A Collection of Medals to Second World War Royal Air Force Casualties

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Date of Auction: 17th July 2019

Sold for £360

Estimate: £400 - £500

Four: Leading Aircraftman (Wireless Operator / Air Gunner) H. B. Jones, 218 Squadron, Royal Air Force, who was shot down and evaded capture on 12 May 1940, returning to action with his Fairey Battle Squadron later in that month, and was recommended for the Military Medal

1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf, mounted for wear, with medal ticket and card box of issue, addressed to ‘H. B. Jones, Esq., 4 Pennington Road, Litherland, Liverpool 21’, nearly extremely fine (4) £400-£500

Footnote

Harry Jones joined the Royal Air Force and was with 218 Squadron when they moved from Boscombe Down to France on the night of 2 September 1939, as part of the Advanced Aircraft Strike Force (A.A.S.F.). From examination of the Squadron O.R.B. records the squadron was on continual practice for hostilities throughout the ‘Phoney War’ from 2 September onwards. Throughout the Autumn and Winter of 1939-40 they carried out practice low level bombing attacks, formation flying and reconnaissance. These practice raids were sometimes enhanced with the occasional real ‘nickel’ sortie, dropping leaflets over enemy territory.

On 10 May 1940 the Squadron went into action as the German forces invaded France and the Low Countries. The Squadron O.R.B. for May cannot be found it was probably lost during the chaos of punishing losses and the eventual evacuation of the decimated squadron back to England. From Chorley and other reference works about the early air battles in France the following has been identified:

The squadron had been attacking German positions and troop formations in a desperate attempt to stem the rapid German advance. On 12 May 1940 Jones was the Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in Fairey Battle P2183 along with pilot Frederick S. Bazalgette and Sergeant W. H. Harris. They were part of a six aircraft formation airborne from Auberive-sur-Suippes, tasked to attack enemy formations. Some seven kilometres West South West of Sedan, near Nouvion-sur-Meuse they were shot down, crashing in front of the enemy lines but on the wrong side of the river Meuse. Jones and Harris managed to drag their pilot clear of the downed aircraft under heavy enemy fire but it was to no avail and Bazalgette died of his injuries. Both men were forced to leave their pilot and after a few days evading enemy patrols got over to the right side of the river and the British Lines.

They were immediately sent back to their Squadron which by this time had been decimated after the fierce actions and dreadful losses of 14 May when attempts were made to halt the enemy advance by bombing the bridges across the Meuse river at Sedan. Some 40 aircraft were lost on this day, an appalling loss rate. The Squadron O.R.B. entry of 4 June 1940 refers to one remaining Leading Aircraftman, which can only be Jones.

For his services, Jones was recommended for a non-Immediate award of the Military Medal by the Air Marshal, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, British Air Forces in France, but in the event this was downgraded to a Mention in Despatches (London Gazette 1 January 1941).

The Squadron returned to England and on 24 June 1940 Jones was promoted Sergeant. The Squadron, now equipped with Blenheim Bombers continued to carry out bombing sorties over France, Holland and Belgium. From August to the end of October Jones, carrying out bombing raids on docks (enemy invasion barges), airfields, and other targets.

Sold with copied research.