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Our Victoria Cross Recipients

Sqn Cdr R Bell-Davies RN Sqn Cdr R Bell-Davies RN

Sqn Cdr Richard Bell-Davies RN

3 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service
Born 19 May 1886
Died 26 Feb 1966

Richard Bell-Davies was a well decorated Vice-Admiral by the end of his naval career but was awarded the Victoria Cross as a young man when he rescued S/Lt GF Smylie had been forced to land in Bulgarian territory after his aircraft was hit; seeing his fellow pilot land Bell-Davies ignored enemy fire and gallantly flew in to rescue him. Poor Smylie was forced to squeeze into Bell-Davies' single seater Nieuport between the rudder bar, engine bearers and oil tank for the forty five minute journey home.

His medals are on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Lt Cdr E Esmonde RN Lt Cdr E Esmonde RN

Lt Cdr Eugene Esmonde RN

825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm
Born 1 March 1909
Died 12 Feb 1942

On 12th February 1943 Lt Cdr Eugene Esmonde was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross after leading the attack on German battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and the cruiser Prince Eugen as they journeyed from Brest to the safety of North German ports. This was an ill-fated attack which culminated in the loss of all six swordfish and saw only five of eighteen men rescued and returned to safety.

This happened just one day after he had been awarded the DSO by King George VI for the part he played in the attack on the Bismarck.

Lt R Hampton Gray RCNVR Lt R Hampton Gray RCNVR

Lt Robert Hampton Gray RCNVR (Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Service)

1841 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm
Born 2 Nov 1917
Died 9 August 1945

Robert Hampton 'Hammy' Gray was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in an air raid on Onagawa Bay on August 9th 1945. Flying from HMS Formidable Gray led the attack and amid furious anti aircraft fire he hit and sank his Japanese destroyer target. This was to be his last flight as his aircraft caught fire causing his untimely death.

Replicas of his medals are on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the Kamikaze Exhibition.

Flt S/Lt RAJ Warneford RN Flt S/Lt RAJ Warneford RN

Flt S/Lt Reginald Alexander John Warneford RN

1 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service
Born 15 Oct 1891
Died 17 June 1915

'Rex' Warneford was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour, on 11th June 1915 - just four months after joining the Royal Navy. He received this award for his success in destroying an enemy Zeppelin. He was the first airman in history to destroy a Zeppelin in flight, becoming a national hero overnight. When he died in an air crash ten days later there was national mourning with 55,000 people attending his funeral.

His medals are on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. 

 

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