Original WWII Royal Australian Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross Pilot Grouping
Original Items: One-of-a-kind. Wing Commander Thomas McBride Price was born in New Zealand on November 14th, 1914. He joined the RAAF on December 16th 1937 as an Air Cadet, and by the time he left the military in November of 1945 he had been promoted all the way to Wing Commander. He was the recipient of the Soldier’s Medal the Distinguished Flying Cross and other awards. He flew many different types of aircraft including Seagull V., N.A.16, Anson, Gloucester Gladiator, Demon, and Catalina. He was attached primarily to the HMAS Sydney, named after the Australian city of Sydney, which was one of three modified Leander-class light cruisers operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Included with his named tunic are over 40 pages of scanned color copies of his official RAAF service records. In these records is a letter from his commanding officer to the Acting Prime Minister Sir Arthur William Fadden of Australia recording Price for the Distinguished Flying Cross medal. It reads as follows:
My dear Acting Prime Minister,
The Secretary, Department of the Navy, has forwarded to my Department a recommendation for the award of a decoration to Flight Lieutenant Thomas McBride Price.
Flight Lieutenant Price has served continuously in H.M.A.S. Sydney since 17.7.38. At the bombardment of Bardia on 21.5.40 price piloted a Seagull aircraft from H.M.A.S. Sydney. With Lieutenant Commander Bacon of that ship as observer, this officer was engaged in spotting duties in co-operation with the naval forces attacking the Italian position. When at the height of 9,000 feet the seagull was suddenly attacked by a formation of three Italian fighters which dived from cloud above and to the rear. The first indication of the attack was the sound of machine gun fire. Flight Lieutenant Price immediately tried to bring his front and rear guns to bear on the enemy, but the second burst of fire served the aileron control wires and the Seagull went into a steep dive. Price managed to regain control at approximately 2,000 feet and, the aircraft having been badly hit, decided to attempt a forced landing at El Sollum, a few miles along the coast and about 10 mile inside the Egyptian border. The country at El Sollum proved to be unsuitable for a forced landing and Flight Lieutenant Price was left with the alternative of alighting on the sea or making for an advance base of the Royal Air Force at Mersa Matruh, 100 miles farther to the eastward. He decided on this second course in spite of the damaged condition of the aircraft which made the journey difficult and hazardous. The tailplane struts of the machine had been almost shot away, the after part of the hull and fin badly riddled and the main spar of the lower mainplane had been damaged in addition to the severed aileron control wires. The flight, however, was made successfully. Flight Lieutenant Price instructed his crew to tighten their safety belts and prepare for a crash landing. This he carried out on arrival at Mersa Matruh without any injury to personnel, though the port landing wheel collapsed and the aircraft skidded along on one wing when landing. It was due to the pilot’s skill that there were no casualties and that the engine and other valuable parts of the plane were salvaged. Captain Collins of the H.M.A.S. Sydney in his report commented highly on the skilful manner in which Flight Lieutenant Price brought his badly damaged machine back to British territory.
Subsequently Price rendered valuable services wilst engaged in spotting duties during a daylight bombardment of Searpante and in the initial stages of the operations connected with the establishment of an advance base at Suda Bay.
I desire to inform you that the Air Board has recommended and I have approved of the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant Thomas McBride Price.
The Hon. A.W. Fadden, M. P.
Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer
It should be noted that Sir John McEwen (1900-1980) later became prime minister of Australia. He was given the portfolios of air and of civil aviation on 28 October 1940. As minister for air, McEwen directed Australia's contribution to the crucial Empire Air Training Scheme.
Included in this incredible grouping are the followings:
RAAF tunic in blue with embroidered New Zealand patches to both shoulders, wing commander cuff ranks, embroidered RAAF wings, RAAF brass pin to right sleeve, interior tag named to T M PRICE, and ribbon bars with the following medals: Distinguished Flying Cross, 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star with Silver Rosette (for war zone service), Italy Star and ?
40+ color scans of original service documents attained from the Defence Records Service at the National Archives of Australia, documents include a photo of Price, letter to the Prime Minister recording him from the Distinguished Flying Cross and so much more.
This is truly a once in a lifetime type of set. Very few RAAF pilots were awarded a DFC and even fewer have named tunics and documentation come to market and available for a collection. This is worthy of any World War Two allied Museum, don’t miss it!
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