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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 215

The 1918 D.S.O., 1919 O.B.E. group of four awarded to Colonel R. H. Collier, Royal Air Force, who was twice 'mentioned' during the Great War before serving as one of Lord Beaverbrooke's right hand men as director of aeroplane production for the whole country

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel; The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Officer's (O.B.E.) 1st Type breast Badge, hallmarked for London 1919; British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Col. R. H. Collier. R.A.F.), with M.I.D. oakleaves detached, mounted as worn, slight enamel chipping to bottom obverse ray, otherwise good very fine (4)

D.S.O. London Gazette 1 January 1918.

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

Richard ‘Dick’ Hamilton Collier was born at Chesterton, Cambridgeshire in October 1887, the son of Richard and Ann Collier. His father died before he reached adulthood and the young Collier had to join the workforce quickly, being listed upon the 1911 census as a Motor Engineer (Salesman) and living at Grove House, Southend-On-Sea, Essex. His engineering skills proved useful on the outbreak of the Great War when he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps on 25 January 1915. His first posting was to No. 4 Repair Park which he was set to organise with a promotion to Captain on 16 February 1915. Collier’s service record states:

‘General Engineering knowledge particularly internal combustion engines. Since entry into R.F.C. has gained a very wide experience of organisation, particularly in respect of repairs of aeroplanes engines, MTO etc. organised the original repair depot in this country i.e. 8 A.D. + all its subsidiary units’

Further advanced Major on 15 December 1915 Collier was posted to France as a Squadron Commander before being advanced Lieutenant Colonel on 31 May 1916 in command of No.1 Aircraft Depot, St. Omer. Returning to Britain in January 1918 he was serving at the Air Ministry upon the formation of the Royal Air Force. Collier left the Ministry on 3 June 1918, being promoted Temporary Colonel at the recommendation of Brigadier-General Jenkins the same day and receiving a ‘mention’ (London Gazette 14 June 1918).

Posted to the Independent Force in France he was stationed with No. 3 Aircraft Depot on 27 August 1918. Collier was to end the war in this position, being ‘mentioned’ (London Gazette 1 January 1919 refers) again before returning to Britain again to join the Home Establishment on 2 March 1919. He was transferred to the Unemployed list on 1 May 1919.

Returning to work running a car dealership Collier became known for ‘Collier’s Corner’ in Birmingham, once the home of his showroom. Called up for service on the outbreak of the Second World War he was posted as a Pilot Officer but swiftly demobilised for work with the Ministry of Aircraft Production, the Western Mail 20 November 1940 takes up the story, stating:

‘Lieut-Col R. H. Collier, D.S.O., O.B.E., who is well known among Welsh Businessmen and golfers, holds one of the big posts in the Ministry of Aircraft Production. He is director of aeroplane production for the whole country. On the outbreak of the war he volunteered for service and was called up in the R.A.F.V.R. He was demobilised in order to undertake the duties of principle aeroplane production officer for the Midland Area, which position he held until his new appointment. He still counts himself a Cardiffian, for it was there that he began his business career, and his large circle of friends throughout South Wales know all about his energy, initiative and drive.’

Unfortunately, tragedy was to strike, when Collier's son Squadron Leader Richard Theobald Collier was killed in action on a raid over Bremen in 1942. Despite this he continued to serve with the Ministry of Aircraft Production until the end of the war. Retiring to Warwickshire he died on 15 June 1953, leaving behind a daughter and son; sold together with copied service papers, newspaper extracts and census data as well as a leather presentation box.

For his mounted dress miniatures see Lot 355.

For the medals attributed to his son, Squadron Leader R. T. Collier, see Lot 108.

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