Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria

To be Sold on: 17th March 2021

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A Second War 1943 Wellington and Lancaster Rear Gunner’s D.F.C., and rare Netherlands Bronze Cross for Arnhem group of six awarded to Gunnery Leader Flight Lieutenant W. R. ‘Bob’ Chalk, Royal Air Force. His first operational sortie was the first 1,000 Bomber Raid to Cologne, 30 May 1942, followed two days later by a trip to Essen, when he shot down a night fighter. Having flown in the daylight raids to Le Creusot and Milan Chalk undertook Special Operations with 299 Squadron to S.O.E. and S.A.S. operatives in Northern France, August 1944. He flew as Gunnery Leader for 299 Squadron with Wing Commander P. B. N. Davis for Operation Market, and was shot down and taken prisoner of war over Arnhem, 19 September 1944

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated ‘1943’; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star, 1 clasp, France and Germany; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf; Netherlands, Kingdom, Bronze Cross, with Caterpillar Club badge, in gold with ‘ruby’ eyes, reverse engraved ‘F/Lt. W. R. Chalk’, mounted as worn, generally good very fine (6) £4,000-£5,000

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A Second War 1943 Wellington and Lancaster Rear Gunner’s D.F.C., and rare Netherlands Bronze Cross for Arnhem group of six awarded to Gunnery Leader Flight Lieutenant W. R. ‘Bob’ Chalk, Royal Air Force. His first operational sortie was the first 1,000 Bomber Raid to Cologne, 30 May 1942, followed two days later by a trip to Essen, when he shot down a night fighter. Having flown in the daylight raids to Le Creusot and Milan Chalk undertook Special Operations with 299 Squadron to S.O.E. and S.A.S. operatives in Northern France, August 1944. He flew as Gunnery Leader for 299 Squadron with Wing Commander P. B. N. Davis for Operation Market, and was shot down and taken prisoner of war over Arnhem, 19 September 1944

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated ‘1943’; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star, 1 clasp, France and Germany; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf; Netherlands, Kingdom, Bronze Cross, with Caterpillar Club badge, in gold with ‘ruby’ eyes, reverse engraved ‘F/Lt. W. R. Chalk’, mounted as worn, generally good very fine (6) £4,000-£5,000
D.F.C. London Gazette 15 June 1943.

The original Recommendation, dated 27 April 1943, states:
‘This Officer has set the highest possible standard by his ability and efficiency throughout an operational tour of 23 sorties. His conduct throughout has been outstanding and all gunners in the Squadron have been influenced by his fine example. His operations have included two attacks on Berlin and many against other heavily defended targets in the Ruhr. He also took part in the famous daylight attacks on Le Creusot and Milan.
On his second operational sortie his accurate fire commentary enabled his pilot to manoeuvre the aircraft and thus allow this Officer to destroy an enemy night fighter. On every one of his sorties he has shown the same high degree of skill and co-operation with the rest of his crew. He is strongly recommended for the award of the D.F.C.’


M.I.D. London Gazette 1 January 1942.

Netherlands, Bronze Cross London Gazette 2 September 1949
The original Recommendation, dated 2 November 1945, states:
‘Whilst on this Squadron F/Lt. Chalk proved himself a brilliant leader, and welded his gunners into a highly efficient team. He took part in a number of sorties in support of resistance movements. In September, 1944, he flew as gunner on the leading aircraft engaged in the Airborne Operations at Arnhem. His persistence and courage in the face of fierce enemy opposition set a fine example to his comrades in the Squadron. Whilst engaged in a re-supply mission to Arnhem, his aircraft was severely damaged by flak and set on fire. In spite of this, F/Lt. Chalk continued firing on the enemy ground positions until finally ordered to abandon aircraft by his captain. He landed amongst the enemy and was taken prisoner. For his high example of courage and determination in the face of the enemy F/Lt. Chalk well merits the award of the Bronze Cross.’


Approximately 8 Dutch Bronze Crosses were awarded to R.A.F. and R.A.F.V.R. personnel in recognition of gallant actions undertaken during the Second War, 7 of that number were awarded for Arnhem, and 3 of them were awarded to Chalk’s crew.

William Robert ‘Bob’ Chalk was born in Porthcawl, Glamorgan, in 1913. He was educated at Claysmore School, Winchester, and was articled to a firm of auctioneers in Bromsgrove. He left the firm shortly after joining, and having been turned down for a commission in the R.A.F. on medical grounds Chalk emigrated aged 17 to Nova Scotia.

Whilst in Canada Chalk had a farming accident, as a result of which he broke his arm and suffered lung damage. He was forced to return to the UK, and subsequently enlisted in the Royal Air Force in June 1935. After training and a brief posting to 101 Squadron Chalk was sent overseas to Air H.Q., Signals Section, Habbaniya, Iraq, in 1938. He was present during the Iraqi uprising, 30 April 1941 - 31 May 1941, and once the latter had been put down Chalk volunteered for Aircrew training as an Air Gunner. He was posted to No. 24 Combined Air Observer/Air Gunner School, Moffat, in August 1941, and was commissioned Pilot Officer in December of the same year.

After several more training courses Chalk was posted to ´D´ Flight 25 O.T.U., Bircotes, in May 1942, and it was from here that he took part in his first operational sorties, the first of which being as a Rear Gunner in a Wellington engaged in the first 1,000 bomber raid to Cologne, 30 May 1942. The second sortie was in the same capacity to Essen, 1 June 1942, ‘Operations - To Essen Shot Down German Night Fighter - Confirmed’ (Log Book refers). Chalk offers more detail, ‘I sighted the enemy aircraft at a distance, closing in on a straight course towards my aircraft and waiting for him to get close enough for me to fire and not wanting him to deviate from our course. I finally fired and he went down in flames. (personal account included in lot refers).

After an aborted trip to Bremen Chalk was posted to 61 Squadron (Lancasters), at Syerston, in July 1942. He flew two operational sorties as Mid Upper Gunner (Wilhelmshaven and Kassel) before flying the rest of his tour as a Rear Gunner, these included: Nurnburg; Gardening-Denmark (2); Karlsruhe; 17 October 1942, Le Creusot (Daylight); Genoa (2); 24 October 1942, Milan (Daylight); Turin (2); Mannheim; Munich; Essen; Berlin (2); Dusseldorf; Hamburg (2), and Bremen.

Chalk was posted as Rear Gunner/Instructor to 81 O.T.U., Whitchurch Heath, in March 1943. He returned to operational flying when he was posted as Gunnery Leader to 299 Squadron (Stirlings), Keevil, in August 1944. Chalk flew in operational sorties with the Squadron as Rear Gunner in the Officer Commanding´s (Wing Commander P.B.N. Davis, D.S.O.) Stirling. Throughout August he flew on Special Operations to SOE and SAS groups based in France, including 6 August 1944, ‘Special Operation. 24 Containers, 5 Bicycles. D.C.O. A/C Hit by Light Flak Nr. Le Mont Michel’; 11 September 1944, ‘SAS Operations Holland’; 12 September 1944, ‘SAS Operations Nr. Bordeaux.’ (Log Book refers)

Operation Market Garden
On 17 September 1944 Chalk´s squadron took part in Operation Market, the airborne element of Operation Market Garden. On the first day of the operation Chalk´s Stirling towed a glider carrying airborne troops and motor transport which was successfully released over Landing Zone ´Z´. The following day saw another successful release of a similarly laden glider over the same landing zone. On 19 September Stirling LK135 5GN returned on a resupply mission carrying containers of petrol in the bomb-bay, ‘the Stirlings suffered the same punishment when it was their turn to drop, and six were shot down or were so badly damaged that they crashed soon afterwards. One was the aircraft of Wing Commander Peter Davis, the Commanding Officer of 299 Squadron. He died at the controls of his Stirling when the containers of petrol in the bomb-bay caught fire after the aircraft was hit.’ (Arnhem - 1944: The Airborne Battle refers).

Davis’ co-pilot for the mission takes up the account, “The approach to the dropping area” says Squadron Leader R.W. Lovegrove, flying in the aircraft piloted by Wing Commander Peter Davis, in command of the Operations, “was rather a disconcerting spectacle. Flak was simply being pumped up; heavy flak, light flak, machine-gun fire and rifle fire.” Having watched a Stirling go down in flames, they reached the dropping zone where they were at once hit in the bomb-bay by a shell. “As we were carrying petrol, the aircraft was immediately aflame. Glancing down from the co-pilot´s seat I saw my navigation table on fire and I remember with a curious detachment noticing that the Verey Cartridges were giving a firework display of their own. The flames were roaring up through the aperture through which the rear gunner [Chalk] had to jump.”

The aircraft crashed in the Oosterbeek area of Arnhem, three members of the crew (including Chalk) managed to bale out, the others were all killed. Chalk recalled, ‘I landed near some bungalows in a wood, these appeared to be empty. I had damaged my leg on landing and hobbled off in a direction away from the firing, and found myself on a large raised mound of earth, I was taken prisoner by some elderly German soldiers, and marched off to a large red brick barracks, was there for the night and ended up at St. Elizabeth’s [Hospital].’ (letter from recipient included in the lot refers)

After a brief period of recuperation Chalk was transported to and interned at Stalag Luft 1, Barth, POW Camp, where he saw out the remainder of the war. He was discharged from the R.A.F., 18 October 1945, and in civilian life Chalk was employed by Flight Refuelling Limited (Chairman Sir Alan Cobham, K.B.E., A.F.C.), who as a company were continuing work started before the war on refuelling aircraft in flight. Chalk was later attached to British South American Airways on a series of tests called ‘The Bermuda Trials’ in which ex R.A.F. Lancasters were converted as ´Tanker´ and ´Receiver´ aircraft. In his capacity of Observer and Operator he recorded his flights with the company in his Log Book, 24 September 1945 - 5 December 1947.

Chalk returned to farming, and eventually retired in 1985. In later life he corresponded with a Dutch national, who as a boy had witnessed the crash landing of his Stirling. Chalk arranged for a return to Arnhem where he was a guest of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. During his stay he was presented with a piece of his plane retrieved from the crash site which is included with the lot. Flight Lieutenant Chalk died in 1993.


Sold with the following related items and documents:
Caterpillar Club Membership Card; Identity Disc ‘W.R. Chalk Offr C.E. 47910 R.A.F.’; P.O.W. Identity Disc ‘5968 Stalag Luft 1’; a piece of the fuselage of Stirling LK135 5GN, retrieved from the crash site at Arnhem; two Air Gunner badges, cloth; recipient’s riband bar; Netherlands Bronze Cross case of issue by
J.R. Gaunt & Son, London; Card box of issue for Second War campaign medals, addressed to recipient at ‘Paions Cottage, Long Drove, Burbage, Wiltshire’; R.A.F. Observer’s and Air Gunner’s Flying Log Book (22 November 1941 to 5 December 1947); M.I.D. Certificate, dated 1 January 1942; two Bestowal Documents for the Bronze Cross, one in Dutch, and one in English, both dated 10 June 1949, and two comprehensive files of research, photographs, and letters relating to the recipient in later life.