19 April 2009

Victoria Cross: E. J. B. Nicolson


Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force; 249 Squadron

Born: 29 April 1917, Hampstead, London
Died: 2 May 1945, Bay of Bengal, off Calcutta, India

Citation: 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.

(London Gazette Issue 34993 dated 15 Nov 1940, published 15 Nov 1940.)

Note: Flt Lt Nicolson was the only fighter pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II. (Wg Cdr G P Gibson VC scored four kills as a night-fighter pilot, flying Beaufighters, but he received his Victoria Cross as leader of the bombing raids on the Eder and Moehne dams.) He was killed when the plane in which he was flying as an observer ditched due to engine failure two hours after takeoff for a raid on Rangoon.

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