‘You don’t see those!’ Antiques Roadshow expert in awe of rare First World War medal

Antiques Roadshow: Distinguished Flying Cross stuns expert

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Antiques Roadshow aired a classic World War One Special episode on Sunday evening to mark Remembrance Day. The BBC One programme featured several antiques that dated back to the First World War. However, there was one in particular that caught the eye of military museum curator Mark Smith. He was amazed when one guest brought in an extremely rare Royal Air Force medal.

In the episode, a guest brought in a collection of items that had once belonged to a First World War pilot.

Gesturing towards a picture of the pilot, the guest said: “This is James Victor Gascoyne, a lovely man who sadly passed away in 1976.

“But, I did get a chance to meet him,” he added.

He went on to detail some of the work James had done during his military career.

“He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1913,” the guest explained.

“13?” Mark exclaimed, stunned by the early date. “So, this is before the first world war? Almost as the Royal Flying Corps was formed.”

“Yes, he was one of the early ones. His collar number was 719,” the guest revealed.

Mark explained: “They were actually in numerical order, so he’s the 719th man to join.”

The expert continued: “Now, he was quite successful. There’s a thing in the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Air Force as it became on the 1st of April 1918, which is that if you shoot down five of the enemy, you get something called ‘Ace status’.

“He was an ‘Ace’ wasn’t he?” Mark said, with the guest confirming: “Yes, he was.”

Mark looked through the pilot’s flying logbook that had been brought in, which contained details of his military career.

“He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross,” Mark said, with the guest replying: “Yes, he was.”

As he examined the medal, Mark explained: “Now, in 1918 this is a very new award because the Royal Air Force was only born in April of that year.

“They needed a medal which equated to the Military Cross for the army and the Distinguished Service Cross for the navy.

“They came up with, I think, one of the most beautiful medals for gallantry, the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“But, this one has the very rare striped ribbon instead of the diagonal that we’re used to, which came just after that,” he revealed.

Mark confessed: “So when I opened that box this morning, there was an intake of breath because you don’t see those. You really don’t see those.”

The medal expert made it clear he was thrilled to have seen such a rare military award.

“Thank you so much for bringing that in,” he said.

Antiques Roadshow airs Sundays at 8pm on BBC One.

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