The Armourer

Battle of Britain medals at DNW

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Two important groups of seven awarded to two Battle of Britain fighter aces and good friends Squadron Leader AC ‘Bolshie’ Bartley and Squadron Leader TS ‘Wimpy’ Wade, both of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, fetched a combined hammer price total of £300,000 at Dix Noonan Webb. Bartley’s medals fetched £257,600 (includes Buyer’s Premium of 24%+VAT) while Wade’s medals went for £103,040.

Squadron Leader Anthony Charles Bartley (1919 – 2001) was one of the founder members of the famous 92 Squadron, and is credited with at least 12 victories, eight damaged, a number of probables and possibles, and countless unclaimed. He went on to marry film star Deborah Kerr.

Described as one of ‘The Few’, Trevor Sydney Wade (1920-1951) was educated at Tonbridge School. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1938, and carried out pilot training at No.

19 E. & R.F.T.S., Gatwick. Wade was called up at the outbreak of World War II, and commission­ed in April 1940. He was posted for operationa­l flying with 92 Squadron (Spitfires), and joined the Squadron during its recuperati­on after a mauling in the Battle of France and covering the evacuation from Dunkirk.

Poignantly, despite all his experience, Wade’s time came all too soon. He travelled to the USA on an exchange scheme, taking the opportunit­y to visit his old squadron friend Tony Bartley whilst out there. Having flown various American service aircraft, Wade returned to Hawker and was killed while testing a P1081, on April 3, 1951. He crashed near Ringmer, and his funeral took place at St. John’s Crematoriu­m, Woking.

An unpublishe­d letter from Tony Bartley (included with the lot), written a number of years after Wade’s death, gives the following: ‘Just before Wimpy was killed he came out to Hollywood where he stayed in my home, and one evening, confessed to me that he had lost his nerve test flying. I told him to, for God sakes, quit while he was ahead. Could happen to any of us, but he obviously disregarde­d my advice and warning. Maybe it was his natural conceit forbade him to do this, but in any event, he was a very nice fellow I was very fond of, and a very sad and unnecessar­y loss in my book.’

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All images © Dix Noonan Webb
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