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The British Distinguished Flying Cross

The Royal Airforce was formed on 1 April 1918. Shortly after, on 3 June, the Distinguished Flying Cross was created in order to recognise actively galant and heroic actions against the enemy. The cross was originally only awarded to commissioned and warrant officers as the other ranks were issued with the Distinguished Flying Medal. However, in 1941, the award was extended to those serving in the Fleet Air Arm serving in the RAF and, from February 1942, to the personnel of the Dominions.

Numbers issued

Comparatively few flying crosses were issued prior to the Second World War compared with during - just over 1,200 compared with approximately 22,000 in the war years. These statistics are a clear indicator emphasising the significantly expanded force combined with there being six years of very intensive air activity.


Initially the riband was composed of alternate violet and white horizontal stripes. However, to fall in line with the other three Air Force awards, from July 1919 onwards the riband was altered to bear diagonal stripes running at a forty five degree angle. The cross itself features aeroplane propellors superimposed on the vertical arms of the cross with a pair of wings on the horizontal arms. The centre is modelled with a laurel wreath enclosing the RAF monogram surmounted with an Imperial Crown, whilst the reverse bears the Royal Cypher to the centre with the year in which the cross was issued to the lower arm.


Typically the crosses which are the most sought after and which fetch the highest prices at auction are those awarded in relation to the Battle of Britain or those awarded for specific acts of heroism. Those given at the end of tours of active flying duty generally fetch less.

If you have any military medals you would like to have valued, please contact Robin Newcombe of Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.