24 August 2012
Medals and memorabilia of Group Captain John 'Cat's Eyes' Cunningham, the highest-scoring night fighter ace of the Second World War, are expected to fetch up to £180,000 when they go under the hammer at Spink on the 6 September 2012. ...
Medals and memorabilia of Group Captain John 'Cat's Eyes' Cunningham, the highest-scoring night fighter ace of the Second World War, are expected to fetch up to £180,000 when they go under the hammer at Spink on the 6 September 2012.
Cunningham first came to prominence in the night skies over London during the 1940 Blitz, where he quickly achieved a number of victories and gained national recognition with the British public. Paraded as a hero by the Royal Air Force, he was given the nick-name 'Cat's Eyes' - for the benefit of propaganda his uncannily clear eyesight at night was attributed to the carrots that he ate, when in reality it was due to the top-secret A.I. Radar system.
Cunningham's Honours and Awards include the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire); the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) with 2 Bars; the D.F.C. (Distinguished Flying Cross) with Bar; the 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain Bar; the Air Crew Europe Star; the War Medal, with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf; the Air Efficiency Award; the American Silver Star; and the Soviet Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and are offered with a large related archive including the recipient's Flying Log Books and various trophies, uniforms, and aviation memorabilia.
The vendor's proceeds from the sale of this lot will be put towards flying scholarships for young people, so the legacy of such men is passed onto the next generation and the entire sales commission from this auction will be donated by Spink to the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust appeal.
Bentley Priory served as the Headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. It was from here that Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding controlled and directed the Battle between 10 July 1939 and 31 October 1940. It is a battle in which Cunningham excelled and in which the courage of all those who participated was pivotal, as its success averted a German invasion and led the way for European liberation.