In a Spanish f lea market, helmet of WW2 ace
HE was an RAF ace who shot down 29 enemy aircraft, becoming the country’s most decorated Second World War fighter pilot.
Group Captain John ‘Bob’ Braham, won the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross three times each.
Despite his achievements, Braham is described as ‘the forgotten air ace’.
Now, to add to his mystique, what is believed to be his leather flying helmet has been discovered – on sale in a Spanish flea market.
A friend of antiques collector Jose Fernandez snapped up the helmet at a market on the Costa del Sol for €15 – just under £13. Recognising it as authentic, Mr Fernandez, 43, bought it for €60, or about £50.
At home he found a document with the initials of Group Capt Braham tucked inside listing campaign medals, and realised who its original owner could be.
Mr Fernandez said: ‘The stallholder didn’t have a clue what it was. He said friends gave it to him. After doing some research on the internet, I came to the conclusion that it must have belonged to RAF pilot John Braham.’
The Mail on Sunday traced Mr Braham’s eldest son Mike, 75, a retired Canadian naval officer from Ottawa, who said: ‘It’s impossible to know if it was his, but it’s the right vintage.
‘The initials on the paper are certainly my father’s but it doesn’t look like his writing. He was shot down over Denmark in 1944, so there are any number of ways the equipment could have found its way to Spain.’
The fighter ace died, aged 53, of a brain tumour in 1974 in Canada, where he emigrated after the war. Mike Braham has written a biography called My Father, The Forgotten Air Ace, available on Amazon.
MYSTERY: How did Group Captain Braham’s helmet end up in the Costa del Sol?