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Lot 556: Medals Royal Flying Corps Biggles Observer's Casualty Group. An emotive group, being that awarded to Second Lieutenant Alfred Edward Amey, Observer

by Bosleys

September 14, 2005

Marlow, United Kingdom

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Description: Medals Royal Flying Corps Biggles Observer's Casualty Group. An emotive group, being that awarded to Second Lieutenant Alfred Edward Amey, Observer to Captain W.E. Johns, who would go on to create Biggles and inspire aviation adventures to generations of youngsters. Comprising: British War Medal, Victory Medal 2 Lieut RAF, Bronze Memorial Plaque Alfred Edward Amey. The latter contained in original card cover with Buckingham Palace... Padded Observer's brevet... Two letters sent by Captain W.E. Johns following his repatriation as a POW written to the family giving details of Second Lieutenant Amey's death One is a period copy of the letter , the other in the hand of Johns. A school Prize book presented to Amy... Plus other family items of ephemera.... Accompanied by a British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to G-64128 Pte. O.G. Amey Queens R. This pair of medals are accompanied by a small quantity of ephemera. GC. E1,000-1,200 This group gives a rare insight into the circumstances and the details of a Great War Aerial casualty. The letters from Johns gives details of the action, in a sympathetic way, to a grieving family. However combined with the account given in Captain W.E. Johns biography By Jove Biggles a true account can be obtained. On Monday 16th September 1918 twelve aircraft of 55 Squadron were detailed to bomb the Lanz Works and Railway Yards at Mannheim. Johns and Amey would fly in position 5 of the first wave of six aircraft under the command of Captain Mackay. At 12.20 pm the Squadron took off climbing for height and settling into formation. Sight of the second flight was lost and on reaching the lines the squadron proceeded as ordered with only six machines, crossing the lines at Raon and proceed over Saverne. It was here, approximately sixty miles behind Hun lines that Johns and Amey's problems began, when anti aircraft fire, usually quite harmless, made a near hit, holing the main petrol tank, the aircraft was nearly flipped over. There was no damage to the controls, however, Amey passed a quickly scribbled note Main Tank Gone, Johns looked down to see his flying boots sitting in a pool of petrol. Switching to the reserve tank this proved empty. With fuel dwindling Johns instructed Amey to fire a green very light to show the leader he was dropping out of formation with engine trouble. The official record shows that this happened near Hagenau. Johns turned the DH4 for home, dropped his bombs and used precious fuel to gain height, his keen eyes had spotted a formation of German Fokker DVII's two miles behind and 4,000 feet below. It only took about 5 minutes for the first of the Fokkers to attack the struggling DH4, now at 17,000 feet. Amey opened fire with his Lewis Gun and John's adjusted the fuel Compressor to extend the range and try to climb to 21,000 feet out of range of the Germans. Johns states The leader came in with a rush and I touched the rudder- bar to let his tracer go by. A bunch of them came up under my elevators and I kicked out my foot. Slewing Amey round without losing height, to bring his guns to bear. The Fokkers came right in and I gave then credit for facing Amey's music. One turned over, a second spun out of it, but another came right in to point blank range. Amey raked him fore and aft without stopping him. Others came down on us from above.. In John's letter to the family he suggests I believe he sent two huns to their proper place before he was shot. It was only a matter of minutes later, that a bullet ripped John's goggles off and the windscreen and instrument panel shattered before John's unprotected eyes, sending glass and wood splinters into his face. Wiping blood out of his eyes he turned to see his Observer Amey sinking slowly to the floor of the cockpit. Sick with fright and fury, John's throw his machine into a tight turn, still forty miles behind Hun lines, he franticly looked for help, when he suddenly spotted a British DH9, but soon realised that his position was as bad as his own being attacked by numerous German aircraft. Johns realised he could not get close so the two machines could fight together and watched with horror as it fell in flames, bringing home the most likely outcome of his own predicament. Johns broke the turn and made a dash for it, looking again for a friendly formation that would come to his aid, but all he could see was yet more Huns, he was later told that 17 machines were trying to bring him down. Within a mile of the desperate dash, he was attacked from above by a striped Fokker, the bullets flying over his shoulders into the engine. It Stopped Dead and the white vapour of petrol began to rise towards the hot engine, as Johns braced himself for the inevitable flames. suddenly the controls went slack, the aircraft was out of control and began to dive towards the ground. On two occasions the DH4 tried to lift on the second occasion, it was as the aircraft was about to hit the ground and skidded along a ploughed field. Johns was alive, badly bruised, but alive he crawled from the cockpit and stood for a moment against the aircraft, picking broken glass from his face, then he was suddenly aware of machine gun fire and saw one of the Fokkers flying low firing at him. His next thoughts were for Amey, but his worse fears were confirmed he was dead Unable to drag his body from the aircraft, he turned to see a line of German soldiers running towards him and could only await there arrival Johns stated to the family that Amey had died instantly with a bullet to the head and several to the body. The now a prisoner was taken to a schoolhouse and placed in a room with the body of Amey. The two would remain together, through an eerie night and even on the journey next day to Zaburn the German Army Headquarters for interrogation. This would be the last time Johns would see his Observer, at this point he was taken away and Johns was later informed he had been buried. Second Lieutenant Alfred Edward Amey now rests in Sarralbe Military Cemetery His name also appeared on the Queen's Road Baptist Church Wimbledon Memorial Plaque.... Private Oliver George Amey his brother served with the 1/6th Battalion of the Queen's Regiment and was discharged on the 10th January 1919. Please note Biggles book illustrated not included in the lot.

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