WAR-time flying kit once used by Wetherby-born Battle of Britain ace James ‘Ginger’ Lacey, the pilot who chased and shot down a German bomber which attacked Buckingham Palace, has been sold at auction for £1,600.
The items (pictured left) were given to Lacey’s last flying pupil, Chris Lodder, by Lacey’s wife following the fighter pilot’s death in 1989, aged 72.
Mr Lodder said his financial circumstances had forced him to sell the items, which included a leather flying helmet issued to Lacey in 1941, oxygen mask and goggles which were dented when the pilot bailed out.
Mr Lodder, who Lacey taught to fly when he was an instructor at Bridlington in the 1980s, said he felt bad about having to sell the items, but he had the support of Lacey’s daughter Min.
“I had a word with Min about it because obviously I feel really bad about it but she said, ‘what would the old man have said? ‘Christ, it’s only a bl**dy hat – get rid’.”
James ‘Ginger’ Lacey (pictured inset), attended King James’ Grammar School in Knaresborough, and ended the war with a tally of 28 destroyed enemy aircraft, 18 of which were gained as a Hurricane pilot in the Battle of Britain, making him the second highest Battle of Britain ace.
He was also one of the few RAF fighter pilots who was flying at the start and the end of the war.
His war-time exploits with 501 Squadron sounded like fiction and on one occasion he made two Messerschmitt 109 fighters collide with each other.
But his best known ‘kill’ happened in September 1940 when he chased and shot down a German Heinkel III bomber which had attacked Buckingham Palace.
“That was the one that really mattered to him,” said Mr Lodder. “He took off in fog to go after the guy. They said ‘you can’t go up’ and he said ‘I’m bl**dy going’.”
Min Lacey, who lives in Cheltenham, said her father would have approved of the sale.
Asked who she wanted to buy her father’s possessions at the auction in Nottingham, she said: “Oh gosh, someone like an exotic multi-millionaire like Spielberg who will find out about my dad’s life and then make a film about it!”
It is understood that the flying items were bought by a man local to the Nottingham area, who eventually intends to donate them to a museum.
The items were put for sale at Arthur Johnson and Sons in Nottingham.