A Collection of Awards to the R.F.C. and R.A.F. formed by Wing Commander Bill Traynor

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Date of Auction: 21st September 2007

Sold for £3,300

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500

A very rare Great War D.C.M. group of three awarded to 2nd Lieutenant C. J. French, Royal Air Force, late Royal Flying Corps

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (11559 Cpl. C. J. French, H.Q., R.F.C.); British War and Victory Medals (11559 Pte., R.F.C.), generally very fine or better (3) £2000-2500


A little under 100 Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to members of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force in the Great War.

D.C.M. London Gazette 17 April 1918. The original recommendation states:

‘Acting Corporal French joined the Royal Flying Corps in the Field on 6 April 1916. This man’s name has frequently been brought to my attention for the thorough manner in which he carries out his duties when under heavy shell fire. The Battery Commander of the Battery to which he is attached writes of him that since 1 July 1916 he has carried out his work ‘in most excellent fashion and at various times has shown most commendable gallantry when his wireless station has been subjected to heavy shellfire. On three different occasions the vicinity of his wireless mast had been heavily shelled both with 5.9-inch and 8-inch howitzers which have caused considerable damage to his mast and aerial and in every case he has repaired the damage caused promptly and efficiently although still under heavy shellfire’. This appreciation of his work from the O.C. 15th S.B. was dated 31 May 1917. Since then he has been employed as Inspecting Corporal of Wireless Stations at batteries on the XV Corps front. He has had a very dangerous area to visiti, but has never neglected to go to a battery which was being shelled at the time or postpone a visit on account of shellfire.’

Clarence James French, a native of Watford, Hertfordshire, was born in May 1896 and, as noted above, joined the Royal Flying Corps ‘in the Field’ in April 1916 - his MIC entry confirms his sole entitlement to the British War and Victory Medals. Following his gallant work as a Wireless Operator while “on the books” of No. 52 Squadron, he was posted to No. 1 Wireless School at Farnborough as a Probationary 2nd Lieutenant (Technical) in March 1918, and remained similarly employed on the home establishment until February 1919, when he took up an appointment with the Army on the Rhine. Nor, would it appear, was this latter posting limited to ground duties, for, as verified by his service record, he qualified for an Observer’s Brevet in August of the same year. French was placed on the Unemployed List in the following month.