World War One flying ace's medals emerge for sale for £25,000

Fearless exploits of World War One flying ace with 23 confirmed kills are revealed after his incredible collection of medals emerge for sale for £25,000

  • Air Vice Marshal Sir Matthew ‘Bunty’ Frew officially claimed 23 kills in his career
  • The Royal Air Force pilot though was thought to have claimed double the total
  • Bunty would often credit his kills to junior pilots to boost their confidence
  • His medal collection will go on sale at a London auctioneer on April 22

A fearless World War One pilot’s exploits have been revealed after a stunning collection of medals emerged on sale for £25,000

Air Vice Marshal Sir Matthew ‘Bunty’ Frew officially claimed 23 kills during the conflict but reports from his fellow pilots claimed the tally probably doubled that as he would give credit to his victories to junior pilots to boost their confidence. He would also protect his junior colleagues by flying in harm’s way during dogfights.

His most remarkable victory occurred over Italy in January 1918, where despite only having one working gun he claimed three victories. On return his plane was holed by an anti-aircraft shell, so he glided for five miles through a barrage and over the River Piave to reach the British lines.

The amazing exploits of Air Vice Marshal Sir Matthew ‘Bunty’ Frew have been revealed

The pilot’s collection of military medals will go on sale for £25,000 at a London auction

Standing by his plane, ‘Bunty’ (left) would often protect junior pilots during dogfights

His medals, including a prestigious Distinguished Service Order awarded for this actions, are being sold with his logbooks and other personal effects at London auctioneers Spink & Son. The sale takes place on April 22.

Marcus Budgen, head of the medal department at Spink & Son, said: ‘The awards of Air Vice Marshal Sir ‘Bunty’ Frew are simply iconic.

‘During a remarkable career, which encompassed being decorated on no less than seven occasions across a 34 year career in the air.

‘Having ended the Great War with a confirmed 23 victories, the highest in his squadron – ‘Bunty’ was selfless and wanted to give younger less experienced pilots around him confidence.

With 23 ‘official’ kills Flew’s bravery won him much admiration among his fellow pilots

‘Bunty’ Frew is seen standing second left during the 1930s during a remarkable career


The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Military Division, Knight Commander; Distinguished Service Order with Second Award Bar; Military Cross with Second Award Bar; Air Force Cross; 1914-15 Star; British War and Victory Medals; General Service 1918-62, Kurdistan; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937. 

‘He often gave his own victories to those comrades which means his true total may be a fraction of the real number of enemy planes he downed.

‘We are looking forward to his awards taking off and expect strong competition.’ 

Frew was born in Glasgow in 1895. He worked at an insurance company before answering the call of duty at the outset of the Great War, enlisting with the Highland Light Infantry.

He landed in France in January 1915 and fought on the Western Front for 19 months before returning to Britain in August 1916.

His medals also included the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (right) and Companion of the Order of the Bath

Also on display is Flew’s cap that he wore during his time serving in the Royal Air Force

He then volunteered for Royal Flying Corps in operations over France and continued until the end of October 1917, when he was redeployed to Italy.

By that time, he had already claimed a staggering 19 kills, earning him a Military Cross. He was appointed chief fighter instructor at the Central Flying School, Upavon, Wilts, earning the Air Force Cross for his efforts in the conflict’s final months.

Frew remained in the air force after the war where promotions followed and he was briefly in command of the RAF North Weald, Essex, in World War Two.

In September 1940, he was sent to South Africa to be head of the country’s pilot training programme, retiring with the rank of air vice marshal eight years later.

He settled in Pretoria and died aged 79 in 1974.



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