Bomber Command Reception and Arthur Scarf VC

Andrew McMillan PM and Wing Commander John Chappell were privileged to attend a reception for the opening of the new Bomber Command Display at the RAF Museum Hendon.

The Lancaster from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over at the start of the reception to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Dams raid by 617 Sqn, which was as you can imagine very emotive.  Of note, on display for the first time was the Arthur Scarf VC which our Charity Committee gave a generous donation towards, and which ultimately helped as part of the overall campaign to raise the money to keep the medal in the UK as an important part of the history of the RAF and indeed our national heritage.   


The medals were sold at auction for a record price of £660,000 to a private overseas buyer. They were export-stopped due to their national significance and the Museum was given three months - until 30 April - to match the bid and keep them in the UK. Displaying the medal group will help the Museum to share an important but less well-known part of the RAF’s story. Only 22 Victoria Crosses were awarded to RAF personnel during the Second World War, and Scarf’s was the only one for service in the Far East, hence the medals being deemed of national importance.


On 9 December 1941, Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf led a formation of Bristol Blenheim aircraft in a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields at Singora, in what is today Thailand. As Scarf 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, Scarf resolved to complete his squadron’s allotted task. Flying low for some 30 miles into enemy-occupied territory, Scarf 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 gunfire riddled the Blenheim. Scarf was mortally wounded but continued to fly the aircraft and made a controlled crash at Alor Star, where his pregnant wife had been working as a nurse. He crash-landed the aircraft, saving all his crew, but sadly he died from his wounds two hours later.   The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously to Scarf in 1946 and was presented to his widow, Elizabeth, by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.