Count Manfred Beckett Czernin.

312 Searchlight Battery. R.E. Camp. Benfleet.

Full name, Count Manfred Maria Edmund Ralph Beckett Czernin von und zu Chudenitz, was a WWII Royal Air Force Pilot and later in the war as an operative with the Special Operations Executive.

On 5 September 1940, the 312 Searchlight Battery stationed near the railway station sited a Bf 109E (German Messerschmitt) of 9/JG54, piloted by 27697 Captain Ludwig Dethner, falling to ground.  It was shot down by Count Czernin. 

On 19 September 2003, London auctioneers, Dix, Noonan Webb, included in Lot No. 1213, the medals awarded to Count Czernin.  The lot description read, An outstanding Second World War S.O.E. agents D.S.O., M.C., Fall of France and Battle of Britain D.F.C. group of eight to Squadron Leader Count Manfred Czernin, Royal Air Force, a 15-victory ace who was once downed by Aldolf Galland, and later parachuted into German-occupied Italy to lead a group of partisans.

Footnote with the medal description, (verbatim).  Then in September two more Bf. 110s fell to his guns on the 3rd, a Bf. 109 and two shared He. 111s on the 5th, a Bf. 110 on the 11th, a Ju.88 shared on the 19th, and yet another Bf. 110 on the 27th.  His victim on the 5th was a Bf. 109-4 of 9/JG54, shot down in combat over the Thames Estuary.  It crashed at South Benfleet and the pilot, Fw. Dettler, bailed out but his parachute failed to open – his body was found on Pitsea Marshes 12 days later.

The medal group had an estimated auction price of £8000 – £10000.  They sold for £26000.

Count Czernin, was released from the Royal Air Force in October 1945.  He tried a variety of jobs before becoming a sales manager for Fiat in England.  He died suddenly on 6 October 1962.

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