Battle to save one-of-a-kind Victoria Cross medal from being sold to overseas buyer
Second World War pilot Arthur Scarf was fatally wounded during a machine gun fight with Japanese planes in 1941.
A campaign to prevent a coveted Victoria Cross (VC) medal from being sent overseas has been launched.
The rare medal was awarded to RAF Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf, who in 1941 landed his plane despite being mortally wounded by machine gun fire following a near-suicidal raid.
Scarf had been left flying the sole-surviving plane of a squadron whose mission it was to launch a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Burma.
The medal was sold at auction for a world record £682,000 in April, but it has since emerged the buyer is based overseas.
Now, The Royal Air Force Museum, a registered charity, has a few months to raise £250,000 to match the auction bid placed by the buyer. If successful, the VC will be preserved in the RAF Museum’s national collection on public display in London.
The museum is hoping to raise £250,000 of the required funds through public donations and a GoFundMe page. Money raised will be added to a contribution being made from the museum’s own funds, and a potential grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
RAF Museum historian and head of collections, Dr Harry Raffal said: "Not only does Scarf’s Victoria Cross represent his outstanding devotion to duty and supreme act of bravery, it is also a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by all the British and Commonwealth service personnel fighting in the Far East, and the role of the RAF within this context.
"This unique medal is part of our nation’s heritage, and a significant element to a decisive moment in British history.
"There is an imminent risk of it leaving the UK, but we’re hopeful that with public support we can prevent this from happening, and for the medal to remain on our shores.
"If we’re successful, the medal will be displayed at the museum, in the heart of our collection, helping us to share the stories of all those RAF personnel who fought, lived and died in the conflict."
The VC is the highest decoration for valour in the British armed forces, awarded for an act of extreme bravery in the face of the enemy. Only 22 Victoria Crosses were awarded to RAF personnel during the Second World War, and just one for service in the Far East - the VC that was awarded to Arthur Scarf.
Scarf joined the RAF in 1936 aged 23, and three years later was sent to Singapore with No. 62 Squadron to join the forces in the Far East. On 9 December 1941, he led a formation of aircraft in a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Burma. As Scarf became airborne, a formation of Japanese bombers swept over the airfield destroying every British aircraft on the ground.
Read More From Yahoo News UK:
Brexit: Only three areas in Britain think leaving EU was a good idea, major poll shows
Drink driver crashes Maserati in city centre right in front of police car
Boris Johnson claims UK would be 'gravitationally sucked into EU's orbit' under Labour
Realising that none of his squadron’s aircraft had survived the bombing, Scarf was determined to complete his squadron’s allotted task. Flying low for some 30 miles into enemy occupied territory, Scarf evaded several attacks by Japanese fighters, and released the bombs while his crew manned the machine guns.
Despite evading the worst of the Japanese attacks, machine gun fire riddled the plane. Scarf was fatally wounded but continued to fly the aircraft while being held upright by his crew mates and managed to make a controlled crash landing at a nearby British controlled airfield without injury to his crew.
He died from his wounds shortly afterwards. The VC was awarded posthumously in 1946 and presented to his widow, Elizabeth, by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.