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19 & 20 July 2017

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№ 35


19 July 2017

Hammer Price:

A Second World War D.S.C. group of five attributed to Lieutenant P. J. W. Davies, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, a gallant Fleet Air Arm pilot who was credited with at least one “kill” while operating in Wildcats off the carrier Campania on Arctic convoys

Distinguished Service Cross, G.VI.R., the reverse officially dated ‘1945’, hallmarks for London 1947, in Garrard, London, case of issue; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf, this fitted with reverse brooch for wear in uniform, extremely fine (5) £1000-1400

D.S.C. London Gazette 19 April 1945:
‘For outstanding courage, determination and skill while escorting a convoy to and from North Russia under continuous and fierce attacks by the enemy and in exceptionally hard weather conditions.’

London Gazette 3 April 1945.

Peter James William Davies was born in Ruthin, Wales, in July 1923, and volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm in December 1941. He went out to Canada for pilot training, and having gained his “Wings” returned to the U.K. in September 1943. Appointed a Sub Lieutenant (A.), he was subsequently posted to No. 813 (F.A.A.) Squadron, on the carrier H.M.S. Campania.

One of of a handful of Wildcat pilots in the Squadron, he was actively engaged on the Arctic run over the coming months, and was credited with an enemy aircraft destroyed on 13 November 1944, for which accomplishment he was mentioned in despatches.

Luckily for posterity’s sake, his own account of the action for which he was later awarded the D.S.C. in February 1944, during Convoy JW-64, survives - an action in which fellow Wildcat pilot, Lieutenant (A.) J. A. Quigg, R.N.Z.N.V.R., was shot down, and Davies fortunate to get back to the
Campania with a damaged engine:

‘It wasn't long before I spotted an 88 low on the water coming towards us. Lieutenant Quigg, just as I saw this, reported six more. We dived on the leader and the rest broke up and went into cloud. We carried out several attacks and the 88 disappeared into cloud, the starboard engine smoking ... I saw an 88 right down on the water with a Wildcat in hot pursuit. The aircraft had been evidently hit and its starboard engine was smoking. I saw Lieutenant Quigg finish his attack and on the breakaway heard him report he'd run out of ammunition and had been hit. I came in on the starboard quarter and from above and broke off almost dead astern. It was in this attack that my aircraft was hit. I'd seen a lot of tracer coming from the 88 and suddenly there was a bump and a flash. As the aircraft had not been badly damaged I came in once more from the starboard quarter and the 88 pulled up into cloud, its starboard engine on fire. As my ammunition had run out I was told to return 'home' where I was rather too warmly welcomed [by our own fire] ... By this time the engine was coughing unhealthily, especially after I was waved round the first time I made a pass at the deck. The second time I came in the engine cut twice on the approach, so I reckoned this time I'd land or be picked up out of the 'oggin’. At least, I'm glad to say the aircraft was unserviceable before I hit the barrier.’

Quigg was fished out of the water by a passing destroyer, and Davies had his portrait in oils painted by Sub. Lieutenant Maskens in the ward room during the return voyage - a portrait titled ‘Peter Davies - Fighter Pilot’ and later exhibited in London.

Davies’ later service included a voyage to Colombo and back, with a stay in South Africa on the return journey, as Lieutenant (Deck Landing Officer) in the aircraft-carrier
Trouncer. Tragically, however, he was killed in a traffic accident during 1946, as a result of which his D.S.C. was sent to his next of kin.

Sold together with the recipient’s riband bar for the first three awards; an original printed ‘In Memoriam’ booklet; and various copied research.