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 £1,800

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,400

A Second War Halifax and Lancaster Flight Engineer’s D.F.M. group of five awarded to Flight Sergeant W. M. Grant, 424 (Tiger) Squadron, Royal Air Force, who flew in at least 29 operational sorties with the Squadron, including to Dusseldorf, 2 November 1944 - when, despite Grant’s best efforts to tackle a burning fuel tank which had been hit by an explosive shell, the crew were forced to abandon aircraft and parachute to safety

Distinguished Flying Medal, G.VI.R. (1560735. F/Sgt. W. M. Grant. R.A.F.) suspension loose; 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted for wear, lacquered, light contact marks overall, therefore generally nearly very fine or better (5) £2000-2400


D.F.M. London Gazette 6 November 1945:

‘Flight Sergeant Grant has completed a tour of operations against the enemy including some of the most heavily defended targets. He has at all times shown an efficiency which has made him a valued crew member. On one occasion during an attack on a target in the Ruhr, his aircraft was hit by flak and one of the wing tanks caught fire. Flight Sergeant Grant assisted the pilot in flying the aircraft safely to Allied lines during which the burning tank fell out of the wing. Having reached the lines, the crew were ordered to abandon and this was successfully carried out. At all times, both in the air and on the ground, this N.C.O. has been a valued member of this squadron and I recommend him for the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.

Remarks by Station Commander:
Flight Sergeant Grant has shown outstanding ability and a magnificent devotion to duty at all times. I recommend that the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal be made.’

Flying Officer J. L. King, R.C.A.F. was awarded the D.F.C. for the above mentioned action, and the citation for which adds the following detail:

‘This officer was the pilot and captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Dusseldorf one night in November, 1944. The target was successfully bombed but, later on the return flight, the aircraft was badly hit by an explosive shell which caused a fire in one of the port wing petrol tanks. Attempts were made to quell the flames but without much success. Flying Officer King thereupon changed course and, displaying great determination reached friendly territory by taking the shortest possible route. By this time the fire in the petrol tank was burning fiercely. Flying Officer King ordered his crew to leave the aircraft by parachute. He himself remained at the controls to keep the aircraft level whilst his comrades jumped. As they got clear, the burning tank fell away. Flying Officer King, therefore remained at the controls and searched for a likely place to land. Finally, he brought the aircraft down in a field, aided solely by his landing lights. This officer displayed the greatest possible coolness and skill throughout and was undoubtedly responsible for saving a valuable aircraft.’

Walter McIndoe Grant was born at 1 East Adam Street, Edinburgh, in February 1923. He was only aged 16 and half at the outbreak of the Second War, and was in civil employment as a Fitter. Grant joined the Royal Air Force in September 1941, and having advanced to Sergeant undertook a Flight Engineer Course at No. 4 School of Technical Training, St. Athan during the summer of 1944. Upon completion of the course, Grant was posted to No. 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit, Topcliffe, in August 1944. He was crewed with Flying Officer J. L. King as his pilot, and they were posted together for operational flying to 424 (Tiger) Squadron, R.C.A.F. (Halifaxes), Skipton, at the end of August 1944.

Grant flew in at least 29 operational sorties with the Squadron, in both Halifaxes and Lancasters, including: Dortmund; Wilhelmshaven; Boulogne; Calais (2); Domburg; Sterkrade; Cap Griz Nez; Bochum; Duisberg (2); Kattegat; Essen; Homburg; Cologne (2), including 28 October 1944, ‘Three Engines. Both Turrets Hit’ (Log Book refers); Oberhausen; Dusseldorf, 2 November 1944, ‘All Bombs Gone on Target. D.C.O. Heavy Flak All Through Area. Port Outer Hit and on Fire Port Mainplane also Burning Port Rudder and Elevator Badly Shot Up. Ordered to Prepare to Abandon Aircraft. Abandoned Aircraft by Parachute 22.30 hrs’ (Ibid); Fredrikstad; Karlsruhe; St. Vith (Troop Concentrations); Ludwigshaven; Weisbaden; Goch; Leuna; Hamburg; Leipzig; Kiel and Schwenendorf (sic).

Having advanced to Flight Sergeant, Grant was discharged in 1946.

Sold with Royal Air Force Flying Log Book for Navigators, Air Bombers, Air Gunners and Flight Engineers (6 July 1944 - 16 April 1945); Royal Air Force Flying Clothing Card, and a file of copied research.