The seven medals belonging to Battle of Britain fighter pilot Tony “Bolshie” Bartley (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).
Veterans

Spitfire pilot's Battle Of Britain medals to be sold for £140,000

The lot, including seven medals and a gold watch from film star Deborah Kerr, will be sold on 8 December.

The seven medals belonging to Battle of Britain fighter pilot Tony “Bolshie” Bartley (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).

A collection of medals awarded to a Battle of Britain fighter pilot is expected to fetch between £100,000 - £140,000 when sold at auction.

Squadron Leader Tony 'Bolshie' Bartley was one of the founder members of the famous RAF 92 Squadron and is credited with downing at least 12 enemy planes.

After World War Two, Sqd Ldr Bartley formed a film production company, married the film star Deborah Kerr and worked in the Hollywood film industry.

The group of seven medals, which are being sold by his family on 8 December are being offered alongside his service dress, documents and a gold watch engraved 'Tony From Deborah 11-28-53'.

In his autobiography, Sqd Ldr Bartley recalls his first dogfight over the beaches of Dunkirk on 23 May 1940.

He flew Spitfires during the fall of France and the Battle of Britain, as well as in North Africa, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar.

He shot down two enemy aircraft but his Spitfire was riddled with bullets. 

He said, on the way home, "as I was racing back across the Channel, another Spitfire flew up beside me, and the pilot pulled back the hood and started pointing at my aircraft.

"Then, Bob Tuck came on the intercom and chortled, 'You look like a sieve, chum.' I scanned his fuselage and answered back, 'Just wait until you get a look at your crate'."

In another battle, he recalled a bullet whizzing through his helmet and grazing the top of his head.

"Fumes then started to fill my cockpit, and I knew without doubt that I had had it, so I threw open my hood, undid my straps and started to climb over the side.

"As I braced myself to bale out, I saw my enemy preparing for another attack, and knew it meant suicide to jump with him around.

"Escaping airmen over their own territory were fair game in some combatants’ log book, and a friend of mine had been shot down in his parachute.

"So, I decided to bluff it out, climbed back into my aircraft, and turned on my attacker.

"My ruse worked; he didn’t know how hard he’d hit me, but he did know that a Spitfire could turn inside a Messerschmitt, and I fired a random burst to remind him, whereupon he fled for home.

"By this time I was too low to jump, so I headed for a field and prayed."

Sqd Ldr Bartley died in 2001.

Mark Quayle, an associate director at Dix Noonan Webb auction house said: "Bartley’s was a life of extraordinary adventure, during which he was involved in a number of iconic incidents, all of which are reflected in his logbooks and autobiography – a veritable who’s who of stars of the stage, screen and sky.

"From Winston Churchill to Clark Gable, Noel Coward to Laurence Olivier, and Bob Stanford Tuck to 'Sailor' Malan – all ultimately leading to his marriage to the film star Deborah Kerr, of The King and I fame."