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

Date of Auction: 10th December 2014

Sold for £1,650

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,400

A rare Great War East Africa operations D.S.M. group of four awarded to Sergeant T. R. Johnston, Royal Air Force, late Royal Naval Air Service, who was decorated for his services in H.M.S. Manica, the Navy’s first kite balloon ship

Distinguished Service Medal, G.V.R. (J. 5523 T. R. Johnston, P.O., R.N.A.S., E. Africa, Mar.-June 1917); British War and Victory Medals (313789 Sgt. T. R. Johnston, R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919 (313789 Sgt. T. R. Johnston, R.A.F.), minor official correction to surname on the last, very fine and better (4) £1200-1400


D.S.M. London Gazette 22 February 1918.

Thomas Robertson Johnston was born in Glasgow in August 1893 and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class in September 1909. Having then attained the rank of Able Seaman, he was re-mustered as an Air Mechanic 1st Class in the Royal Naval Air Service on the books of
Pembroke III in the summer of 1914 and thence, from April 1915, on the books of President II.

In February 1916, he joined H.M.S. Laconia on the East Africa Station, followed by an appointment in the Royal Navy’s first kite balloon ship, Manica, from June 1916 until April 1917, in which period he was advanced to Petty Officer Mechanic - here, then, the probable period of operations for which he was awarded his D.S.M. - namely kite balloon operations in East Africa, his service record also being endorsed for land services in the period 1916-18, although from April 1917 on the books of H.M.S. Hyacinth at Zanzibar.

Transferred to the strength of the newly established Royal Air Force in April 1918, Johnston went out to France that summer and remained actively employed until the end of hostilities. Having then served on the strength of No. 48 Squadron during the Third Afghan War (Medal & clasp), he was transferred to the Reserve in August 1923; sold with copied research.