Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Hero’s mementoes go under hammer
THE medals of a Swindon war hero who fought in the Battle of Britain, airlifted evacuees from an African revolution, and died as he lived – in the cockpit of his aeroplane – will go under the hammer next week.
Wing commander Paul Bingham Elwell, from Highworth, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for taking on five Focke-Wulf 109 fighter planes in a dogfight near Cherbourg on June 26, 1944.
Bidders will be able to make a claim for his collection of medals when they are auctioned at Moore Allen and Innocent’s selected antiques sale in Cirencester on Friday, September 27.
The Adver reported at the time of the incident: “Investigating flares and heavy flak east of the Cherbourg Peninsula, a 34-year-old Mosquito pilot, Squadron Leader P B Elwell, Highworth, noticed five FW-109s climbing steeply.
“He raced in and fought the planes until his ammunition was exhausted. He destroyed one FW for certain, and probably another, before returning home safely.”
A cutting of this is included as part of the lot.
Born in 1910, and apprenticed as an engineer at the Great Western Railway Works in Swindon, Elwell started flying in 1932 and joined the RAFVR in 1939. After the war he continued to fly for commercial carriers in Africa.
Between 1955 and 1960 he worked in Kenya, where he was the second mayor of Eldoret.
He then moved to Uganda where – while working for Caspair Air Charters – he trained the first African pilot and was involved in the evacuation of European refugees from Belgian Congo during the country’s revolution – an act that won him an MBE.
On October 8, 1962 Elwell was coming in to land at Entebbe Airport in Uganda when he suffered a heart attack. His DH Rapide crashed and he was killed.
“Distinguished Flying Crosses are fairly rare,” said Phillip Allwood, senior auctioneer.
“The medal itself isn’t worth very much, but it’s the piece of history that people are buying into – they are buying into the person himself. He was a very brave man who went above and beyond the call of duty.”
His medals and war mementoes include a range from his DFC, MBE, war medals and a medallion awarded by the Belgian government, to epaulettes and cloth wings, flight logs, newspaper cuttings and his personal diary.
Auctioneers are anticipating bids of between £3,000 and £5,000 for the collection.
For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk.
Comments are closed on this article.