James Brindley Nicolson bigraphy, stories - Recipient of the Victoria Cross

James Brindley Nicolson : biography

29 April 1917 - 2 May 1945

Wing Commander Eric James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC (29 April 1917 – 2 May 1945) was an English 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.

Victoria Cross Citation

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

Fully recovered by September 1941, Nicolson was posted to India in 1942. 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 Distinguished Flying Cross.

As a Wing Commander, he was killed on 2 May 1945 when a RAF B-24 Liberator from No. 355 Squadron, in which he was flying as an observer, caught fire and crashed into the Bay of Bengal. His body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.

Nicolson was the only Battle of Britain pilot and the only pilot of RAF Fighter Command 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.

Second World War

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 near Southampton, Nicolson's Hawker Hurricane was fired on by a Messerschmitt Bf 110, injuring the pilot in one eye and one foot. His engine was also 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. Not until then did he bail out, and he was able to open his parachute in time to land safely in a field. On his descent, he was fired on by members of the Home Guard, who ignored his cry of being a RAF pilot.

Early life

Eric James Brindley Nicolson was born in Hampstead, London in 1917, and was educated at Tonbridge School. In 1935 Nicolson began working as an engineer, and in 1936 he joined the Royal Air Force (Service No 39329.). After his training he joined No. 72 Squadron in 1937 and later moved to No. 249 Squadron in 1940.

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