NICOLSON, Eric James Brindley (Reg No.931)
Flight Lieutenant Royal Air Force 249 Squadron.
London Gazetted on 15th November 1940
Born on the 29th April 1917 at Hampstead, London.
Killed when his aircraft, a Liberator, crashed, after catching fire, in the Bay of Bengal on the 2nd May 1945
Memorial on the The Singapore Memorial, Malaya.
Digest of Citation reads:
On 16 August 1940 near Southampton, Flight lieutenant Nicolson's Hurricane was fired on by a Messerschmitt 110, injuring the pilot in one eye and one foot. His engine was also damaged and the petrol tank set alight. As he struggled to leave the blazing machine he saw another Messerschmitt, and managing to get back into the bucket seat, pressed the firing button comtinuing firing until the enemy plane dived away to destruction. Not until then did he bale out., and when he landed in a field , he was unable to release his parachute owing to his badly burned hands.
His courage showed that although his aircraft was on fire, he stayed with it until he had shot down the enemy plane.
Nicholson found it difficult to open the cockpit cover of his burning aircraft. Once clear, of the plane, as he descended in the Parachute, he feigned death when an enemy aircraft pilot looked as if he was considering machine-gunning him.
His will power brought him back from virtual death, after his doctors had given up on him recovering. He returned to flying in 1941.
1942 saw him in India. and in August 1943 he was leading a squadron of fighters in Birma. During this time he won the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Wing Commander Nicolson's life ended when the Liberator, in which he was flying as observer, crashed into the Bay of Bengal after catching fire on the 2nd of May 1945..
He was the only a fighter pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the whole of World War Two.
Many considered that other pilots were also worthy of such an honour. However, the general view is that the purpose of a fighter pilot is to shoot down the enemy, and as such is only doing his normal job. Also, as a fighter pilot is alone, there is only his word, usually, of any heroism.