A Rare and Unusual British & Chinese Medal group awarded to Wing Commander AG Parnell 70521 (1913-1967)
1939-1945 Star, The Air Crew Europe Star, War Medal 1939-1945, Royal Observer Corps Medal, Order of the Cloud and Banner Officers Badge Sixth Class (China) numbered 673, Order of the Sublime Commencement (China) numbered 105.
Two Chinese Air Force pilot wings badges, one marked L03349 to the reverse.
Chinese Presentation Book, a leaving gift to Parnall dated March 2 1946, inscribed from ‘The Firth Course Student of The Chinese Air Force Staff College’ Signed by 50 students in English & Chinese characters.
Alan Parnall came from a family background immersed in aviation. The son of George Parnall, the managing director of Parnall Aircraft Ltd, Alan and his younger brother Denis flew from an early age.
Growing up in the North Cornwall village of Crackington Haven, the brothers spent all their free time flying. By the time WWII started, both had amassed many hours of flying time and been members of their University Air Squadrons, so as war loomed they naturally joined the RAF. Alan flew with Number 1 Army Co-operation Squadron on secondment from the RAF, this would have been a frightening induction to the arena of battle. Fighting across the channel for France, where the Luffewaffe greatly outnumbered the RAF and in Lysanders that were ill-suited to the task and were easy targets, torn apart by the enemy. He survived and was fortunately taken off flying duty, becoming a Liaison Officer, a much safer desk job at HQ. The Parnall family have photographs of him with Eisenhower and Montgomery from this period.
Sadly, Denis was flying in the thick of it with 249 Squadron. He did not survive the war and was shot down and killed in September 1940.
In 1945, Alan, possibly under the auspices of the SOE (Special Operation Executive) was sent to China. The collaboration between Britain & China during the war is not widely known but the RAF Training Mission in Chengdu was one example of the assistance Britain provided China’s in their struggle against Japan.
Under the leadership and personal tutelage of Air Vice-Marshal Lawrence A Pattinson, Chinese officers were trained according to British Staff College requirements. Lectures were given on topics such as staff duties, strategy and tactics, army co-operation, air intelligence and bombing methods. The RAF Museum London’s Archives hold original course material, essays written by Chinese officers, as well as their critical assessments by the RAF tutors. Also held at the Archives is personnel correspondence between British and Chinese officers. Almost 80 years after the war, they reveal a close and often personal collaboration between two Allied countries.
The beautifully inscribed presentation book in this lot, a gift from and signed by 50 of Parnall’s students would attest to the respect between them. The Chinese medals in this lot will have been presented to Parnall in recognition of his services to the Chinese Air Force. The Order of the Cloud and Banner, also known as The Order of the Resplendent Banner was awarded in nine grades for contributions to national security. The Order of the Sublime Commencement, instituted in 1945 and awarded for distinguished air combat, notably ‘Bravery in combat with 1,200 hours of flight time or 400 missions in the Air Force’.
It is very clear that Parnall distinguished himself greatly during his time in China and the medals within this lot show his host’s appreciation.
The Parnall family also have a huge archive of cinefilm and photographs showing his transit through Singapore, interacting with the Flying Tigers and training young Chinese pilots to fly.
He returned to Britain 1946.
Further information about the Parnall Family and the history of the Parnall Aircraft Company can be found on their excellent website: www.parnallaircraftcompany.com
Sold for £6,800
Condition generally good. Extra images available on our website www.davidlay.co.uk
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