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Medals of Air Gunner Who Took Part In The Famous 1942 Dieppe Raid Which Cost 4,100 Casualties For Sale At Bonhams

Medals awarded for courage and bravery during World War II’s first Dieppe landing will be sold at Bonhams Coins, Medals and Banknote auction on the 2nd April 2008.

Lot 65 is a Second World War Reconnaissance D.F.C and 1940 D.F.M awarded to Squadron Leader L.G.Smith, Royal Air Force which is expected to fetch £4,500 – £5,000.

In June 1940, the then Acting Corporal Smith and his company were attacked by nine German fighter aircraft, ME.109s, and it is during this operation that he showed his guns skills as well as his coolness bringing down one Me.109 and severely damaging another.

Possibly the most interesting part of lot 65 is Smith’s logbook, which starts on July 14th 1941 and includes a fascinating entry. Smith took part in the Dieppe Raid codenamed Operation Jubilee, the largest operation that had taken place up to that point in the war, including the army, navy and air force at the same time.

On 19th August 1942, an Allied attack was conducted on the German-occupied port of Dieppe, on the Northern Coast of France. The objective was to seize and hold a major port for a short period, both to prove it was possible and to gather intelligence from prisoners and captured materials while assessing the German response.

Although the Operation Jubilee was not considered an invasion attempt, it was costly for the allies. Out of a combined landing force of 6,100, about 4,100 were reported killed, wounded or captured opposed to German casualties put at 591. The best that can be said for the Dieppe raid was that it was an excellent, if expensive, lesson in landing on hostile beaches. “Vital experience had been gained in the employment of substantial numbers of troops in an assault, and in the transport and use of heavy equipment during combined operations” (Combined Operations Headquarters statement). Looking back, the experience gained during this tragic day for the allies, was extensively used on D-Day and the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Mountbatten, said, “For every soldier who died at Dieppe, ten were saved on D-Day.”

Although the result of the Operation Jubilee (Dieppe Battle) was shocking for the Allies, the work of Smith during his specific mission was a success. Smith survived that battle and many others and spent his remaining war service in India and surrounding regions.

For further information:

1. D.F.C. London Gazette 29.10.1943.

After a tour of Operation as an Air Gunner in Ansons, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, this Officer gained a commission as a pilot. He has completed 58 high level photographic sorties, showing outstandingly good results, which played a major part in the mapping of the BREST PENINSULAR for G.H.Q., Home Forces. He has been deputy Flight Commander for the last six months, and proved himself an able leader, and has encouraged everyone by his example and cheerfulness.

D.F.M. London Gazette 14.6.1940.

On 1st June 1940, Acting Corporal Smith was Air Gunner of an Anson which, in company with two others, was attacked by nine Me.109s. Although his pilot was taking violent evasive action, Acting Corporal Smith used his guns with such skill and coolness that he brought down one Me.109 and severely damaged another.

The lot comes with box for the DFC and slip from Buckingham Palace, two RAF ties, and his logbook from July 14th 1941 where he begins flight training in a Tiger Moth. He previously had 587 hours as a Passenger and this is annotated in the logbook as well as Previous Flying as Air Gunner from Form 1767, whether a log book existed for this period is not known. At the end of his training in June 1942 he is proficient on Spitfires and carries out photography at High Level. On 19th July he has his first Op and this carries on through August 1942 including one on the 17th over Dieppe. There is another entry that is stuck to the book from Air Marshall Sir A.S.Barratt, thanking 140 Squadron for their work over Dieppe which led to the success of the operation that took place on the 19th August. On 11th October he was intercepted by 7 Fw190s and was badly shot up he passed out at 50,000ft and came to at 2,000ft, his undercarriage collapsed after landing. His Ops continued until November 1943 and he had suffered a number of close calls including being chased by 4 USAAF Thunderbolts!

In February 1944 he served with 151 O.T.U. Risalpur North West Province, and then went on to 22 Ferry Control Allahabad and his remaining war service was spent out in India and surrounding regions.