Hugh Gordon Malcolm : biography
Wing Commander Hugh Gordon Malcolm VC (2 May 1917 – 4 December 1942) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Born at Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Malcolm entered the Royal Air Force College Cranwell on 9 January 1936. In January 1938 he joined 26 (Army Co-operation) squadron at Catterick. In May 1939 he suffered a serious head injury in a Westland Lysander crash. When the war started Malcolm was serving with No 17 Training Group. On 4 March 1941 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and was Air Liaison officer on General Bernard Montgomery's general staff.
By the end of 1941 he had risen to the rank of Squadron Leader and joined No 18 Squadron as a flight commander, flying the Bristol Blenheim based in Suffolk, UK.
During late 1942 in North Africa, Wing Commander Malcolm commanded No 18 Squadron, 326 Wing, flying the Bristol Blenheim Mk. V light bomber. Throughout his service in that sector his skill and daring were of the highest order. He led two attacks on Bizerta airfield, pressing his attacks to effective conclusion.
On 17 November 1942, the Squadron were detailed to carry out an attack on Bizerta, taking advantage of low cloud cover. Twenty miles from the target the sky cleared, but despite the danger of continuing without a fighter escort, Malcolm decided to go ahead. Despite fierce opposition, the mission was a success with all bombs dropped within the airfield perimeter, and a Junkers Ju 52 and Messerschmitt Bf 109 were shot down, with other enemy aircraft damaged on the ground by machine-gun fire.
He was a 25 years old Wing Commander commanding 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 4 December he led an thirteen-strong attack on an enemy fighter airfield near Chougui, Tunisia. On reaching the target, however, and starting the attack, the squadron was intercepted by an overwhelming force of enemy fighters from I and II. gruppen JG 53, and 11 Staffel, JG 2. One by one all his bombers were shot down, until he himself was shot down in flames.
Malcolm's aircraft crashed in flames some 15 miles west of the target. An infantry officer and two other men arrived at the scene of the crash minutes later retrieved the body of navigator Pilot Officer James Robb. Malcolm, with Robb and gunner Pilot Officer James Grant DFC, were buried in the Beja War Cemetery in a collective grave.
He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on 27 April 1943.
His was the first Royal Air Force Victoria Cross to be won in North Africa and the famous Malcolm Clubs opened at many RAF stations are named in his honour.
His VC is on display in the Lord Ashcroft collection at the Imperial War Museum, London.
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