04/04/2016 : Rare Medal Group To Be Sold
A rare military honour group including two Distinguished Flying Medals is to be sold at the Macclesfield branch.
The group was awarded to Sergeant Denys Walter Chapman, a pilot who flew during WWII, although one of the DFMs was awarded to his navigator Sergeant Kenneth Leach, following an attack by enemy aircraft while on a reconnaissance mission.
Chapman joined the RAF in 1940 at the age of 20, and earned his wings after training in South Africa in November 1941. He joined 235 Squadron in 1942 and was teamed up with navigator Sergeant Leach to fly Beaufighter aircraft. Chapman was awarded his DFM first, after an offensive patrol in the Bay of Biscay on 26th November 1942. They managed to destroy one enemy aircraft and damage another, but took heavy damage themselves. According to the squadron’s commanding officer in his citation, despite one engine failing, with Leach giving navigational instructions from the rear of the plane, Chapman managed to continue attacking the enemy and evading their fire “until the enemy aircraft were either dispersed or shot down.”
After another incident in December of the same year in which the two managed to evade an enemy attack and crash land a damaged plane, it was during the reconnaissance mission on 2nd February 1943 off the coast of Stavangar in Norway that the battle that would earn Leach his DFM took place. The crew were “jumped by two F.W.190 [German single engine fighter aircraft] and attacked for twenty eight minutes.” While taking evasive action, Leach was wounded in the foot and Chapman in the shoulder. Despite his foot wound, Leach helped Chapman with his injury, giving him medication, while also issuing instructions for evading the Germans. The pair once again made it back to base with a heavily damaged plane and had to make another crash landing.
When Chapman heard that command wished to give him another DFM (it was usual for the pilot to receive the honour), he instead insisted that it went to Sergeant Leach as he would not have been alive were it not for his actions. He said “If Ken doesn’t get it, then I don’t want it”.
When Leach passed away some years later, his family passed the medal on to Sergeant Chapman, stating that it was the only appropriate place for it.
Denys Walter Chapman died in August 2012 and had left instructions for his family to sell his medals after his passing. Along with the medals is a collection of related paperwork and ephemera including the citation from the commanding officer, a damage report for the Beaufighter after the 1943 attack, photographs, letters, newspaper cuttings, and more. Also included in the lot are Chapman’s other medals; the Defence Medal, the War Medal, the Atlantic Star, the 1939-1945 Star and the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.
The items carry an estimate of £6,000 - £10,000 and are to be sold at the Antiques & Fine Art with Militaria, Clocks & Barometers auction on 14th & 15th April at Adam Partridge’s Cheshire Saleroom in Macclesfield. For more details, call 01625 431 788.