A bell that was used during the Battle of Britain is to be sold at auction to raise money for wounded ex-service personnel.
The bell alerted servicemen of impending German attacks at RAF Biggin Hill. Biggin Hill was the best known of all Fighter Commands air stations from the Battle of Britain.
Featuring George V’s cipher, dated 1936, and the letters A.M (Air Ministry), the bell is 14.5 inches by 12.5 inches of cast bronze. It not only alerted crew to attacks, but the return of pilots from successful missions on the Continent.
Lionel Willis, of Bonhams, said: “It hung in the fire station and when enemy aircraft were seen overhead, drivers raced to their engines.”
The Endeavour Fund, of which Prince Harry is patron, works with the Spitfire Flight Scholarship to help former service personnel to train to fly Spitfires.
The money raised, an estimate of £6,000, will go towards the Spitfire Flight Scholarship, which was inspired by the story of Group Captain Douglas Bader. Bader, having overcome a plane crash which lost him both of his legs and close to death, returned to the RAF as a pilot, and became a fighter ace of World War II, responsible for 11 damaged enemy aircraft and 20 aerial victories.
Prince Harry is patron of the Endeavour Fund, which works with the organisation, to get wounded personnel back into the cockpit. Boultbee Flight Academy helps operate the programme, and six former service people have already completed their training, similar to that undertaken in WWII.
Harry has said of the Fund: “My comrades-in-arms across the Armed Forces are fighters by definition, fighters by nature. The Endeavour Fund aims to reignite that fighting spirit, and inspire those who have served their country to go on and achieve great things.”
The 30-year-old Prince trekked to the South Pole with former servicemen and women that were injured in 2013, initially a race against the USA, Canada and Australia. The Endeavour Fund supported this mission, to demonstrate that injured personnel can achieve such amazing things still.
The bell goes on sale next week. See Bonham’s entry for the bell here.
Featured image: (C) Chloe Howard 2014