F/L James Nicolson VC painting ...

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by chicoartist, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. chicoartist

    chicoartist Member

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    Hope I'm in 'sorta' the right forum ~


    [​IMG]


    One of The Few
    (F/L James B. Nicolson, VC)
    12 x 24 in., oil on linen
    Collection of the artist

    Twenty-three year old Hurricane pilot Flight Lieutenant James B. "Nick" Nicolson of 249 Squadron (Royal Air Force) won the only Victoria Cross awarded to a pilot during the famous Battle of Britain, and he was the only fighter pilot to receive the award during World War II. The "VC" is the highest military honor awarded for bravery in action to a British or Commonwealth service member. It is equivalent to the US Medal of Honor.

    During a patrol above Southampton on 16th August 1940, Nicolson's Hurricane was fired on by a Messerschmitt Bf 110, injuring him in one eye and one foot. His engine was also damaged and a fuel tank set on fire. As he struggled to leave the blazing machine he saw a Bf 109 not too far away, and managing to get back into the bucket seat, pressed the firing button and continued firing until the enemy plane was destroyed. Not until then did he bail out, and he was able to open his parachute in time to land in a field. His official Victoria Cross award citation reads:

    "Air Ministry.
    15 November 1940.
    ROYAL AIR FORCE.
    The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery —

    Flight Lieutenant James Brindley NICOLSON (39329) — No. 249 Squadron.

    During an engagement with the enemy near Southampton on 16th August, 1940, Flight Lieutenant Nicolson's aircraft was hit by four cannon shells, two of which wounded him whilst another set fire to the gravity tank. When about to abandon his aircraft owing to flames in the cockpit he sighted an enemy fighter. This he attacked and shot down, although as a result of staying in his burning aircraft he sustained serious burns to his hands, face, neck and legs. Flight Lieutenant Nicolson has always displayed great enthusiasm for air fighting and this incident shows that he possesses courage and determination of a high order. By continuing to engage the enemy after he had been wounded and his aircraft set on fire, he displayed exceptional gallantry and disregard for the safety of his own life."

    As he was about to land during his parachute descent, Nicolson was fired on by excited Home Guard (civilian) troops, who ignored his cry of being an RAF pilot! Nicolson's actions were witnessed by a number of people on the ground - the need for witnesses to corroborate individual acts of bravery meant that very few RAF crew were nominated for an award of valour. Nicolson also was one of only two recipients to win the award while in (or over) British territory.

    Nicolson fully recovered from his wounds and went on to a variety of assignments, attaining the rank of Wing Commander. He was very modest about his award and had to be reminded that it was a disciplinary offense to be out of uniform when he was slow to sew the VC ribbon onto his tunic!

    By mid-1945, Nicolson was based at the 3rd Tactical Air Force HQ in Comilla, Bengal. On May 2nd, he flew as an observer on a raid on Rangoon. Nicolson was killed when one of the engines on a B-24 caught fire two hours into the flight. The aircraft was ditched into the Bay of Bengal with only two survivors out of a crew of eleven. His body was never recovered.

    The title of the painting comes from the well-known Winston Churchill quote, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few", referring to the 'few' Spitfire and Hurricane pilots who during the summer of 1940 fought the long odds and turned back the planned German invasion of England.


    Cheers, guys!
    Wade
     
  2. TheMustangRider

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    Amazing story and painting as well. A well deserved Victoria Cross for Lt. Nicolson for such act of bravery that few would have dare to perform under the circumstances he did.

    Very tragic though that did not survive to see the end of the war.
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Cool post Wade, thanks for doing that.
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    nice painting Wade

    Bill
     
  5. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Nicely done Wade!

    :salute:
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Nice work mate.
     
  7. chicoartist

    chicoartist Member

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    Thanks, guys!

    This will hang as part of our upcoming aviation art exhibition at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga. from early Feb to ~mid-April '11. See the Facebook event page "Southern Wings III - An Aviation Art Exhibition" for details.

    Cheers!
    Wade
     
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