Flight Sergeant Middleton RAAF and his Stirling VC

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Chief Master Sergeant
Dec 20, 2003
Ipswich, Suffolk
On the 28th/29th Nov 1942 flight sergeant Rawdon Middleton piloting a Stirling was sent to attack the FIAT works in Turin. Lacking power Middleton had great difficulty in gaining the 12000 ft required to clear the alps this lead to using excessive amounts of fuel requiring a go or no go decision, he pressed on.
Requiring to identify the target he dived too 2000 ft even though he knew regaining height would be extremely difficult passing over Turin three times in all before the target was confirmed..
Suddenly the aircraft came under intense light flak a large hole appeared in the port main plane and made lateral control very hard to maintain more flak was poured at the Stirling there was a loud explosion as an ack ack round detonated inside the cockpit. Middleton had the side of his face smashed open by shrapnel loosing his right eye and exposing his skull also shrapnel had entered his lower body and legs..
His co-pilot also received head and leg wounds that poured blood over the flooring of the plane, the wireless operator suffered leg wounds ,Middleton lost consciousness
The aircraft plummeted too 800ft before the co-pilot managed to arrest the dive and climbed back too 1500ft and drop the bomb load the flak continuing to be poured at their plane.
The three gunners onboard replied continuously until the tail turret was put out of action. Middleton had now regained consciousness and told his co-pilot to go back and receive first aid he returned to the cockpit before this was completed. Middleton could see very little and only speak with the loss of blood and great pain. The plane set course for home this meant crossing the alps in a damaged aircraft with insufficient fuel, thoughts of a forced landing in France where put to one side as Middleton decided to make for the English coast enabling his crew to bailout over home ground. He also realised that due to his own state of health it would not be an option for himself, crossing the French coast at 6000ft the battered Stirling came once again under heavy light anti aircraft fire and was struck many times. Middleton battled with the controls to maintain attitude and take what evasive action he could to protect his craft.
The English coast passed beneath the tattered bomber that was now down to five minutes of fuel, Middleton bank and ran parallel to the shore ordering the crew to jump five did but two remained with the plane. The Stirling plunged into the sea a few minutes later the bodies of the flight engineer and the front gunner where recovered the next day Middleton was lost with his aircraft.

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