George William Biles (later Bentley) of the Royal Flying Corps was among the first military pilots. One of the nine pilot’s log books included in the lot reveals that his time alone in the air up to and including his qualification totalled just 31 minutes.
The lot sold at £12,200, more than three times top estimate, to a UK phone bidder who was a relative of the recipient. Biles changed his name to Bentley after marrying his wife – who only accepted his proposal on condition he changed his name.
Biles flew aeroplanes and seaplanes throughout the First World War. On November 10, 1918, he was chosen to fly the King of Belgium over the trenches to allow him an aerial view of the devastation at the front.
An engraved silver cigarette case, almost certainly by Cartier and given to Biles by the king to mark this event, was also included in the auction, selling for £950 (estimate £200-400) online to a UK bidder.