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$70,800 PAID FOR BRIAN EATON’S MEDALS AND MEMORABILIA

(Reproduced below is the description from the Auction Catalogue, December 2010.
Also Brian’s Medal Citations and a Biography covering the time that he was flying with 3 Squadron):

Important World War 2 Group of Fourteen Medals Awarded to Air Vice Marshal Brian Eaton, RAAF:

- CB, Military Division and CBE, Military Division, in original fitted black boxes, including related paperwork.

- Twelve mounted on a display bar: DSO and Bar; DFC dated 1943; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star and Clasp; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-45; Australia Service Medal 1939-45; Coronation Medal 1953; BCOF Medal 1952; and US Silver Star.  [All except DSO, DFC, Coronation Medal and Silver Star officially impressed '133 B.A. Eaton'.]  With corresponding set of fourteen miniatures.

 

- And a large collection of associated memorabilia and ephemera including:

- Two envelopes of fragments of original medal ribbons - boxed riband bars and insignia.

- Pair of metal dogtags, both stamped 'B.A. EATON, PT.C., R.A.A.F., BAP''.  

- Two RAAF Flying Log Books, with various entries dated 14 August 1942 to 19 December 1958.

- Collection of related documents, including citations, flying certificates and newspaper cuttings in one album.

- 26 black and white photographs of Eaton taken during his R.A.A.F. career, including the investitures of his C.B.E. and C.B. by Her Majesty the Queen and the Governor General of Australia, in one album. 

- White silk escape map printed on both sides of a scarf showing parts of North Africa and the Mediterranean, with a photograph of Eaton in RAAF uniform, wearing the scarf.

- Eaton's personal copy of 'The Golden Years.  A Pictorial History Of The Royal Australian Air Force 1921-1971' , folio, blue morocco boards.

- Large photograph of Eaton seated in a cockpit, circa early 1950s, mounted on board.

- A copy of 'They Flew For The King' by Frank Harding including a photograph of and reference to Eaton.

- Two Christmas cards and a menu signed by Mountbatten of Burma and his wife Edwina; and assorted Royal invitations and menus.

- A copy of '3 Squadron At War' with several references to Eaton.

 

Fate of the Medals:

 Sold for $70,800, including buyer's premium.  The auctioneer later commented that: “Given the buyer’s details, it would indicate that the items have stayed in Australia.”

MEC0456
Kairouan, Tunisia.  21 April 1943.  Squadron Leader Brian Eaton, Commanding Officer of 3 (Kittyhawk) Squadron RAAF (right), says good-bye
to Sqn Ldr Robert Henry Maxwell (Bobby) Gibbes (left) when the latter left the squadron during the Tunisian campaign for duty in England. 
[AWM MEC0456]

BRIAN'S CITATIONS:

DFC Citation London Gazette 14 December, 1943:

'One night in October, 1943, Squadron Leader Eaton led his squadron in an attack on a strong enemy force equipped with tanks which were attacking our troops near Termili.  In spite of the intense anti-aircraft fire, this officer led his formation in at low level and pressed home the attack which completely disrupted the enemy's forces. In this spirited action Squadron Leader Eaton displayed inspiring leadership, great courage and tenacity.'

DSO Citation London Gazette 7 April, 1944:

'Wing Commander Eaton has flown on operations in North Africa, Malta, Sicily and Italy.  He has led a large number of sorties during which a medium sized enemy vessel has been damaged and also considerable mechanical transport and one tank destroyed.  In air combat this officer has destroyed two enemy aircraft.  On one occasion when the enemy was pressing our troops hard he led fierce attacks compelling the enemy to retreat.  An excellent leader and commanding officer Wing Commander Eaton has never allowed adverse weather or intense anti-aircraft fire to prevent him from locating and destroying his targets.'

Bar to DSO Citation London Gazette, 12 June 1945:

'...In December, 1944, Group Captain Eaton led a formation of four squadrons of aircraft in an attack on the Bjelovar Barracks, Yugoslavia.  Very adverse weather was encountered and it was necessary to circle the target area for 1½ hours before a pin-point could be made.  The attack was then made at low level in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire and excellent results were obtained.  Other successful sorties by this officer include the destruction of a power house and ammunition dump.  Group Captain Eaton has also led formation of aircraft which have damaged eight enemy aircraft on the ground and destroyed numerous mechanical transport vehicles, tanks, bridges and locomotives.'

 MEA0930
Italy.  1943-11.  Squadron Leader Brian Eaton, Commanding Officer of No. 3 (Kittyhawk) Squadron RAAF in Italy
sitting in the cockpit of his aircraft prior to take off on a shipping strike over Yugoslavia.  [AWM MEA0930]

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:

Brian Eaton (1916-1992) was born in Launceston, Tasmania on 15 December 1916.  He was raised in Victoria and educated at Carey Grammer School, Melbourne, 1931-1933.  

After his father died, Eaton left school early and enlisted as an Air Cadet at Point Cook flying school.  He graduated in 1937 as a Pilot Officer and was posted to No.1 Fighter Squadron and was soon promoted to Flying Officer.  In 1938 Eaton served as a Flying Instructor at Point Cook and in 1940 was posted to Central Flying School, Camden as Flight Commander with a rank of Flight Lieutenant and then as Pilot Trainer at RAAF Headquarters, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader.  In June, 1941 he moved to R.A.A.F. Headquarters again as a Pilot Trainer.  In March 1942 Eaton was posted to Flying Training School under the Empire Training Scheme as Controller Air.  In August he served as an Instructor to No.5 Service Flying School in Uranquinty and in September underwent a Fighter Course at No.2 Operational Training Unit in Mildura.  

Eaton experienced his first wartime combat in January 1943 when he was posted to No.3 Squadron in the Middle East and was involved in the Battle of Tunisia.  During this time Eaton was (incredibly) shot down three times in only ten days.  On the first occasion Eaton's Kittyhawk was hit by an unknown enemy fighter.  He managed to land at El Hamma, in the midst of a tank battle between German and New Zealand forces and was able to get a lift back to his base from the Kiwis.  On the second occasion, Eaton was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.  He crash-landed behind enemy lines and was helped by friendly tribesmen who smuggled him back to base in disguise (see photo album).  

In April 1943, Eaton assumed command of No.3 Squadron and was promoted to Wing Commander in September.  In the meantime, the Squadron had moved through Malta, Sicily and Southern Italy.  In December he was awarded the DFC, despite flying with his arm in plaster.  

Eaton returned to Italy in 1944 as Commander of No. 239 Wing, R.A.F. with the rank of Acting Group Captain.  Between 1944-45 he was awarded the DSO and Bar.  In 1946 Eaton was also awarded the American Silver Star for action in Yugoslavia.

After the War, Eaton returned to Australia as Wing Commander at the School of Air Support, Laverton.  In September 1947 he was posted to Japan as Officer in Charge of Air Command, British Command.  He returned to R.A.A.F. Headquarters, Melbourne in 1949, remaining until 1951 when he was promoted to Group Captain, Malta G.C., returning again to Australia in 1955.  Eaton remained in Australia, holding several senior positions until 1967 when he was once again posted overseas, Commanding 224 Group Headquarters, Far East Airforce, Singapore.  By September 1968 he was promoted to Air Vice Marshal and appointed Chief of Staff.  Eaton returned to Australia at the end of 1969 and held further senior positions for the next four years.  After a long and illustrious career spanning 38 years he was posted for discharge with substantive rank of Air Vice Marshal.

 

Note: For further stories from Brian's career, in his own words, see his Australian War Memorial Interview .
 

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