Why Only One VC for Fighter Command?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Negative Creep, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. Negative Creep

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    Something that I've always wondered is why only one Fighter Command pilot was awarded the Victoria Cross in World War 2. There were 181 awarded in total, 23 of which were to Bomber Command yet Flight Lieutenant E.J.B. Nicolson was the only fighter recipient. I'm not sure about Coastal Command or FAA numbers however. This has always seemed a bit lop sided to me, so why such a discrepancy?
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I have the same question for 8th AF FC.

    Jim Howard got the MoH when 8th AF 354FG was attached to 8th. No other fighter pilot got one in 8th FC and maybe not even 9th, 12th and 15th.

    So many DSC awards were for acts of individual heroism equal to or perhaps even more Howard..

    One example comes to mind immediately. In April, 1944 Henry Brown of the 355th attacked 6 me 109s (w/o ammunition) stalking two of his squadron mates on the way home from a strafing mission. The two 355 pilots got away and did not return to help, and Brown was left with only option, namely out turning his adversaries who were now in a luftberry turn with him.

    He did so, forcing each one to break and dive away while he closed on the next one. I suppose they ran out of fuel eventually because all but one individually broke away and fled when he pulled deflection.

    While he was closing on number six, another 109 returned and shot him up but Brown escaped and returned to Steeple Morden.

    I wonder what you had to do to get the Medal in the 8th?
     
  3. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    I suspect that the reason is that there were few opportunities to display extraordinary heroism in a fighter. After all, the pilots were basically all doing the same thing: they were up there, fighting the enemy one-on-one. The successful fighter pilots were the skilled ones, not necessarily the brave ones.

    I think that the only way a fighter pilot would win the VC would be if he did something very self-sacrificing: threw himself alone into suicidal combat with many enemy planes in order to save one which they were attacking, or something.

    Bomber pilots, OTOH, would get recognition for battling on towards their target despite their plane being seriously damaged and/or the pilot badly wounded.
     
  4. Milos Sijacki

    Milos Sijacki Member

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    I agree with Tony.
     
  5. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    I think Tony has most of it. To get the CMOH, you have to have a slew of witnesses to make sure it is not awarded in error or dramatic proof. Most fighter combat is done alone or with a wingman.

    Probably plenty of opportunity, not much in the witness catagory.
     
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