Medals of RAF gunner killed in WW2 expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction 

Medals of ‘talented Tail-End Charlie’ RAF gunner who was killed during a flight over Nazi Germany just weeks before the end of WW2 are expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction

  • Officer Victor Arthur Roe, from Norwich, was just 21 when he was killed in 1945
  • It was his 98th flight over Nazi Germany and he had earned five flying medals
  • The medals are expected to fetch between £35-40k at auction on December 7

The medals of a ‘talented Tail-End Charlie’ RAF gunner who was killed during a flight over Nazi Germany just weeks before the end of World War Two are expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction. 

Warrant Officer Victor Arthur Roe from Norwich was killed on his 98th flight over Nazi Germany just weeks before the end of the war. He was 21 years old.

He earned five flying medals, including the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and an Immediate Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for exceptional valour.

His medals, a Pathfinder Force badge award certificate dated March 5, 1945, and a telegram addressed to his sister, as well as letters, photographs and a bible will be offered by auctioneers Noonans on December 7.

They are expected to fetch between £35,000 and £40,000.  

Warrant Officer Victor Arthur Roe from Norwich was killed on his 98th flight over Nazi Germany just weeks before the end of the war

Warrant Officer Victor Arthur Roe from Norwich was killed on his 98th flight over Nazi Germany just weeks before the end of the war

His flying medals, which go on auction with Noonans on December 7, are expected to fetch between £35,000 and £40,000

His flying medals, which go on auction with Noonans on December 7, are expected to fetch between £35,000 and £40,000

Roe was in the Pathfinder Force of the RAF, whose job it was to fly ahead of the main bombing squadrons to mark targets for them at night.

He was killed after a raid over Chemnitz in March 1945. A telegram addressed to his sister reported him missing in action and he was never seen again.  

Described as an accomplished ‘Tail-End Charlie’, a term given to rear gunners, Roe earned his Distinguished Flying Cross during a raid on Haine-St-Pierre, Belgium, in May 1944.

A Messerschmitt 110 fighter plane which made four successive attacks using cannon and machine-gun fire.

Although his turret was hit and he became covered with oil, Roe fought off the German pilot and set fire to its engine.

The rear gunner was said to have handled the guns with cool determination, clearing stoppages in between attacks despite receiving a slight injury in his right arm from a cannon splinter early in the encounter.

A telegram addressed to his sister (pictured wearing his medals at Buckingham Palace) reported him missing in action and he was never seen again

A telegram addressed to his sister (pictured wearing his medals at Buckingham Palace) reported him missing in action and he was never seen again 

A Pathfinder Force badge award certificate dated March 5, 1945 will be going up for auction alongside the medals

A Pathfinder Force badge award certificate dated March 5, 1945 will be going up for auction alongside the medals

Roe earned five flying medals, including the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and an Immediate Distinguished Flying Cross (both pictured), awarded for exceptional valour

Roe earned five flying medals, including the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and an Immediate Distinguished Flying Cross (both pictured), awarded for exceptional valour

However, after a raid over Chemnitz in March 1945, he was reported missing in action in a telegram addressed to his sister and was never seen again.

PW Bodle describes in his book Zero To Hero, From a Boy’s Home to RAF Hero how he came from a humble background to become part of an elite crew.

He said: ‘One of nine children born to two impoverished alcoholics – all of whom were removed by the courts from their parent’s custody by the age of two – is hardly the start that would be attributed to a hero of the RAF, but that was how Victor started.’

He is commemorated, along with the rest of his crew, on the Runnymede Memorial.

Mark Quayle, associate director at Noonans, said: ‘This is a remarkably poignant story attached to a rare group of medals.

‘From humble origins, and the most difficult of starts in the life, Victor Roe rose above his difficult beginning to distinguish himself amongst the elite of the elite – the Pathfinder Force.

‘A talented Tail-End Charlie, he regularly engaged and successfully fought off enemy aircraft from the rear turret of his Lancaster Bomber.

‘Having crammed so much into his short life, he was killed in action on the raid to Chemnitz, 5/6 March 1945, aged just 21. It was his 98th operational sortie, just two shy of the elusive 100 club.’

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