A SECOND WORLD WAR logbook that once belonged to a hero airman from one of Darlington’s most famous families has been found down the back of a piece furniture in Cornwall.

The logbook details the painfully short flying career of Peter Pease, who was one of “the Few” – the pilots who lost their lives in the skies of southern England during the Battle of Britain.

The book is being auctioned on Friday in Truro with aviation historians expecting it to fetch several thousands of pounds.

The Northern Echo: A page from the logbook of Peter Pease which is being auctioned in Cornwall on Friday

Flying Office Peter Pease, 22, died a hero on September 15, 1940. After a brave dogfight against German fighters, his smoking Spitfire plunged towards the Kent countryside where villagers swore he managed to avoid a bungalow before crashing into the ground at 300mph.

The Northern Echo:

Pease (above), who would have become the 3rd Baronet of Hummersknott had he lived, was buried 12 days later in a full military funeral at Middleton Tyas church.

The Northern Echo:

How The Northern Echo reported Peter Pease's funeral in September 1942

He was the great-great-grandson of Joseph Pease, whose statue still stands in the centre of Darlington, and the northern base of his father, Sir Richard Pease, was Middleton Lodge in the village near Scotch Corner.

The logbook appears to have been rediscovered by a furniture restorer in Falmouth and has now found its way to the Truro Auction Centre.

“It’s an unusual thing,” said auctioneer Martyn Rowe. “There isn’t a lot of aerial combat in it, but it is part of the Battle of Britain, of flying over London, and that’s what people want to see.”

The Northern Echo: Peter Pease logbook

Each single line entry in the book tells of one of Pease’s flights from the start of his training in October 1937 to his short career on active service which begun on July 6, 1940. As the Battle of Britain intensified, so the short entries become more dramatic as he was in the air, taking part in dogfights, at least twice every day in September 1940.

On September 2, he wrote: “Bullets in radiator and air intakes. Forced landing.”

Next day in another Spitfire, he “chased Messerschmitt 109 which dived into sea”. On September 5, he “fired at 2 Dornier 17s. Finished off Messerschmitt 109”, but on September 7, he notes that he was “shot up by Heinkel 113, forced landing”.

The Northern Echo:

This bald entry understates the drama of his belly landing at RAF Hornchurch. He survived, and eight days later was back in the skies for his last battle. He tore into a pack of 114 German bombers heading for London, and was hit numerous times at close range which sent him spiralling to earth, although his plane avoided any houses in the village of Kingswood, about 20 miles inland from Dover.

A German pilot in a Heinkel bomber who had seen Pease through the plexiglass of their planes in his last moments later wrote: “The action lasted only a few seconds, but it demonstrated the determination and bravery with which the Tommies were fighting over their own country.”

A short while before his death, Pease, who was educated at Eton and Cambridge, he become engaged to Denise Woosnam, whose father, Max, is often termed “England’s greatest sportman” as he won an Olympic gold for tennis, a Wimbledon doubles title, captained Manchester City and England at football, scored a century at Lords at cricket, made a 147 break at snooker, and once defeated Charlie Chaplin in a table tennis match using a butter knife instead of a bat.

The Northern Echo: Eighty years to the day and time since Battle of Britain pilot Peter Pease was shot down and killed, a moving ceremony was held at his final resting place

On the 80th anniversary of Pease’s death a couple of years ago, villagers of Middleton Tyas arranged a graveside memorial service (above) which included an ear-shattering flypast by a Hawk plane from RAF Leeming.

The logbook has an estimate for £500-£700, but is expected to exceed that.

The Northern Echo: The grave of Peter Pease