Department offices.’ (Memoirs of David Greswolde ‘Tommy’ Lewis refers)

Beck joined the Southern Rhodesian Air Force and carried out initial pilot training at No. 21 E.F.T.S., Induna, from 28 April 1941. He obtained his ‘Wings’, 5 May 1941, before carrying out further training in Oxfords at No. 21 S.F.T.S., Kumalo, from June 1941. He was promoted Sergeant in October 1941. Beck was seconded to the Royal Air Force and arrived in the UK, January 1942, before being posted for training on Blenheims at 42 O.T.U., Andover.

After successfully converting to Blenheims, Beck was posted for operational flying to 13 Squadron, Odiham, in June 1942. The squadron had been primarily employed on intruder raids, especially in conjunction with the 2nd and 3rd 1,000 bomber raids on Germany. Beck’s first operational raid with the squadron was as part of the Dieppe Raid (Operation Jubilee), 19 August 1942. The Squadron worked in conjunction with 226 and 614 Squadrons in laying a smoke screen for the raid, or as Beck records in his Log Book ‘Smoke Bombs - Dieppe. Low Level Hit in 12 Places.’

Beck, promoted Flying Officer in October, moved with the Squadron in November to it’s new base at Blida in Algeria. From here he was almost constantly engaged on bombing raids, on a variety of targets including aerodromes, docks and vehicles, as the Squadron formed up as part of the Tactical Bomber Force which supported the First Army throughout its victorious campaign in North Africa. Having attacked multiple targets including Bizerte, Tunis, Enfidaville and Sidi Ahmed he spent 4 consecutive days bombing the Ros Cape Bon Area recording the final throws of the Germans in that campaign, 9 May 1943, ‘Ros Cape Bon Area. (6 x 250. 4 x 40.) Bombed M.T. Ht. 4000’ Many Fires Seen. Germans Burning Transport.’

As the campaign concluded Beck was posted to 114 (Hong Kong) Squadron (Bostons), King’s Cross, near Souk-el-Khemis, Tunisia, 16 May 1943. He moved with the Squadron to Grombalina and between detachments in Luqa, and Gela and Comiso on Sicily, as the war progressed. During this period Beck was heavily engaged with the Squadron in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, operating initially against Pantelleria (6 times over the first two weeks of June) and Lampedusa (twice over the same period of time). Throughout July - August he was involved in intensive bombing on targets in Sicily, such as Randazzo and Maletto, attacking gun positions, ammunition dumps and transport.

In September 1943, Beck carried out a raid on Southern Italy, before completing his first operational tour. He was promoted Flight Lieutenant in October 1943, and posted in an Instructor capacity to No. 1 S.P.T.U., Cark, in December 1943. Beck transferred to No. 8 (O) A.F.U., Mona, in February 1944, and trained in Mitchells at No. 2 G.S.U., Swanton Morely. He returned to operational flying, when he was posted to 98 Squadron (Mitchells), in August 1944. After D-Day the squadron operated in close support of the advancing Allied armies, and from October onwards was based on the Continent.

Beck led the Squadron in many Circus operations throughout September - November 1944, targets included: North Abbeville; Boulogne; Walcheren; Flushing; Calais; and two sorties as part of Operation Market Garden - the diversionary sweep to Ede Barracks, Holland, 17 September 1944 and on 25 September when he flew ‘Circus. Arnhem. Lead. Attacked. F.W. 190’s. Heavy Flak. Lost Two A/C. Ht. 9000’ (Log Book refers); Breskens; Emerich; Geldern; the Bridges at Hedel, Venlo and Buggenum; Marshalling Yards at Kempen, Rheydt; and 29 November, ‘Circus Bridge At Zwolle. Hit By Heavy Flak. Ht 11,000’ (Ibid).

Beck completed his 2nd tour of operations by 1 December 1944, and after completing a course at No. 1527 B.A.T. Flight, Prestwick, was posted to 108 O.T.U., Wymeswold, for conversion to Dakotas. He returned to Africa, 1 June 1945, when he was posted to 1314 Flight (Dakotas), Accra. He spent the remainder of the war flying in Africa, and was chosen to represent Rhodesia at the Victory Parade in London, in 1946.

Discharged from the Royal Air Force, 26 January 1946, Beck became a commercial pilot when he joined Central African Airways in July of the same year. He was appointed Chief Pilot of the C.A.A. in April 1967, but later in the year the company was disbanded with Zambia Airways, Air Malawi and Air Rhodesia all becoming independent airlines. He took up employment with Air Rhodesia, and ended up flying over 26,000 hours, with flights around Africa and to London. He was involved in sanction busting, by flying aircraft from abroad into Rhodesia under secrecy. One such occasion being when he piloted one of three Boeing 720’s from Bern in Switzerland into Salisbury Airport, 14 April 1973. Beck was awarded the Rhodesian Order of the Legion of Merit for services with Rhodesian Airways, in November 1978.

He was 1 of only 9 Rhodesians to be awarded the D.F.C. and Bar.

Sold with D.F.C. Royal Mint case of issue, and case of issue for Rhodesian Order of Merit; R.A.F. Pilot’s Flying Log Book (28 April 1941 - 31 December 1948, incorporating flights undertaken with the Civil Aviation Department, Southern Rhodesia); Ministry of Civil Aviation Personal Flying Log Book, Aircraft Operating Crew (26 August 1949 - 26 March 1955, whilst employed as pilot by Central African Airways); Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Personal Flying Log Book, Aircraft Operating Crew (annotated on inside cover ‘Log Book No. 3 stolen 2.10.1961 Following are monthly summaries’, these are covered under the dates 26 March 1955 - 2 October 1961, after which the log resumes to cover the period from the latter date up to 21 August 1970); a further Civil Aviation Log Book (26 August 1970 - 21 July 1981); with copied research including several photographic images of recipient.