WW2 Flight Officer Oskar Griffith was the RAF pilot of the ND388 Lancaster aircraft (100 Squadron/1642 HCU Grimbsy station), who on his 21st birthday, Christmas Eve 1944, set off with his crew on his 30th and final operation. Cologne was their destination for Christmas day raid. They never returned. Missing presumed dead.
One of his crew was Flight Sergeant Wireless Operator/Aircrew 1777473 Ernest McGuire (RAF Volunteer Reserve). Ernest’s medal trio group is being offered for auction at Beech Auctions of Callington. ‘Whenever we find medals at a property or if they are brought in we always ask if there are any supporting documents, photographs etc.’ said female auctioneer Hilary Mackay. ‘ Second world war medals were not engraved at issue, so the history and story of who was awarded them, especially those fallen, can so be easily be lost forever.’
‘I find it very humbling yet exciting to marry up and research military & civilian ephemera. These documents paint a strong picture of Ernest’s activities during 1944.’ she said. ‘His flying log book, details all the operations he was involved in and his personal diary gives a frank insight into the day to day life of the aircrew, their comradery and their focus on the importance of writing to and hearing from home.’
An italic ink entry in his personal diary 5th October: ‘....quite a sticky target....we almost collided.’
Another entry 2nd November reads: ‘....handed log book in to be endorsed......’
The flying log book endorsement that day was by the Group Captain commanding the RAF station:
‘.......whilst returning from an operational flight in Lancaster aircraft........ Failed to interpret correctly a diversionary wireless message.. Degree of Blame: Gross Carelessness’
The auction lot also includes his RAF double sided map of France/Belgium/Germany printed onto silk to prevent water deterioration and his miniature emergency escape compass, both having been sent home to his mother and in remarkably good condition. There is a photograph of this dashing young man in uniform and a photograph of his grave cross researched to be at Rheinberg War Cemetery. Research also located from posts made by the crew pilot Griffith family descendants, a group picture of the fateful crew.
Personal diary entry 23rd December 1944: ‘Decorated the hut in the afternoon and then had tea......went to the dance with the boys. Returned and finished off hut’
This was to be the last entry he would write. He lost his life for his country on Christmas Eve at a mere 20years of age.
One of the heart wrenching telegrams included in the lots ephemera, informs his parents from Felling in Gateshead, that he was missing. It was received on Boxing Day. The lot carries an auction estimate of six hundred to nine hundred pounds.
‘A separate lot is his mother Ann McGuire’s WW1 period autograph book, with entries, drawings and watercolours that are some of the best I have seen in a book of this type’ said Hilary. A delightful ink sketch is of a British bulldog sitting on the Red Baron, simply titled ‘Keeping him quiet’. The lot includes her small collection of WW1 sweetheart embroidered postcards and other postcards of pre to post war period. A graduated silver albert chain with a 1923-24 Tyneside League Football Shield fob of 9ct rose gold is also from the McGuire family estate. Auction is Thursday 5th September with viewing on Wednesday the 4th 10am-7pm or by private appointment prior.
TOP: medal group, log, diary, map, compass & ephemera - all one lot.
LEFT: Christmas 23/12 diary entry
RIGHT: Silk Map & Escape Compass
BELOW: research found image of the Lancaster ND388 pilot and his crew
Missing 24/12/44 Presumed Dead.
ABOVE: Ernest's mother's autograph book, ebroidered sweetheart postcards (other period cards not shown) Family's graduated silver albert chain & 9ct 1923-24 Tyneside Fob.
BELOW & RIGHT: WW1-1930s images within the autograph book (bottom right by Rowland from whom one of the telegrams is from)