Only One VC awarded to RAF in WW2

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by vinnye, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    I could not believe it when I heard that the RAF had only had one VC awarded during WW2! It was whilst watching a documentary of BoB, so I looked it up. Citation ;
    Air Ministry, 15 November 1940.
    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.

    That must have taken some guts!
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,760
    Likes Received:
    791
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    943
    Trophy Points:
    113
    There was only one Victoria Cross awarded to a member of Fighter Command as noted above.

    The reason may actually be quite simple. An act of heroism for which the Victoria Cross is awarded must be witnessed. Most RAF fighters were single seaters and in the confusion of aerial combat this basic criteria is very difficult to meet.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  4. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    IIRC Nicholson always felt slightly embarrassed by the VC award - he didn't think he deserved it and didn't enjoy all the attention it brought. He was killed later in the war in a Liberator that went missing in the Far East.
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    943
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Which is typical of many of men who win such honours. I believe that Jeremy Clarkson's (of Top Gear fame) father in law (Robert Henry Cain) was a VC,something Clarkson only discovered after his father in law had died. He never mentioned it.
    There are many similar cases.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  6. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    6,688
    Likes Received:
    252
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Occupation:
    plumbing "pro" at Lowes in Franklin N.C.
    Location:
    north carolina
    Yes, I had an uncle, a very quiet, gentle man, that won a Navy Cross in WW2. None of us, including my aunt, knew it until he died.
     
  7. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    401
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Finland
    #7 Timppa, Feb 2, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
    In the RAF museum in Hendon, there is a dark lit room dedicated to the VC holders of the RAF.
    I went there more than 20 years ago. I still remember wondering the difference between the decorated heroes of the UK and the other countries.
    In the other countries, the soldiers that got the medals were those who killed the most enemies, planes, tanks etc.
    In that museum, the RAF VC holders seemed to be those, who were the most brave and gallant against overwhelming odds, but achieving little and finally suffering the most futile death.
    Don't get me wrong, I felt it most endearing.
     
  8. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    I am not at all suprised that many people who did extraordinary things did not want to talk about it and if they did, they would play it down.
    My uncle was involved in the Commando raids in Norway I believe and was seriously wounded - he told people that he slipped when embarking on a ship - to explain why he was injured. I only found out after his death that he had been covering up the truth. He spent a couple of years training other troops survival techniques in Scotland after his recovery.
    I will have to visit Hendon again and look up the VC section.
     
  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    Sadly the VC collection at Hendon doesn't get the attention it deserves. Everyone, naturally, focusses on the tremendous collection of aircraft. But the individual stories of bravery always send shivers down my spine. Then again, there were countless acts of extreme heroism which were never recognized because nobody thought to put the person in for a medal. As a good friend of mine says, "Anyone who serves in the military of their country signs a blank cheque for their nation that can be redeemed up to and including the person's life."
     
  10. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    706
    Likes Received:
    34
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A Kiwi slant on the VC - NZ infantryman Charles Upham is the only combatant to be awarded two VCs. Two other VC and bars have been awarded, both to members of the medical corps.
    NZ Liberator pilot Edward Charlton was awarded the VC posthumously for pressing home an attack and sinking a German U-boat - he and his crew died in the attack. Charltons VC was unusual because there were no surviving allied witnesses. The medal was awarded on the basis of testimony provided by survivors of the U-boat who were later captured.
    I believe the Unknown Soldiers of the UK and USA have each been awarded the VC and Medal of Honor in reciprocal gestures of respect by each country.
     
  11. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    12,162
    Likes Received:
    123
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    I thought our Lib pilot awarded the VC was Lloyd Trigg (?)

    Another kiwi, James A Ward of 75 (NZ) sqn, RAF , received one after his Wellington Mk.I was hit by AA fire (IIRC) in the starboard engine. The fire extinguishers malfunctioned, so he climbed out of the aircraft (in flight) via the astrodome, kicking holes in the fueslage and wing fabric for grips, and beat the flames out with his flying jacket!
     
  12. raumatibeach

    raumatibeach Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2012
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Is it true there was a bit of debate about his VC because he was also saving his own life as well as his crews? It would have been a bloody tough call to turn him down after doing that.
     
  13. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    12,162
    Likes Received:
    123
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    No idea mate - I had'nt heard that one... interesting question though!

    IMO he bloody well deserved it, as he was risking his life the whole time to save the rest of the crew. It took all his strength to battle the wind forces and hang onto the aircraft (especially while beating out the flames with his jacket!), and he was so exhausted he had to helped back into the aircraft by another crew member (IIRC).
     
  14. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    Gentleman
    Location:
    Limousin
    I don't know about other countries but the VC is awarded for observed gallantry (ie bravery) beyond duty. Doing your duty requires bravery enough.

    Destroying the enemy per se is what you are paid for and all contribute to that, no matter in how humble a role, as the armed forces are a team effort.

    Not VC but my father loved to tell amusing tales of his wartime experiences. It was only after he died that I learned that he had been seriously wounded in Italy in 1944 but this he never mentioned. I'm not entirely sure if he ever told my mother either. Equally he was Mentioned in Despatches in 1942 but would never say why. My grandfather would talk of the South African war but not the Great War even though he served from 1914 in France up to the end.
     
Loading...

Share This Page