East Ham Hurricane ace’s war medals auctioned for �26,000

The Distinguished Flying Cross and seven medals awarded to an East Ham-born war hero fetched �26,000 at auction on Thursday.

They were were won by fearless Hurricane pilot Group Captain Peter Thompson, who was born at East Ham in 1920 and educated at the then East Ham Grammar School for Boys.

Amazingly he was only 20 when he took part in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940.

All proceeds of the sale are going towards the building of a Battle of Britain museum at Bentley Priory near Stanmore, north-west London.

The Hurricane Ace shot down three enemy aircraft at the height of the Battle and added to his score in numerous combats during the Siege of Malta 1941-1942, twice being wounded and on one occasion baling out of his blazing aircraft from a few hundred feet.

Squadron Leader Thompson was only 21 when he received his DFC in 1942. The citation says : “This officer has been continuously engaged on operational flying for the past 12 months.

“He has destroyed at least six enemy aircraft, three of which he shot down in the Battle of Britain.”

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Auctioneers Spink say : “His father served with the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War and Thompson decided during the Munich Crisis in 1938 to enlist in the reserve forces, deciding to join the RAF Volunteer Reserve, to which he was called up on the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939.”

Between 1956 and 1958 he was station commander at RAF Biggin Hill and was instrumental in establishing the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and flew in the Farewell Flight of the Last Three Spitfires in First Line Service.

Besides his DFC, his medals included his 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain bar, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Italy Star and Defence and War medals.

Before the auction they had been expected to sell for between �12,000 and �15,000.