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№ 9


26 September 2018

Hammer Price:

A Second War C.B.E., scarce ‘Waziristan 1937’ D.F.C. group of nine awarded to Wapiti pilot, Flight Lieutenant, later Group Captain, T. M. Abraham, Royal Air Force, who distinguished himself whilst commanding ‘C’ Flight of 28 Squadron on the North West Frontier - in particular during an attack by 300 tribesmen on the Frontier Constabulary near Sarkumar Post, 4 May 1937. Diving to attack, and despite taking several hits to his aircraft, Abraham managed to cause several casualties and ultimately disperse the force. During the Second War he served as Head of the British Air Staff in the Operations Section at HQ First Allied Airborne Army, including for the Rhine Crossing

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Military) Commander’s 2nd type neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., 1st issue; India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1935 (F/L. T. M. Abraham. R.A.F.); India General Service 1936-39, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1936-37 (S/L. T. M. Abraham. R.A.F.); 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Coronation 1953, breast awards mounted for display, remnants of adhesive, generally very fine or better (9) £3000-4000

C.B.E. London Gazette 1 January 1946, the original recommendation states:

‘During the period October to April 1945, this officer was the head of the British Air Staff in the Operations Section at HQ First Allied Airborne Army. He has had to shoulder great responsibilities including the mounting of one major airborne operation. He rendered outstanding services which played a major part in ensuring the success of the airborne operation carried out during the crossing of the Rhine by 21 Army Group. Group Captain Abraham has shown the greatest devotion to duty and his clear grasp of everything connected with the air side of operations has inspired confidence.’

London Gazette 21 December 1937:

‘For gallant and distinguished services rendered in connection with the operations in Waziristan during the period 17th January to 15th September, 1937.’

The original recommendation states:

‘This officer was in command of ‘C’ Flight, No. 28 (AC) Squadron throughout the period April 23rd 1937 until June 10th 1937. During this period his general conduct and devotion to duty were of the highest order. As the senior Flight Lieutenant he set an example of keenness and efficiency, under extremely trying climatic conditions, which largely contributed to maintaining the high morale of the Squadron.

He was always ready and willing to carry out any duty, regardless of personal discomfort, and danger. He carried out a total of 88 hours flying, an average of practically 2 hours per day. He spared no attention to detail in his ground duties as a Flight Commander.

His devotion to duty and disregard of danger are amply illustrated by the following incident:

At 1800 hours on May 4th 1937, a request was received for air action in support of a body of Frontier Constabulary. They had been surrounded by a hostile lashkar near Sarkumar Post, and were in danger of being overrun.

Flight Lieutenant T. M. Abraham was detailed to carry out this support. On arrival there, he found the Frontier Constabulary surrounded by a lashkar estimated at between 200 and 300 men. He at once attacked the lashkar with determination and vigour. In spite of heavy fire from the ground, the aircraft was hit several times, he continued the attack until his ammunition was exhausted. He inflicted several casualties on the enemy, who were forced to retreat under this attack, thus relieving the Frontier Constabulary from any immediate danger.’

Thomas Maxfield Abraham was commissioned Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force, 17 July 1926. He trained as a pilot, and advanced to Flying Officer in January 1928, and Flight Lieutenant in February 1932. Abraham served on the North West Frontier of India from 1935, and commanded ‘C’ Flight, 28 Squadron (Wapitis and Audaxes), Kohat, from April 1937. The Squadron were primarily employed as an Army co-operation squadron keeping peace on India’s northern frontier.

Abraham was promoted Squadron Leader in July 1937, and served as Group Captain throughout the Second War. He served as Head of the British Air Staff in the Operations Section at HQ First Allied Airborne Army including for the Rhine Crossing. In February 1949, Abraham and his siblings changed their surname to Ward (their mother’s maiden name) by deeds poll. In later life he resided at West End House, Bridlington, Yorkshire.