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The Outstanding C.B.E., Second World War D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. Group of Thirteen to Group Captain Dennis "Hurricane" David, Royal Air Force, the Famous Fall of France Ace Who Added to His Substantial Tally of Victories in the Battle of Britain: In the Post-War Era He Served as Honorary Aide to Trenchard and Distinguished Himself as Air Attaché in Budapest in the Hungarian Uprising of 1956

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The Outstanding C.B.E., Second World War D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. Group of Thirteen to Group Captain Dennis "Hurricane" David, Royal Air Force, the Famous Fall of France Ace Who Added to His Substantial Tally of Victories in the Battle of Britain: In the Post-War Era He Served as Honorary Aide to Trenchard and Distinguished Himself as Air Attaché in Budapest in the Hungarian Uprising of 1956

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The Outstanding C.B.E., Second World War D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. Group of Thirteen to Group Captain Dennis "Hurricane" David, Royal Air Force, the Famous Fall of France Ace Who Added to His Substantial Tally of Victories in the Battle of Britain: In the Post-War Era He Served as Honorary Aide to Trenchard and Distinguished Himself as Air Attaché in Budapest in the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 (a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Commander's (C.B.E.), 2nd type, Military Division, neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, in Garrard, London case of issue (b) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., with Bar for Second Award, the reverse of the Cross officially dated '1940' and privately engraved, 'Flying Officer W.D. David' and the reverse of the Bar officially dated '1940' (c) Air Force Cross, G.VI.R., the reverse officially dated '1943' (d) 1939-45 Star, with 'Battle of Britain' clasp (e) Air Crew Europe Star (f) Africa Star (g) Burma Star (h) Italy Star (i) Defence and War Medals, with M.I.D. Oakleaf (j) General Service 1918-62, one clasp, S.E. Asia 1945-46 (Act. Gp. Cpt., R.A.F.) (k) Coronation 1953 (l) Hungary, Order of Vitez, Knight's breast Star, 76 x 76mm., gilt and enamel, in case, with related Lapel Badge, generally very fine or better, (b) to (k) mounted Court-style as worn (14)
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Lot Essay

The lot is sold with a fine array of related artefacts and documentation, including:

(i) The recipient's original Flying Log Books, covering the period April 1937 to December 1966, thereby constituting a complete and important official record of an exceptional Pilot's operational career, not least his contribution to the Battles of France and Britain, bound privately in two volumes
(ii) Original Mention in Despatches Certificate as Acting Wing Commander, D.F.C. (dated 11.6.1942); Statutes for the Order of the British Empire; an original copy of The Times for 5.6.1940, containing the announcements for both of the recipient's D.F.Cs; and original Warrant for the Hungarian Vitez Order, signed by the Exiled King of Hungary, Arpad Hapsburg.
(iii) The recipient's last 'Pilot's Instrument Rating' Card, and accompanying letter (dated at R.A.F. Bovingdon, 19.12.1966).
(iv) The recipient's complete Service Uniform, comprising tunic, with Group Captain's rank insignia, 'Wings' and medal ribands; Group Captain's hat; trousers; shirt and separate collar; black tie; black leather shoes; black socks and brown leather gloves.
(v) A selection of Hungarian commemorative awards, the whole granted as a result of his service as an Air Attaché in Budapest and more especially his brave and distinguished services during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, comprising: Commemorative Cross 1920, 50mm., gilt-metal and enamel; Commemorative Cross 1921-81, 48mm., gilt-metal and enamel, in case; Uprising Commemorative Medal 1956, 49mm., silvered-base metal; 25th Anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising Commemorative Medallion 1956-81, by Numismatica Hungarica, 60mm., bronze, in case of issue; and Commemorative Medallion 1956 for the '56 Martyrs', 42mm., gilt, in case, this last with accompanying letter.
(vi) Three Lapel Badges for the Burma Star Association; Honorary Membership of the Guinea Pig Club; and Croix de Guerre.
(vii) A selection of the recipient's ties (14), among them those for the Battle of Britain Association; R.A.F. Officers; No. 87 Squadron; Coastal Command; 'Five Hundred Hour'; Fighter Pilots; R.A.F. Diamond Jubilee; Officers' Pension; Freeman of the City of London; and Hungarian Vitez Order.
(viii) A selection of R.A.F. Squadron Shields (6), No. 152 'Hyderabad' Squadron; No. 115 Squadron; No. 245 Squadron; R.A.F. Tangmere; Joint Services Language School; and Air Training Corps; together with another for H.M.S. Mercury.
(ix) A single-breasted red blazer, with gilt buttons, as given to the recipient in Maxwell, Montgomery, U.S.A., when attending the "Gathering of Eagles" meeting that honoured Aviation Aces at the Air Command and Staff College Foundation in 1987; and a blue A.C.S.C. baseball cap, as presented to the recipient and three other Battle of Britain Aces and four Luftwaffe Aces at the Smithsonian Symposium.
(x) A presentation plaque from the Warbirds, as given to the recipient during their visit to the U.K. in 1988.

C.B.E. London Gazette 31.1.1960.

D.F.C. London Gazette 31.5.1940. Recommendation states 'Since dawn on 10 May 1940, this Officer has shot down four enemy aircraft and shown gallantry and devotion to duty comparable with the highest traditions of the Service. His coolness and determination have been a very fine example to the other Pilots of the Squadron. He was involved in an engagement when six other aircraft of the Squadron attacked over 40 German aircraft in an attempt to protect Blenheim aircraft. He backed his leader with great courage and determination, shooting down two enemy aircraft'.

Bar to D.F.C. London Gazette 4.6.1940. Recommendation states 'This Officer continued to display a fine offensive spirit and by the time he left France he had accounted for three more enemy aircraft, making a total of 11 in all. I recommend him for the immediate award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross'.

A.F.C. London Gazette 1.1.1943. Recommendation states 'This Officer has been employed on flying training since November 1941, and by his example, personality and ability has set a high standard and produced the most creditable results. During this period of service there has been an increase in flying times, and a marked decrease in accidents. Wing Commander David has been untiring in his efforts to improve the standard of training'.

Mention in Despatches London Gazette 11.6.1942.

Group Captain (William) Dennis "Hurricane" David, C.B.E., D.F.C.*, A.F.C., one of Great Britain's leading Aces, was born in London in 1918 but spent his early childhood at Tongwynlais, South Wales - an area for which he retained a lifelong affection. His parents separated when he was eight and he was afterwards educated at Surbiton County School. At the age of 14 years he abandoned formal education and joined his uncle's wholesale clothing business in order to assist his mother financially, and at 17 years, with war looming, he like many of his contemporaries resolved to join one of the auxiliary services, his first choice being the H.A.C. because it still retained cavalry. Mechanisation however changed all that and thinking again he remembered a thrilling childhood flip in an Avro 504 courtesy of the Cornwall Aviation Company, and determined to learn to fly with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Having completed the necessary theoretical study he commenced Pilot Training at No. 5 E. & R.F.T.S., at Hanworth, Middlesex, in 1937, and in February of the following year obtained a Short Service Commission. After a short induction course at R.A.F. Uxbridge he was posted to 5 F.T.S., Sealand, and thence to the Fighter Pool at R.N.A.S. Ford, where he flew with Navy Navigators in Blackburn Sharks and Supermarine Walrus amphibians, whilst awaiting posting. In early 1939 he was sent to 87 Squadron at Debden, Essex, where he first encountered the aircraft now synonymous with his name. 'No. 87 Squadron' he recalled, 'was flying the Gloster Gladiator biplane, but was being re-equipped with Hurricanes. Suddenly I was faced with a fighting monoplane, with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine of over 1,000 horsepower, the Hurricane ...'
In September 1939 he was deployed to France with 87 Squadron as part of the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force, and at the height of that bitterly cold winter damaged a Heinkel 111 in a rare pre-Blitzkreig encounter over Poperinghe. A few days later, whilst waiting at readiness with his section he received an impromptu visit from the King, the Duke of Windsor and the Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by Generals Gort and Ironside, when the party very unexpectedly stopped their cars on the way to a formal inspection parade.

The War Really Starts

On 10.5.1940, the day that the B.E.F. had to suddenly face overwhelming odds from supremely confident German forces invading France and the Low Countries, 21 year old Dennis David was on detachment at Senon, North-East of Verdun. He had just been detailed to fly a Sector Reconnaissance with fellow pilot Garry Nowell when two Dornier 17s swept in and strafed the airfield. David and Nowell were immediately ordered to try and intercept the raiders who to their chagrin disappeared without trace. On their return to Senon, however, David was surprised to see some trees that he had not noticed before. Then suddenly to his horror he realised that the trees were in fact bomb bursts. The field was again under air attack. Without a moments delay David and Nowell attacked the perpetrators, shooting one down and damaging a second. It was to prove the start of a very eventful day for David who, flying six sorties and spending nearly seven hours in the air, brought down a Dornier 17 and claimed another shared. Events began to happen fast now and next morning a sadly depleted 87 Squadron was called on to defend an Army tented hospital - 'We found ourselves in a scrap with forty Junkers 87 dive bombers [and] I settled into what had become my instant and instinctive chase and attack routine. I lowered my seat, to make myself as small a target as possible, switched the gun button to fire, ... switched the reflector sight on [and] increased my engine revs to ensure greater manoeuvrability. We shot down fourteen and turned away the raid'. In this engagement David was credited with one of the Ju. 87 victories, and further increased his tally when he glimpsed a Dornier 17 nearby and sent it down in flames. On 12 May he attacked an He. 111 over Lille at customary close range and set it on fire. The stricken bomber crash landed, and flying low over the wreck, David saw the pilot scramble out and salute him. In the next instant David was dismayed to see the bomber blow up killing a courageous opponent.

David's immediate success in air fighting has been ascribed to the fact he always attacked at very close quarters, opening fire at the last possible moment. Shortly before the Battle of France he obtained special permission to resight his guns drawing in the point at which they harmonised from the mandatory 450 yards to 167 yards, the nearest single point at which they would not shoot off his propeller tips. On one occasion in France he got so close to the Heinkel he was shooting down that he was sure that his machine had been hit, as his windscreen became smothered in oil. On landing it was found that the oil had come from the bomber.

Continuing to cover the retreat of the B.E.F., David was further credited with an He. 111 destroyed and another unconfirmed on 14 May; a Bf. 109 and two more unconfirmed on the 16th; two Bf. 109s damaged on the 18th; and next day claimed a third share in a Heinkel 111, a Bf. 110 destroyed, and two more unconfirmed. After ten days of continuous fighting David was based at Merville and was so exhausted that he happily slept in a pigsty, the only available accomodation. Finally, on 21 May, the heavily stacked odds proved too great even for a pilot of David's exceptional abilities and he was shot down on an early reconnaissance, crash landing his badly shot up Hurricane. Later the same day 87's C.O., who himself had been injured through enemy action, arranged for David's evacuation to England in an aircraft of the newly created B.O.A.C. bearing Red Cross markings. Safely at home in the London suburbs, he slept soundly for 36 hours straight.

After the trials of the Fall of France No. 87 Squadron refitted at Church Fenton, near Leeds, where David received notification of his double D.F.C. for the destruction of 11 enemy aircraft destroyed. He was duly decorated at a Buckingham Palace investiture by the King. Having re-equipped and raised its aircraft establishment back up to 12 Hurricanes with four in reserve in Yorkshire, 87 Squadron was ordered to Exeter where it was constantly in action over the South-West during the Battle of Britain. On 11 August David accounted for a Ju. 88 and a Bf. 109 in a combat fought ten miles South-West of Portland Bill whilst leading two new pilots in an attempt to defend the naval oil storage facility at Weymouth from a large aerial armada. 'There were six of us in all,' he recalled, 'while the remainder of the Squadron tried to keep the Bf. 109s away from us. We were assured that some Spitfires would be sent in to help deal with the enemy fighters. I could not do much for my youngsters, except put them in line-astern behind me and tell them to pick their own targets. I was greatly relieved to find one of my young pilots, who had obviously been in the thick of it, safe on return to base. On the way back we had heard from the other on his R./T. that he had had his left hand shot off ... and with sadness realised that he had no hope of surviving such a wound, with no means of staunching the bleeding'.

On 15.8.1940, or Adlertag to the Luftwaffe, David shot down a confirmed Junkers 87, and ten days later added a Ju. 88 and Bf. 109 to his score in combats also in the vicinity of Portland. In early September as the Battle heightened he participated in the extremely hazardous and frustrating business of night fighting, yet was credited with one enemy aircraft damaged. On the 15th of the same month he was scrambled so early in the morning that he took to the air wearing his pyjamas under his flying kit, and was vectored on to an He. 111 carrying out a dawn meteorological reconnaissance, which became the first of some 60 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down by the R.A.F. that day. On 16 October David was posted to 85's sister unit, No. 213 Squadron at Tangmere, as B Flight Commander, where he scored his final air combat victory on the 19th. On 13.11.1940 he was moved again this time going to No. 152 Squadron to fly Spitfires.

Tour-expired in March 1941, David was rested with the successive jobs of Chief Flying Instructor at 59 O.T.U. at Usworth, and C.F.I. at 55 O.T.U. He was promoted Squadron Leader in February 1942 and a year later was awarded the A.F.C. and sent out to the Middle East, initially as S.A.S.O., 209 Group, but on 19.7.1943 took command of 89 Squadron, a Beaufighter nightfighter unit at Tripoli, North Africa, as Wing Commander. In the October following he took the unit to Ceylon. In March 1944 he became Senior Controller at Trincomalee and then in May 1944, Base Commander at Minneriya, followed by Base Commander at Kankesanturai in August. Later that year he was promoted Group Captain and appointed Air Adviser to the Commander 15th Indian Corps, joining the staff of the C.-in-C. General Sir Phillip Christison on the Arakan front in Burma.

In January 1945 he was appointed S.A.S.O., 224 Group, and with the end of hostilities became S.A.S.O. Air H.Q., Dutch East Indies, during Allied operations against Javanese insurgents. The latter was a difficult mission not just in the physical sense - 'I had bullets miss me by millimetres even in my own office' - but also politically. When a request was made by a Dutch Officer trying to rescue Dutch women and children, internees from Japanese camps before they fell victim to equally vicious tormentors in the form of nationalist insurgents, David did all he could, knowing full well that it would cause political annoyance at home and would ruffle some feathers in high places.

The Light Blue Pimpernel

David returned to the U.K. in April 1946, and having been granted a permanent Commission in the R.A.F. reverted to the rank of Squadron Leader. In 1949 he was posted to the command of a wing of de Havilland Vampire jets at Deversoir on the Suez Canal, and in Cairo enjoyed the hospitality of King Farouk. In 1951 he became due for administrative posting, and a succession of Staff and M.O.D. appointments ensued. He was promoted Wing Commander in 1953 and from 1954 he was Honorary Aide to 'The Father of the R.A.F.', Viscount Trenchard, who as a Marshal of the R.A.F. continued to serve until death. In 1956 David's service career took an unexpected turn when he was appointed Air Attaché in Budapest, his predecessor having been compromised by the Soviet Secret Police. Accordingly, between October and November 1956, David was very much caught up in the Hungarian Uprising.

When the Soviets were re-grouping outside the capital to finally crush the revolt, it was agreed in the British Legation that David should take advantage of the lull in the fighting and get the diplomatic wives and families away to Austria. As soon as this became known, however, the convoy quadrupled in size, and he finally left with 39 vehicles containing British, Americans, French and Italian women and children as well as Austrian, Czech, Dutch and Canadian businessmen. The journey which normally took two hours was drawn out to eight owing to frequent halts to negotiate no less than 25 checkpoints, half of which had been set up by the Freedom Fighters and the rest by the Soviets and their Secret Police. David, dressed in 'civvies', led the convoy in his trusty Standard Vanguard flying a large Union Jack nailed to a broomstick, and successfully talked his way around every obstacle, including a T-54 tank which menacingly pointed its gun directly at his car, before safely crossing the frontier at Hegyeshalom.

Having delivered his charges in Vienna and having made a full report on the extraordinary events in Hungary at the British Embassy, David himself returned to his post in Budapest where his work in helping several hundred Hungarians to escape the country continued. In recognition of his audacity and bravery in this respect he was later created an Honorary Knight of the Order of Vitez by the exiled Hungarian Grand Duke Arpad of Hapsburg, and fittingly dubbed by the Freedom Fighters 'The Light Blue Pimpernel' (Fellow Hungarian Baroness Orczy had written The Scarlet Pimpernel). David further assisted in November 1956 many Hungarian neighbours who were unable to obtain food from his own supply of Western comestibles when the Soviets moved in to finally squash the uprising. David remembered, 'The noise of the battle was horrendous. Although as a pilot I was used to aircraft noise, and to the deafening throb of the huge bomber raids we fought against in the Battle of Britain, I was not used to enormous tanks with heavy armament fighting pitched battles in the street just beyond the front door. The Soviets had installed a large 152mm. gun on top of Gellert Hill very near my house, and every time this gun opened up the whole house shook. Apart from this, there was also a machine-gun post and a smaller field gun at the end of the road to guard any approach to the larger gun. Of course it all invited real interest from the Freedom Fighters by day and night. At times the noise seemed continuous, with mortars and rockets also playing a part. Fires were started which could not be extinguished, and parts of Buda looked like an inferno as I looked down on it from my house. Every window in the house was shot out during this time, and anyone who dared peer above a window ledge was immediately shot at'.

From 1958 to 1961 David commanded R.A.F. Tangmere, then part of Signals Command. He became Group Captain in 1960 and in the same year was created a C.B.E. He finally retired from the Service in 1967, and afterwards divided his time between a business career and such diverse activities as giving technical advice to the film "Aces High". Acting as President of Maidenhead Branch of the R.A.F.A. from its start in 1946 to final closure just 50 years later and attending many seminars with Luftwaffe Aces on the Battle of Britain at the Air Command and Staff College (A.C.A.S.C.) in Maxwell, Alabama, for Senior U.S.A.F. Officers, he was twice honoured with invitations to attend their annual "Gathering of Eagles", which celebrated those considered to have made an outstanding contribution to Aviation. The Aces attending were presented with red blazers. A Freeman of the City of London, he was also the first President of the Hurricane Society and a staunch supporter of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. Group Captain David died last year, having recently published his memoirs Dennis (Hurricane) David (Grub Street, London, 2000), from which the above quoted excerpts have been taken.

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