Battle of Britain Station Commander’s Presentation Cocktail Pitcher, 1952
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Height: 21cm (8in)
Silver plated cocktail strainer, stirrer and mixing jug inscribed ‘Presented to / Air Commodore & Mrs T.B. Prickman / By the officers RAF / White Waltham / 5th June 1952.’ By Asprey of New Bond Street, London.
On 18 August 1940 nine Dornier Do17 bombers from 9 Staffel, a specialist low level attack unit, took off from Cormeilles-En-Vexin, north of Paris, to raid RAF Kenley as part of the Luftwaffe’s plan to destroy the RAF on the ground. It was Prickman’s first day as the Kenley Station Commander. The raiders were spotted by naval patrol boats and Observer Post K3 at Beachy Head, and were tracked to their target. Prickman’s available squadrons were committed countering high altitude raids, leaving Kenley dangerously exposed. Only controllers at 11 Group Headquarters could order aircraft into the air, but given the gravity of the situation, Prickman took it upon himself to order all flyable fighters to take off and meet the threat, while those unable to fight were ordered to head north-west away from danger. The raid on Kenley lasted no more than five minutes; between 1.22pm and 1.27pm on Sunday lunchtime. The 9 Staffel lost eight out of forty aircrew. Five became prisoners of war. Three were wounded. Four of the Dornier Do17’s were destroyed. The rest were damaged. Only two managed to return to Cormeilles-En-Vexin.
Air Commodore Thomas Bain ‘Mexican Pete’ Prickman CB, CBE (1902-1992), was a former commanding officer of 32 Squadron (Hurricanes) during 1938-39 and is recorded among those qualifying for the Battle of Britain clasp by flying at least one operational sortie between 10 July and 31 October 1940. In recognition of his role as a Sector Controller through the height of the Battle of Britain he was awarded the OBE on 17 March 1941. After attending RAF Staff College in 1942, Prickman was Officer Commanding, RAF Woodvale, before being assigned join the the staff at HQ Air Defence Great Britain in 1943 to work ultimately on the invasion plans of Europe.
Ref: Hurricane Squadron Ace: The Story of Battle of Britain Ace, Air Commodore Peter Brothers CBE, DSO, DFC and Bar.