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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 210

An Inter-War O.B.E and Great War M.C. group of five to Major V. A. Beaufort, Royal Air Force, late Devonshire Regiment, who served as Officer Commanding Kite Balloons in the capture of Jerusalem

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, (O.B.E.) Military Division, 1st Type, Officer's breast Badge, silver-gilt; Military Cross, G.V.R.; 1914 Star with clasp (2.Lieut: V. A. Beaufort Devon: R.); British War and Victory Medals with M.I.D. oakleaves (Major. V. A. Beaufort. R.A.F.) very fine (5)

Christie's, November 1990.

O.B.E. London Gazette 3 June 1919.

M.C. London Gazette 11 April 1918:

'For distinguished service in connection with the operations culminating with the capture of Jerusalem.'

M.I.D. London Gazette 22 January & 5 June 1919.

Victor Alexandre Beaufort was born on 23 June 1890, he was the son of Major Francis Beaufort, R.A., and Mrs Beaufort, of Bovey Tracey, South Devon. He was educated at St David's, Reigate and later at Wellington College. He joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Devon Regiment in 1908 before passing into the Regular Army in 1911. He served with the 1st Battaliom, Devonshire Regiment, accompanying 'C' Company aboard SS Reindeer on 21 August 1914. He was seriously wounded on 26 September 1914, during a ten-day defence of primitive trenches near to Fort Conde. As a result of his wounds he was unable to return to his regiment and was employed in an administrative capacity at the War Office until September 1915.

Frustrated with his situation he was accepted for service in France with No.1 Kite Balloon School on 15 January 1916. He was however hospitalised on 28 March 1916 due to his poor health. Once recovered he was sent for light duties with the Kite Balloon Depot in July 1916. He was then sent out to Palestine in May 1917, now with the rank of Major, as the Commanding Officer of 21 Balloon Company.

The Palestine Brigade of the Royal Flying Corps was formed on 5 October 1917 with No 21 Balloon Company being based at Deir El Belah for their headquarters with No.49 Section based at Sheikh Shabasi and No.50 Section based at Wadi Ghuzze.

Actively involved with Artillery Co-operation a total of 58 shoots were carried out by the two balloons of 21st Balloon Company with Field, Heavy and Siege Batteries and with Monitors, for the purpose of registration and destruction. Some useful spotting and Counter Battery work was also done. Of the 130 flights of the aeroplanes on Artillery Co-operation, 51 flights, including 113 hours flying were carried out on the last five days of the month. On the day of the attack on Beersheba, 5 batteries were silenced out of 6 reported active. On two days an important viaduct on the line Sheria - Beersheba was shelled by 6" Howitzers with Aeroplane Co-operation, and severely damaged.

The Balloons of Nos. 49 and 50 Sections, 21st Balloon Company, R.F.C., first ascended in October 1917 and from that date, No.49 Balloon Section ascended every day during the month. No.50 Balloon Section ascended on each day, except October 20 to 24. The work of the Balloons consisted almost entirely of Artillery co-operation with the Batteries and the Fleet. On many occassions an Officer of the Royal Artillery ascended with the Observer. The Observers reported all occurences and movements noted by them, apart from their work with the Artillery. On October 30, No.50 Section Balloon was attacked by the enemy with shrapnel, and the observer was wounded. The balloon was hit in many places but was in action again the next day.

He was injured in a balloon accident on 23 March 1918, breaking his ankle, and was taken for treatment to No. 77 Casualty Clearing Station at Jaffa. Having recovered he continued his command of 21 Balloon Company until 13 February 1919. He returned to the U.K. with the rank of Acting Major and helped to organise the London - Paris aerial route for the post-war Peace Conference in Versailles,as a result of this work he was awarded his O.B.E..

His last military appointment was as Adjutant of 4 Battalion, Devon Regiment (TF) from 1920-23. He was married a second time in 1927, in the same year he appeared in court against the Duke of Westminster in that he was accused of leaving motor-cars standing with engines running, unnecessary tooting of horns and other nuisance at 3 Lyall Mews, Belgrave Square. He was further involved in court proceeding relating to an assault at Epsom Downs on 4 June 1930, that being on the day of the Epsom Derby, when the Aga Khan's horse Blenheim took the prize. Perhaps Beaufort had over-indulged on the champagne or picked the wrong steed?

The couple moved to the U.S.A. in 1931 but he returned to Britain and was imprisoned for assaulting police officers at the Mayfair hotel in 1933. Beaufort died on 15 March 1957.

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