Dawsons (23% buyer’s premium) of Maidenhead offered fragments from a Heinkel HE-111 bomber and a Luftwaffe lifejacket on December 9 among other flying-related items in two separate lots. They came from a plane that was the first German bomber shot down on English soil in the Second World War – and also marked Townsend’s first success.
He had joined the RAF in 1933 and by January 1939 had been promoted to flight lieutenant. On February 3, together with two other Hurricanes from 43 Squadron at RAF Acklington in Northumberland, he intercepted the Heinkel and it was brought down over Whitby. The bomber had been on an anti-shipping sortie.
These items had been collected from the crash site by a relative of the vendor, who lived close by.
One lot estimated at £500-800 included the Heinkel’s wireless aerial post and fuselage fragment, the former marked Wireless Aerial Post From Heinkel Bomber Shot Down At Bannial Flat Farm. It sold for £950.
The Luftwaffe lifejacket worn by a member of the crew, type SWp 734 dated 1-3-1939, retained its original gas cannister and valve and mouthpiece inflater. Part of a group lot guided at £300-500, it made £2000.
Townsend claimed 11 kills in total and was a squadron leader in the Battle of Britain. On one occasion he had to be rescued by a trawler after ditching his damaged Hurricane in the sea and on another he was shot down while taking on a Messerschmidt.