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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Captain Alan William Frank Sutton CBE DSC* RN (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35
|Joined the navy as a Special Entry Cadet in 1930 and trained for one year in HMS Erebus, Devonport and then served in Battle Cruisers, Cruisers and Destroyers, before specialising as Naval Air Observer in 1937. He served in Swordfish Squadrons in Glorious and Illustrious and took part in the raid on Taranto, Italy on 11th November 1940 being in the leading aircraft of the last sub-flight of Torpedo attack aircraft, piloted by Lieut FMA Torrens- Spence. Their target was the fine modern battleship Littorio and Captain Sutton was awarded the DSC for this action. On 10th January 1941, Illustrious was badly damaged by German dive-bombers and went to the United States for repairs. Her aircrew remained ashore in Egypt and after a time Captain Sutton became the Senior Observer of 815 Squadron, operating from Greece against Italian shipping in the Adriatic in March and April 1941. The Germans invaded Greece in April 1941 and Alan was moved to Crete and served at the airfield at Maleme, Crete was in turn invaded by the Germans and Maleme was captured by airborne forces on 20th and 21st May when Alan found himself the Senior surviving officer from the airfield and formed a unit of Naval and RAF personnel who fought on the left flank of the New Zealand Brigade which was trying to retake the airfield. They were defeated and Alan escaped with a group of British, New Zealand and Australian personnel over the White Mountains to the south coast. Alan reached Sphakia where the defeated allied forces were being evacuated by the navy and became the beachmaster for the evacuation. He was awarded a Bar to the DSC he had received for Taranto for his actions in Crete. He was also twice mentioned in dispatches for operations in the Mediterranean in 1940/41. Subsequent to these operations in the Med, Alan was Staff Officer (Air) to the Admiral commanding the Eastern task force (Algiers) in operation Torch, the taking of Algeria and Morocco from the Vichy French in 1942. Then he was Air Staff Officer of the Escort Carrier Ravager in the Battle of the Atlantic, and finished the war in 1944/45 as an Acting Commander, being the operations officer of the Fleet Carrier, Implacable, operating against the Germans in Norway and against the Japanese in the Pacific. He was awarded nine months additional seniority for Meritorious War Service. Captain Sutton’s post war career was as Deputy Director of the joint Anti-submarine School (RN and RAF) Londonderry, 1947-49; Commanding Officer of the Frigate Bigbury Bay 1951-53, including a spell in the Antarctic and as guard ship in the Falkland Islands; Officer in Charge, Observer and Air Signal School, RNAS Culdrose 1954-56. He was promoted to Captain and became the Chief Staff Officer of the Aircraft Carrier Squadron 1956-58, including operation Musketeer, the action to retake the Suez Canal. He was Captain (Air) Mediterranean and Commanding Officer RNAS Halfar, Malta 1960-62 and finished his Naval career as Director of the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich 1962-65. He was Naval ADC to the Queen 1964. On retirement from the Navy Alan was awarded the CBE (Military) for Distinguished Service. He was a graduate of the Naval Staff College, Joint Services Staff College and Imperial Defence College. Sadly passed away November 6th 2008.|
Lieut (A) N C Gillis RNVR.
*Signature Value : £25
|Volunteered for training as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm in 1940. After training he was posted to join HMS Indomitable and sent to the Far East. The posting did not materialise and after some months in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and Nairobi, Kenya, joined 810 Squadron in HMS Illustrious. 810 was a Swordfish squadron and remained so until HMS Illustrious returned to UK. The squadron then reformed with Barracuda aircraft and rejoined the Illustrious. After a short spell with the Home Fleet the Illustrious was despatched to serve with the Mediterranean Fleet, subsequently returning to the Home Fleet. 810 Squadron served in the ship during this time and was retained in the ship when she retuned to the Eastern Fleet and was actively engaged in the Burma campaign. During joint operations with the US carrier Saratoga, Lt Gillis was mentioned in Despatches during the operation at Sabang in Malaysia. Having overspent his time in an operational squadron he was returned to UK where he served as Dive-Bombing Instructor at RNAS Crail, then converted onto twin-engine aircraft and flew in a Mosquito squadron until demobilised in 1946.|
Lt Cdr Edgar Lee DSO (deceased)
*Signature Value : £25
|Joined the Royal Navy in May 1940, two days before his nineteenth birthday and after initial training began a flying course in Trinidad in September 1940. He qualified as Observer in April 1941 and was commissioned as Midshipman (A) RNVR. Promoted to Sub-Lieutenant (A) RNVR at the age of 20 in May 1941 and appointed to 825 Squadron in HMS Ark Royal in June 1941, flying operationally with 825 Squadron in Swordfish TBR until the Ark Royal was sunk in November 1941. Edgar returned to England and the squadron reformed at Lee-on-Solent - again in Swordfish in late December 1941, still under the command of Lt Commander E Esmonde DSO, RM. He took part in the Channel attack on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 12th February 1942. All the aircraft were shot down, with only five survivors; Edgar and his pilot were rescued from a dingy by MTB. He joined the new 825 Squadron in March 1942 and flew in that squadron until July 1942, then sent for re-posting to RNAS St Merryn on Flying Control duties. At the end of February 1943, Edgar was seconded to 106 Squadron RAF Bomber Command, flying in Lancaster, under the command of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, DSO DFC RAF. Six Naval Observers were seconded to 5 Group Bomber Command, three were lost and three returned to naval duties at the end of July 1943. Edgar was promoted to Lieutnant (A) RNVR in November 1943. Instructing in Canada, August 1943 to November 1944 and returned to England to qualify as a Signals Officer in August 1945. From Staff Signals Officer to Rear Admiral reserve Aircraft from September 1945 until demob in July 1947. Edgar rejoined the reserve in 1956 and was promoted to Lt Cdr RNR in November 1961 serving in most NATO and National exercises until 1981 and as Acting Commander RNR in exercises from 1969 until retirement at 60 in 1981. Sadly Lieutenant-Commander Edgar Lee died on October 29th, 2009, aged 88. Edgar Lee was the last surviving member of those gallant aircrew of 825 Squadron Fleet Air Arm that in February 1942 made the attack in Swordfish torpedo bombers on the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen.|
Sub Lieut (A) Stanley T Brand RNVR
*Signature Value : £20
|Although in a reserved occupation volunteered on his 18th birthday to train as pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. He flew open cockpit biplane Swordfish aircraft from Merchant Aircraft Carriers called "Macships". These were 8000 ton grain ships or oil tankers fitted with a flight deck, carrying their usual cargo and manned by a Merchant Navy Master and crew. They sailed in convoy back and forth across the North Atlantic in all the extreme weather conditions experiened on that ocean. The oil tankers lacked a hangar, so maintenance was carried out on open deck exposing the aircraft, ground crew and aircrew to the fury of the sea, ice and gales. By keeping U-boats submerged instead of allowing them free range on the surface, in 24 months only two merchant ships were sunk by the enemy in convoys protected by Macships. This was in spite of there being greater numbers and more efficient U-boats at sea in this period than at the time of our greatest losses in the Battle of the Atlantic.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Swordfish||Torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane, crewed by three, with a top speed of 154mph, reduced to 136mph as a float plane. Maximum ceiling 19,000 feet, reduced as a float plane. Armed with a .303 Vickers machine gun fixed forward and one in the rear cockpit. One 1610lb torpedo or up to 1500lb bomb load. At the outbreak of world war two the fleet air arm had 13 operational squadrons. The Fairey Swordfish has earned its place in history for major contributions to naval warfare, during the Norwegian campaign, and especially during the raid on Taranto. In November1940, twenty Swordfish took off from HMS Illustrious to attack the Italian fleet in their Harbour of Taranto. At Least nine torpedoes hit their targets. Seven Italian ships were badly damaged including the battleships, Caio Duillio, Littorio and Conte De Cavour. This was followed in February 1942, by a heroic but suicidal attack on German battlecruisers in the English Channel by six Swordfish of 825 squadron from RAF Manston. All aircraft and crews were lost. This resulted in a Victoria Cross for the leader Lieutenant Commander E Esmonde. The next major event was the torpedo attack on the Bismarck by Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal, which badly damaged the steering gear of the Bismarck which helped in the final destruction of the German battleship by Royal Navy battleships. The Fairey Swordfish was also used in anti-submarine and anti-shipping roles. The Swordfish sunk more enemy ships (by tonnage) than any other aircraft acting in the same role. By the end of the war the Fleet Air Arm still had nine active squadrons, but these were finally disbanded in May 1945. A total of 2399 Swordfish were built.|
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