Wing Commander Eric James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC RAF

1239 (Broxbourne & Hoddesdon) Squadron recently welcomed Mr Jim Nicolson to their Squadron headquarters to give a presentation about his uncle, Wing Commander Eric James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC RAF who 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.

Born in Hampstead, London, Wing Commander Nicolson Joined the Royal Air Force in 1936. After completing his training, he joined 72 Squadron RAF in 1937 and later moved to 249 Squadron RAF in 1940.

During the Battle of Britain, as a Flight Lieutenant and aged 23, he was awarded the Victoria C ross. On 16th August 1940 near Southampton, Flight Lieutenant Nicolson's Hawker Hurricane was fired on by a Messerschmitt Bf 100, injuring one of his eyes and a foot. His engine was also damaged and the petrol tank was set alight. As he struggled to leave the blazing machine he saw another Messerschmitt, and managed 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.

Mr Jim Nicolson and cadets of 1239 Squadron. Jim gave a fascinating presentation abour his uncles' Royal Air Force service during the Second World War.

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

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.

Having fully recovered by September 1941, Flight Lieutenant Nicolson was posted to India in 1942.

Wing Commander Nicolson's Second World War medals.

Between August 1943 and August 1944 he was a Squadron Leader and Commanding Officer of 27 Squadron RAF, flying Bristol Beaufighters over Burma and during this time he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Promotion to Wing Commander followed, and unfortunately, he was killed on 2 May 1945 when a B-24 Liberator from 355 Squadron, in which he was flying as an observer, caught fire and crashed into the Bay of Bengal.

Wing Commander Nicolson's body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial and his Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon.

Flight Lieutenant Mark Richards, OC 1239 Squadron said "1239 Squadron is very grateful to Jim Nicholson for giving such an interesting and fascinating presentation about his uncle, Wing Commander Nicolson. To hear the story of his Royal Air Force career; his immense bravery and his untimely death was very humbling indeed".