Thu, 20th May 2021 10:00

Military & Aviation History, Medals & Militaria

Lot 629 *

Battle of Britain Medal Group - Air Commodore Peter Brothers

Sold for £186,000

including premium


“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” – Sir Winston Churchill, 20 August 1940

‘This officer’s flight encountered about one hundred enemy aircraft. He led the flight in attack against them.' DFC London Gazette 13 September 1940

The outstanding Battle of Britain gallantry group awarded to Hurricane ‘Ace’, Air Commodore Peter Malam ‘Pete’ Brothers, CBE, DSO, DFC & Bar, credited with 16 aerial victories, 10 of them for the Battle of Britain. Brothers also participated in the ill-fated Dieppe Raid as well as over the beaches of Normandy during D-Day Landings and was known to unwind after a sortie by sliding his cockpit hood back and smoking a cigarette. In all, he flew an astonishing 875 operational hours.

This remarkable group, together with its set of logbooks, is being sold on behalf of the family, and offers a rare opportunity to acquire one of the last Battle of Britain Ace groups to have remained in private hands.

a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2nd type, Military Division, Commander’s (CBE) neck Badge, silver-gilt and enamel, with neck riband in Garrard & Co case of issue
b) Distinguished Service Order, G VI R, silver-gilt and enamel
c) Distinguished Flying Cross, G VI R, reverse officially dated ‘1940’, with Second Award Bar officially dated '1943'
d) 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain Clasp
e) Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany Clasp
f) Defence and War Medals
g) General Service 1918-62, G VI R, 1 clasp, Malaya (Act. Wg. Cdr. P.M. Brothers. R.A.F.), officially engraved in the normal RAF style, contact marks to last 3, therefore good very fine and better, mounted court style as worn, with a number of personal belongings including five logbooks, a Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators medal engraved to Brothers dated 1974-75, cased, bestowal documents for the CBE & DSO plus some general ephemera including a short history of No.32 Squadron plus a Battle of Britain thanksgiving booklet (Westminster Abbey 17 Sept 2000).

Logbook 1: commencing 27 January 1936 - 31 October 1938
Logbook 2: commencing 14 October 1933 - 28 April 1949
Logbook 3 : commencing 1 September 1938 - 6 October 1944, it is this logbook which records all Brothers WWII service including the Battle of Britain, Dieppe Raids, D-Day and later service, aerial victories have been confirmed by a red swastika, various comments written by Brothers, some at the time and others retrospectively, various ephemera items pasted or tipped-in including menu dated 27 May 1942 signed by Brothers and other distinguished pilots, original newspaper cutting etc, original cloth boards, spine damaged and crudely repaired with brown tape, some surface loss to upper cover
Logbook 4: commencing 22 March 1945 -12 December 1952
Logbook 5: commencing 23 January 1953 - 6 May 1970 (although there is very final entry dated 13 August 2000 which records an aerobatics flight with Nigel Lamb)

(Quantity: 8)

DFC London Gazette 13 September 1940
“During an offensive patrol in August 1940, this officer’s flight encountered about one hundred enemy aircraft. He led the flight in attack against them, but before this could be pressed home, he himself was attacked by a number of Messerschmitt 110s. Turning to meet them, he found himself in a stalled position; he spun out of it and immediately sighted and engaged a Dornier 215 which was shot down. Later in the day he destroyed a Messerschmitt 109. Altogether Flight Lieutenant Brothers has destroyed seven enemy aircraft. He has at all times displayed great courage and initiative.”

DFC Second Award Bar London Gazette 15 June 1943
“This officer has displayed outstanding keenness and efficiency. Within recent months he has led a wing in many operations and, by his skilful work and personal example, has contributed in a large measure to the high standard of operational efficiency of the formation. He has displayed great devotion to duty.”

DSO London Gazette 3 November 1944
“Wing Commander Brothers is a courageous and outstanding leader whose splendid example has inspired all. He has led large formations of aircraft on many missions far into enemy territory. Much of the success obtained can be attributed to Wing Commander Brothers brilliant leadership. He has destroyed 13 enemy aircraft.”

CBE London Gazette 13 June 1964 (Queen’s Birthday Honours)

Air Commodore Peter Malam “Pete” Brothers, CBE, DSO, DFC & Bar (1917-2008) was born in Prestwich, Lancashire. He was educated at North Manchester School. He learned to fly at the Lancashire Aero Club aged 16 and joined the Royal Air Force in January 1936. After completing training Brothers was posted to 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 11 October 1936. Here the Squadron would practice ‘scrambles’ on a daily basis flying Gloster Gauntlet biplanes to practice interception on civil airliners. In the winter of 1938 the Squadron were equipped with Hurricanes and Brothers became a Flight Commander.

Serving as ‘B’ Flight Commander in 32 Squadron fighting over Northern France he downed his first enemy aircraft in the final days of the Blitzkrieg, a Bf 109 on 18 May 1940 followed by a Bf 110 on 23 May.

July 1940 saw the beginning of the Battle of Britain and the squadron was operating Hurricanes from Biggin Hill, flying three, sometimes four times a day. Brothers shot down seven fighters and a bomber over Kent before the end of August, three Bf 109s (19, 20 and 29 July), Bf 110 (16 August), Bf 10 and a Do 17 (18 August), Bf 109 (22, 24 August). On one occasion he returned home after a particularly difficult day to learn from his wife that a bomb splinter had come through an open window and shattered the mirror as she was applying her make up. Brothers is noted some years later for stating “It was then that decided the war had become personal.”

On 9 September 1940 he was posted to 257 Squadron in Debden serving as Flight Commander, here he destroyed a Do 17 and a Ju 88 on the 15 September.

The Combat Report for this action states: “On 15 September 1940, I was leading 8 Hurricanes of 257 Squadron over London when I sighted a formation of 25 Do. 17s and 215s in five lines of five aircraft in line abreast, all at 18,000 ft, with escorting yellow-nosed Me 109’s at 23,000 ft.

I led a quarter attack developing into astern and fired a three-second burst at 250 yards, closing, at the middle backline Do. 17. The Dornier’s port engine and rear fuselage caught fire and as I followed it down the pilot baled-out. The other backline bombers focussed heavy but inaccurate fire on me but caused only minor damage. On breaking-away, I saw and attacked a lone Do. 215 which crashed two miles south of Sevenoaks.”

In January 1941 Brothers was posted to 52 OTU serving as an instructor and promoted to Squadron Leader in June 1941. He was posted to Baignton to form 457 (Royal Australian Air Force) Squadron, with Australian pilots and RAF ground crew, here he commanded the Kenley Wing, and after a year of defensive fighting Brothers claimed his twelfth victory a Bf 109 (26 March 1942), and a probable FW 190 (29 April).

From June 1942 he commanded 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron at Redhill and on 26 June he damaged two FW 109s, on 18 August and destroyed a FW 190 and the following day damaged another. The following day on 19 August, Brothers led on the Dieppe Raid (Operation “Jubilee”). His Squadron destroyed five enemy aircraft and damaged ten. Flight Lieutenant Johnny Niven, D.F.C, was shot down and parachuted into the sea, Brothers circled overhead until a corvette rescued him.

In October 1942 Brothers was appointed Wing Leader of the Tangmere Wing, here the squadrons were led by Red Grant and Johnnie Johnson. On 26 January 1943 Brothers destroyed a FW 109 and later on 29 July he was posted to 61 OTU and moved to a staff job at HQ 10 Group on 22 November. He destroyed a FW 190 on 12 January 1944.

After a rest from at an operational unit, Brothers returned to operations in April 1944 and was appointed Wing Leader of the Exeter Wing. There were six squadrons in the Wing, scattered over various airfields and difficult to control. Brothers split the Wing into two and they went to Europe, sweeping over beaches and deep into Europe and on D-Day (6 June 1944) Brothers was flying mostly with 131 (County of Kent) Squadron from Culmhead. They flew daily sorties protecting allied troops, accompanying Allied (mostly USAAF) bombers and attacking targets when possible.

Brothers made sure his pilots flew at over 6000ft on these operations to avoid the perils of light flak. It was during one of these sweeps that once again demonstrated his tactical mastery, taking on and destroying a flak train, ‘One of my pilots spotted a flak train steaming along below us.’ Brothers acknowledged his call, but ordered the formation to maintain course, giving the enemy the impression that they hadn’t been observed. ‘After flying on for a further twenty miles, I gave the order to drop down to the deck and turn back in towards the train.’ Following the progress of the smoke plume as the train vanished into thick wood, Brothers lined up ready to lead a single attacking pass. ‘We timed our approach perfectly, and as the engine emerged from the wood we were on our way, having left the engine a hissing wreck.’ Thomas (Nick) Hurricane Squadron Ace refers. On 7 August 1944 he destroyed a FW 190.

In October 1944 Brothers went to Fort Leavensworth, Kansas, America for a course at the Command and General Staff School, after returning to Britain early in 1945. In September 1945 Brothers took part in the first Battle of Britain flypast led by Douglas Bader. He was also posted to the Central Fighter Establishment, however, he was not offered a permanent commission in the post-war RAF, so he left to join Colonial Service in Kenya as a District Officer in 1947, owning his own aircraft which proved extremely useful for touring the area.

Brothers rejoined the RAF in 1949 and was posted to Bomber Command where he was given command of 57 (No. LVII) Squadron, the Squadron went to Singapore on 15 March 1950 and were the first bomber squadron to participate in the Malayan Emergency. Air Commodore Peter Brothers retired from service after a long and distinguished career on 4 April 1973.

From 1973 to 1986, he was Managing Director of Peter Brothers Consultants Ltd. He also appeared on many television documentaries about WWII and the Battle of Britain. He was also made a Freeman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (a silver-gilt and enamel medal is included in the lot).

Air Commodore Peter Brothers flew an astonishing 875 operational hours and is credited in a final tally of 16 confirmed destroyed, 1 unconfirmed, 1 probable and 3 damaged giving him a place in history as one of the greatest WWII Air 'Aces'.

You can make a purchase at Dominic Winter Auctioneers by using any of the following methods:

In person: Being present at the auction provides the convenience of being able to remove the lots that you have purchased when the sale ends, provided you choose to pay by credit or debit card, guaranteed cheque or cash.

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Please note successful bids made via live bidding cannot be invoiced or paid for until the day after an auction. A live bidding fee of 3% + VAT (Dominic Winter website or or 4.95% + VAT (the-saleroom) will be added to your invoice.

Commission bid: Also called an 'Absentee bid'. A member of our staff will bid on your behalf and attempt to purchase the lot as cheaply as is permitted by other bids or reserves. Commission bids can be posted, faxed or emailed to us (please remember to provide your full name and address), or you can enter a bid on our website after completing the registration process. 

Telephone bid: You can contact our office to arrange a telephone bid. A member of our staff will telephone you a few minutes before bidding commences on your specified lot and will bid on your behalf, according to your instructions. This service is only available on lots with a minimum pre-sale estimated value of £300.

Auction: Military & Aviation History, Medals & Militaria, Thu, 20th May 2021

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Conditions Of Sale And Business

Terms and Conditions of Sale 

1. (a) Dominic Winter (Auctioneers) Ltd ("the Auctioneer") sells as agents for the seller (except where otherwise stated) and as such is not responsible for any default by buyer or seller.

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(i) Rescind the sale of that or any other lots sold to the buyer who defaults and re-sell the lot or lots whereupon the defaulting buyer shall pay to the Auctioneer any shortfall between the proceeds of that sale after deduction of costs or re-sale and the total sum due. Any surplus shall belong to the seller.

(ii) Proceed for damages for breach of contract.

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(b) Where any lot fails to sell, the Auctioneer shall notify the seller accordingly. The seller shall make arrangements either to re-offer the lot for sale or to collect the lot and may be asked to pay a commission not exceeding 50% of the selling commission and any special expenses incurred in cataloguing the lot.

(c) If such arrangements are not made within seven days of the notification the Auctioneer is empowered to sell the lot without reserve by auction or by private treaty and to receive from the seller the normal selling commission and special expenses.

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8. (a) Notwithstanding any other terms of these conditions, if within fourteen days of the sale the Auctioneer has received from the buyer of any lot notice in writing that in his/her view the lot is a deliberate forgery and within fourteen days after such notification the buyer returns the same to the Auctioneer in the same condition as at the time of the sale and satisfies the Auctioneer that considered in the light of the entry in the catalogue the lot is a deliberate forgery then the sale of the lot will be rescinded and the purchase price of the same refunded. "A deliberate forgery" means a lot made with intention to deceive.

(b) A buyer's claim under this condition shall be limited to any amount paid to the Auctioneer for the lot and for the purpose of this condition the buyer shall be the person to whom the original invoice was made out by the Auctioneer.

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14. If, on collation, any named items in the catalogue prove defective, in text or illustration, the buyer may reject the lot provided he/she returns it within fourteen days stating the defect in writing. This however will not apply in the case of unnamed items, periodicals, autograph letters, manuscripts, music, maps, atlases, prints or drawings, nor in respect of damage to bindings, stains, foxing, marginal wormholes or other defects not affecting the completeness of the text, nor in respect of lack of list of plates, inserted advertisements, cancels or subsequently published volumes, supplements, appendices or plates or error in the enumerating of the plates, nor in respect of defects mentioned in the catalogue or announced at the time of sale.

15. The Auctioneer accepts no responsibility in connection with the commissioning of his staff to bid for any lots. Reserves, and commission bids given by telephone are accepted only at the sender's risk and must be confirmed in writing before the date of the sale. Lots will always be bought as cheaply as is allowed by other bids and such reserves as are on our books.

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17. Artist's Resale Rights ("Droit de Suite"). Lots marked with "AR" or another appropriate symbol and referenced as such in the catalogue are subject to the Artist's Resale Right law. The buyer agrees to pay the Auctioneer an amount equal to the resale royalty and the Auctioneer will pay such amount to the artist's collecting agent. Resale royalty applies where the Hammer Price is 1,000 Euro or more and the amount cannot be more than 12,500 Euro per lot.

The amount is calculated as follows:

Royalty For the portion of the Hammer Price (in Euro)

4.00% up to 50,000

3.00% between 50,000.01 and 200,000

1.00% between 200,000.01 and 350,000

0.50% between 350,000.01 and 500,000

0.25% in excess of 500,000

Invoices will be issued in Pounds Sterling. For the purposes of calculating the resale royalty the Pounds Sterling/Euro rate of exchange will be the European Central Bank reference rate on the day of the sale. Please refer to the DACS website for further details.

18. These conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English Law.


Buyer's Premium :

The buyer's premium is 20%, except those lots asterisked (*) in the title for which Value Added Tax (VAT) will be added to the premium, resulting in a buyer's premium of 24% inclusive of VAT. Eligible items include manuscripts, prints, photographs, drawings, framed maps, paintings, pens and other objects which are subject to VAT at a rate of 20% on the buyer's premium as part of the Auctioneers Margin Scheme. VAT zero-rated items such as books, unframed maps and albums are not subject to VAT on the buyer's premium.

Live Auction Charges

An additional commission of 3% plus VAT (3.6% inclusive of VAT) on the hammer price is payable if you use the live auction bidding facility on the Dominic Winter Auctioneers website ( This charge will be added to your invoice automatically.

An additional commission of 4.95% plus VAT (5.94% inclusive of VAT) on the hammer price is payable if you use the live auction bidding facility on the ATG Media website ( This charge will be added to your invoice automatically.

An additional commission of 3% plus VAT (3.6% inclusive of VAT) on the hammer is payable if you use the live auction bidding facility on the Invaluable website ( This charge will be added to your invoice automatically.

Payment (UK Buyers)

Payment is preferred by direct Bank Transfer to our bank account. Our bank details will be supplied to you with your invoice.

Payment can be made in cash at the Cashier's Office, either during or after the sale. Alternatively, you can pay by cheque (Pounds Sterling only), please allow 5 working days for the cheque to clear before collection of goods.

Credit or Debit Card payments will not be accepted by telephone unless by prior arrangement with the auctioneers. Card payments can be made in person at our premises but must be accompanied by relevant ID confirming address details. We do not accept payments by American Express.

Payment (Overseas Buyers)

Payment must be made by direct Bank Transfer to our bank account. Our bank details will be supplied to you on your invoice. No card payments will be accepted unless by special prior arrangements with the auctioneers. All transfers must state the relevant invoice number. The amount we receive must be the total due after currency conversion and the deduction of any bank charges (normally £7).

UK Shipping

We are not specialist shippers. Some items, such as framed & glazed or fragile goods, will require specialist handling and buyers will be asked to use Mailboxes or RF Shipping Ltd. (details below).

For non-fragile items and items of reasonably small size, we offer an in-house packing and shipping facility for UK buyers. When possible, purchases will be sent by either Royal Mail Special Delivery or DPD overnight service. The charge for this service is variable (£15 minimum per parcel) and will be added to your invoice. Please note shipments to the Highlands and Islands may require shipment by courier and may be more expensive. Please contact us for a quote before bidding.

For larger packages and fragile goods, we recommend Mailboxes, Pack & Send or RF Shipping Ltd who will collect fully paid-for purchases from us twice a week and liaise with the buyer direct. For more information please contact Sarah Ball by telephone on +44 (0)1285 860006 or email These companies will require payment direct for their services.

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