World War II Victoria Cross Recipient. He served in the British Army during World War II as a Acting Flight Sergeant in the 218th Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. An 1941 graduate of the Leeds School of Architecture, after earning his flying wings in June, 1942 he was assigned to his Squadron. Already a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Medal, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the August 12, 1943 raid on Turin, Italy. His aircraft, a heavy bomber, was hit by gunfire and badly damaged. His navigator was killed; many of his crew members were wounded, as was he. Unable to communicate verbally due to facial injuries, he managed to level the aircraft and released control while he received first aid and morphine. Upon his return to the cockpit, and with the assistance of the bomb aimer, he continued the return flight and sighted the airfield five hours later. Exhausted and in great pain, he continued to write directions with his left hand, instructing his crew through the eventual belly-landing of the damaged aircraft. His Victoria Cross citation ends "Had he been content, when grievously wounded, to lie still and conserve his failing strength, he would probably have recovered, but he saw it as his duty to exert himself to the utmost, if necessary with his last breath, to ensure that his aircraft and crew did not fall into enemy hands. In appalling conditions he showed the greatest qualities of courage, determination and leadership, and, though wounded and dying, he set an example of devotion to duty which has seldom been equaled and never surpassed." A memorial scholarship to help with architectural studies, first launched in his honor in 1944, was still awarded into the twenty-first century. The only Leeds native awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II in 2001 a millennium statue honoring him was erected in his home town.
Bio by: Beth Painter