Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (3 December 2020)

Date of Auction: 3rd December 2020

Sold for £3,000

Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000

A fine post-war ‘Civil Division’ C.B.E., Second War Spitfire and Mustang pilot’s D.F.C. group of six awarded to Flight Lieutenant T. H. E. B. Ashworth, 249 (Gold Coast) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who flew in numerous operational sorties as part of the Balkan Air Force, accounting for aircraft destroyed and damaged on the ground, E-boats, locomotives, motor transport and a control tower. He was wounded by flak whilst on a reconnaissance mission, 25 January 1945, and later served as an Inspector of Police with the Kenya Police Reserve during the Mau Mau Rebellion

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Civil) Commander’s 2nd type, neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, test mark to reverse lower arm; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated ‘1945’; 1939-45 Star; Italy Star; War Medal 1939-45; Africa General Service 1902-56, 1 clasp, Kenya (E.3079 I. P. I. (R) T. H. E. B. Ashworth.) breast awards mounted for wear, generally good very fine (6) £3,000-£4,000


C.B.E. London Gazette 13 June 1970:
‘For services to the British community in Tripoli.’

D.F.C. London Gazette 21 August 1945:
‘This officer has completed numerous sorties in the most adverse weather, often in the worst winter months. In September 1944, Flight Lieutenant Ashworth made an attack on an enemy airfield. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, he shared in the destruction of two enemy aircraft. On another occasion, in January 1945, he participated in an attack against the heavily defended harbour of Pola, contributing to the destruction of two small vessels and the damaging of another [E-boats]; quayside buildings and oil tanks were also set on fire. On yet another occasion during an attack on targets in Yugoslavia in March 1945, Flight Lieutenant Ashworth shared in destroying or severely damaging two enemy aircraft, the control tower and a hangar, as well as a number of locomotives and railway wagons. This officer has displayed outstanding courage and devotion to duty.’

Thomas Holmes Evelyn Battersby Ashworth was born in July 1922, and joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Leading Aircraftman in August 1942. He was commissioned, advanced to Flying Officer (on probation) in February 1943, and to Flight Lieutenant in August 1944. After carrying out pilot training in Texas, Ashworth was subsequently posted for operational service with 249 (Gold Coast) Squadron (Spitfires and Mustangs), Brindisi, in July 1944. The Squadron joined the new Balkan Air Force that month, and was employed over the coastal areas of Yugoslavia and Albania.

Having converted to Mustangs in September 1944, the Squadron History gives the following:
‘Early in the morning of 21 September, Flg Off Ashworth (HB937) and Sgt Manning (KH422) were airborne from Brindisi, their take-off time being 0500. They crossed the coast south of Valona Bay and flew to Larissa, about 35 miles east of Trikkala. When about 10 miles north of Larissa they dived to 500 feet and then swept across the airfield at 300 feet. Manning, who was leading, strafed a Ju52 and set it on fire; Ashworth, following closely on his tail, strafed a second transport aircraft, which blew up. Unable to break away in time, he flew through the explosion, which tossed him to starboard, his Mustang suffering damage by debris. On looking back, he saw Manning’s aircraft flying through a curtain of 20mm and 40mm flak; the Mustang took hits in the rudder, fuselage and radiator and ad its hood shot away, but continued to fly until some distance from Larissa when Manning was compelled to bale out. He landed on a hilltop near Kritsini and was helped by Greek ELAS Partisans soon after he landed. Within a few days he was returned to Italy in a Dakota from a landing strip not far from where he baled out. He did not return to the Squadron as he had injured his back when baling out, and was posted to the United Kingdom. He was advised later of the award of the DFM.’

After taking part in an attack on Pola harbour, 18 January 1945, Ashworth was wounded during a reconnaissance operation, 25 January:
‘A locomotive pulling wagons was sighted near Brod, this being strafed and twenty wagons left in damaged condition. Accurate 20mm flak was experienced, Flg Off Ashworth’s aircraft (KH561 GN-B) suffering a hit which also wounded the pilot in the thigh. However, he was able to return to base safely.’ (Ibid)

Having recuperated from his wound, Ashworth was back in action with a ‘bang’:
‘In the meantime, on 21 March [1945], Flt Lt Ashworth (FB328 GN-X) and new arrival Wt Off R. N. Wheeler RAAF (HB952 GN-F) departed Biferno at 1605 and flew to Prkos airfield near Zara, where they landed 45 minutes later. Next day they took off from Prkos at 0520 to carry out an offensive sweep of Maribor, Dravograd, Zeltweg and Bruck, rather less than 100 miles due south-west of Vienna. This operation was the furthest into enemy territory of any made by the Squadron. They strafed numerous targets, chiefly along the railway linking the towns and claimed two locomotives destroyed, two disabled and five more damaged, together with ten railway wagons damaged. At Zeltweg they attack the airfield where, in the south-west corner, was a Ju88, partly under tarpaulins, with men working on it. The bomber swung round sharply when hit and a small fire was started under the fuselage and it was claimed probably destroyed. They next strafed and damaged the control tower, which was located on the south side of the airfield. In the south-west corner were two hangars, one with an aircraft, believed a Bf109, standing outside its closed doors. The Messerschmitt swung back against the hangar as it was hit and was claimed damaged. Both that hangar and the other were strafed as was a barracks hut just outside the airfield. On nearing Twimberg they strafed a factory building and south of Bruck they strafed and damaged a motor vehicle pulling a trailer, travelling north-east towards that town.’ (Ibid)

Ashworth stayed with the Squadron until its disbandment in August 1945. After the war he was employed as a Bank Official in Nakuru, Kenya. Ashworth served as an Inspector of Police with the Kenya Police Reserve during the Mau Mau Rebellion. He subsequently moved to Tripoli, Libya, and retired to East Sussex. Ashworth died in February 1988.

Sold with the following related items: D.F.C. Royal Mint case of issue; named card box of issue for A.G.S.; R.A.F. Wings and Air Ministry Silk Escape Map of the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Italy, Yugoslavia, Dalmatian Coast and Greece; a copy of 249 At War, The Authorised History of the RAF’s Top Scoring Fighter Squadron of WWII, by B. Cull; copied research and several photographic images of the recipient in uniform.