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


Estimate: £2,000 - £2,400

A C.B., Second War 1940 O.B.E., inter-war A.F.C. group of nine awarded to Air Vice-Marshal G. I. L. ‘Gil’ Saye, Royal Air Force, pilot of the first R.A.F. crew to fly to Iceland in 1930, he went on to become a Navigation Specialist, serving with HQ Advanced Air Striking Force in France, 1939-40, and culminating in his appointment as the newly formed Director of Navigation at the Air Ministry, which position he held 1944-48.

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; The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 2nd type, silver-gilt; Air Force Cross, G.V.R.; 1939-45 Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, M.I.D. Oak Leaf; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Cyprus (A.V.M. G. I. L. Saye. R.A.F.); Coronation 1937; Jubilee 1953, breast awards mounted as originally worn, with a medal pouch made from RAF cummerbund material and officer rank braid, generally very fine (9) £2000-2400


Provenance: Spink, March 1994.

C.B. London Gazette 10 June 1948, the recommendation (originally for a C.B.E.) states:

‘Air Commodore Saye has filled the appointment of Director of Navigation since December 1944. Throughout this period his single-minded devotion to duty and the high standard of his Staff work have been most impressive. He has played the principle part in the many recent important discussions which have taken place between the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and the successful outcome of these has largely been due to his tact and his thorough understanding of the problems involved. As Head of the Navigation Branch Air Commodore Saye has been particularly energetic in watching over the welfare of all navigators in the Royal Air Force. He has been much concerned in the careers of these personnel and has fought many difficult battles on their behalf without thought of his own interests. In all circumstances this officer’s work has been outstanding and thoroughly deserving of special recognition.’

O.B.E. London Gazette 11 July 1940.

A.F.C. London Gazette 3 June 1933.

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

Geoffrey Ivon Laurence ‘Gil’ Saye was the son of G. N. Saye, Advocate and Solicitor for the Straits Settlements. He was born in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 1907, and educated at Repton. Saye entered R.A.F. Cranwell as a Flight Cadet in February 1925. He was commissioned Pilot Officer in December of the following year, and posted to Calshot for a Flying Boat Pilot’s Course in March 1927. Having completed the course, Saye stayed on at Calshot and joined No. 480 (Coastal Reconnaissance) Flight in August 1927. He subsequently moved to the Air Pilotage Flight, and was promoted to Flying Officer in June 1928. Saye carried out further training and transferred, whilst remaining at Calshot, to 209 (Flying Boat) Squadron (Blackburn Iris Flying Boats) in 1929.

In 1930, whilst serving with 209 Squadron, Saye was one of the pilots of the first RAF crew to fly to Iceland. Having landed in Iceland they undertook photography and demonstration flights in connection with the millennium celebrations of the Icelandic Parliament. Saye moved with the Squadron to Mount Batten in 1932, was promoted Flight Lieutenant in December of the same year, and awarded the A.F.C. in 1933. He was posted as Flying Boat Instructor to ‘C’ Flight, Seaplane Training Squadron, Calshot, in June 1933. Saye was posted as Adjutant for R.A.F. Heliopolis, Cairo, in November 1934.

After spending 18 months in Egypt Saye returned to the UK and was posted to the School of Air Navigation, Manston, to attend a Specialist Navigation Course. He was posted as an air navigation specialist to R.A.F. Bircham Newton, King’s Lynn, in November 1936. This proved to be the first of a series of specialist navigator postings which led by the end of the Second War to his position as Director of Navigation at the Air Ministry and to being a founder member, and, in 1949, a Fellow of the Institute of Navigation.

Saye advanced to Squadron Leader in August 1937, and was posted to be Group Navigation Officer at No. 1 (Bomber) Group, Abingdon. He stayed in the latter posting until the outbreak of the Second War, when he was posted to serve with HQ Advanced Air Striking Force (HQ AASF) in Rheims, France, 2 September 1939. Saye advanced to Temporary Wing Commander in June 1940, and served as Navigation Staff Officer, HQ Flying Training Command, Shinfield Park. He was posted as Command Navigation Officer at HQ Bomber Command, High Wycombe, in December 1940, and subsequently posted as Temporary Group Captain, Officer Commanding, R.A.F. Waterbeach, in July 1942.

Saye was appointed to the command of the Central Navigation School, Shawbury, in June 1944. Six months later Saye was appointed the important and newly-instituted Air Ministry post of Director of Navigation, with the rank of Acting Air Commodore. He remained Director of Navigation until March 1948, when he was appointed Group Captain in charge of Organisation at HQ MEAF, at Ismailia. After two years at HQ MEAF Saye returned to the Air Ministry to the Air Member for Personnel’s Department, as Director of Manning. He was promoted Air Commodore in July 1950, and attended the year-long Imperial Defence College Senior Officers Staff Course in 1953. Having completed the latter Saye was promoted Air Vice-Marshal in January 1954, and was appointed Air Officer in charge of Administration (AOA) at HQ MEAF during the same month. The Headquarters were relocated to Cyprus in 1954 because of the brewing Suez Canal crisis, and in 1956 the island was used to launch the Suez invasion.

In July 1956 Saye took up his final posting - as Air Officer Commanding, No. 19 (Reconnaissance) Group, Mount Batten. Following the disbandment ceremonies of 228 Squadron at R.A.F. St. Eval, 6 March 1959, he was taken ill and died at the Officers Mess.

Sold with a file of copied research, including photographic images of recipient in uniform, and copied extracts of his Log Books.