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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Air Commodore John Ellacombe CB DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35
|John Ellacombe joined the RAF in 1939 and was posted to 151 Squadron in July 1940, immediately converting to Hurricanes. On 24th August he shot down a He111, but a week later his Hurricane was blown up in combat and he baled out, with burns. Rejoining his squadron a few months later, in February 1941 was posted to 253 Squadron where he took part in the Dieppe operations. On 28th July, flying a Turbinlite Havoc, he probably destroyed a Do217. Converting to Mosquitos, John was posted to 487 Squadron RNZAF, and during the build up to the Normandy Invasion and after, was involved in many ground attacks on enemy held airfields, railways, and other targets of opportunity. He completed a total of 37 sorties on Mosquitos. Flying a de Havilland Mosquito XIII with a devastating set of four 20mm cannon in the nose, John Ellacombe flew deep into occupied France on the night before D-Day searching out and destroying German convoys and railway targets. As the Normandy campaign raged on, 151 Squadron intensified its interdiction sorties - including night attacks on Falaise and the Seine bridges. On August 1st Ellacombe took part in the famous attack by 23 Mosquitoes on the German bar-racks in Poitiers, led by Group Captain Wykeham Barnes. Ellacombe had first joined 151 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, direct from Flying Training School. Within weeks he had scored his first victory but also force landed in a field, having shot down a He 111, and baled out of a blazing Hurricane. He baled out a second time during the Dieppe Raid in 1942 but was picked up safely. Postwar he had a long and successful career in the RAE. Air Commodore John Ellacombe, who has died aged 94, survived being shot down three times during the Second World War - twice during the Battle of Britain. On August 15th 1940 the Luftwaffe launched Adler Tag (Eagle Day), with the object of destroying Fighter Command by attacking the ground organisation and drawing the RAF's fighters into the air. Nine Hurricanes of No 151 Squadron were scrambled during the afternoon and met enemy fighters near Dover at 18,000ft. Ellacombe attacked a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and fired three bursts. The enemy fighter rolled on to its back and dived into the sea. There was heavy fighting over the next few days, and on August 24 Ellacombe engaged a Heinkel III bomber. His fire hit its engines and the bomber crash-landed in Essex . During intense fighting on August 30 he attacked a formation of Heinkels head on. He hit one, which crashed, but return fire damaged the engine of his Hurricane and he was forced to land in a field, where a farmer accosted him with a pitchfork. On the following day Ellacombe damaged two Bf 109s before attacking a Junkers 88 bomber. When the Junkers returned fire, setting his Hurricane's fuel tank ablaze, he bailed out. As he drifted to the ground, a member of the Home Guard fired on him. He was then marched to a police station where he was assaulted by a constable who thought he was German. Later in life Ellacombe remarked: In two days, a farmer had attempted to kill me, the Home Guard had shot at me and a policeman had tried to kill me — quite apart from the Germans. I wondered whose side I was on. He received hospital treatment for his burns, and his fighting days during the Battle of Britain were over. After several months convalescing Ellacombe returned to No 151, which had been reassigned to night fighting. Equipped with the Hurricane and the Defiant, the squadron had little contact with the enemy; but Ellacombe developed a reputation for flying at night in the worst weather, and in April 1942 he was awarded a DFC for his service in the Battle of Britain and for showing the greatest keenness to engage the enemy. Posted to No 253 Squadron as a flight commander, he found night fighting dull, and volunteered for daylight operations. He flew in support of the ill-fated raid on Dieppe, and as he attacked a gun battery his aircraft was hit by flak. Ellacombe managed to get over the sea before bailing out and being picked up by a Canadian landing craft. After a rest tour, Ellacombe converted to the Mosquito before joining No 487 (NZ) Squadron, flying low-level intruder missions over France and the Low Countries. He attacked V-1 sites in the Pas de Calais and bombed roads and railways in support of the Normandy landings. He saw constant action attacking targets in support of the Allied armies and during the breakout from the Falaise pocket. After 37 intruder bombing patrols Ellacombe was rested and awarded a Bar to his DFC. He spent the remainder of the war on training duties, but still managed occasionally to take a Mosquito on an operational sortie. The son of an English doctor who had served during the Boer War, John Lawrence Wemyss Ellacombe was born at Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, on February 28 1920 and educated at Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town. In May 1939 he went to Britain to join the RAF, trained as a pilot and in July 1940 was posted to No 151 Squadron; he had never flown a Hurricane. Post-war he remained in the RAF, most of his flying appointments being in Fighter Command. After service in Aden he led No 1 Squadron, flying Meteor jets, and he commanded the Fighter Development Unit at the Central Fighter Establishment, developing tactics for the Hunter and Lightning . He served in Washington as a liaison officer with the USAF on fighter operations before commanding the RAF flying training base at Linton-on-Ouse, near York. Ellacombe was the senior serving representative at the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment, and on promotion to air commodore in 1968 was appointed Air Commander of Air Forces, Gulf, with headquarters at Muharraq, Bahrain. The withdrawal of British forces from Aden was scheduled for the end of that year, and Muharraq became a key staging post and support airfield . Ellacombe's calm handling of affairs in Bahrain was recognised by his appointment as CB. His final appointment was in the MoD, and he retired in 1973. Ellacombe then became Director of Scientific Services at St Thomas's Hospital in London, and later administrator to the hospital's trustees. A good cricketer and rugby player in his younger days, he played golf three times a week until he was 88, and he was a keen follower of Middlesex CCC. He particularly enjoyed watching his grandchildren play cricket (some of them at county junior level, including a granddaughter who turned out for Essex Ladies). John Ellacombe's wife, Mary, whom he married in 1951 when she was serving in the WRAF, had served on Winston Churchill's staff and been appointed OBE. She died in 2007, and he is survived by their son and two daughters. Air Commodore John Ellacombe, born February 28 1920, died May 11 2014.|
Group Captain Billy Drake DSO DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50
|Joined the R.A.F. in 1936. His first posting was to 1 squadron flying Furies then Hurricanes and first saw action over France in the Spring of 1940 and was awarded his first DFC by the end of the year. As a Squadron Leader he was sent to West Africa to command 128 Squadron. 1942 saw his commanding 112 squadron in North Africa, in July saw an immediate BAR to his DFC and in December an immediate DSO. Posted to Malta as Wing Commander he won a US DFC in 1943. Back in the UK he now was flying Typhoons in the lead up to D-Day. With Pete Brothers he was sent to the States to attend the US Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. After the war he continued in the R.A.F. serving in Japan, Malaya, Singapore, Switzerland and his final posting as Group Captain RAF Chivenor, Devon. Retired in July 1963. Going to Portugal where he ran a Bar and Restaurant and dealing in Real Estate. In his flying career he accounted for more than 24 enemy aircraft. Sadly, Billy Drake passed away on 28th August 2011.|
Group Captain Byron Duckenfield AFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45
|Byron Duckenfield started at Flying Training School on 25th November 1935 in a Blackburn B2 at Brough. As a Sergeant, he joined No.32 Sqn at Biggin Hill on 8th August 1936 and flew Gauntlets and Hurricanes. He joined 74 Squadron at Hornchurch on 11th April 1940, flying Spitfires, and on 5th May was posted to 501 Squadron flying Hurricanes at Tangmere. On the 11th of May at Betheniville, he survived a crash in a passenger transport Bombay aircraft in an aircraft in which he was a passenger, While comin ginto land the aircraft at 200 feet the aircraft stalled and the aircrfat fell backwards just levelly out as it histhe ground. 5 of th epassengers were killed when the centre section collapsed and crushed them. Duckenfield was fortunate as he had moved position during the flight. as the two passengers sitting each side of where he was sitting had died in the crash. (it was found later that the Bombay had beeb loaded with to much weight in the aft sectiion. ) recovering in hospital in Roehampton. On 23rd July 1940, he rejoined No.501 Sqn at Middle Wallop, then moved to to Gravesend two days later, scoring his first victory, a Ju87, on the 29th of July 1940. During August and September he scored three more victories. After a spell as a test pilot from 14th September 1940, he was posted to command 66 Squadron on 20th December 1941, flying Spitfires. On 26th February 1942 he took command of 615 Squadron flying Hurricanes from Fairwood Common, taking the squadron to the Far East. In late December 1942 he was shot down in Burma and captured by the Japanese. He remained a POW until release in May 1945. After a refresher course at the Flying Training School in November 1949, he took command of No.19 Squadron flying Hornets and Meteors from Chruch Fenton. After a series of staff positions, he retired from the RAF as a Group Captain on 28th May 1969. Duckenfield would write later his details : |
At first light, 12 Hurricanes IIC aircraft of 615 Squadron, myself in the lead, took off from Chittagong for central Burma to attack the Japanese air base at Magwe, 300 miles away on the banks of the River Irrawaddy. Arriving at Yenangyaung, we turned downstream at minimum height for Magwe, 30 miles to the South and jettisoned drop tanks. Just before sighting the enemy base, the squadron climbed to 1200 feet and positioned to attack from up sun. On the ramp at the base, in front of the hangers, were 10 or 12 Nakajima KI - 43 Oscars in a rough line up (not dispersed) perhaps readying for take. These aircraft and the hangars behind them were attacked in a single pass, before withdrawing westward at low level and maximum speed. A few minutes later perhaps 20 miles away form Magwe, I was following the line of a cheung (small creek), height about 250 feet, speed aboput 280 mph, when the aircraft gave a violent shudder, accompanied by a very lound, unusual noise. The cause was instantly apparent: the airscrew has disappeared completely, leaving only the spinning hub. My immediate reaction was to throttle back fully and switch off to stop the violently overspeeding engine. Further action was obvious: I was committed to staying with the aircraft because, with a high initial speed, not enough height to eject could be gained without the help of an airscrew. So I jettisoned the canopy and acknowledged gratefully the fact that I was following a creek; the banks of either side were hillocky ground, hostile to a forced landing aircraft. Flying the course of the creek, I soon found the aircraft to be near the stall (luckily, a lower than normal figure without an airscrew) extended the flaps and touched down wheels-up with minimum impact ( I have done worse landings on a smooth runway!) My luck was holding, if one can talk of luck in such a situation. December is the height of the dry season in that area and the creek had little water, it was shallow and narrow at the point where I came down: shallow enough to support the fusalage and narrow enough to support wing tips. So I released the harness, pushed the IFF Destruct switch, climed out and walked the wing ashore, dryshod. The question may occur -Why did not others in the squadron see their leader go down? - the answer is simple, the usual tatctic of withdrawal from an enemy target was to fly single at high speed and low level on parallel courses until a safe distance from target was attained. Then, the formation would climb to re-assemble. Having left the aircraft, I now faced a formidable escape problem? I was 300 miles from friendly territory: my desired route would be westward but 80% of that 300 miles was covered by steep north-south ridges impenetrably clothed in virgin jungle; these were natural impediments, there was also the enemy to consider. Having thought over my predicament, I decided the best I could do - having heard reports of mean herted plainspeope - was to get as far into the hills as possible and then find a (hopefully sympathetic) village. I suppose I may have covered about 15 miles by nightfall when I came upon this small hill village and walked into the village square. Nobody seemed surprised to see me (I suspect I had been followed for some time) I wa given a quiet welcome, seated at a table in the open and given food. Then exhaustion took over, I fell asleep in the chair and woke later to find myself tied up in it. Next day I was handed over to a Japanese sergeant and escort who took me back to Magwe and, soon after that, 2.5 years captivity in Rangoon jail.
Sadly we have learned that Byron Duckenfield passed away on 19th November 2010.
Tony Pickering AFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45
|With the RAFVR just before the war commenced, Tony Pickering joined 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill in July 1940, flying Hurricanes, and in August 1940 to 501 Squadron at Gravesend. In September he was shot down in Hurricane P5200, but unhurt in a duel with an Me109, destroying another 109 a few weeks later. In December he joined 601 Squadron at Northolt. After a spell instructing, he joined 131 as a Flight Commander in February 1943, and later served as a Squadron Commander in the Middle East. Tony Pickering died on 24th March 2016.|
Wing Commander Bob Foster DFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35
|Wing Commander Bob Foster, who has died aged 94, flew Hurricane fighters during the Battle of Britain, when he was credited with destroying and damaging a number of enemy aircraft; later in the war he destroyed at least five Japanese aircraft while flying from airfields in northern Australia. For much of the Battle of Britain, Foster was serving with No 605 Squadron in Scotland; but in September, 605 moved to Croydon to join the main action over the south-east of England. It was soon heavily engaged, but it was not until September 27 that Foster achieved his first success, when he damaged a Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter over Surrey. During this encounter his Hurricane was hit by return fire, and he was forced to make an emergency landing on Gatwick airfield. On October 7 he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 near Lingfield racecourse, and on the following day he shared in the destruction of a Junkers 88 bomber. By the end of the month he is thought to have destroyed another Bf 109 and damaged a third. In 1941 No 605 moved to Suffolk, from where on one occasion Foster chased a lone German Heinkel bomber well out to sea. His gunfire knocked pieces off the enemy aircraft, but it escaped into cloud before Foster could follow up with a second attack. In September 1941 he was transferred to a fighter training unit as an instructor. Robert William Foster was born on May 14 1920 at Battersea, south-west London. After leaving school he worked for the joint petroleum marketing venture Shell-Mex and BP, and in March 1939 - six months before the outbreak of war - he joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve to train as a pilot. He was called up in August to complete his training before joining No 605. Foster's spell as an instructor lasted six months, and in April 1942 he was posted as a flight commander to No 54 Squadron. Within weeks of his joining, it was sent to Australia to join two other Spitfire squadrons to form No 1 Fighter Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force. The Wing was ready for action by the beginning of 1943, and moved to airfields in the Darwin area to counter Japanese bombing raids mounted from captured airfields in the Dutch East Indies and Timor. On February 26 Foster intercepted a Mitsubishi Dinah reconnaissance aircraft (all Japanese wartime aircraft types were given British names) and shot it down. It was the squadron's first success in Australia, and the first time a Spitfire had shot down a Japanese aircraft. Enemy bombing raids against Darwin continued, and on March 15 Foster was engaged in a fierce fight during which he downed a Mitsubishi Betty bomber and damaged a second. The three squadrons of No 1 Wing were in constant action throughout the spring of 1943, but Foster had to wait until June 20 for his next success. This came when he was leading No 54 Squadron as his formation intercepted a raid by 18 Betty bombers which were accompanied by a fighter escort. Foster attacked the leading bomber and sent it crashing into the sea. A Japanese Zero fighter broke towards him, and in the ensuing encounter Foster damaged the enemy aircraft. In June, the raids on Darwin became even more intense, and on June 30 Foster claimed another Betty destroyed as well as a probable. A week later he achieved his final successes when 30 bombers were reported to be heading for the city from the west. Foster led his formation to intercept the force, and he shot down a Betty and damaged a second near Peron Island, west of Darwin. He was the third pilot to claim five successes over Australia (earning him the title of ace) and a few weeks later he was awarded a DFC. After returning to Britain in early 1944, Foster joined the Air Information Unit with the role of escorting war correspondents. He arrived in Normandy soon after the Allied landings, and was one of the first RAF officers to enter Paris, joining General de Gaulle's triumphant procession down the Champs-Elysées. Foster spent the final months of the war at HQ Fighter Command and as the adjutant of a fighter base in Suffolk. In 1946 he left the RAF, but joined the Auxiliary Air Force on its re-formation in late 1947. He served with No 3613 Fighter Control Unit until its disbandment in March 1957, by which time he was a wing commander commanding the unit. He received the Air Efficiency Award. After the war Foster had rejoined Shell-Mex and BP, where he worked as a marketing executive until his retirement in 1975. In 2004 he was reunited with the Hurricane he had flown during the Battle of Britain. The aircraft, R 4118, had been rescued as a wreck in India by the printer and publisher of academic journals Peter Vacher, who brought it back to Britain in 2002 and had it restored to full flying condition. The aircraft now flies regularly as the only surviving Battle of Britain Hurricane and is the subject of a book by Vacher, Hurricane R 4118. Foster was a keen supporter of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, becoming its chairman in 2009. He was a life vice-president of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and a dedicated supporter of its initiative to erect The Wing, a new building at the National Memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne, on the Kent coast. Designed in the shape of a Spitfire wing, the museum and educational facility will tell the story of what the Battle of Britain pilots achieved in the summer of 1940. Foster took the controls of the mechanical digger to turn the first turf and start the work. In recent years he had accompanied some of the tours, organised by the Trust, of Battle of Britain sites in east Kent. Wing Commander Bob Foster, born May 14 1920, died July 30 2014.|
Wing Commander John Elkington
*Signature Value : £40
|John (Tim) Elkington was born in 1920 and joined the RAF in September 1939. Commissioned as a Pilot Officer in July 1940 he was immediately posted to join 1 Squadron flying Hurricanes atTangmere. On 15 August he shot down an Me109 over the Channel, but the following day he was himself shot down over Thorney Island. He baled out injured and was admitted to hospital, his Hurricane crashing at Chidham.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Hurricane||Royal Air Force Fighter, the Hawker Hurricane had a top speed of 320mph, at 18,200 feet and 340mph at 17,500, ceiling of 34,200 and a range of 935 miles. The Hurricane was armed with eight fixed wing mounted .303 browning machine guns in the Mark I and twelve .303 browning's in the MKIIB in the Hurricane MKIIC it had four 20mm cannon. All time classic fighter the Hurricane was designed in 1933-1934, the first prototype flew in June 1936 and a contract for 600 for the Royal Air Force was placed. The first production model flew ion the 12th October 1937 and 111 squadron of the Royal Air Force received the first Hurricanes in January 1938. By the outbreak of World war two the Royal Air Force had 18 operational squadrons of Hurricanes. During the Battle of Britain a total of 1715 Hurricanes took part, (which was more than the rest of the aircraft of the Royal air force put together) and almost 75% of the Victories during the Battle of Britain went to hurricane pilots. The Hawker Hurricane was used in all theatres during World war two, and in many roles. in total 14,533 Hurricanes were built.|
|Me109||Willy Messerschmitt designed the BF109 during the early 1930s. The Bf109 was one of the first all metal monocoque construction fighters with a closed canopy and retractable undercarriage. The engine of the Me109 was a V12 aero engine which was liquid-cooled. The Bf109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and flew to the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons. During the Battle of Britian the Bf109 was used in the role of an escort fighter, a role for which it was not designed for, and it was also used as a fighter bomber. During the last days of May 1940 Robert Stanford-Tuck, the RAF ace, got the chance to fly an Me109 which they had rebuilt after it had crash landed. Stanford-Tuck found out that the Me109 was a wonderful little plane, it was slightly faster than the Spitfire, but lacked the Spitfire manoeuvrability. By testing the Me109, Tuck could put himself inside the Me109 when fighting them, knowing its weak and strong points. With the introduction of the improved Bf109F in the spring of 1941, the type again proved to be an effective fighter during the invasion of Yugoslavia and during the Battle of Crete and the invasion of Russia and it was used during the Siege of the Mediteranean island of Malta. The Bf109 was the main fighter for the Luftwaffe until 1942 when the Fw190 entered service and shared this position, and was partially replaced in Western Europe, but the Me109 continued to serve on the Eastern Front and during the defence of the Reich against the allied bombers. It was also used to good effect in the Mediterranean and North Africa in support of The Africa Korps. The Me109 was also supplied to several German allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia. The Bf109 scored more kills than any other fighter of any country during the war and was built in greater numbers with a total of over 31,000 aircraft being built. The Bf109 was flown by the three top German aces of the war war. Erich Hartmann with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories and Gunther Rall with 275 kills. Bf109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen Luftwaffe Aces scored more than 200 kills. Altogether this group of pilots were credited with a total of nearly 15,000 kills, of which the Messerschmitt Bf109 was credited with over 10,000 of these victories. The Bf109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Bf109s remained in foreign service for many years after World War II. The Swiss used their Bf109Gs well into the 1950s. The Finnish Air Force did not retire their Bf109Gs until March 1954. Romania used its Bf109s until 1955. The Spanish Hispanos flew even longer. Some were still in service in the late 1960s.|
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