General Service Medal, GV Crowned head, bar Northern Kurdistan, Pilot Officer James Ramsden, Royal Air Force, later Test Pilot for Westland during WW2
G.S.M. Officially impressed: “P/O J. Ramsden. R.A.F.”
Extremely rare, one of only 65 Officers and 280 Airmen to receive the clasp, only very few Officer’s awards have appeared for sale.
James Ramsden was born on 30th August 1908 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, he is the son of Capt Henry Stanley Ramsden, R.A.S.C.
Flight Magazine 29th May 1931:
General Duties Brach, the following are granted short-service commissions as Pilot Officers on probation with seniority 6th May: … J. Ramsden.
Flight Magazine 29th April 1932:
APPOINTMENTS, Pilot Officers: J. Ramsden, to No 55 (B) Squadron, Hinaldi, Iraq, 24.3.32
When he arrived in Iraq to earn his Northern Kurdistan bar he was flying Westland Wapitis with 55 Squadron in the RAF’s “Air Policing” operations against the rebellious tribesmen under Sheikh Admed of Barzan.
Flight 30th April 1936:
The following Flying Officers are promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant with effect from: … J. Ramsden
Following a plane crash with the RAF he was no longer fit for service being transferred to the Reserve class A on 15th December 1936, from 12th September 1937 he was transferred to class C.
As a trained pilot he did not let this stop him from taking to the skies, so he went to work as a Test Pilot with Westland Aircraft in Yeovil
During this time he officially got his Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificate whilst attached to Blackburn Aircraft Co in Brough on 12th August 1941.
Whilst working as a Test Pilot he fell in love with Miss Carinthia Jill Mander, the daughter of a Baronet, Sir Charles Arthur Mander & had 2 Children.
Birmingham Daily Post 4th December 1944:
“MARRIAGE OF MISS JILL MANDER
Miss Carinthia Jill Mander, of the W.R.N.S., younger daughter of Sir Charles and Lady Mander, of Kilsall Hall, near Wolverhampton, was married on Saturday to Mr James Ramsden, a test pilot, whom she met when she was stationed in the West of England. The bridegroom was invalided out of the R.A.F. after a crash, and has since been engaged in civilian flying for an aircraft factory.
There was a civil ceremony at Ironbridge Register Office, and a later service of blessing at Tong Church, near the bride’s home. The Bishop of Lichfield officiated this.”
Flight Magazine 15th April 1955, “Recollections of Machines and Men” by Harald Penrose, O.B.E.
“Nevertheless, such flying was insignificant compared with war-time production testing, when under the Managing Directorship of doughty John Fearn, M.I.Mech.E., a great job was done by E.C. Wheeldon, M.I.P.E. (Now managing director) and his works staff and men in keeping the pilots well supplied with other 2,000 Spitfire variants, as well as the production of Barracudas and Westland machines. Various pilots under “Hoggy” Hill helped out the flying, but James Ramsden of the unforgettable laugh must be mentioned, for he assisted with experimental work as well.”
The next paragraph then goes on to mention the new found fascination with Helicopters after the war.
He died on 22nd October 1956 at the age of 48, his Wife after a few years as a widow remarried Lt Cmdr James de Votier Grosvenor Wallis.
With three photographs of him, one his official photograph for his Royal Aero Club certificate, two photos from the Tatler, a group photo at the 90th Birthday of Mary Lady Mander, his wife’s grandmother, & a photo at a RAF, Cavalry & Fany Charity Polo match from August 1940 (with other officer’s present in uniform, due to his injuries he likely could not serve in WW2).
His wife: https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw141707/Sir-Charles-Arthur-Mander-2nd-Bt-Monica-Claire-Cotterill-ne-Neame-Lady-Mander-Carinthia-Jill-Ramsden-ne-Mander?LinkID=mp92086&role=sit&rNo=0