Wing Commander Peter Lawrence Parrott, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who nearly achieved ‘Ace’ in a day status during his first aerial combats on May 10, 1940, was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in June 1920, and educated at Lord Williams’s Grammar School. After school, he worked in the Bucks County Council offices at the County Hall in Aylesbury. Aged just 19, Parrott went on to fly with 607 (County of Durham) Squadron during the Battle of France, and with 145 Squadron over the beaches of Dunkirk. He was shot up whilst in combat with a He. III over Dunkirk on May 26, 1940, managing to limp home across the Channel and crash land in a field on the south coast.
Parrott went on to distinguish himself during the Battle of Britain whilst operating out of the Tangmere Sector, the high point of which being when he shot down 2 enemy aircraft, 8 August 1940, ‘our first view of the convoy near St. Catherine’s Point was of Ju 87’s in their bombing dives. Above the Ju. 87’s were the escorting Bf 109’s and farther to the south-east were two more large formations of enemy aircraft approaching the convoy - a formidable sight. I had already taken part in the Battle for France, and patrolled over Dunkirk during the evacuation, but I had never before seen so many aircraft in the sky at once.’
A remarkable year continued when Parrott’s photograph, taken during the Battle of France, was used for a recruiting poster - providing one of the iconic Royal Air Force images of the Second World War, and literally making him the poster boy of the R.A.F. This only being ‘topped’ by Parrott being shot down, while serving as a ‘Weaver’ with 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron, December 1 1940: ‘Looking down, the ground seemed to be coming up remarkably quickly. I was swinging from side to side but had no time to try pulling the shrouds to stop the swing before I slammed into the ground, on about the third downward swing, falling on my right leg and shoulder. I felt half stunned.... I opened my eyes and found I was lying on the grass.... I was at this time not sure whether I was still in this world or had already passed on to the next. I did not really care much either way....’
Parrott flew Spitfires over Sicily and Italy, and commanded 43 and 72 (Basutoland) Squadrons. After the war he was employed as a test pilot, and flew early Vampire and Meteor jets, and in retirement he even managed to have brushes with Colonel Gaddafi and Idi Amin.
Mark Quayle, Specialist (Associate Director) Dix Noonan Webb commented: “Wing Commander Peter Parrott did more in the year of 1940, aged just 19, than most people experience in a lifetime. An ‘Ace’ who distinguished himself in both Hurricanes and Spitfires, surviving the Battle of France, the fall of Dunkirk, and triumphing in the Battle of Britain. He also suffered the pain of losing his elder brother killed in action. Parrott went on to lead a colourful life of flying, including surviving the terrifying foibles of Idi Amin and Colonel Gaddafi.”
Wing Commander Parrott died in August 2003. He was one of the fighter pilots who had his portrait drawn by Cuthbert Orde during the Second World War (now held by the R.A.F. Museum, Hendon), and a number of interviews with him in later life were carried out by the Imperial War Museum as part of the Oral Histories series.
The medals will be sold with a substantial archive of original related items and documents including 5 Royal Air Force Pilot’s Flying Log Books and an Original R.A.F. Recruiting Poster, featuring portrait of recipient in uniform, rare, framed and glazed.
The next lot in the auction is an emotive group of three medals that had been awarded to Parrott’s brother. Flying Officer Thomas Hayward Parrott, 77 Squadron, Royal Air Force, who took part in a pioneering flight with tragic results, when on May 11/12 1940, ‘overnight, Bomber Command launched its first deliberate raid on a German town when rail communications passing through Mönchengladbach became the target for a small force of Whitleys and Hampdens.’ Parrott’s Whitley V N1366 KN was the first bomber to crash inside Germany while carrying out a bombing operation on a mainland target. Parrott and three other members of crew were killed in action, whilst the sole survivor was taken prisoner of war. They are estimated at £800-1,200.
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SALES AT DNW
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26 - ORDERS, DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND MILITARIA
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1 & 2 - COINS, TOKENS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 - ORDERS, DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND MILITARIA
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24 - BRITISH, IRISH AND WORLD BANKNOTES
tuesday, march 8 - IRISH COINS, TOKENS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
wednesday & thursday, March 9 & 10 - COINS, TOKENS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
tuesday, march 15 - JEWELLERY, WATCHES AND OBJECTS OF VERTU
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Dix Noonan Webb – a brief history
In 1991, its first year of trading, the company held three medal auctions and sold 1,200 lots for a total hammer price of £553,000, however 30 years later, DNW is established as the premier medal auctioneer worldwide. Two years later, in 1993, it opened a coin department which also auctions commemorative medals and tokens. In 2015 DNW added jewellery to its sales calendar as well as setting up a stand alone banknotes department and expanding into premises next door. In 2020 DNW achieved a total hammer price of £14,256,060 and the total number of lots sold across all departments was 24,400. To date the company has sold in excess of 350,000 lots totalling over £200 million.
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Rachel Aked - Tel: 07790732448 Email: Rachel@rachelaked.co.uk