Although best known to the public for his controversial romance with Princess Margaret, Townsend (1914-95) epitomised ‘The Few’, completing over 300 operational sorties while commanding No 85 Squadron from May 1940 until June 1941.
His Battle of Britain group of 11 was expected to fetch £160,000-200,000 but went for £260,000 to one of several phone bidders competing. It was bought by a UK collector.
Appointed equerry to George VI in 1944, and comptroller to the Queen Mother’s household in 1953, Townsend’s forlorn romance with the queen’s sister (he was a divorcee) brought him further celebrity status to add to his wartime achievements.
The group of 11 includes a CVO, DSO, DFC and Second Award Bar and was sold with the recipient’s original flying logbooks, bound in one volume – with later annotation in his own hand – covering the entirety of his operational career.
The medals were first sold in November 1988, with Townsend donating the proceeds to a charitable fund set up to assist children.
They had sold at DNW in 2004 for £62,000 to a British private collector.