Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria

To be Sold on: 17th March 2021

Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000

A rare and early Great War D.C.M. pair awarded to 2nd Class Air Mechanic J. E. Prance, Royal Flying Corps, for gallantry in repairing an aeroplane whilst under fire at night close to the front line during the battle of Neuve Chappelle in March 1915; in March 1917, the B.E.2d in which he was Observer was shot down by the ‘Red Baron’, crash-landing near Loos to become Richthofen’s 22nd victory in air-to-air combat - both pilot and observer survived but Sergeant Prance received bullet wounds in his leg

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (2008 2/Cl: Air Mech: J. E. Prance. R.F.C.); 1914-15 Star (2008 2.A.M. J. E. Prance. R.F.C.) extremely fine (2) £3,000-£4,000

Do you know someone who may be interested in this lot? Let them know by entering their name and email address below and pressing 'Tell a Friend'. You can preview the message before it is sent on the next page.

Our experts are available to answer any questions you may have regarding this lot. If you would like to ask a question, please enter it below and click 'Ask an Expert':

If you would like to see additional detail for this lot then you can request this using the form below.

Any reasonable requested additional images will be added to the lot description and you will be sent an email informing you that they are now available.

 
A rare and early Great War D.C.M. pair awarded to 2nd Class Air Mechanic J. E. Prance, Royal Flying Corps, for gallantry in repairing an aeroplane whilst under fire at night close to the front line during the battle of Neuve Chappelle in March 1915; in March 1917, the B.E.2d in which he was Observer was shot down by the ‘Red Baron’, crash-landing near Loos to become Richthofen’s 22nd victory in air-to-air combat - both pilot and observer survived but Sergeant Prance received bullet wounds in his leg

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (2008 2/Cl: Air Mech: J. E. Prance. R.F.C.); 1914-15 Star (2008 2.A.M. J. E. Prance. R.F.C.) extremely fine (2) £3,000-£4,000
One of only 92 Distinguished Conduct Medals awarded to members of the Royal Flying Corps.

D.C.M. London Gazette 3 June, 1915: ‘For gallant conduct and valuable services on the night of 10th-11th March 1915 in assisting to repair one of our aeroplanes which had been forced to descend near the firing line whilst being heavily shelled by the enemy. The machine was enabled to fly away by the following morning.

Prance’s D.C.M. is amongst the first five such awards won by the Royal Flying Corps, all won in two separate incidents, for similar services, on the night of 10-11 March 1915. Prance’s action is described and illustrated in Deeds that thrill the Empire (p. 167). One of only 92 Distinguished Conduct Medals awarded to members of the Royal Flying Corps.

John Edward Prance was born at Bideford, North Devon, his father being the Harbour-Master there. He attested as 2nd class Air Mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps Military Wing on 31 October 1914, and at the time of winning the D.C.M. was serving with 9 Squadron based at St. Omer. He was promoted to Corporal on 1 July 1915, and to Sergeant on 1 December 1915. After training as an Observer he was appointed Flight Sergeant on 1 April 1916.

On 4 March 1917, on loan from 16 Squadron to 2 Squadron, he was Observer in a Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2d, piloted by Lieutenant J. B. E. Crosbee, when they were attacked by Baron von Richthofen in a Halberstadt D.II scout plane. After a brief engagement, Prance received bullet wounds in the leg and Crosbee crash-landed the plane one kilometre north of Loos, becoming the Red Baron’s 22nd victim. Prance was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps and took up his duties as an instructor at Reading.

In June 1918, Prance was urgently summoned home to face the shattering news that his baby daughter, born earlier that year, had died. Powerfully built and only 33 years old, he immediately complained of feeling unwell and was ordered to bed with a raging high fever and severe tonsillitis, unable even to attend his daughter’s funeral. On the following day, his fever increased and he died, a victim of the ‘Spanish’ flu epidemic which was to sweep around the world killing tens of millions - many more than who died in the war itself.