Flying Cross awarded to highest scoring Jewish ace of the Great War to be sold at Noonans

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Flying Cross awarded to highest scoring Jewish ace of the Great War to be sold at Noonans
Approximately 66 D.F.C. and Bars were awarded for the Great War.

LONDON.- A fine and scarce 1918 Great War Sopwith Camel fighter ace’s Distinguished Flying Cross and bar awarded to Captain Solomon Clifford Joseph of the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force - who was the highest scoring Jewish ace of the Great War is to be included in a sale of Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria at Noonans Mayfair on Wednesday, October 13, 2023. Not only was Captain Joseph the highest scoring Jewish Ace of the Great War; he was the only Ace of the conflict to hail from Birmingham. The medals carry an estimate of £15,000- 18,000 and are being sold by a collector.

As Mark Quayle, Medal Specialist and Associate Director of Noonans commented: “Joseph was a “gung-ho” pilot, whose aggressive flying style and skill accounted for at least 13 aerial victories over the Western Front between May - October 1918. He was no stranger to taking risks, and was wounded in aerial combat, and nearly shot down on many occasions.”

Approximately 66 D.F.C. and Bars were awarded for the Great War. In the London Gazette of September 21, 1918, for his DFC, it observed Joseph to be: “A gallant pilot who has accounted for eight enemy aircraft within the past four months. On many occasions the enemy, were numerically superior to Lieutenant Joseph's patrol, but this did not prevent his attaining success.”

For his D.F.C. Second Award Bar, less than two months later on 2 November 1918, the London Gazette said: “A very gallant and skilful officer. He led his formation under a large force of enemy aircraft with a view to inducing them to descend to attack him.”

Solomon Clifford Joseph was born in Birmingham in April 1893 and was the son of a fine art dealer who specialised in Jade. The family home was 14 Speedwell Road, Edgbaston and his father’s business was based in Birmingham. Joseph joined in the Royal Naval Air Service in August 1917, and carried out pilot training at Crystal Palace from 12 August 1917, and at Vendome from 15 September 1917. He trained on the Caudron Biplane at the British Flying School, Vendome, France, attaining his Royal Aero Licence (No.5475), 7 October 1917. Subsequent training postings were to Cranwell and Manston, before being posted to Dunkerque, 16 February 1918. After a brief posting to 12 (N) Squadron R.N.A.S. in February 1918, Joseph then went to 10 (N) Squadron R.N.A.S. later the same month. He was posted as a pilot for operational flying to 210 Squadron in March 1918 and transferred with the Squadron into the Royal Air Force the following month. Flying in Sopwith Camels from various bases in France, Joseph remained with the Squadron until 28 November 1918. The Squadron, of which Joseph was to become a Flight Commander, were initially engaged on ground- attack duties to help stop the German Spring Offensive. They were subsequently engaged on offensive patrols and bomber escort missions over Belgium.

Joseph returned to Birmingham after the war and enjoyed a prosperous Manufacturing career. Using his middle name for inspiration he formed The Clifford Group, which by the time of his retirement in April 1960, consisted of up to 16 companies, including: Clifford Aero and Auto Ltd. Spring Road, Hall Green, Birmingham; New Imperial Motorcycles; Clifford Covering Ltd.; Clifford Cultivators Ltd.; Clifford Motor Components; and Clifford Developments, Farnborough Engineering Valves Ltd. At Joseph's retirement his group had companies covering Birmingham, Coventry, and Farnborough. Captain Joseph died in the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Birmingham in March 1966, and is buried at Witton, Jewish Cemetery.

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