The family of Dams Raid pilot John Hopgood has decided to sell his medals and some other memorabilia to help Water Aid, a charity building a dam in Uganda which will bring clean drinking water to 100,000 people. This very generous gesture is in honour of a young pilot who was, according to his family, an idealistic and deep-thinking man with a big conscience.
Hopgood was only 21, but had completed 47 operations by the time of the Dams Raid. He had become a close friend of Guy Gibson during his time under Gibson’s command in 106 Squadron and Gibson asked him personally to join him in 617 Squadron. By this time Hopgood had already been awarded a Bar to his first DFC, and it is this rare medal (seen above) which is the prize lot in the auction.
There are also a number of other fascinating objects which on their own would have been the star items in many a lesser sale. These include an original telegram from “Wingco and the boys” dated 28 October 1942, the time of his first DFC (see below); an original Buckingham Palace Investiture Ticket; an original letter of condolence from Guy Gibson and a programme for the repeat Royal Premiere of the 1955 “Dam Busters” film.
The auctioneers are estimating that the collection will reach £30,000–£40,000. My prediction is that it will go for a lot more than this, and we can only hope that whoever purchases such important material makes it available to the public.
The auction is being conducted in London on 15 December 2015 by Morton and Eden. The full catalogue is here. Scroll to page 95 to see the Hopgood collection.
[Hat tip: Dave Bradley]
The generous offer by Les Munro to sell his medals and memorabilia to raise funds for the Bomber Command Memorial in London has now been matched by another from the British peer and collector Lord Ashcroft, which means that the collection will stay in New Zealand.
Lord Ashcroft has offered to pay £75,000 for the collection and the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland is donating a further NZ$20,000. The collection will be displayed in the Museum.
This seems to be the best result possible. The medals and memorabilia (which include a signed menu from the post raid dinner at the Hungaria Restaurant) will now stay in New Zealand as a permanent reminder of the proud role played by the country’s aircrew in Bomber Command. And the fund to maintain the memorial gets a substantial financial boost.
Les Munro (and his family) should be congratulated for their generosity in making the collection available for posterity. Incidentally, the listing for the sale contains a very long article about Les, which can be downloaded as a PDF and is well worth reading.
Lord Ashcroft is well known for his philanthropy and his interest in military history. He is a trustee of the Imperial War Museum in London, which houses his collection of Victoria and George Crosses.
The wooden bomb sight used by Plt Off John Fort on the Dams Raid sold yesterday at auction for a staggering £33,500 hammer price (more than £41,000 with commission and taxes added). The bidding opened at £20,000 and it quickly became apparent that the only serious contenders were two people in the room who had very deep pockets.
The buyer is at present anonymous, but we have been assured by the auctioneer that the bomb sight, and the other artifacts sold to the same purchaser, have gone to a ‘good home’. We hope to bring you more details in due course.
The bomb sight and a navigator’s parallelogram and desklight were given to my grandfather, Ettrick Maltby, by his son David, the pilot of AJ-J on the Dams Raid. Following David’s death, they were placed in a display cabinet at Hydneye House School, the prep school in Hastings owned and run by the Maltby family. When the Maltbys retired they decided that they wanted them left at the school so that future generations of boys could see them.
Unfortunately the school was forced to close in the early 1970s following a Compulsory Purchase Order when the area became scheduled for redevelopment. By then Ettrick Maltby had died, and nobody from the family thought to retrieve the items from the school. So the Headmaster gave the items to an old boy of the school for his budding aerospace collection.
The bombsight is the only surviving example of those which were made for the Dams Raid. Not all the bomb aimers used the sight, which was devised by Wg Cdr C L Dann, supervisor of aeronautics at the Royal Aeronautics Establishment at Boscombe Down. Many used their own makeshift systems for working out the release points, with pieces of string and chinagraph marks on the perspex blister, but now it seems certain that John Fort preferred this sight.
It is not clear what all the numbers stamped on the handle refer to, although the figure 29.5 would seem to be the angle in degrees between the two arms. Although the two arms are adjustable by means of a wingnut, each arm is locked in position with a small panel pin which can be seen just to the left of the wingnut.
The metal plate was obviously added later when the sight went on display. The varnish was probably also applied at this time.
Deep in the heart of Lincolnshire lives Anna Haworth, photographer extraordinaire. She has a particular fascination with all things aeronautical, and most especially the Dambusters. There are loads of pictures on her Flickr page, which you can see here. And here is the link to her Dambusters collection, which contains stunning shots from trips over the Derwent dam, atmospheric pictures from the Petwood Hotel, the collections at Metheringham, East Kirkby, Scampton and Coningsby, to name just a few. Plus some other oddities that she has come across, such as the decorated scooter shown above.
… you could do worse than investing in these goodies.
Being sold next week at Canterbury Auctions is this first edition of Paul Brickhill’s magnum opus, signed by its late owner Flg Off Brian Goodale, wireless operator in David Shannon’s AJ-L on the Dams Raid, and various other luminaries. Guide price £500-£700.
Rather more expensive are three documents featuring the signature of Guy Gibson. They are on sale at Paul Fraser Collectibles for no less than £22,000. I have to say this seems an enormous price for a photograph, a page from an autograph album and an application form for a Skegness ‘entertainment’ club. In these straitened times, will anybody pay this amount? As the sale will be private, we shall probably never know.
Pic: Dominic Howard
Flt Sgt Gilbert John (“Jimmy”) Green was the bomb aimer in Cyril Anderson’s crew aboard AJ-Y on the Dams Raid. See here for more about what happened to this crew after the raid.
A relative of Green’s has recently been given some memorabilia concerning him and has written about it on the WW2Talk Forum.
Cyril Anderson’s nephew, Dom Howard, has done a great job over the last few years researching the careers of the Anderson crew, and visiting their graves in Germany. He has posted more details and some pics on the thread on WW2Talk.
Important Canadian air force memorabilia was stolen in a break-in at Calgary’s Aero Space Museum last week. The thieves raided the petty cash and charity collection boxes, as well as taking items used by various RCAF personnel in both the first and second world wars. Perhaps the most valuable were the swagger stick, flying hat and log book which were once owned by a First World war pilot, Lt Tim Thompson. Of most interest to Dambuster enthusiasts were the loss of a pair of flying boots given to the museum by Ken Brown, the pilot of AJ-F on the Dams Raid. (Whether he wore them on the raid itself is not recorded.)
There is a limited market for this sort of stuff — so if any readers see anything suspicious on EB*y or other sites, they should get in touch with the authorities immediately.
UPDATE: Someone obviously had a change of heart, as all the items have been returned anonymously! Latest report from the Calgary Sun.