Lot Archive


№ 670


19 April 1995

Hammer Price:

Five: Flight Lieutenant A. Birley, No. 355 Squadron, Royal Air Force
1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Burma Star; Defence and War Medals, together with the recipient’s original ‘Observer’s and Air Gunner’s Flying Log Book’ covering the period June 1940 to April 1945, the content excellent, forwarding letter for his Caterpillar Club badge, March 1945, and several photographs, good very fine (5)

Flight Lieutenant Birley qualified as a Navigator and was posted to 6 Squadron at Wadi Halfa (Sudan) on 31 October 1941. The following January he was posted to 113 Squadron in India, taking part in a few raids and recce missions, before a posting to attend a General Reconnaissance Course at Bombay in October 1942. He was commissioned on 14 April ,1943, and was posted to 159 Squadron, pending the formation of 355 Squadron which he joined in November, 1943. He took part in the Squadron’s first operational mission against Mandalay Railway Station on 20th November, and thereafter a further 36 operations against targets in Burma and Siam, often involving round trips of more than 2,000 miles. On the night of 1 /2 May, 1944, he was Navigator of a Liberator operating against the Mandalay Marshalling Yards when, on the return flight over the Bay of Bengal, their aircraft developed engine and fuel problems. Just reaching the coast of India the entire crew bailed out at 3-4,000 feet, their aircraft crashing to destruction. By walking and with the help of bullock cart and train, birley regained his Base late on the 3rd May, qualifying himself for the Caterpillar badge of the Irving Parachute Company (A full account of his exploits on this occasion accompanies the Lot). Birley’s final mission against Bangkok on 27 March 1945 brought his total wartime operations to 49, on Blenheims and Liberators. The lot also includes copies taken from the Squadron Operations Record Book.