A Collection of Awards to the Royal Air Force between the Wars (1919-1939) formed by Group Captain JE Barker

Date of Auction: 6th December 2017

Sold for £5,000

Estimate: £5,500 - £6,500

A rare K.B.E., C.B., ‘Northern Kurdistan’ D.F.C. group of ten awarded to Air Vice-Marshal Sir George Harvey, Royal Air Force

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, K.B.E. (Military) Knight Commander’s 2nd type set of insignia, comprising neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Star, silver, silver-gilt, and enamel, with full width neck riband, in Garrard & Co. Ltd case of issue; The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, in Garrard & Co. Ltd case of issue, minor white enamel damage; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R.; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Northern Kurdistan (F/L. G. D. Harvey. R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, M.I.D. Oak Leaf; Coronation 1953, with ten related and mounted miniature awards, the full size breast awards mounted as originally worn, generally very fine, unless otherwise stated (lot) £5500-6500


Provenance: Christies, November 1988.

K.B.E. London Gazette 13 June 1957.

C.B. London Gazette 1 June 1953.

D.F.C. London Gazette 6 October 1933:

‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services rendered in connection with the operations in Northern Kurdistan during the period December, 1931 - June 1932.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 11 June 1942.

Sir George David Harvey was the son of Major-General D. Harvey, and was born at ‘Raffeen’, Worple Avenue, Wimbledon, in August 1905. He was educated at Westminster School and joined the Royal Air Force on a Short Service Commission in 1924. Harvey was posted as a Pilot Officer (On Probation) for his initial training at No. 5 F.T.S., Chester, before continuing at 7 Squadron, Bircham Newton, from October 1925. He was promoted Flying Officer in May 1926, and two years later Harvey won the ‘Laurence Minot’ Bombing Competition with his squadron commander, Wing Commander Charles Portal (later Marshal of the R.A.F. Viscount Portal), acting as his bomb aimer.

Harvey was appointed to a Permanent Commission in October 1929, and promoted Flight Lieutenant in January the following year. He served as a pilot on the Station Flight at R.A.F. Duxford for three years before being posted overseas. Harvey was posted as a pilot to 70 (Bomber Transport) Squadron (Vickers Victorias), Hinaidi, Iraq, in January 1932. He was to be shortly thrust into operational flying in Northern Kurdistan, when the Iraqi Government (aided by the R.A.F.) was compelled to assert its authority over the independent and often rebellious region of Barzan. The ‘campaign opened on 15 March 1932 and despite the very creditable way in which the Iraqi Army acquitted themselves, the R.A.F. were asked to assist and by 2 April were fully involved in the operations. As the campaign progressed fighting became more intensive and the R.A.F. suffered casualties. The chief difficulty which the R.A.F. faced was the very nature of the country itself, which was about as difficult as could be for air operations. Pilots and observers would gaze down upon row after row of misty white peaks rising to 8,000 feet and down into dark, deep gorges, whose sides were so sheer that one was astonished that the tribesmen could scale them. Aircraft frequently were fired on both from above and below as they threaded their way through the gorges at low altitudes. The air was so turbulent as to make control of the aircraft near impossible at times. On the ground there was not a single place where a forced landing could be made without the certainty of a serious crash.... In the air, crews carried on them letters written in Arabic, Syrian and Turkish, known by the sinister sobriquet of ‘blood chits’ which promised rewards to all who aided the airmen if they were forced down. As one pilot recorded, ‘So long as they wanted the money, all is well, but if they don’t, they turn you over to their women folk whose inclinations are apt to prove embarrassing and painful.’ (Northern Kurdistan, Operations by the Royal Air Force, 1931-32, Wing Commander J. Routledge refers)

It was in the above environment that Harvey distinguished himself throughout the campaign, and was awarded 1 of just 2 D.F.C.’s for Northern Kurdistan.

Harvey spent 18 months in Iraq, before being posted as an Instructor to the Central Flying School at Wittering. He spent two years in this capacity, before being posted onto the staff of the Director of Training at the Air Ministry. Harvey was promoted Squadron Leader in February 1937, and was posted to the R.A.F. Staff College in January 1939. With the outbreak of the Second War he was posted onto the staff of the Director of Operations (Home) within the Department of the Chief of the Air Staff. Harvey advanced to Temporary Wing Commander in March 1940, and was posted for armament staff officer duties at HQ Bomber Command at High Wycombe in September of the same year. Subsequent postings included onto the air staff at HQ Fighter Command, Stanmore, and as Officer Commanding R.A.F. Hunsdon. He returned to the staff of HQ Fighter Command in July 1941, and advanced to Group Captain in March 1942 (C.B.E. London Gazette 1 January 1943).

Harvey served as Acting Air Commodore at AHQ Eastern Mediterranean from February 1944, and was appointed Deputy Senior Air Staff Officer, HQ Middle East Command, Cairo, in May 1944. His final posting of the war was in the Air Ministry as Air Commodore Personnel in the Directorate General of Personnel. Harvey was promoted Air Commodore in January 1946, and was appointed as one of the two Directors in the Directorate General of Personnel (II). He was appointed Acting Air Marshal, Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) at HQ Bomber Command in September 1950, and advanced to Air Vice-Marshal in July the following year. Harvey served as Air Officer Commanding No. 23 (Training) Group at Leighton Buzzard, 1953-56, before returning to the Air Ministry as Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Training). Harvey was appointed K.B.E. (London Gazette 13 June 1957) and retired in October 1958. He died at Woodcutters Lodge, Over Worton, Middle Barton, Oxon in February 1969.