The story of how reluctant hero James Nicolson VC DFC came to be awarded the only Victoria Cross presented to a member of Fighter Command in the whole of the Second World War was told to an appreciative audience in the Geoffrey Page Centre in The Wing on Sunday (29 Sept).
Jim Nicolson, the nephew of the Hurricane pilot, who flew with No 249 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, gave a fascinating talk on his uncle, whose Hurricane was attacked by a Bf109. As he started to escape from the aircraft he saw the enemy fighter reappear beneath him, climbed back into the cockpit and began firing at it, despite being badly burned at the time.
Jim Nicolson pointed out that, like most VC recipients, his uncle often expressed doubt as to why he had been awarded the honour. He also revealed that as he descended by parachute, he was shot in the backside by the Home Guard, an incident which led to the local butcher’s boy knocking out the police sergeant responsible.
The next talk in the series will be by Wing Commander Sophy Gardner MBE RAF (rtd), who promises to deliver an equally fascinating talk on The RAF and Memorials this Sunday (6 October) starting at 2.30pm.
Sophy, who has been granted access to the royal archives about the RAF Memorial and presented a paper at the National Maritime Museum, will explore the challenges for the RAF and Royal Navy after World War I, when the focus was very much on the Army and the Western Front. Tickets are limited as the Geoffrey Page Centre only holds 50 people. Please book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 01303 249292. Hurricane members of Friends of the Few are free, Spitfire members pay just £5 and general admission is £10.