Veterans

Medals Of 'Exceptional' Second World War Pilot To Go On Sale

The medals belonged to Group Captain John R. H. Merifield who took the first photograph of a V1 flying bomb on a launch ramp.

A group of 12 medals that belonged to an airman, widely recognised as one of the finest Mosquito and Photo Reconnaissance Unit pilots of the Second World War, are going on sale. 

Group Captain John R. H. Merifield's medals are expected to fetch between £20,000 to £30,000 at an online auction next month by militaria and medals specialists Dix Noonan Webb. 

Gp Capt Merifield flew in more than 160 operational sorties and took the first photograph of a V1 flying bomb on a launch ramp at the Luftwaffe Test Installation at Peenemunde on the Baltic Island of West Usedom. 

He went on to break two flying records, one over the Atlantic and one in South East Asia, prior to serving in Korea.

Mark Quayle, specialist associate director at Dix Noonan Webb auctioneers, said: "This is a spectacular combination of gallantry awards, all to one man.

"Group Captain Merifield was an exceptional pilot, and widely recognised as one of finest Mosquito and Photo Reconnaissance Unit pilots of the Second World War.

"A breaker of multiple flying records, he went on to test himself as a Jet Fighter Pilot during the Korean War before tragically being killed in a flying accident whilst learning to fly helicopters."

Also going on sale are the Second World War Special Operations Executive (SOE) 'Force 133' Balkan Operations Distinguished Conduct Medal group of eight awarded to  Sergeant K. A. J. B. Scott, Royal Signals and Special Operations Executive, late King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

World War Two pilot Group Captain John R. H. Merifield (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).

Sgt Scott was 'dropped' into Eastern Serbia in April 1944, linking up with Major Frank Thompson’s ill-fated Operation Claridges in support of Bulgarian Communist Partisans.

As anti-partisan reprisal operations closed in, Maj Thompson took the fateful decision to lead his private army into Bulgaria, where, with Sgt Scott continuing to serve as wireless operator, they were repeatedly ambushed and fought running battles with the Bulgarian Army and Gendarmerie before being ultimately broken up.

Starving and exhausted, the pair were encircled and captured before being subjected to brutal beatings and threats under Gestapo interrogation.  

Despite Maj Thompson being executed, Sgt Scott managed to deceive his captors and double-bluffed them with false information, disclosing nothing.

He survived 14 weeks under the Gestapo and was released as the Red Army closed in on Sofia, making it back to London via Istanbul and Cairo as the only British survivor of the mission.

"We hope his story will be read and help tell the wider role of the SOE in WW2," said Christopher Mellor-Hill, head of client liaison (associate director) of Dix Noonan Webb.

The medals are expected to fetch between £60,000 to £80,000 and are being sold with an archive of material, including the recipient's unpublished autobiography of his war years. 

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, the auction will be held online on 13 January.

Cover image: The medals belonging to Second World War pilot Group Captain John R. H. Merifield (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).