Medals to the R.F.C. and R.A.F. from the Collection Formed by the Late Squadron Leader David Haller
Date of Auction: 25th March 2014
Sold for £2,000
Estimate: £1,600 - £1,800
The Second World War D.F.M. group of four awarded to Flight Sergeant J. C. MacGregor, Royal Air Force, who was decorated for his gallantry during an operational tour as a Wireless Operator in Hampdens of No. 44 Squadron in 1940-41: having then commenced a second tour in Manchesters of No. 83 Squadron, he was killed in action off Norway in February 1942
Distinguished Flying Medal, G.VI.R. (552535 F./Sgt. J. C. MacGregor, R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; War Medal 1939-45, extremely fine
The Great War campaign service group awarded to his father, Private C. MacGregor, Royal Scots Fusiliers
1914 Star, with clasp (8582 Pte. C. MacGregor, 1/R. Sc. Fus.); British War and Victory Medals (8582 Pte. C. MacGregor, R. S. Fus.), these a little polished, generally very fine (7) £1600-1800
FootnoteD.F.M. London Gazette 27 August 1941. The original recommendation states:
‘This airman has been the Wireless Operator on all of his operational sorties. The targets attacked included Brest, Berlin, Cologne and Soest. Sergeant MacGregor’s determination and ability have been largely responsible for the success of the majority of the sorties undertaken. At Soest a low-level attack was made and a direct hit obtained on the marshalling yards. His keenness, ability and cheerful manner in which he undertakes operations have been of the utmost value to the Squadron.’
John Charles MacGregor, who was from Dundee, commenced his operational career with No. 44 Squadron, a Hampden unit operating out of R.A.F. Waddington, but with a detachment at Lossiemouth. And he remained a Wireless Operator in Hampdens for the duration of his tour, an aircraft with striking deficiencies that have been summed up by Max Hastings in Bomber Command thus:
‘The Hampden was the most urgent candidate for replacement: cruising at only 155 m.p.h., 10 m.p.h. slower than the other two [the Wellington and Whitley], this grotesque-looking flying glasshouse could stand little punishment, lacked power-operated turrets, and could only carry a 4000lb. maximum bomb load.’
Awarded the D.F.M. for the completion of 35 sorties, six of them to Kiel and another five to Cologne, MacGregor returned to the operational scene with a posting to No. 83 Squadron.
On the night of 22-23 February 1942, the Squadron was ordered to carry out a diversionary raid against Stavanger, Norway, while the Fleet Air Arm launched an attack against the Prinz Eugen in a fjord near Trondheim. MacGregor was assigned to Manchester L7522 OL-N, with which aircraft type his Squadron had recently been re-equipped, piloted by Squadron Leader J. R. Rainford, D.F.C. and Bar, and Pilot Officer E. A. Warren.
Tragically, however, aircraft and crew were lost off Sola airfield, crashing into the sea. Eventually the bodies of both pilots and one other crew member were recovered and interred at Sola churchyard, but 20 year old MacGregor and the remainder of his crew have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Sold with original R.A.F. Record Office letter addressed to the recipient’s father, stating that no further news had been received regarding his fate, dated 3 July 1942, and his Air Ministry condolence slip in the name of ‘Flight Sergeant J. C. MacGregor D.F.M.’
Charles MacGregor was born in Dundee in 1888 and enlisted in the Royal Scots Fusiliers around 1905. A Private in the 1st Battalion by the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, he was embarked for France on the 14th, where he would have witnessed heavy fighting in the retreat from Mons. Assuming he remained a member of the same Battalion, he would also have been in action on the Somme on 1 July 1916, when it suffered total casualties 370 officers and men; so, too, at Serre that November. Accompanying research notes state that he was wounded in September 1918, and that he died in 1961.