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The life story of one flying ace known to his colleagues as ‘Kitch’ is being uncovered by the Duke’s of Dorset who on March 9 will sell both his medals and effects.
Herbert Horatio Kitchener was born in 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. His patriotic family named him after Field Marshal Lord HH Kitchener.
He was set for a life in local government until the rumblings of war urged him to join the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937.
He became one of the 18 pilots flying the Gladiator biplanes of 263 Squadron sent on the doomed Allied campaign in Norway.
Never seen before photos in this lot, and flight logs including first-hand accounts, reveal details of this mission. Among Kitch’s achievements, he shot down two bombers and two Stuka dive-bombers and helped provide air cover for the evacuation of Narvik.
Duke’s specialist Timothy Medhurst says: “This ill-fated mission is shrouded in secrecy – log books and records surrounding the mission were destroyed ‘on instructions from the commanding officer’ prior to their evacuation from Norway.”
Kitch earned the Distinguished Flying Medal for his outstanding bravery and resilience throughout the Norway campaign and was also one of only 42 British citizens, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, to be awarded the Norwegian Cross (the equivalent of the British Victoria Cross).
Even on the eve of his investiture at Buckingham Palace in March 1941 Kitch was in action. Forced to crash-land after taking on a Junkers 88, he suffered a broken arm and fractured skull, spending months in hospital and convalescent homes.
For the rest of the war he worked in operations, not before finally attending Buckingham Palace for his investiture, and making the front page of the Daily Mirror for proposing to his girlfriend almost directly beneath the eyes of the king.
Duke’s estimate the lot, including flying goggles and hat, at £5000-10,000.