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

Date of Auction: 17th July 2019

Sold for £340

Estimate: £360 - £440

Three: Sergeant (Observer) A. Gowing-Scopes, 58 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who was killed in action when his Whitley crashed into the sea during an operational sortie on Mannheim, on 23-24 December 1940

1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; War Medal 1939-45, with named Air Council enclosure, extremely fine (3) £360-£440


Alistair Gowing-Scopes, a native of Crofton, Kent, was born in 1910 and served during the Second World War as an Observer with 58 Squadron. He took part in his first operational sortie on 10 September 1940, bombing industrial targets in Bremen, and from September to December 1940 took part in 15 sorties on mainly German industrial targets. On 16 December he took part in Operation Abigail/Rachel on Mannheim, the first area bombing of a German city in retaliation to the attacks on Coventry, and returned to Mannheim the following night.

Gowing-Scopes was killed in action when his Whitley T4159, piloted by Sergeant S. V. Smith, was involved in a further raid on Mannheim, on 23-24 December 1940. The aircraft had taken off from Linton-on-Ouse and successfully bombed the target (combined raids on Ludwigshafen, Mannheim and various ports). 43 aircraft took part in the air raid made up with Wellingtons, Blenheims and Whitleys. Gowing-Scopes’ aircraft was the only aircraft lost on these raids, presumed having been hit by flak over the target area, and they crashed into the sea off Torbay, Devon. All the crew were killed.

At this relatively early stage of the air war a single night’s operations rarely exceeded 100 aircraft. Raids were piecemeal formations sent out to attack a multitude of targets on any given night.

Gowing-Scopes is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. His medals were presumably sent to his parents, Edward and May Evelyn Gowing-Scopes.

Sold with the original telegram to the recipient’s mother informing her of her son’s Missing in action; a hand written letter condolence from the Squadron’s Commanding Officer; an Air Ministry letter; a portrait photograph of the recipient; and copied research.