The Address | Benghazi – Libya
LONDON – Twenty-eight years after he died, the medals Roald Dahl earned for his time as a Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter pilot during the second world war have finally arrived with his family.
Dahl’s grandson, Ned Donovan, said that the medals had been delivered from the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday, and that he had given them to the author’s widow, Felicity Dahl, at her 80th birthday party. The medals – the 1939-1945 Star, for those who served overseas during the war, the Africa Star, the Defence Medal, for non-operational service, and the War Medal – arrived, 73 years late.
“He never collected them at the time thanks to a bureaucratic mix-up. And so last night I gave them to my step-grandmother as a surprise,” Donovan, who together with Felicity Dahl applied for the medals from the MoD, wrote on Twitter. “I’m just thrilled that Wing Commander Dahl’s war has finally been recognised, I think he’d have found the incompetence hilarious.”
Dahl detailed his time as a fighter pilot in his memoir, Going Solo. The author was 23 when he joined the RAF in 1939 following the outbreak of war, enlisting in Nairobi. He had been in Dar-es-Salaam since 1938, working for Shell Oil. He learned to fly a Tiger Moth plane in Nairobi, training with 15 other men. Later, in Going Solo, he would write: “It is a fact, and I verified it carefully later, that out of those 16, no fewer than 13 were killed in the air within the next two years.”