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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 19:49 GMT
WWII fighter pilot sells medals
Fighter ace Squadron Leader Neville Duke
Insurance costs helped prompt the sale of the memorabilia
Medals and mementoes belonging to a distinguished World War II fighter pilot has sold for 138,000 at auction.

Squadron Leader Neville Duke, 83, from Lymington, Hants, decided to sell his collection because of security fears.

The items mark 65 years of flying and included a Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars and an OBE.

They were bought by a private collector and will remain in Britain, said the auctioneers, Dix Noonan Webb in Mayfair, London.

Also under the hammer were his wartime diaries, his mother's scrap book of newspaper cuttings and log books.

It was never going to be easy to make a decision about the future of my flying career memorabilia
Squadron Leader Neville Duke

Other unique artefacts included the parachute ripcord pull he was still clutching after he bailed out of his Spitfire over Lake Bracciano, Italy, in 1944, and the helmet he wore when he took the World Air Speed Record from the Americans in 1953.

The squadron leader, who was shot down twice including once by the German ace Otto Schulz, hopes the sell-off will secure his and his 85-year-old wife Gwen's, financial future.

"It was never going to be easy to make a decision about the future of my flying career memorabilia but following careful consideration, I have decided that it would be best to sell everything at auction in my lifetime," said Mr Duke.

He added: "The sale of such memorabilia will always be an emotive subject, but as time has gone by I have read with increasing interest coverage of similar auctions and come to sympathise with those faced by this dilemma of future guardianship and financial security."

Mr Duke, who flew 485 operational sorties during the war, had 28 air combat victories including shooting down seven aircraft in seven days.

The cost of insuring the precious mementoes also prompted the auction.


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