A Collection of Awards to the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force

Date of Auction: 19th June 2013

Sold for £1,000

Estimate: £700 - £900

A fine Second World War Battle of Britain O.B.E. group of seven awarded to Wing Commander H. G. P. Ovenden, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, late East Surrey Regiment, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, who flew operationally in B.E. 2s on the Western Front, prior to witnessing further active service out in India in 1919-21: but his time as Adjutant at R.A.F. Hornchurch throughout the Battle of Britain was probably no less memorable, the airfield being subjected to enemy raids on no less than 20 occasions

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 2nd type breast badge; 1914-15 Star (2 Lieut. H. G. P. Ovenden, E. Surr. R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. H. G. P. Ovenden, R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 3 clasps, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919, Mahsud 1919-20, Waziristan 1919-21 (Flyng. Offcr. H. G. P.Ovenden, R.A.F.); Defence and War Medals 1939-45, the earlier awards with contact marks and polished, thus good fine, the remainder very fine and better (7) £700-900


O.B.E. London Gazette 24 September 1941. The original recommendations states:

‘Since the beginning of the War this officer has been employed as Squadron Leader, Administrative, at the Station [Hornchurch, No. 11 Group, Fighter Command]. During this period, which includes the intense operations from May to October 1940, he carried out the whole administrative burden of the Station, taking no leave or relaxation. Although the Station has from time to time been severely bombed, both during day and night, Squadron Leader Ovenden has been largely responsible for the continued smooth working of the administration which, apart from the effects of enemy action, has been a heavy task owing to the constant changing of Squadrons. By his untiring efforts this officer has contributed much towards the successful operations from this station. He has set an excellent example to all’.

Horace Gramshaw Payne Ovenden, who was born in Worthing, Sussex, May 1892, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the East Surrey Regiment in September 1914, and saw action out in France with the 2nd Battalion in the following year.

Next transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, he qualified as a Flying Officer (Observer) and was posted to No. 7 Squadron out in France in August 1916, in which capacity he remained actively employed until June 1917, flying B.E. 2s on reconnaissance, photography and artillery co-operation patrols, in addition to bombing sorties, his period of service encompassing operations in support of the Somme offensive and the battle of Arras.

Having then served on the Home Establishment, Ovenden was embarked for India in April 1919, where he flew operationally during the Third Afghan War, in addition to the Mahsud and Waziristan operations of 1919-21, latterly in No. 28 Squadron (verified on the published roll). Thereafter, he appears to have qualified as an Electrical and Wireless Officer, and served in Malta and Egypt, in addition to appointments back home.

Placed on the Retired List as a Flight Lieutenant in August 1934, he was appointed Adjutant at No. 11 (Fighter) Group’s sector airfield at Hornchurch, as a member of the Reserve of Air Force Officers, in January 1936, and he was similarly employed at the renewal of hostilities in September 1939. In fact, as cited above, his O.B.E. was awarded in respect of like services throughout the Battle of Britain, when the Hornchurch endured at least 20 enemy raids.

Advanced to Squadron Leader in November 1942 and to Wing Commander in July 1945, Ovenden appears to have been placed back on the Retired List in early 1947; sold with copied service record and list of appointments 1916-47.