The £220,000 Victoria Cross of Wing Commander H G Malcolm
The 220,000 Victoria Cross of Wing Commander H G Malcolm
A posthumous award to a WW2 pilot who pressed his attack to the bitter end comes to auction
Hugh G Malcolm was born in Dundee in 1917 and entered the RAF as a cadet in 1936, graduating as a pilot in 1937.
Posted to 26 Squadron (Lysanders) in 1938, Malcolm was involved in a bad crash. He recorded the incident by annotating a picture of the crashed plane in his log book with the cheerful 'It Just Fell Out'er Me Hands!' despite being told that his injuries, including a skull fracture spelled the end of his flying career.
Through his own resilience and the country's desperate need for skilled airmen, however he was soon in the skies again. In fact, the main consequence of the crash was that he met his future wife amongst the nursing staff at Princess Mary Hospital, Halton.
Malcolm went on to be promoted to Flight Lieutenant and led a series of night time raids against Luftwaffe airfields from a base at Thruxton.
His team were also commended for their successful rescue mission regarding a dinghy stranded by the occupied Dutch coast. It proved extremely difficult to rescue the crew, and impossible to do so without flying dangerously close to the coast.
The crew were saved through careful navigation and doggedly tracking her over four hours in clear view of the land.
Malcolm's war ended in 1942 when a sortie of Blenheims under his command were requested to make a bombing raid as a follow up to an infantry attack on a Luftwaffe landing strip. No specific fighter cover for the raid was available, making the mission dangerous in the extreme.
Nevertheless, Malcolm agreed to the attack, and a surviving pilot later cited his charisma as a reason they followed him on the near suicidal mission. The 13 Blenheims successfully dropped their bombs against the odds before they were engulfed by 50 German fighters and were all shot down - Malcolm's being one of the last to fall.
Wing Commander H G Malcolm's Victoria Cross
For his "Grim Determination and Outstanding Courage", Malcolm was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in 1943, and it will now appear at Spink on April 22 in London, with Malcolm's 1939-1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Africa Star, with North Africa 1942-43 Bar and extremely fine War Medal.
In total, and including ephemera, the grouping is estimated at 180,000-220,000.
The auction is the same as that at which the first British army VC is also to be sold. It is very rare for two Victoria Crosses to appear in the same auction.
Malcolm's legacy includes a chain of service rest and leisure recreation centres in North Africa which Lady Tedder named in his honour, and the related Malcolm Club Monthly Bulletin.
Collectors of WWII militaria may wish to know that a signed photograph of Winston Churchill is currently available.