Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Airmen awarded the OBE and MBE for gallantry 1940-1943

This section contains the citations that appeared in the London Gazette in 1941 and 1943, although some of the actions for the awards were  made took place earlier: -

Flying Officer John Hamilton LAUGHLIN (39995)

Pilot Officer John COGGINS (44458).

In September, 1940, an aircraft carrying a full load of bombs crashed among other aircraft and burst into flames. Flying Officer Laughlin, Pilot Officer Coggins and another officer immediately ran to these aircraft, started the engines and taxied them away. . During this time two bombs on the burning plane had exploded. The action showed complete disregard for personal safety in the face of the greatest danger and owing to the officers' promptness three aircraft were taken to safety without damage and a fourth with only minor damage.

(London Gazette 21 January 1941)

Pilot Officer Charles Alfred Patten (82205), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in April, 1941, Pilot Officer Patten was the rear gunner of an aircraft which crashed and burst into flames during an operational mission. On extricating himself from his turret, he went to the front of the aircraft, where the front gunner was alive but trapped. Although this part of the aircraft was ablaze, and ammunition and flares were exploding, Pilot Officer Patten immediately endeavoured to rescue his trapped comrade. By almost superhuman efforts, and with the assistance of two members of the crew, he was able to wrench the turret from the aircraft and drag the front gunner to safety. By his promptness and courage, Pilot Officer Patten undoubtedly saved the life of sthis member of the crew.

(London Gazette 9 September 1941)

Warrant Officer Edward George Riseborough (513281).

Warrant Officer Riseborough has supervised the preparation and serving of meals in the face of almost continuous air attack on his aerodrome in Malta. His courage and determination have been outstanding and the effect on his staff has been that meals have always been served despite the many serious difficulties. On one occasion when the airmen's dining hall was destroyed during a raid Warrant Officer Riseborough, who had been in a shelter nearby, commenced salvaging equipment whilst the raid was still in progress. He showed no regard for his own safety and, although he was badly shaken, it was largely due to his untiring work that a meal was served in alternative accommodation a short time later. His courage and devotion to duty have set an excellent example and contributed to the high standard of morale maintained at the station.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)

Flying Officer Clifford George Reeve (82965), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in April, 1942, Flying Officer Reeve was the navigator of a Stirling aircraft which crashed when landing after an operational sortie. Most members of the crew were thrown clear, but the captain and two other members were seriously injured; the captain died within a few moments. Flying Officer Reeve sustained a fractured vertebra and both his ankles were dislocated. Despite these painful and serious injuries he helped to drag his injured companions through a hedge and some 20 yards further on into a field where they were safer from the danger of exploding petrol tanks. The high courage and fortitude displayed by Flying Officer Reeve set a splendid, example.

(London Gazette 10 July 1942)

Squadron Leader Frank George Mogg (90028), M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., Auxiliary Air Force.

One night in May, 1942, an aircraft crashed on the edge of an aerodrome and immediately burst into flames. Squadron Leader Mogg (the station medical officer), accompanied by Leading Aircraftman Rowland, hastened to the scene and found that three members of the crew had been thrown clear of the main part of the wreckage and killed; a fourth member had managed to extricate himself from the tail turret. A wireless operator was, however, trapped in the blazing fuselage, being entangled by his harness and flying clothing which was burning. Showing complete disregard for their own safety, Squadron Leader Mogg, clad only in overalls over his pyjamas, and Leading Aircraftman Rowland went into the blazing wreckage to rescue the unfortunate airman. By lying flat on the floor and using a greatcoat as a shield Leading Aircraftman Rowland was able to afford some protection for the medical officer whilst the latter administered morphia to the injured operator. Leading Aircraftman Rowland afterwards assisted Squadron Leader Mogg in cutting the airman free and in extricating him from the aircraft. During the time that this officer and airman were working in the wreckage two oxygen bottles exploded within a few feet of their heads and there was grave danger that others might have done so at any time. Squadron Leader Mogg was badly scorched and sustained burns to his hands and wrists but, despite this, he accompanied the dying, wireless operator' during the journey by ambulance to hospital some 6 miles away. He then fainted and had to receive medical attention. Leading Aircraftman Rowland was also burned on the hands and wrists. Both rescuers displayed gallantry of a high standard.

576550 Leading Aircraftman Peter Nigel Rowland, Royal Air Force was also awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 28 July 1942)

Acting Flight Lieutenant Edgar Bernard Richard Lockwood (89584), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in July, 1942, a Wellington aircraft returned from a cross-country flight with one engine defective. Whilst circling the aerodrome the faulty engine stopped and the pilot proceeded to make an emergency landing. As the flare path was already in use by another aircraft which was also landing, the pilot of the Wellington decided to land on the port side but in so doing he overshot the space available and ran into a building situated on the edge of the aerodrome. The aircraft and the building immediately caught fire. All the members of the crew were thrown clear with the exception of the wireless operator/air gunner who was ejected on to the roof of the building which was soon burning fiercely. Flight Lieutenant Lockwood, displaying initiative and complete disregard for his own safety, made his way on to the roof by kicking out the window panes of a door. He found the injured airman and then, carrying him in his arms, jumped from the roof only a few seconds before it collapsed. Flight Lieutenant Lockwood's gallant action undoubtedly saved the airman's life.

(London Gazette 30 October 1942)

Flight Lieutenant Thomas Henry Cullen, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (81303), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

A few days before the German invasion of Crete, this medical officer fell sick with dysentery at Maleme. When the heavy air attack on Maleme began, although too weak to walk properly, he immediately attended to the wounded and continued to do so under fire until his post was captured. Flight Lieutenant Cullen then established a first-aid post in a nearby village and worked alone and without sleep for the next three days, when he was joined by two doctors of the New Zealand forces. Over 1,000 wounded were passed through this medical post before it was finally taken over by an Australian Field Ambulance. Flight Lieutenant Cullen displayed devotion to duty and courage of the highest order.

 (London Gazette 29 December 1942)

Flying Officer Raymond Kitchener Weston (124832), Royal Air Force.

In January, 1943, this officer was the pilot of a Beaufighter aircraft which swung off the runway and hit an obstruction which caused the aircraft to catch fire. Flying Officer Weston managed to extricate himself and immediately went to the aid of the observer who was trapped in the blazing aircraft. Cannon gun ammunition was exploding, the flames were spreading and there was a very grave danger of the petrol tanks exploding. Nevertheless, with the assistance of 3 workmen, who were nearby when the accident occurred, Flying Officer Weston with bare hands, pulled the wreckage apart and dragged the observer to safety. Ten seconds later the aircraft was a complete mass of flames. Flying Officer Weston's courage and initiative undoubtedly saved his companion's life.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)

Pilot Officer Keith James Hall (134744), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in February, 1943, a Tiger Moth aircraft collided with a stationary aircraft and burst into flames immediately. Pilot Officer Hall and Leading Aircraftman McCrae, who were in another aircraft taxying along the boundary of a nearby airfield witnessed the accident and immediately ran to the scene in an endeavour to rescue the pilot who had been rendered unconscious. Pilot Officer Hall and Leading Aircraftman McCrae succeeded in unfastening the pilot's harness and were then driven back by the flames. Displaying complete disregard for their personal safety this officer and airman climbed on to the fuselage and re-entered the flames. The starboard wing was burnt out and the wreckage heeled over, throwing McCrae to the ground. Nevertheless he renewed his efforts and assisted Pilot Officer Hall in dragging the unconscious pilot to safety. This officer and airman displayed high courage.

1515644 Leading Aircraftman Ian Joseph McCrae, Royal Air Force was awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)

OBE (Military Dvision)

Acting Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wilson O'Neill Fisher, D.F.C. (42560), Royal Air Force.

MBE (Military Dvision)

 Pilot Officer Farnham Hill, D.F.C. (134661), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in February, 1943, a bomber aircraft crashed in a field on return from an operational night during which damage had been sustained to the elevator controls. The aircraft broke in two at the rear of the mid-upper turret, and the whole wreckage caught fire. Five members of the crew were able to step out through the gap where the fracture took place, whilst the pilot escaped through his window. Squadron (Leader Fisher and Pilot Officer Hill, who had both landed in another aircraft just before the crash, having been on a sortie of 5 hours duration, were in the immediate vicinity and rushed to the aircraft. Aircraftman Fletcher, who was on duty with the airfield controller, and Leading Aircraftman Miles, who was engaged at a dispersal point some 100 yards away, also hurried to the scene. Aircraftman Fletcher was the first to arrive and he entered the fuselage, thinking that all members of the crew had been trapped therein. (He was joined by Squadron (Leader Fisher and Leading Aircraftman Miles, but owing to the intense heat, all were forced to retire. The flight engineer was then found hanging from the pilot's window and unable to move owing to a broken thigh. Aircraftman Fletcher climbed along the port wing in order to render assistance to him. Squadron Leader Fisher, Pilot Officer Hill and Leading Aircraftman Miles all helped, the work being directed by Squadron Leader Fisher. Despite the intense heat and the danger from exploding petrol tanks and ammunition they succeeded in extricating the flight engineer, who had been trapped in the pilot's cockpit. The initiative and heroic efforts displayed by these officers and airmen undoubtedly saved their comrade's life.

1544738 Leading Aircraftman Arthur George Miles. Royal Air Force and 1047210 Aircraftman 2nd Class Herbert Fletcher, Royal Air Force were also awarded the BEM for their part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)

Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Thomas Moore, B.S., F.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (23417), Reserve of Air Force Officers.

One night in March, 1943, an aircraft crashed on a Royal Air Force Station and immediately burst into flames. Squadron Leader Moore (the duty medical officer) saw the accident and, accompanied by Leading Aircraftman Icke, a medical orderly, proceeded to the scene. Squadron Leader Moore directed the removal of the rear gunner, who was dazed and sitting amongst the burning wreckage, to a place of safety. The aircraft was now enveloped in flames and ammunition was exploding. Nevertheless, despite the intense heat and the danger from exploding oxygen bottles this officer and airman entered the burning wreckage in an attempt to rescue another member of the crew who was pinned down. Without any protective clothing they lifted aside the burning wreckage and, with great difficulty, succeeded in extricating the injured man. Squadron Leader Moore rendered first aid to the rescued man. Squadron Leader Moore sustained burns to his chest and hands in carrying out the operation. This officer and airman both displayed courage and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.

1479714 Leading Aircraftman Beric Vaughan Icke, Royal Air Force was awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)

Flying Officer Edwin Morgan (118683), Royal Air Force.

One day in January, 1943, Flying Officer Morgan and Aircraftman Pickering were master and nursing orderly respectively of the air/sea rescue pinnace which was repeatedly attacked by enemy aircraft from very close range. During the first attack Flying Officer Morgan's left elbow was shattered by shell splinters and a bullet passed through his right calf. The shock rendered him unconscious for a time. Aircraftman Pickering was also wounded and in subsequent attacks one member of the crew was killed and six others were wounded. Immediately he regained consciousness Flying Officer Morgan, refusing medical aid until all other members had been treated, resumed his position commanding the vessel and directed defensive measures. Aircraftman Pickering, although suffering great pain, continued to tend other injured members of the crew. Throughout the action Flying Officer Morgan and Aircraftman Pickering conducted themselves with great courage, skill and resource. The excellent example set by this officer and airman inspired and encouraged the other members of the crew during the return of their sinking vessel.

1635851 Aircraftman 1st Class Joseph Pickering, Royal Air Force was awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)

Flight Lieutenant George Desmond GRAHAM, (61855) - No.9 (Observer) Advanced Flying Training Unit

Flight Lieutenant Graham is a medical officer, and in addition to his normal duties, has displayed outstanding energy and initiative in assisting in the rescue of aircraft crews which have crashed in the mountains of North Wales. During the last eight months he has proceeded to the scene of twelve such crashes which have occurred at height up to 3,000 feet. He is himself an experienced mountaineer and his skill and ability have been of great assistance on such occasions, with the result that out of twelve airmen rescued, eleven have been successful recoveries.

(Announced - London Gazette - 2 June 1943; citation courtesy Steve Brew)

Acting Wing Commander Joseph Farmer (35133). Royal Air Force.

While en-route from Singapore to Batavia, the ship on which he was travelling was   torpedoed by an enemy submarine. The vessel carried explosives. Wing Commander Farmer, assisted by two of the ship's crew, organised personnel on board and improvised rafts. The vessel sank about an hour later, the submarine remaining in the vicinity until then. After about 18 hours in the water, the survivors were rescued by a naval vessel.  Owing largely to Wing Commander Farmer's coolness, courage and initiative, many lives were saved.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)

Flying Officer John Verney (131568), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in April, 1943, a Whitley aircraft crash-landed and burst into flames. Flying Officer Verney (navigator) was thrown clear, but received superficial wounds on the face, head .and legs and suffered from shock. Sergeant Gough (air gunner) managed to extricate himself from the rear turret and proceeded to the front of the aircraft where he found the pilot and bomb aimer lying together in the wreckage. The bomb aimer was on fire, but was pulled to safety and passed to another member of the crew by Sergeant Gough. This airman then returned to assist the pilot who was pinned, from the waist downwards. Ignoring his own safety, Sergeant Gough made heroic attempts to release the pilot, despite the flames and. ammunition which was bursting in the front turret. He only desisted in his efforts when his harness, flying suit and hair were burning. Flying Officer Verney, who was suffering considerably, made several valiant attempts to go to the aid of Sergeant Gough, but became exhausted by his efforts and finally collapsed, being dragged away by another member of the crew. He was taken to a nearby residence where he displayed commendable coolness and fortitude in making his report of the accident and in attending to the needs of the other survivors.

628577 Sergeant Philip Gough, Royal Air Force was also awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)

Acting Group Captain Morgan Brownson Edwards (26157), Royal Air Force.

One morning in September, 1943, a Beaufighter aircraft crashed on an airfield and immediately burst into flames. Group Captain Edwards, the station commander, proceeded to the scene of the accident and, ignoring the danger from exploding ammunition and air bottles, entered the aircraft to rescue the trapped pilot. He released the pilot's harness and then helped him out of the aircraft, at the same time giving directions and inspiration to others who had come to assist. Thirty seconds after the pilot had been dragged clear of the wreckage the oil tanks exploded. Group Captain Edwards showed courage of a high order and set a fine example to all personnel at the station. His action was all the more commendable as, during the night, two other aircraft had crashed and caught fire within sight of the airfield and Group Captain Edwards had had a disturbed and trying time as a result.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)

Flight Lieutenant Simon Theodore WINTER, M.B., Ch.B. (107807), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

When returning from an operational sortie one night in July, 1943, a Stirling aircraft crashed whilst attempting an emergency landing. The bomber burst into flames. Flight Lieutenant Winter, who was the medical officer on duty, immediately proceeded to the scene. Regardless of his own safety he assisted the crew to escape and entered the burning fuselage in a vain endeavour to release the mid-upper gunner who was trapped upside down in his turret. Despite burns to his head and face. Flight Lieutenant Winter then attended to the needs of the injured members of the crew. Throughout he displayed high courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)

Flying Officer Horace TAYLOR (133833), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This officer, a Seafire pilot on a merchant ship, was sailing in convoy to North Africa in May, 1943. when the ship in which he was travelling was torpedoed and sunk. The starboard accommodation was wrecked by the explosion of the torpedo and Flying Officer Taylor, missing a brother officer, went to the latter's cabin. He found the cabin door jammed by debris, but broke it open and saw the officer lying unconscious. Flying Officer Taylor, with complete disregard for his own safety, attempted to drag him on deck but was unable to do so owing to his weight. He obtained the assistance of one of the crew and between them they were able to take the unconscious officer on deck. This gallant action, undertaken with the knowledge that the ship was sinking, undoubtedly saved the life of his companion.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)

This page was last updated on 02/10/21

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