Hopes are that medals awarded to WW2 hero Squadron Leader Robert ‘Paddy’ Turkington will be kept in Northern Ireland after his family released them for auction next month.
The RAF pilot from Lurgan shot down 11 Luftwaffe planes during many daring raids during WW2 and received several medals including the Distinguished Service Order.
However at the end of the war the popular pilot died in a freak accident when his Spitfire engine cut out mid-flight.
Now top London auctioneers Spink and Co are auctioning the medals as his family would like hero Bobby to get more recognition for his bravery.
Expert David Erskine-Hall of Spink and Co said the medals are all the more interesting because of S/Ldr Turkington’s ‘outstanding’ war record.
And the medals are tipped to fetch around £22,000 at the prestigious auction house on December 5.
Lexi Davidson of the Ancre Somme Association in Lurgan said he hoped the medals would remain here. “It is important that men like him are not forgotten.”
Robert’s neice Liz Forde has described how she grew up hearing about her uncle’s bravery.
She said her father Kenneth was always very proud of his brother Bobby’s bravery. “I grew up knowing how brave he was but also that he didn’t get the same recognition locally as other war heroes,” she said. “The family have been fighting for years to get him recognition. He did a tremendous amount and was an ace pilot. Because he died in an accident in Italy, I believe he never received proper recognition locally.
“I was also told that on his return he was to take up command of RAF Biggin Hill - which would have made him one of the youngest commanders in history.”
When S/Ldr Turkington thought he was due to return home at the end of the war he informed his mother. However he was kept on in Italy as the war with Japan had not ended. It was soon after he died in the freak air crash.
Liz said: “That morning before my grandmother received the telegram that he had died, the mirror fell off the wall in the hall. When she opened the telegram, she thought it was to tell her he was coming home.”
In a letter to Mrs Turkington, his commanding officer said: “Those who know about decorations confirm that a concentration of awards of such quality, in such a short time, is indicative of the highest valour.”
The medals consist of the Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Cross, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, North Africa 1942-43, Italy Star, Defence and War Medals 1939-45.
Lt Col Ant Maher, Patron of the Ancre Somme Association, paid tribute to Squadron Leader Robert ‘Paddy’ Turkington DSO, DFC.
“You can only imagine the courage the Lurgan man possessed. The fact that he had been decorated for gallantry and leadership under enermy fire three times - gaining a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and not one, but two Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFC’s) speaks volumes. Lurgan should always remember Their Brave Sons but one of their brave sons Squadron Leader Robert ‘Paddy’ Turkington DSO, DFC must stand amungst the tallest.”