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The medals of a wartime flying ace who was given the delicate job of leading an attack on enemy ships in Venice docks without destroying the city's historic buildings and priceless works of art are being sold at auction next week.
In 1945, Group Captain George Westlake headed Operation Bowler, so called because he and others feared they would be "bowler hatted" - thrown out of the military back into civilian life - if their attack was not precise enough.
On the afternoon of March 21, Westlake, who was at the controls of a Kittiwake, led dozens of pilots who were experts in dive-bombing to the city.
Once over the target, Westlake assessed the weather and ordered British and American fighters to attack the docks' gun defences. Then, from 10,000ft, he and the other bombers dived towards the docks almost vertically.
The bombers seriously damaged a large cargo ship and destroyed naval escorts and smaller vessels. So accurate were they that the locals felt confident enough to climb on to roofs to watch the attack - and the city escaped with just a few shattered windows.
Westlake later recalled: "It was a great success because apart from every vessel in the harbour, we hit a stockpile of their mines that blew a hole in the dockside about 100 yards across.
"The other bonus ... was destroying their underwater establishment, where they did all the training for their frogmen and two-men submarines."
He continued: "I was given an immediate DSO [Distinguished Service Order] after this show ... And the only damage to Venice was a few broken windows."
Westlake also won the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942 for "continuous gallantry". The recommendation noted that he had always shown "exceptional daring and tenacity when engaging the enemy".
His medals - 11 in total - are expected to raise up to £22,000.
David Erskine-Hill, of auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, said: "Group Captain Westlake was by any standards a most courageous and highly successful fighter ace.
"Prior to that memorable day, he had already completed around 300 operational sorties, many of them ending in violent air-to-air combat, but others in low-level strafing of enemy airfields and positions."
The attack on Venice was deemed necessary because by early 1945 the rail and road network in northern Italy had been severely damaged, so the Germans resorted to transporting goods to Venice and then onwards via canals and rivers.
Air Vice-Marshal #$%$" Foster dreamed up the vivid codename for the operation to help remind everyone that serious consequences would follow if Venice was damaged.
After his retirement, Westlake lived in Warwickshire and got around on an electric tricycle. Neighbours said he rode it as if he was still in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. He died two years ago, aged 87
Immigrants get huge payouts our heros who made it possible for them to live here get nuthin