Shropshire Star

RAF Museum campaign to save Victoria Cross is successful - and it will be on show at Cosford

A campaign to make sure an historic Victoria Cross is kept for the nation has been successful after raising more than £600,000 – and the medal will go on show at Cosford.

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Arthur Scarf in an Anson of 206 Squadron, RAF Bircham Newton 1937/38

The Royal Air Force Museum campaign to keep the Arthur Scarf Victoria Cross and medal bar was boosted by a National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) donation of £390,000 – towards the total of £660,000.

The money was raised in just three months, after the RAF Museum was given the chance to match the price the medals had reached at auction.

They will now be displayed at the RAF Museum in London this summer, and will also be put on show for a short while at the RAF Museum Midlands at Cosford.

The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously to Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf, and was the only one given to the Royal Air Force during the fighting in the Far East in the Second World War.

Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf's medal bar.

The RAF museum had said Sq Ldr Scarf's story and medals were "too significant to our nation's heritage to be lost from our shores".

Sq Ldr Arthur Scarf was born in Wimbledon in 1913.

He joined the RAF in 1936 before the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 1939, he was sent to Singapore with No. 62 Squadron to join the forces in the Far East.

Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf

On December 9, 1941, Sq Ldr Scarf led a formation of Bristol Blenheim aircraft in a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Thailand.

As he became airborne, a formation of Japanese bombers swept over the airfield. This attack destroyed every British aircraft that had been on the ground.

Realising that none of his squadron’s aircraft had survived the Japanese bombing, Sq Ldr Scarf resolved to complete his mission.

A Flight, 62 Squadron, RAF Cranfield 1938.

Flying low for some 30 miles into enemy occupied territory, he skilfully evaded several attacks by Japanese fighters.

He released the bombs, while his crew manned the machine guns.

Despite using great skill to evade the worst of the Japanese attacks, machine gun fire riddled the Blenheim.

Sq Ldr Scarf was mortally wounded but continued to fly the aircraft and managed to make a controlled crash at Alor Star.

This was where Sq Ldr Scarf’s wife, pregnant with their first child, had worked as a nurse until weeks before.

He crash-landed the aircraft without injury to his crew but died from his wounds two hours later.

The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously to Sq Ldr Scarf in 1946 and was presented to his widow, Elizabeth Scarf, by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

Maggie Appleton, RAF Museum CEO, said they were overwhelmed to have reached the target, ensuring the medals will remain in public hands.

She said: "A heartfelt thank you to every single person who supported us. Whether you donated or shared our campaign with friends and family, we couldn’t have done this without you.

"To have raised £660,000 in three months is simply amazing.

"Special thanks to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for their major donation of £390k, and to our good friends at the RAFHS and the Bomber Command Association.

"We will be displaying Arthur’s Medal at our London site this summer and will also make short tour of our Midlands site. So come and visit and discover more about this remarkable story."

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, added: "I am delighted that the RAF Museum’s campaign to acquire Arthur Scarf’s Victoria Cross has been successful and that the National Heritage Memorial Fund has been able to support this important acquisition with a grant of £390,000.

"The National Heritage Memorial Fund works to safeguard the UK’s most significant heritage and form a lasting memorial to those who gave their lives. This rare and unusual medal, which will now form part of the national collection, perfectly encapsulates what NHMF stands for."