Wing Commander Eric James Brindley Nicolson VC, DFC
Eric was born on 29 April 1917. His parents, Leslie and Dorothea Hilda Gibson Nicolson lived in Hampstead, London, where Eric also spent his childhood. Secondary studies, graduated from the prestigious Tonbridge School in Kent and in 1936 entered the service number Oh. 39,329 in the RAF.
Fighter underwent training in 1937 was sent to the 72nd wing
aircraft armed with Gladiator
. 16 May 1940 was at the airport Church Fenton formed 249th Squadron
and Nicolson was sent to her to help with training young pilots. The unit is equipped with the Spitfire Mk I
, which since April 1939 and used the "dvaasedmdesátka." But within a few days, changed his decision and command unit had to rearm the Hurricane
! All the pilots had to retrain. He did it quickly and 29 June, the unit was declared operational and the 8th July pilots get first downs. It was the first of 328 ½ victories, which at the end of fighting made the 249th Fighter Squadron of the most successful drive of the war.
19 July, current commander of the squadron BF / Lt R. Kellett
sent to Northolt to become commander of the emerging 303rd Polish Squadron
, and took his place just Nicolson, newly promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. 14 August 1940 the unit moved to the Airport Boscombe Down
, where he was much closer to being a raging Battle of Britain, and joined the fighting. The first battle with German invaders pilots completed the following day without loss of their own was shot down three Bf 110
16 August, the airport became Gosport formations of bombers to attack the Ju 88
, 1918 covered the Bf 110 fighter probably from II. / ZG second Hurricane 249th Squadron were sent into the Poole-Southampton, where they wait for the German formation. However, encountered dangerous Bf 109
E. Forward was sent red section, currently headed by Nicolson. Before we get to the enemy, attacked them a few Spitfires, so he turned back. In fact, however, there was a radio message that the rest of the formation was attacked in Southampton. Nicolson later reported: "... I immediately changed direction for me to get into the skirmishes, while I reached for the map. When I just opened up, my cab hit four consecutive shots from the gun. The first one shattered the canopy and the other underwent a backup fuel tanks, which immediately flared up, and the third had me in the leg. "
The German attack was a harsh and unexpected. The same fate met Nicolsonův Hurricane P3576/GN-A and machine P3616/GN-F P / O M. King, who immediately jumped up and opened the parachute.
For both pilots, but the drama has not ended yet:
"When I heard the first shot, I was violently suppressed and turned right, but as the front began to whip the flames had to scrunch my legs together on the seat. To my amazement I saw at that moment, side by side also fly headlong Me 110, which crossed my path - so I opened fire at a distance of 200 yards and I shot until I was able to withstand the heat of the fire. I can swear, if I had a button starts the machine guns unlocked, but I know that the finder was lit ... However, four independent witnesses on the ground that is confirmed as shot down. Stodesítka began immediately after the start of my dodge fire, but it could also cause the rear gunner effort to get me in their sights. After a while, stop and dribble the angle of its dive increased. In any case, I do not think that this aircraft was uncontrollable. At that time I wanted to jump, but hit my head on a broken canopy! I quickly gave it away, and again reflected to the exit. This time I returned back nerozepnuté Safety Belts! I have released the buckle, and jumped a third time. However, my left foot kicked the Stick at, so my plane suffered a flat spin down like a cork from a bottle of champagne. "
The country suffered two parachutes and RAF fighters, but after which the soldiers opened fire nearby antiaircraft mate! It is not clear how accurately they fly, but the King's parachute suddenly ceased to perform its function, and the pilot landed hard on the garden of a house in Clifton Road in Shirley, where a severe injury to his death.
Nicolson is severely burn victims fared no better. He was hit in the side shot with a shotgun one of the members of the militia. But saw a few people who have long recognized that the pilot's own parachute, and the poor man nearly beaten to death! Nicolson has since been taken to hospital in Southampton.
The Germans have hit machine P3870 S / Ldr E. King, who could not tighten it back to base. The only British success and she was Nicolsonova stodesítka that the pilot was granted as probably destroyed. It was also one of Eric's victory in the war. The identity of her nor the strikers, given the magnitude of the fighting could not be ascertained.
Eric now expect a long recovery time. He was first taken to the hospital at RAF Halton, and then to the Palace Hotel in the resort of Torquay, which served as a spa for wounded airmen.
When it became clear the pilot's heroism, he was immediately nominated for the award of the highest awards the Victoria Cross
. Lord approved the proposal and the award was announced on the 15th November 1940. Nicolson thus became the only RAF fighter for the entire second World War II, which has received this honor. Just for the record, during the war received the Victoria Cross is only one other fighter pilot - Canadian Robert Hampton "Hamm" Gray
, "jockey" Corsair 1841st Sqn
FAA, who died in the attack on the Japanese ship. He was also the second and last member of the armed forces, which during the war received the award for action on home soil. The first was a Leading Seaman Jack Mantle
of the modified transport ship HMS Foylebank. He was awarded the event of 4 July 1940, which, though badly wounded, shot in anti-aircraft guns on the attacking German machine until it does not drop dead.
Nicolson was fully recovered in the summer of 1941 and October 1941 he became commander of the 1459th recently created squadron. She was armed with a machine arranged by Douglas Havoc Turbinlite. These machines have a powerful bow in the spotlight and were equipped with radar. They fly in cooperation with jednomotorovými fighters who had to search for targets and then lighten. However, the method was not very successful, plus a growing number of standard night fighter. Eric Vela unit until March 1942 and subsequently was sent to India.
Here, in October 1942, has the rank of Wing Commander, he became commander of the 171st wings. It consisted of the 20th
and 28th Squadron
RAF and 2 Indian Air Force squadron. Armament consisted of units mainly hornoplošné Lysander
and was designed to support ground forces. Soon, however, began to replace the Hurricane IIB
, but the unit struggles to intervene and give only limited mainly training.
In August 1943 Nicolson post was changed again, this time he took command of the 27th Squadron
RAF. It is at that time was found in Agartala airport and had a machine in service Beaufighter
Mk.VI and Mosquito
Mk.II. Its main tasks have been attacks against ground and naval targets. Eric led the unit until June 1944 and was awarded the DFC
Subsequently, he worked at RAF staff in Burma and it appears that his positions used for the occasional "expeditions" over enemy territory in airplanes different units. This was the second May 1945. This was posted on 16 bombing Liberators
of the 355th
and 356th Squadron of
the RAF to attack the artillery positions in Rangoon, where he currently operated by allied ground troops. Eric flew as an observer in the machine "R" S / Ldr De Souza from the 355th Squadron. But the machines failed engine, which also wrapped in flames. The pilot tried to land in the Bay of Bengal, survived the accident but only two men. Among the dead was, unfortunately, Wing Commander Eric James Brindley Nicolson VC
Cull, B.: 249 Fighter Squadron, our troops, Prague 2003
Shores, C. Air War for Burma, Grub Street, London 2005
FlyPast Special - Battle of Britain, 70th Anniversary