The fine India North West Frontier Waziristan and Second World War Battle of Britain confirmed ‘kill’ Night Fighter Blenheim / Beaufighter first confirmed killed in type Air Gunner’s group awarded to Warrant Officer G.W. 'Sailor' Benn, Royal Air Force, who flew operationally in Audax aircraft with 28 Squadron during operations over Waziristan against the Fakir of Ipi in 1937, and on the outbreak of the war was serving with 217 Squadron which was involved in the evacuation of VIP’s from the Channel Islands. Having then transferred to 219 Squadro

Price: £3,650.00


Product ID: CMA/28431
Condition: the Battle of Britain Clasp is a copy as stated, Good Very Fine.
Availability: IN STOCK
Description:

The fine India North West Frontier Waziristan and Second World War Battle of Britain confirmed ‘kill’ Night Fighter Blenheim / Beaufighter first confirmed killed in type Air Gunner’s group awarded to Warrant Officer G.W. 'Sailor' Benn, Royal Air Force, who flew operationally in Audax aircraft with 28 Squadron during operations over Waziristan against the Fakir of Ipi in 1937, and on the outbreak of the war was serving with 217 Squadron which was involved in the evacuation of VIP’s from the Channel Islands. Having then transferred to 219 Squadron, a newly formed fighter squadron flying Blenheim F1 fighters, with the onset of the Battle of Britain, the squadron moved to the south to Redhill in Surrey, and on 15th August 1940 the squadron had its first major combats with an afternoon raid on Driffield by 50 Ju88’s from KG30. Benn was air gunner to the aircraft flown by Sergeant Nightingale as the whole squadron was ordered to intercept. Nightingale and Benn were credited with the probable destruction of a Ju88. By September 1940 the squadron had received the new Beaufighter aircraft. Their duty was to serve as a night fighter squadron tasked with helping to protect London during the Blitz. Some aircraft were fitted with radar to help detect intruders. The squadron was kept very busy and on the night of 25th to 26th October 1940, Sergeant Hodgkinson and Sergeant Benn destroyed a Do17 over London. This was the first confirmed kill in a Beaufighter. Over the next twelve months the squadron was to claim a further 44 confirmed kills, most over the south east coast. Benn was taken off operational flying in June 1942 and spent the remainder of the war with 53 Maintenance Unit at Charlwood near Biggin Hill, being commissioned as a Warrant Officer in March 1944. He latterly worked on cross channel ferries.

Group of 5: India General Service Medal 1936-1939, 1 Clasp: North West Frontier 1936-37; (513418 CPL. G.W. BENN. R.A.F.); 1939-1945 Star with an old copy Battle of Britain Clasp; Air Crew Europe Star; Defence Medal; War Medal.

Condition: the Battle of Britain Clasp is a copy as stated, Good Very Fine.

Together with the following original insignia: pair of Sergeant’s stripes; Royal Air Force other ranks cap badge; Royal Air Force Warrant Officer’s peaked cap badge; Air Gunners brass sleeve badge; Airman’s cloth sleeve insignia; and wartime Air Gunners cloth brevet. Also a framed original photograph showing aircrew standing in font of a Bristol Blenheim, Benn being presumably amongst those men photographed.

Gordon William Benn, nicknamed Sailor, enlisted into the Royal Air Force on 16th October 1930, and having passed his basic training at Uxbridge, was then posted to Hawkinge in January 1931, and flew operationally in Vickers Vimy bombers. Six months later he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm, and joined 243 Flight, operating in Fairey Flycatchers, and based on the aircraft carrier Furious as part of the Atlantic Fleet. In 1932 the Flight was transferred to the aircraft carrier Couragous, operating from Malta as part of the Mediterranean Fleet.

In July 1933 Benn was posted to the shore base Hornet and based on the south coast of England, this being a repair unit for Air-Sea Rescue boats. Then in March 1935 he was posted back to the Royal Air Force with 28 Squadron and sailed for India. Stationed at Ambala, he trained as an Air Gunner in Audaxes and Wapiti aircraft. In March 1937 the squadron moved to Manzi on the North West Frontier flying operationally in Audax aircraft over Waziristan during the operations against the Fakir of Ipi which lasted from 24th November 1936 to 16th December 1937.

Benn then returned to England in January 1938, and was posted to Tangmere where he joined 217 Squadron as a Corporal Air Gunner flying in Avro Ansons, and later flying from Warmwell and Carew Charlton. With the immediate outbreak of the Second World War, his squadron was heavily involved in the evacuation of VIP’s from the Channel Islands. Then with the war Benn was sent north, and posted to 219 Squadron, a newly formed fighter squadron flying Blenheim F1 fighters. 219 Squadron became operational at Catterick on 21st February 1940, with Benn, now promoted to Sergeant, flew operationally as an air gunner on night patrols and convoy patrols.

However with the onset of the Battle of Britain, the squadron was moved to the south, and on 15th August 1940 the squadron had its first major combats with an afternoon raid on Driffield by 50 Ju88’s from KG30. Sergeant Benn was an air gunner to the aircraft flown by Sergeant Nightingale as the whole squadron was ordered to intercept. Nightingale and Benn were credited with the probable destruction of a Ju88, but had to break off the attack after being themselves attacked by friendly Spitfires. During the ensuing manoeuvre Benn was knocked out when thrown around the gun turret.

By September 1940 the squadron had received the new Beaufighter aircraft. Their duty was to serve as a night fighter squadron tasked with helping to protect London during the Blitz. Some aircraft were fitted with radar to help detect intruders. Here the squadron was kept very busy and on the night of 25th to 26th October 1940, Sergeant Hodgkinson and Sergeant Benn destroyed a Do17 over London. This was the first confirmed kill in a Beaufighter.

Over the next twelve months the squadron was to claim a further 44 confirmed kills, most over the south east coast. In June 1942 219 Squadron moved back north, at the same time Benn, who had flown operationally for three years, then left the squadron and was posted to 53 Maintenance Unit at Charlwood near Biggin Hill. This unit supplied bombs to squadrons in the south on a twenty-four hour basis.

Benn was soon promoted to Flight Sergeant and remained with this unit for the rest of the war, being promoted to Warrant Officer on 15th March 1944. On 10th August 1945 Benn was posted to Singapore to assist the Royal Engineers in disposing of large stocks of bombs accumulated by the Japanese during the occupation of the island, and was also employed at Changi with 5353 Airfield Construction Wing, building metal runways.

In July 1948 Benn was posted home to the Radar and Signal School based at Chicksands. In February 1950 Benn was sent to RAF Luqa at Malta to supervise construction on runways. Benn returned home in April 1953 and was discharged from the service to pension in the rank of Warrant Officer on 16th October 1954.

On 15th December 1954 Benn had obtained temporary employment working on the submarine Tempest being refitted in dry dock at Chatham. The retaining gate collapsed and the submarine was swept out of the dock, across the River Medway and into the mudflats on the far side. Thick fog, nightfall and high tides hampered the search and she was not found until the next day. Four men were killed, however Benn was lucky in that he was rescued from the river. He later worked for the Orient Line and on cross channel ferries and lived in East Sussex. Benn died on 2nd February 2005.

A rare named medal group to the recipient of a Battle of Britain clasp, the original Battle of Britain clasp being however not present with the group. Benn’s medals were originally disposed of prior to his death, however in 2004 when it became known that he was still alive, the Battle of Britain Fighter Association issued him a set of copy medals, this group also added the Royal Air Force Long Service Medal with an EIIR bust, Benn is photographed being presented with them, however despite this he is not entitled to the EIIR long service medal.