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Remembering those who fought in the Battle of Britain on its commemorative day


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Remembering all those brave young men who fought during World War 2, taking to the skies to battle overwhelming odds of the Axis forces, after which Churchill would say;
"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few".

September 15th is remembered as "Battle of Britain" day even though the conflict lasted for the entire summer. 

This artwork by Robert Taylor depicts James Nicolson winning his Victoria Cross on 16 August 1940 during the height of the Battle of Britain.

Nicholson was the only WWII pilot of the Battle of Britain, and in fact the entire RAF Fighter Command, to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

Nicolson was 23 years old and a flight lieutenant in No. 249 Squadron during the Second World War when he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 16 August 1940 having taken off from RAF Boscombe Down near Salisbury, Nicolson's Hawker Hurricane was fired on by the Messerschmitt Bf 109 of Heinz Bretnutz of II./JG 53, who returned to base with claims for two Hurricanes following this action.

Nicolson's engine was damaged and the petrol tank set alight. As he struggled to leave the blazing machine he saw another Messerschmitt, and managing to get back into the bucket seat, pressed the firing button and continued firing until the enemy plane dived away to destruction. The result of staying in his burning aircraft meant he sustained serious burns to his hands, face, neck and legs and only when he finished off the enemy fighter did he bail out, leaving barely enough time to open his parachute and land safely in a field, however during his descent, he was shot at by members of the Home Guard, who ignored his cry of being a RAF Pilot.

The announcement and accompanying citation for the
Victoria Cross decoration was published in supplement to the London Gazette on 15 November 1940, reading

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.


Fully recovered by September 1941, Nicolson was posted to India in 1942. Between August 1943 and August 1944 he was a squadron leader and commanding officer of No. 27 Squadron, flying Bristol Beaufighters over Burma. During this time he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Wing Commander James Nicolson sadly did not survive the war. On the 2nd of May 1945 while aboard an RAF B-24 Liberator from No. 355 Squadron, in which he was flying as an observer, it caught fire and crashed into the Bay of Bengal. His body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, England.Screenshot_20230915_100636_Chrome.thumb.jpg.5158c503ec4198383a7d2cd33214f789.jpg


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