Battle of Britain pilot’s medals fetch well over estimate at £144,000

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THE medals of Battle of Britain pilot Ronald Berry fetched £20,000 over estimate when they sold at auction earlier today in London for £144,000.

Air Commodore Ronald ‘Ras’ Berry CBE DSO DFC and Bar, born in Hull in 1917, flew in more than 400 combat missions.

In all the pilot, described by his biographer as “a very cheerful, go ahead character who let his flying tell his story”, racked up 30 “claims”, including 14 “kills”.

Berry still only 23, was with No 603 Squadron, equipped with Spitfires, when he shot down three Messerschmitts on one day in August 1940, which earned him the soubriquet the Mighty Atom.

He recalled finding himself “in the thick of a mass of wheeling, milling Me 109s, which were protecting their big brothers, the Heinkel and Dornier bombers.

“The squadron split up and in seconds I was in a dogfight with a 109. The turn got tighter. The question was which of us would straighten up - would the 109 roll over and disappear or stay long enough for me to get a bead on him? He left it too late. I got in a long burst, then another, and he burst into flames...

“Another 109 crossed below and in front. I rolled over and followed him. He never saw me.

“I gave him a long burst as I closed rapidly on his tail. There was a long trail of smoke and flame and he went straight into the ground.”

One of only 14 Battle of Britain pilots to march at the head of the cortege at the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, Berry died in 2000, having retired to Hornsea, aged 83.

A spokesman for Spink auctioneers was unable to say whether the lot had been bought by a UK resident. He added: “There was a lot of interest and a lot of bids.”