Special Collections

Sold on 6 July 2004

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Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin

Hal Giblin

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№ 448


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

Pair: Captain T. A. Oliver, Royal Flying Corps, late Royal Welch Fusiliers, who became an ace after gaining 5 victories during his service with No. 1 and No. 29 Squadrons: he was killed in action in August 1917

British War and Victory Medals
(Capt.), good very fine (2) £400-500

This lot was sold as part of a special collection, Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin.

View Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin


Thomas Alfred Oliver, who was born at Loughborough in April 1893, an artist resident at Capel Earig, North Wales prior to the Great War, he enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers at Carnarvon in August 1914 and was posted to the 6th Battalion. Three months later, however, he was successfully nominated for a temporary commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on the General List, and he subsequently transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.

Graduating as a pilot in December 1915, Oliver was posted to No. 1 Squadron in France in the new year and on 20 March, in a raid against the German floatplane base at Zeebrugge, he fought his first combat in a Morane LA (5119), with 2nd Lieutenant D.A. Carruthers aboard, against an Aviatik over Cassel-Poperinghe. Thereafter, he was more or less constantly in action until being rested in January 1917, a period that witnessed at least two successful encounters. The first of these occurred on 3 July 1916 in a dogfight over Houthulst Wood, when Oliver was piloting a Morane BB (5170):

‘Lieutenant T. A. Oliver and Sergeant Mumford, in a Morane biplane of No. 1 Squadron, encountered five hostile aeroplanes, driving off four with little trouble. The fifth showed more fight, but was last seen diving vertically with the engine full on, and is believed to have been destroyed’ (
R.F.C. Communiques 1915-16 refer).

And the second on 6 August 1916:

‘Lieutenant T. A. Oliver in a Nieuport Scout of No. 1 Squadron attacked a hostile machine over Kemmel which in appearance was very much like a Martinsyde. The Nieuport closed to within 150 feet of the hostile machine and fired two drums under the tail. The engine of the hostile machine was seen to stop, and it dived steeply. Five drums in all were fired at the German, whose machine was followed down to 3,000 feet with its propeller stopped. It is believed that the observer of this machine was also hit’ (
R.F.C. Communiques 1915-16 refer).

Following his rest from operations in the first half of 1917, Oliver was posted to No. 29 Squadron as a Flight Commander on 10 August. The very next day he added two more enemy aircraft to his tally in an engagement fought over Roulers, and the day after that yet another over Polinchove. But while on patrol on the morning of 14 August, Oliver, piloting a Nieuport 17 (B1557), was shot down and killed by Oberleutnant Wiegand of Jasta 10.

He was 22 years of age, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France.