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 £3,600

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A particularly fine Great War 1917 D.S.C. group of twelve awarded to Flight Commander, later Colonel, C. C. R. Edwards, Royal Naval Air Service and Burma Railway Battalion, who served with Wing Commander C. R. Samson’s 3 Squadron at Dunkirk in 1914, before distinguishing himself as a pilot with No. 1 Wing over Belgium, when he shot down two attacking aircraft, receiving three wounds in the process, 1 March 1917. Having proved adept with both armoured cars and aircraft, Edwards returned to his profession as a civil engineer after the war and was employed by Burma Railways, Rangoon, during the inter-war years. He served during the Second War as a Colonel with the Corps of Indian Engineers - thus adding further medals to his extremely scarce combination of awards

Distinguished Service Cross, G.V.R. (hallmarks for London 1917); 1914 Star, with clasp (F. 189. C. C. R. Edwards, A.M.1 GR. R.N.A.S.); British War and Victory Medals (Flt. Cr. C. C. R. Edwards R.N.A.S.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, Burma 1930-32 (C. C. R. Edwards Burma Rys); 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Belgium, Kingdom, Order of Leopold, Military Division, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver and enamel, French motto, minor white enamel damage; Belgium, Kingdom, Croix de Guerre, A.I.R.; France, Third Republic, Croix de Guerre, reverse dated 1914-1917, mounted for wear, generally very fine or better, unless otherwise stated (12) £4000-5000

Footnote

Provenance: Glendining’s, June 1993.

D.S.C. London Gazette 21 April 1917 (jointly listed with his Observer, Sub-Lieutenant C. K. Chase):

‘In recognition of their services on 1 March 1917 when they were attacked by two hostile machines while on a recce flight and bought them both down out of control. Flt. Lt. Edwards was hit by a bullet which passed through the left shoulder, fracturing the collarbone and at the same time was slightly wounded in both feet. Although suffering considerably, he brought his machine home safely, in spite of being again attacked by two hostile aircraft. By his determination and pluck he probably saved his own life and that of his observer.’

Belgium, Order of Leopold, Chevalier London Gazette 23 March 1917.

France, Croix de Guerre London Gazette 20 July 1917.

Charles Cyril Rogers Edwards was born at Penn Fields, Upper Penn, near Wolverhampton, in July 1893. He was educated at Highgate Grammar School, and studied engineering at University College, London. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service as Air Mechanic 1, 29 August 1914. Edwards was posted to Dunkirk to serve with Wing Commander C. R. Samson’s 3 Squadron. With too few aircraft at his disposal, Samson diversified his Squadron so that they set up an armoured car force to patrol in and around Dunkirk. This force, originally only a Mercedes and a Rolls-Royce, supplemented the coastal patrol and intelligence gathering work provided by the 3 Squadron’s aircraft. Edwards served during the early stages of the formation of the R.N.A.S. Armoured Car Section, and by the end of 1914 the Squadron’s aircraft had managed to carry out raids on the Zeppelin sheds at Cologne and Dusseldorf.

Edwards was commissioned Flight Sub Lieutenant with No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., in May 1915, and gained his Royal Aeronautical Club Certificate (No. 1363) the following month. Edwards advanced to Flight Lieutenant in October 1916, and continued to serve with No. 1 Wing. He was appointed Acting Flight Commander, and was primarily engaged on photographic reconnaissance along the Belgian coast. Edwards and his observer, Sub-Lieutenant C. K. Chase, both distinguished themselves on one such sortie (see citation above) resulting in the award of the D.S.C. for both of them. The incident, for which both Edwards and Chase also received a Belgian award, generated a lot of publicity featuring in The Daily Telegraph amongst other publications.

Having recovered from his wounds, Edwards transferred to the Royal Air Force as Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) in April 1918. He advanced to Acting Major in May 1918, and his final appointment was with 86 (Communication) Wing to command 2 (Communications) Squadron (D.H.4’s) based in France for the Peace Conference in Paris. Together with 1 (Communication) Squadron based at Hendon, a regular service of up to three flights daily was established carrying military and civilian officials and mail. At the Paris end they flew initially from Villacoublay but subsequently from Buc, an airfield six miles from Versailles. Cuttings from the Daily Sketch show illustrations of this work, including one identifying Edwards as the pilot being congratulated on arriving with the first official aerial mail from London, and another showing him loading a mailbag at Paris containing Peace Conference photographs for the Daily Sketch. The treaty with Germany was signed at Versailles, 28 June 1919, and Edwards’ squadron was disbanded in October of the same year.

Edwards retired from the R.A.F. in 1919, and returned to his engineering career. He was appointed as an Associate Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in February 1924. Having been employed by Wessex Shipbuilding and Manufacturing Company, Edwards travelled to India in February 1921. He was employed as an Assistant Engineer with the Public Works Department, and was tasked with the construction of new sections of the Burma Railway. Edwards advanced to District Engineer by 1928, and was engaged with the Burma Railway Battalion, 1930-32. Subsequent appointments included as Executive Engineer from March 1934, and Organisation and Statistical Officer from 1939. The following year Edwards was appointed Deputy Railway Commissioner and Secretary of the Railway Board.

As the war reached Burma, Edwards was given an Emergency Commission as Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Indian Engineers, 14 March 1942. He advanced to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of HQ Army in India, Quartermaster General’s Branch. Edwards served with the latter as an Assistant Director (Transportation), and finished the war with the rank of Temporary Colonel. He returned to his pre-war employment, and was appointed Deputy Chief Engineer, Burma Railways, Rangoon. Edwards became a Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in February 1947.

Edwards retired to “Glenways”, St. Brelade, Jersey, and died at Beauport Nursing Home, St. Brelade in January 1980.

Sold with the following documents and ephemera: letter from the Commonwealth Relations Office to recipient confirming his entitlement to Second War campaign medals, dated 13 October 1950; hand-written list of recipient’s service and awards, dated 23 February 1974; photograph of recipient in the cockpit of his aircraft ‘Baby D’, and another of the recipient in the passenger seat of an armoured car; newspaper cuttings featuring recipient, and annotated by him; postcard sent by recipient from Parentis-En-Born, France, to his wife; and a file of copied research.