The remarkable archive of an RAF officer who was one of six out of 37 men to survive three days adrift in the freezing Arctic Ocean have come to light.
Sir Kenneth Cross had already cheated death by dodging a bullet aimed for his head in the cockpit of his plane when the aircraft carrier he was on was attacked and sunk.
He plunged into the icy sea and was one of 37 survivors to make it into a lifeboat. With hardly any food or water on board, most of the shipwrecked men died from exposure over the next 70 hours.
By the time a passing Norwegian fishing vessel found and rescued the men, only six were still alive.
Although he counted himself lucky to escape death on both occasions, Sir Kenneth experienced double tragedy later on in his life.
First, his airman brother Ian was murdered by the Gestapo for taking part in the famous Great Escape from the Stalag Luft III camp in Poland in 1943.
Then, 48 years later in 1991, Sir Kenneth’s 73-year-old wife Lady Cross was beaten to death at a Chelsea antiques shop where she worked.
The collection also includes his impressive set of 15 medals that include the CBE, Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Service Cross.
There is also a poignant photograph of him with his Squadron taken months before almost all of them were killed in the Glorious sinking.
David Erskine Hill, of London auctioneers Spink and Son which is selling the archive for £10,000, said: “One uses the word unique all too often but in this case it is entirely appropriate.
“Kenneth Cross was a survivor and a very gallant one at that.”
He joined the RAF in 1936 as a Flight Lieutenant attached to Cambridge University Air Squadron.
In October 1939 he was put in command of 46 Squadron which was ordered to join HMS Glorious in support of the Norwegian campaign after the Germans invaded the Scandinavian country in April 1940.
Sir Kenneth went on to become wing commander of 252 Wing, overseeing the air defence of the western dessert in North Africa in 1941, which was the Allies first victory of the war.
After the war he served as Air Chief Marshal in the RAF and was one of its most decorated officers.
He was Bomber Command’s commanding officer at the time of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. He retired in 1967.
His incredible medal group consists of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, KCB, CBE, the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the 1939-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, War Medal 1939-45, Coronation Medal 1953, the French Legion of Honour, the Norway, War Cross 1941, The Netherlands, Order of Orange Nassau and the United States of America, Legion of Merit.
The sale takes place in London on July 26.