Flight Sergeant Rawdon (‘Ron’) Middleton VC

29 Nov 1942

Flight Sergeant Rawdon (‘Ron’) Middleton captained a Stirling bomber of the RAF’s No 149 Squadron during a mission which earned him the Victoria Cross (VC). Taking off from Lakenheath, England, his crew was sent against the Fiat works at Turin, Italy. After a dangerous night crossing of the Alps, Middleton’s aircraft was attacking through heavy flak when a shell burst in the cockpit wounding both pilots. Although shockingly injured, he finished bombing the target before setting course for England. Five crewmen bailed out as the coast was crossed, and two more as the aircraft headed back out to sea (both drowned), leaving Middleton alone at the controls when the Stirling crashed in the sea. His remains washed up on a Dover beach and were buried in February 1943. The previous month he had been posthumously awarded the VC, the first award to a serving member of the RAAF. His commission as Pilot Officer was backdated to 15 November 1942.