In a Span­ish f lea mar­ket, hel­met of WW2 ace

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Femail - By Gerard Couzens and Nick Craven

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?

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