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 £850

Estimate: £800 - £1,200

A Second War ‘Burma operations’ C.B.E. group of ten awarded to Air Commodore G. H. ‘Tiny’ Vasse, Royal Air Force and Royal Naval Air Service, who flew operationally as a Bristol Fighter F2b pilot with 6 Squadron during the Kurdistan operations, before retraining as a specialist Air Armament Officer. He commanded the Air Development Fighting Unit, 1937-41, and served as Deputy Senior Air Staff Officer, Air Command South East Asia and subsequently with No. 221 (Tactical) Group, 1944-45

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Military) Commander’s 2nd type neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. G. H. Vasse. R.A.F.) BWM officially renamed, and suspension loose; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Kurdistan (F/O. G. H. Vasse. R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1935 (F/L. G. H. Vasse. R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, M.I.D. Oak Leaf, emblem loose; Coronation 1953, last five privately engraved ‘Air Cdre G. H. Vasse’, generally nearly very fine (10) £800-1200


C.B.E. London Gazette 5 July 1945:

‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in connection with the operations in Burma.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 17 March 1941.

Gordon Herbert ‘Tiny’ Vasse was born at 25 William Street, Herne Bay, Kent, in April 1899. He was educated at Godwyn College, Margate and King’s College London. Vasse joined the Royal Naval Air Service as Probationary Flight Officer in 1916, carried out pilot training and was granted Royal Aeronautical Club Certificate No. 6288 on 22 March 1918. He transferred to the Royal Air Force as Second Lieutenant (on probation) in April 1918, and was subsequently confirmed as Lieutenant Aeroplane Officer.

Vasse was placed on the unemployed list in September 1919, but rejoined the R.A.F. as a Flying Officer on a Short Service Commission in October 1921. The following year he was posted to the School of Technical Training (Men) at Ramsgate, before being posted as a pilot for operational flying to 6 Squadron (Bristol F2b’s), Hinaidi, Iraq, in April 1923. Vasse moved with the Squadron to Mosul in May 1924, and returned to the UK in December 1925. He was granted a Permanent Commission the following year, and in August of the same year he qualified as an Air Armament Officer. Vasse was posted in the latter capacity onto the staff of the Armament and Gunnery School at Eastchurch, and he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in July 1927.

Subsequent postings included to 15 Squadron, Martlesham Heath, in November 1930, where he was made a Flight Commander on the creation of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A.A.E.E.). Vasse, still employed on air armament duties, was posted to No. 3 (Indian) Wing at Quetta in February 1933, and to No. 1 (Indian) Group at Peshawar the following year. He was promoted Squadron Leader in February 1936, before returning to Eastchurch later that year.

Having returned to the UK, Vasse commanded the Air Fighting Development Unit (A.F.D.U), 1937 - 1941. He advanced to Wing Commander in January 1939, and was briefly posted as Officer Commanding, R.A.F. Duxford in 1941. Vasse was promoted Temporary Group Captain in June 1941, and the following month was appointed Deputy Director of Air Tactics in the Department of the Chief of the Air Staff at the Air Ministry. He served as Acting Air Commodore, Director of Air Tactics, from October 1942, and was confirmed as Group Captain in April of the following year.

Vasse was posted overseas for the remainder of the Second War, and served as Deputy Senior Air Staff Officer (S.A.S.O.), Air Command South East Asia from 1944. Later the same year he transferred as S.A.S.O. for No. 221 (Tactical) Group, and served with them until their disbandment at Rangoon, 30 September 1945. Vasse was posted as Temporary Air Commodore, Officer Commanding, R.A.F. Seletar in January 1946. He returned to the UK and served as Air Officer Commanding, No. 21 (Training) Group, Cranwell, 1946-47, and subsequently as AOC for both No. 25 (Armament) Group and No. 63 (Western and Welsh Reserve) Group.

Despite having planned to retire, Vasse was appointed Commandant, Royal Observer Corps, at R.A.F. Bentley Priory, within H.Q. Fighter Command, in March 1951. He retired in April 1954, and died at the General Hospital, Southampton, in March 1965.

Sold with a file of copied research, including several photographic images of the recipient from various stages of his career.