View Full Version : Berlin Airlift - Bond Air Services

12th May 2014, 18:51
The medals dealer, Baldwin's (www.baldwin.co.uk) are having a sale of medals on 29 May 2014. Among the items offered (Lot 158, expected to sell for £300-400) is a set of medals associated with the Berlin Airlift and with an unusual twist - an RAF veteran participating as crewman on a civilian aircraft. Apart from his wartime campaign medals, there is a very handsome privately-struck commemorative medal (one may wish to visit it website to view it). The Baldwin's catalogue entry reads as follows:

A Rare WW2 & ‘Berlin Airlift’ Civil Aviation Group of 5 awarded to Radio Operator Stanley Winfred Woodruff, Bond Air Services, late RAF, who was present on board the first civilian sortie to Gatow on the 4th of August 1948. Flying under Captain Treen, he undertook 5 sorties in a converted Handley-Page Halifax ‘Halton’ freighter during their first 24 hours, and went on to take part in some 42 flights between Wunstorf and Gatow during ‘Operation Plainfare’, clocking up nearly 52 hours of flying time during August 1948, comprising: 1939-1945 Star, France and Germany Star, 1939-1945, Defence and War Medals, 1939-1945, and later commemorative B.A.O.R. Berlin Airlift Medal, both silver, with hallmarks for Birmingham dated 1995; medals unnamed as issued, first four swing mounted on bar, reverse pin for wear, BAOR Medal separate with reverse pin for wear. Group toned, extremely fine, the latter as struck.

Stanley Winfred Woodruff was born 8 October, 1924, and lived in Salfords, Surrey. Following the details as presented in his RAF Flying Log Book, he began his training in the Royal Air Force in late January, 1944, undertaking courses as a Wireless Operator, and also as an Air Gunner. Continuing into 1945, he began undertaking training flights and navigation exercises in gradually larger aircraft including Ansons, Wellingtons and Lancasters, always as Wireless Operator. In September 1945 his RAF career appears to have come to an end, having built up 230 hours of flying.

His next entries in the logbook show his ‘Civil Flying Hours’ beginning 22 April 1948 under Captain C Treen and Captain R M Jones of Bond Air Service Ltd. Flying with them until late July 1948 (including one crash landing), his aircraft HAL.GA101 was called to assist the ‘Berlin Airlift’ effort, as the RAF alone struggled with the enormous logistical demands of supplying the civilian population of West Berlin through only 2 small windows of airspace (as the ground routes were cut off by Russian forces in an attempt to control the entire city). A number of small commercial liners were brought in to help, and this aircraft was the very first to ‘pitch in’, as confirmed in the ‘The Berlin Airlift’ by Colonel A A H Shokair, RSAF, 1990. In the months of August (42) and September (48) he would assist on no fewer than 90 separate flights between Gatow and Wunstorf in support of the effort to keep Berlin and its garrison stocked with sufficient food and provisions. Note should be made that these flights were extremely arduous, as even beyond operating within very narrow sections of airspace, the flights were subjected to frequency jamming, Russian ‘fighter exercises’ passing by at close range, and even anti-aircraft ‘practice fire’ either side of allied airspace. Sold with copy RAF Flying Log Book, Aircraft Radio Operator’s Certificate, and other related information. Worthy of further research.