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Norman Jackson VC

Discussion in 'British WWII Medals and Awards' started by Jim, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Sergeant Norman Jackson completed his tour of 30 missions, but on the night of 26 April 1944 he volunteered to make one more sortie. The target was a ballbearing factory at Schweinfurt. Having bombed the target, Jackson's Lancaster was attacked by a German night fighter and a fuel tank in the starboard wing caught fire. Already wounded from shell splinters, Sergeant Jackson, the flight engineer, grabbed a fire extinguisher and jettisoned the escape hatch above the pilot's head. He then started to climb out of the cockpit and back along the top of the fuselage towards the starboard wing. Before he could leave the fuselage his parachute pack opened and the whole canopy and rigging lines spilled into the cockpit. Undeterred, Sergeant Jackson continued. The pilot, bomb aimer and navigator gathered the parachute together and held on to the rigging lines, paying them out as the airman crawled aft. Eventually he slipped and,falling from the fuselage to the starboard wing, grasped an air intake on the leading edge of the wing. He succeeded in clinging on, but lost the extinguisher.

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    By this time, the fire had spread. Sergeant Jackson's face, hands and clothing were severely burnt. Unable to retain his grip, he was swept through the flames and over the trailing edge of the wing, dragging his parachute behind him. Having already sustained serious injuries, he fell 20,000 feet to the ground. His parachute was burnt and only partially opened. Unable to control his descent, he landed heavily and broke an ankle. His right eye was closed and his hands were useless. At daybreak he crawled to the nearest village, where he was taken prisoner. After ten months in hospital he made a good recovery, though his hands required further treatment and were only of limited use. He was then transferred to a prisoner of war camp.

    After he returned home, he received his Victoria Cross in person from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 13 November 1945.The citation pointed out: "To venture outside, when travelling at 200 miles an hour, at a great height and in intense cold, was an almost incredible feat. Had he succeeded in subduing the flames, there was little or no prospect of his regaining the cockpit."

    Jackson was promoted to Warrant Officer. He died in 1994. In 2004, his Victoria Cross fetched £200,000 at auction.


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