Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Pilot Eric 'Winkle' Brown's medals to be sold at auction

Eric 'Winkle' Brown Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Captain Brown was awarded many medals including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross

Medals awarded to the Royal Navy's most decorated pilot, Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown, are to be put up for auction.

The war hero, born in the Leith area of Edinburgh in 1919, died earlier this year at the age of 97.

He was renowned for flying 487 different types of aircraft - a world record that is unlikely to be matched.

The items being sold include his 1970 CBE and the Distinguished Service Cross awarded in 1942. The lot is expected to fetch up to £200,000.

The collection will also feature his Air Force Cross, awarded in 1947 and the Defence Medal with King's Commendation for Brave Conduct, along with his flying logbooks, which date from 1942, to his final flights for the Fleet Air Arm in 1970.

During World War Two, Capt Brown flew fighter aircraft and had the most aircraft carrier landings, with 2,407 - including the first in a jet-propelled aircraft. He also achieved the most catapult launches with 2,721 and carried out some of the world's first helicopter tests.

In the course of his aviation career, he survived 11 plane crashes. He also witnessed the liberation of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp and later became good friends with the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

Landmark life

  • Flew 487 different types of aircraft, a world record that is unlikely ever to be matched
  • Piloted 2,407 aircraft carrier landings
  • Appointed MBE, OBE and CBE
  • Survived 11 plane crashes and the sinking of HMS Audacity in 1941
  • Met Churchill and King George VI numerous times
  • Was at the liberation of Bergen Belsen
  • Interrogated some of the leading Nazis after the war, including Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Goering and Belsen's chief guards Josef Kramer and Irma Grese

John Millensted, Bonhams head of medals and coins, said: "We are selling his entire archive, including his incredibly important medals.

"It is unrepeatable. We expect interest from individuals and also institutions. It would be nice if it went to a museum."

Image copyright Brown family
Image caption Capt Brown, second right, with colleagues on a Spitfire in 1944

Mr Millensted said that Capt Brown's family was selling the archive, including the medals and logbooks, "so that others might appreciate them".

He said: "It has been a very difficult decision for the family. It was felt that it was appropriate to sell now so that others might appreciate them for the future.

"They would love to see them displayed for future generations to appreciate and understand."

The items will be sold at Bonhams' coins and medals sale in London's Knightsbridge on 23 November.

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