Medals earned by Air Commodore Ronald “Ras” Berry, one of RAF’s best WWII pilots who downed three of the enemy’s war planes all in a day, went under the gavel at the massive amount of £144,000.
Spitfire ace Ronald “Ras” Berry went on to hold “claims” on over 30 enemy war planes throughout his piloting services in the Second World War. That number included 14 confirmed kills.
It was on August 31, 1940 when he downed three German Messerschmitt 109 planes all in one day – two on either side of breakfast and a third just before dinner.
When asked what motivated him in his heroic feats in the air, Ronald “Ras’ Berry – who was known for his trademark handlebar mustache – answered that seeing how these German bombers destroyed British cities gave him the push for revenge.
The bravery displayed by Air Commodore Ronald “Ras” Berry during the war was so highly regarded that he was chosen as one of the few selected airmen to lead wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s coffin during his funeral 20 years after WWII ended.
His set of WWII medals included the CBE which was awarded to him for his services. He also was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Bar (Bar means he received two same medals).
The WWII medals of Ronald “Ras” Berry along with a number of aviation maps and his log books were auctioned off for the six-figure amount at London’s Spink & Son auction house.
According to Spink’s medal expert Oliver Pepys in a report ran by The Daily Mail, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill regarded Ronald “Ras” Berry as one of The Few, a phrase he coined for the WWII British airmen who shone out due to their extraordinary deeds. Ronald “Ras” Berry had an unbelievable tally of kills and possible kills. Furthermore, the medals expert added that the airman’s WWII medals were quite significant. After all, he had three glorious awards for his gallantry during the war – the DSO and the DFC with Bar.
The DFC awarded to Ronald “Ras” Berry was for the Battle of Britain. The RAF pilot was regarded one of The Few who made a significant contribution in stopping Hitler’s plan – Operation Sea Lion – to invade Britain. Prices for these medals, said Pepys, are currently at their prime in the auction market.
Ronald “Ras” Berry, who was born in Hull, enlisted in the RAF Volunteer Service in 1937. Two months after WWII broke out, he was sent to Montrose, Scotland to serve in the 603 Squadron and help protect the airfield in the area. Days after being assigned in Montrose, he got involved in one of WWII’s earliest interceptions when he ran down a Heinkel III bomber. He did not stop there. He plunged a Junkers 88 bomber into the North Sea and went on to have three shared kills during his stint in Scotland.
Because of increasing casualties within the Royal Air Force, the 603 Squadron was sent to southeast England on August 1940 while the Battle of Britain was at its height. By September, Commodore Ronald “Ras” Berry was taking part in up to four dog fights in a day downed 14 various aircraft of the enemy at that time. These feats earned him his first Distinguished Flying Cross.
At the end of the Battle of Britain, Commodore Berry was one of the only eight surviving pilots of his squadron. The 603 aquad originally had 24 pilots.
Ronald “Ras” Berry was promoted to Squadron leader from being a Sergeant Pilot. He then took part in convoy patrols. He also went on to provide air cover for the ill-starred Dieppe Raid in 1942.
On November 1942, his 81 Squadron was the first to land in French North Africa. Here, he got involved in a comical face down with a French commander when each claimed superiority over the other. Eventually, someone went in between the two squabbling officers and explained to the French officer that the British had the upper hand.
At the end of the Tunisian Campaign in May 1943, Ronald “Ras” Berry had managed to destroy 14 of the enemy’s war planes, shared kills in another 10 and had 9 probables, 17 damaged and 7 destroyed on the ground in his sleeve.
Ronald “Ras” Berry was put in charge of the Air Fighting Development Unit at West Raynham, Norfolk after WWII ended. He then went on to make OBE in 1946 and CBE in 1965.
Air Commodore Ronald “Ras” Berry died in 2000 at the age of 84.