specialist auction shipping

Second World War medal group

A highly important and emotive Second World War DSO, DFC and Bar medal group awarded to Beaufighter Pilot Wing Commander  (later Group Captain) Alfred Kitchener (Ken) Gatward RAFVR who flew one of the most audacious and daring raids of the Second World War. In the spring of 1942 Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip de la Forte Joubert called in Flt Lt Gatward and asked him to volunteer for an 'unsafe' mission - to fly into occupied Paris and machine gun the Germans parading down the Champs-Elysees which SOE had informed him they did daily between 12.15 and 12.45 and if that failed they were to attack Gestapo Headquarters in the former Ministere de la Marine.  In the event the Germans didn't parade that day but an even more amazing morale boosting attack occurred worthy of The Boys Own Storybook.  On June 12th 1942 Gatward and his Observer Sergeant G F Fern (later Squadron Leader) gave Parisians one of the greatest thrills of the War.  In a Bristol Beaufighter of RAF Coastal Command, they flew over the main streets of the capital at the level of the third floor windows, and people in the Champs-Elysees stood amazed at the audacity of the British airmen when, weighted at one corner, a tri-colour - the flag of France - streamed gallantly into the wind from the fuselage of the aircraft, and floated down on to the Arc de Triomphe.  They then attacked the Gestapo Headquarters with their four cannons blistering the building and for good measure dropping out another flag hoping it would fall slap across the front door. Gatward's exploits had a huge effect on the morale of the French and at home - the original cartoon which appeared in the press showing Gatward's plan writing 'Hope in its slipstream over Paris' is included in the lot.  His gallantry was rewarded with his first DFC in July 1942, Second DFC in September 1944 where he participated in an operation which resulted in the destruction of a German Convoy and despite sustaining serious damage to his aircraft flew safely to base and displayed leadership of the highest order.  He was awarded the DSO in June 1944 and Mentioned in Despatches in January 1944. The medal group - all official replacements, the originals having been irretrievably lost - comprising DSO dated 1944, on the reverse of suspension Bar, DFC with bar dated 1942 on reverse of medal and 1944 on reverse of bar, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Defence, War Medals and Air Efficiency Award - the last named to Wg Cdr A K Gatward RAFVR. The lot includes a wonderful collection of ephemera including Pilots Flying Log Book from 1937-1951, RAF Diary from August 1942 to April 1943, press cuttings including cartoons of the Paris attack, original photographs and congratulatory telegrams - a presentation bottle of Lanson Champagne (empty) in original box with inscription, a silver plated ice bucket and tray with presentation inscriptions - a fine bronze model of the Bristol Beaufighter presented by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, his Group Captains uniform and peaked cap - a wonderful lot