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 £4,200

Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000

A superb campaign combination, ‘Kurdistan’ D.F.C. group of eleven awarded to R.E.8 pilot, Wing Commander A. E. Evans, 63 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, late Royal Field Artillery and East Surrey Regiment

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R.; 1914-15 Star (1318 Dvr. A. E. Evans. R.F.A.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. A. E. Evans. R.A.F.); General Service 1918-62, 3 clasps, Kurdistan, Iraq, N. W. Persia (F/O A. E. Evans. R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1935 (F/L. A. E. Evans. R.A.F.); India General Service 1936-39, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1936-37 (F/L. A. E. Evans. R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted as originally worn, light contact marks overall, nearly very fine or better (11) £3000-4000

Footnote

Provenance: Sotheby’s, July 1980 and Group Captain F. Newall Collection, Christie’s, March 1988.

D.F.C. London Gazette 12 July 1920 (Kurdistan).

Arthur Edward Evans was born at 42 Herbert Street, Landport, Kingston, Portsmouth, in February 1897. Despite being the son of a Steward in the Royal Navy, Evans served during the Great War as a Driver with the Royal Field Artillery in the Balkans theatre of war from 17 January 1915. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the East Surrey Regiment Reserve of Officers in July 1916, before transferring to the 2nd Battalion.

Evans was attached to the Royal Flying Corps in November 1917, and after training was posted as a pilot to 63 Squadron (R.E.8’s), Basra, Mesopotamia. He was flying operationally by March 1918, and had advanced to Lieutenant when he transferred to the Royal Air Force the following month. The Squadron served as part of No. 31 Wing, and were engaged in a variety of missions including artillery co-operation, reconnaissance and ground attacks. An example of which is provided by the Squadron Report on Bomb Dropping, 26 April 1918:

‘Retiring troops and transport at Kifri. 3.30pm. RE8 4347 Lieut. A. E. Evans. 4 20lb Hale bombs. 5,000 feet. 1 Dud 1,200 yds wide, 2 within 50 yds. Probably several causalities. Slight damage to transport and troops dispersed. Troops scattered.’

Evans moved with the Squadron to Samarrah in September 1918, from where they operated in-conjunction with the First Indian Corps during its advance on Kirkuk and Mosul. The Squadron moved to latter, after its’ surrender by the Turks, and from there to Baghdad in February 1919. After the Great War, the Squadron was engaged in operations against the Kurdish chief Sheik Mahmoud from May 1919. Evans flew on frequent bombing operations, and the Squadron’s War Diary gives the following:

‘2nd June 1919 - Lieuts. Evans and Wall carried out a reconnaissance and bombing raid over the Bazian Pass. 12 - 20lb bombs were dropped and 300 rounds M.G.S. fired on horsemen round about.

5th June 1919 - Capt. Lees, M.C., D.F.C. and Lieuts. Evans and Gordon carried out a bombing raid on Ibrahim-Agha and Bina. Many O.K’s were obtained and many dead were observed.’

63 Squadron was disbanded at Baghdad in February 1920, with a number of men (including Evans) and machines staying in the area to re-establish 30 Squadron. Evans returned to the UK the following year, and was posted to the R.A.F. Depot at Uxbridge in October 1922. Subsequent postings included to No. 460 (Fleet Torpedo) Flight, H.M.S. Eagle, Mediterranean Command in February 1924, before transferring as a Flying Officer to the Stores Branch (later designated Equipment Branch) in October 1927. Evans was employed as an Equipper, and ran the stores for Nos. 403 and 440 Flights on the carrier H.M.S. Hermes, China station, for the following three years. He advanced to Flight Lieutenant in August 1934, having been posted overseas in February to run the stores support for 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Quetta. The Squadron was equipped with Wapitis and was spread over a number of locations in India.

Evans was promoted Flight Lieutenant and transferred to No. 2 Indian Wing Station at Risalpur, where he was employed as the Senior Equipment Officer for the Wing. He served in this capacity for 4 years, including covering the recovery of the R.A.F. in India following the Quetta Earthquake disaster and through the intense operations of 1935-37. Evans returned to the UK in 1938, and was promoted Squadron Leader in June 1939. With the outbreak of the Second War, Evans was posted to No. 21 Aircraft Depot at Hanlow Camp. On 23 September 1939 the main body of the unit, including Evans as OC Equipment Squadron, embarked at Southampton for service in France. He served at Bougenaise airfield prior to his eventual withdrawal back to the UK.

Appointed to the equipment staff at Coastal Command from June 1940, Evans advanced to Temporary Wing Commander in March the following year. He commanded the equipment section at R.A.F. Yatesbury in 1942, before a final overseas posting to Africa. He retired in May 1948, having accumulated a total of 33 years total uniformed service. Evans died at Verwood, Dorset, in March 1978.

Sold with the following original items and documents: Desk Top presentation cigarette box, silver (hallmarks for Birmingham 1938), lid engraved ‘A.E.E.’, front engraved ‘To Wing Commander A. E. Evans D.F.C. From Officers, N.C.O.’s & Staff of the Equipment Section at R.A.F. Station Yatesbury. “We didn’t want to lose you but we knew you had to go.” 1942’; Commission appointing A. E. Evans a Second Lieutenant in the Special Reserve of Officers, dated 7 July 1916; Commission appointing A. E. Evans a Second Lieutenant in the Land Forces, 7 August 1917; Commission appointing A. E. Evans a Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, dated 1 November 1918; Commission appointing A. E. Evans a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force, dated 10 September 1929; R.A.F. Identity Card and National Registration Identity Card; photograph of ‘B’ Flight, 63 Squadron taken in 1918; and a file of copied research.