Lest we forget

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, in 1942 Nicolson was posted to India.
Between August 1943 and August 1944 he was a Squadron Leader and C.O. of No 27
Squadron, flying Bristol Beaufighters over Burma.  During this time he was awarded the DFC.

As a Wing Commander, he was killed on 2 May 1945 when a  RAF B-24 Liberator from 355 Squadron, in which he was flying as an  observer, caught fire and crashed into the Bay of Bengal.  His body was not recovered.

Nicolson was the only  Battle of Britain pilot and the only RAF fighter pilot to be awarded the  Victoria Cross during the Second World War. Nicolson’s Victoria Cross is  displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, England.

Foot Note :