Gallantry medals of Battle of Normandy bomber go on sale for £32,000

Gallantry medals of Battle of Normandy bomber go on sale for £32,000

Gallantry medals of Battle of Normandy master bomber Sidney ‘Tubby’ Baker who survived 100 raids, downed a pint of beer every time he returned to base and ‘loved food, drink and cigarettes’ go under the hammer for £32,000

  • Wing Commander Sidney ‘Tubby’ Baker repeatedly risked his life in attacks on German and Italian targets
  • He also took part in operations during the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 
  • After returning to his airbase, the pilot was handed beer – which he enjoyed while his RAF colleagues cheered
  • Remarkably, the pilot survived every anti-aircraft raid his Wellington bomber came under during the war
  • This is despite casualty rates of Bomber Command crews during the Second World Way standing at 44%

The gallantry medals of a Battle of Normandy master bomber who survived 100 raids and downed a pint of beer every time he returned to base go under the hammer for £32,000.

Wing Commander Sidney ‘Tubby’ Baker – who was known for his love of food, drink and cigarettes – repeatedly risked his life in attacks on heavily defended German and Italian targets.

He also took part in operations during the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.

Immediately after returning to his airbase following his sorties, the portly Pathfinder pilot was handed a well-earned pint of beer- which he enjoyed while his RAF colleagues cheered.

Remarkably, the pilot survived every anti-aircraft raid his Wellington bomber came under, despite casualty rates of Bomber Command crews during the war standing at 44 per cent. 

Wing Commander Sidney ‘Tubby’ Baker (pictured drinking on a plane) – who was known for his love of food, drink and cigarettes – repeatedly risked his life in attacks on heavily defended German and Italian targets

Tubby is seen being awarded a medal by King George. His daughter the then-Princess Elizabeth is seen on the far left, next to her mother

Tubby  also took part in operations during the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. Pictured: A still from one of his raids

He was awarded four gallantry awards – the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Bar, and the Distinguished Service Order with Bar – making him one of World War Two’s most-decorated airmen. Pictured: His medal set 

Tubby, centre right, is seen with fellow airmen. Immediately after returning to his airbase following his sorties, the portly Pathfinder pilot was handed a well-earned pint of beer- which he enjoyed while his RAF colleagues cheered.


Immediately after returning to his airbase following his sorties, the portly Pathfinder pilot was handed a well-earned pint of beer- which he enjoyed while his RAF colleagues cheered. His well-used tankards (pictured) are up for auction

Also going under the hammer are Tubby’s RAF logbooks, well-used beer tankards and cigarette case (pictured), as well as other mementos from his wartime service

During one trip to Berlin Tubby’s aircraft was hit several times, destroying one engine and damaging another – and causing the aircraft’s undercarriage collapsed upon landing. But even so, Tubby limped home to base. Pictured: A still from one of Tubby’s raids over Cologne

Tubby was a ‘master bomber’ for 20 of the 100 raids, requiring him to fly at very low levels to access the damage inflicted on the enemy. Pictured: A picture taken during one of his raids over Cologne

Tubby’s ‘Lancaster bombsight’ which helped him navigate to the target while carrying out his 100 raids during the war

Tubby’s personalised cigarette case is part of the sale. The inscription says it was ‘presented to Wing Commander ‘Tubby’ Baker’ as a ‘token of gratitude and appreciation’

He was awarded four gallantry awards – the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Bar, and the Distinguished Service Order with Bar – making him one of World War Two’s most-decorated airmen.

His citations tell of his ‘outstanding ability, cool courage and firm determination’ which always ‘inspired’ his crew.

Tubby (pictured) also took part in operations during the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944

His medals are being sold by a private collector who acquired them from the family with auctioneers Spink & Son, of London. They say it is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to acquire the decorations of a ‘national hero’. 

A picture captured the moment Tubby was awarded his Distinguished Service Order by King George.

The then Princess Elizabeth is seen watching on, alongside her mother Queen Elizabeth.

Also going under the hammer are Tubby’s RAF logbooks, well-used beer tankards and cigarette case, as well as other mementos from his wartime service.

During one trip to Berlin Tubby’s aircraft was hit several times, destroying one engine and damaging another – and causing the aircraft’s undercarriage collapsed upon landing. But even so, Tubby limped home to base. 

He was also lucky to survive a crash into a hill in the Pennines during a training run.

He was a ‘master bomber’ for 20 of the 100 raids, requiring him to fly at very low levels to access the damage inflicted on the enemy.   

Marcus Budgen, head of the medals department at Spink & Son, said: ‘The record of Wing Commander ‘Tubby’ Baker ranks amongst the finest in the history of the Royal Air Force.

‘His four gallantry awards won during the Second World War reflects his unique record of service which included the legendary score of 100 operations flown in heavy bombers over the most heavily defended targets over Europe.

‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure the medals and vast archive of this national hero.’

Tubby’s citations tell of his ‘outstanding ability, cool courage and firm determination’ which always ‘inspired’ his crew. Pictured: Tubby’s first aid kit is part of the sale

Tubby was born in Clapton-in-Gordano, Somerset, in 1918 and was a prize winning miler before joining the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in March 1940.

THE BLOODY BATTLE OF THE BULGE

In the final months of 1944 and keen to take control of the crucial port of Antwerp, Hitler launched one of the Nazis’ bloodiest offensives on the West.

Taking U.S. forces by surprise, tens of thousands of German troops descended on Ardennes – a heavily forested region stretching through Luxembourg and Belgium.

Thick winter fog plagued the Allied forces’ efforts to destroy German strongholds, and with Nazi troops donning U.S. Army uniforms to sabotage communications between divisions by snapping phone lines, victory was unlikely.

However, after depleting the German’s armored tanks and resources, Western Allied forces triumphed.

Total Allied casualties are estimated at 110,000 – making it the bloodiest battle for American troops in all of the Second World War. 

He earned his Wings later that year and joined No 214 Squadron, a Wellington unit which attacked targets in occupied France and Germany.

He received his first DFC in June 1943 and took part in raids on Hamburg in the following months.

Tubby completed his second tour and reached 60 operations in October 1943, earning his first Distinguished Service Order.

In May 1944, he began his third tour back with No 7 Squadron, flying 22 operations in support of the Normandy landings before his tour finished with a raid on Bremen that August.

He was awarded a bar to his DFC and the following month was appointed commander of No 634 Squadron, based at Downham Market, Norfolk.

Tubby flew on important targets in North West Europe, leading a force of 300 Lancasters as master bomber on St Vith during the Battle of the Bulge on Boxing Day 1944.

The attack destroyed a vast armoured concentration of the 6th SS Panzer Division who were fighting the Allied invasion forces.

His 100th, and final, raid was on March 13, 1945, a daylight mission to Wuppertal, which he made several runs over.

On returning to base, he discovered he would be confined to desk duties as it was decided he had done enough for his country.

Tubby’s tally included eight raids on Cologne, five on Hamburg and four on Berlin, where anti-aircraft guns were primed to fire and the enemy was on constant red alert.

His Distinguished Service Order (DSO) with bar citation, awarded in May 1945, states: ‘Wing Commander Baker has now completed 100 Sorties as Captain on heavy bombers, all of which have been against the most heavily defended targets in the European theatre of war.

Also going under the hammer are his wartime logbooks (one pictured). Tubby flew on important targets in North West Europe, leading a force of 300 Lancasters as master bomber on St Vith during the Battle of the Bulge on Boxing Day 1944

His 100th, and final, raid was on March 13, 1945, a daylight mission to Wuppertal, which he made several runs over. Pictured: One of his logbooks

Tubby’s tally included eight raids on Cologne, five on Hamburg and four on Berlin, where anti-aircraft guns were primed to fire and the enemy was on constant red alert. Pictured: An image from one of Tubby’s raids over Cologne in Germany

Tubby remained in the RAF post-war, commanding No 138 Squadron and carrying out appointments in Germany and at Training Command. Pictured: Tubby’s personalised cigarette case is part of the sale

Tubby’s Distinguished Service Order with bar citation, awarded in May 1945, states: ‘Wing Commander Baker has now completed 100 Sorties as Captain on heavy bombers, all of which have been against the most heavily defended targets in the European theatre of war.’ Pictured: One of his logbooks up for auction

Out of the 125,000 aircrew of Bomber Command, 55,573 were killed, a chilling 44 per cent death rate. Pictured: An image from one of Tubby’s raids over Cologne in Germany

‘He has, in his capacity as Master Bomber, successfully controlled 20 major raids against heavily defended targets, and throughout his whole operational career has shown unflinching courage and determination to press home his attacks.’

Tubby remained in the RAF post-war, commanding No 138 Squadron and carrying out appointments in Germany and at Training Command.

He retired as a wing commander in 1966. He was a huge horse racing fan and was ever-present at the Cheltenham Festival before his death aged 88 in 2007

Out of the 125,000 aircrew of Bomber Command, 55,573 were killed, a chilling 44 per cent death rate.

They dropped over a million tonnes of bombs on German industrial sites and cities.

Tubby’s medals included: Distinguished Service Order with Second Award Bar; Distinguished Flying Cross with Second Award Bar; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45.

Tubby retired as a wing commander in 1966. He was a huge horse racing fan and was ever-present at the Cheltenham Festival before his death aged 88 in 2007. Pictured: One of his logbooks

Out of the 125,000 aircrew of Bomber Command, 55,573 were killed, a chilling 44 per cent death rate. Pictured: One of Tubby’s logbooks

The Bomber Command dropped over a million tonnes of bombs on German industrial sites and cities. Pictured: One of Tubby’s logbooks

Tubby’s medals included: Distinguished Service Order with Second Award Bar; Distinguished Flying Cross with Second Award Bar; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45. Pictured: One of his logbooks

D-Day: Huge invasion of Europe described by Churchill as the ‘most complicated and difficult’ military operation in world history

Operation Overlord saw some 156,000 Allied troops landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

It is thought as many as 4,400 were killed in an operation Winston Churchill described as ‘undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place’.

The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6.30am.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. 

US Army troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Normandy’s ‘Omaha’ Beach on D-Day in Colleville Sur-Mer, France June 6 1944. As infantry disembarked from the landing craft, they often found themselves on sandbars 50 to 100 yards away from the beach. To reach the beach they had to wade through water sometimes neck deep

US Army troops and crewmen aboard a Coast Guard manned LCVP approach a beach on D-Day. After the initial landing soldiers found the original plan was in tatters, with so many units mis-landed, disorganized and scattered. Most commanders had fallen or were absent, and there were few ways to communicate

A LCVP landing craft from the U.S. Coast Guard attack transport USS Samuel Chase approaches Omaha Beach. The objective was for the beach defences to be cleared within two hours of the initial landing. But stubborn German defence delayed efforts to take the beach and led to significant delays 

An LCM landing craft manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, evacuating U.S. casualties from the invasion beaches, brings them to a transport for treatment. An accurate figure for casualties incurred by V Corps at Omaha on 6 June is not known; sources vary between 2,000 and over 5,000 killed, wounded, and missing

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved.

The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

The assault was chaotic with boats arriving at the wrong point and others getting into difficulties in the water.

Destruction in the northern French town of Carentan after the invasion in June 1944

Forward 14/45 guns of the US Navy battleship USS Nevada fire on positions ashore during the D-Day landings on Utah Beach. The only artillery support for the troops making these tentative advances was from the navy. Finding targets difficult to spot, and in fear of hitting their own troops, the big guns of the battleships and cruisers concentrated fire on the flanks of the beaches

The US Navy minesweeper USS Tide sinks after striking a mine, while its crew are assisted by patrol torpedo boat PT-509 and minesweeper USS Pheasant. When another ship attempted to tow the damaged ship to the beach, the strain broke her in two and she sank only minutes after the last survivors had been taken off

A US Army medic moves along a narrow strip of Omaha Beach administering first aid to men wounded in the Normandy landing on D-Day in Collville Sur-Mer. On D-Day, dozens of medics went into battle on the beaches of Normandy, usually without a weapon. Not only did the number of wounded exceed expectations, but the means to evacuate them did not exist

Troops managed only to gain a small foothold on the beach – but they built on their initial breakthrough in the coming days and a harbor was opened at Omaha.

They met strong resistance from the German forces who were stationed at strongpoints along the coastline.

Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed, including 6,603 American, of which 2,499 were fatal.

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favour.

The first wave of troops from the US Army takes cover under the fire of Nazi guns in 1944

Canadian soldiers study a German plan of the beach during D-Day landing operations in Normandy. Once the beachhead had been secured, Omaha became the location of one of the two Mulberry harbors, prefabricated artificial harbors towed in pieces across the English Channel and assembled just off shore

US Army Rangers show off the ladders they used to storm the cliffs which they assaulted in support of Omaha Beach landings at Pointe du Hoc. At the end of the two-day action, the initial Ranger landing force of 225 or more was reduced to about 90 fighting men

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