A fine Collection of Life Saving Awards

Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £1,800

Estimate: £350 - £450

An outstanding Second World War B.E.M. group of four awarded to Sergeant Alexzander Barrie, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, for his bravery in pulling a man from burning aircraft wreckage, who, several days later was killed in action on 20 April 1943

British Empire Medal, (Military) G.VI.R., 1st issue 1313503 Sergt.Alexander Barrie R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; Defence and War Medals, these unnamed, extremely fine (4) £350-450


B.E.M. London Gazette 27 July 1943. ‘One night in April, 1943, a Blenheim aircraft crashed and burst into flames. The aircraft had been seen to dive by Sergeant Barrie, who hurried across fields to the scene three-quarters of a mile away. He scrambled down a steep cutting to get to the aircraft and as he reached it an explosion occurred which broke it in two. He then saw the pilot, who was in the wreckage. Sergeant Barrie took off his own tunic and, after wrapping it round his head, entered the burning wreckage. He was able to drag the badly wounded pilot away to safety. Sergeant Barrie then returned to the blazing wreckage and searched for other survivors until he was satisfied that there were no others who could still be alive. This airman showed complete disregard for his own safety, which was jeopardised by fire, exploding tanks and pyrotechnics. His unselfish heroism was responsible for saving the pilot’s life.’

Only a fews days later, Sergeant Barrie, aged 33 years, an Air Gunner of No. 51 Squadron, took off in Halifax bomber No. DT628, taking part in Operation Stettin. The bomber was reported lost with all its crew on 20 April 1943. He was the son of Alexander and Alison Barrie and husband of Lilian F. Barrie of Highbury, London. Having no known grave his name is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. However, some 68 years later it was established that the bomber had been shot down over Denmark and the previously unknown remains of the crew had been laid to rest at Bisperbjerg Cemetery.

With copied gazette extracts and other research.