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WWII D.F.C. & BAR/A.F.C./D.F.M. GROUP OF 7 MEDALS TO SQN. LDR. "THE DEVIL" E.A. DEVERILL, R.A.F. (K.I.A.)

*** RESERVED *** The famous Augsburg & Le Creusot raids Pathfinder pilot's double-D.F.C./A.F.C./D.F.M. quadruple gallantry group to Ernest "The Devil" Deverill, K.I.A. on 'Black Thursday' 1943. Consisting of: Distinguished Flying Cross George V dated 1942 to reverse with second award clasp dated 1942 to reverse; Air Force Cross dated 1943 to reverse; Distinguished Flying Medal to 565503 Sgt. E.A. Deverill, R.A.F.; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star with Air Crew Europe clasp; WWI Defence Medal; WWII War Medal; Two Pilot's Flying Log Books covering full service from 5 Apr 1938 to 16 Dec 1943; Accompanied by a complete archive of original material in and out of frames, including Memorial Scroll to Sqn. Ldr. E.A. Deverill, telegram to Deverill's wife, Buckingham Palace letters, letters of congratulation for D.F.M. and the Augsburg raid, a handwritten letter from Deverill to his mother detailing the circumstances of his D.F.M. award, letters and slips of condolence and forwarding of log books to Deverill's wife, multiple photographs, medal boxes of issue and ribbon bar, original citations & recommendations and newspaper cuttings detailing The Devil's involvement in the Augsburg and Le Creusot raids and his death.
Description

Ernest Alfred Deverill was born in 1916 in Gillingham, Kent, the eldest son of Lieut. E.A. Deverill, R.N. and educated at Esplanade House School, living in Whitfield, Dover. He enlisted in the R.A.F. as an apprentice in 1931, training as a pilot in 1938 and posted to 206 Squadron (Coastal Command). Deverill's Distinguished Flying Medal Gazetted 9 July 1940: "On 3rd May 1940, this airman was the second pilot and navigator of a Hudson aircraft carrying out reconnaissance duties in the vicinity of Borkum when it was attacked by three Messerschmitt 109s using cannons and machine guns. During the engagement the rear gunner was killed and Sergeant Deverill, although wounded in the knee himself, attempted to remove him from the gun turret but was unable to do so, owing to violent manoeuvres carried out by the pilot. After the enemy had withdrawn, this airman took the controls from the first pilot, who had also been wounded and was showing signs of collapse from loss of blood, and, without a navigator or wireless assistance, succeeded in bringing the badly damaged aircraft to a home base without further injury to personnel." In his own words in a letter to his mother, Deverill writes: "Dear Mum, just a very few lines to forestall a possible mention of name in a casualty list. Just wounded in action, only a few slight flesh wounds in the leg – although definitely in action. I can’t tell you too much in a letter, but briefly, this is what happened: I was navigating a plane early this morning somewhere near Germany when three ME109 fighters dropped on us. We got one of them, then the gunner was killed, the pilot was wounded, I was scratched, the other two Huns ran out of ammo, and I flew the kite back. It was shot to hell and when I ‘landed’ at the ‘drome, it just collapsed. No more damage done. Still, we were bloody lucky to have got back. Two MEs and us with no rear gunner left and then they still didn’t get us. Anyway, I’ll let you know or maybe you’ll hear it over the radio.”

Completing his hundredth mission by Nov 1940, Deverill was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Gazetted 28 Apr 1942 for his participation as a pilot in the famous long-range Augsburg raid: "On 17th April 1942 a force of twelve Lancaster heavy bombers was detailed to deliver an attack in daylight on the diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Southern Germany. To reach this highly important military target and return, a most daring flight of some 1000 miles over hostile country was necessary. Soon after entering enemy territory and whilst flying at a very low level the force was engaged by 25 to 30 enemy fighters. Later, the most intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire was encountered. Despite this formidable opposition eight of the bombers succeeded in reaching the target and in delivering a successful attack on the factory. The following officers and airmen who participated, in various capacities, as members of the aircraft crews, displayed courage, fortitude and skill of the highest order."

Bar to the D.F.C. Gazetted 20 Nov 1942: "Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, this officer has taken part in many sorties, including many attacks on the Ruhr area. In the daylight attack on the transformer station near Le Creusot, Flight Lieutenant Deverill bombed his objective from a height of only 500 feet. He also participated in the recent raids on Milan and Genoa. This officer has invariably endeavoured to press home his attacks with great vigour." Posthumous Air Force Cross Gazetted 1 Jan 1944 for service with 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit: "This officer has been almost solely responsible for teaching tactics against fighters and his energies in organising the exercises and carrying them out in the air have been outstanding. He was responsible for forming the Unit and obtaining the optimum conditions for his work. He has had remarkable achievements in the number of crews that have received instruction."

Deverill was returning from a successful operation to Berlin on what became known as 'Black Thursday'; the night of 16th December 1943. He was piloting Lancaster P-Peter JB243 trying to land at Graveley which had switched on lighting in fog and their FIDO as a marker. Deverill had been asked to divert to Wyton, but radioed at 0057 hrs saying: "There's no future at Wyton, can I have a crack at your Fido?" He approached almost at right angles to the runway. Just as he was about to touch down, his engines cut and he crashed into the bomb dump, bursting into flames. The fire party quickly brought the blaze of Deverill's Lancaster under control, preventing a catastrophic ignition of the bomb dump. When the rescue team finally got at the aircraft, only one crew member, Mid-Upper Gunner James Benbow was alive, suffering from burns to the face and compound fractures of the tibia and fibula. P-Peter had run out of fuel just as they were about to land. C/O. Group Captain Fresson was to particularly remember Deverill and this crash, saying many years later: 'I have always thought that this was the worst of bad luck.'

Read the full story of Bomber Command's famous Augsburg raid.

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