Auction: 4004 - Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals & Militaria
Lot: 1

The Second War Bomber Command Victoria Cross Group of Eight to Sergeant Later Warrant Officer N.C. Jackson, Royal Air Force for His Incredible Courage in Climbing Out of His Lancaster at 22,000 Feet Above Schweinfurt, While Wounded, to Put Out a Serious Fire on the Starboard Wing a) Victoria Cross, reverse of suspension bar engraved '905192 Sergeant N.C. Jackson, R.A.F. No.106 Squadron', reverse of Cross engraved '19th October 1945' b) 1939-45 Star c) Air Crew Europe Star d) Italy Star e) Defence Medal f) War Medal g) Coronation, 1953 h) Jubilee, 1977, the group very fine, mounted as worn g) the group of miniature awards worn by Warrant Officer Jackson, as above but with Atlantic bar added to the Italy Star riband (16) Estimate £ 120,000-140,000 Warrant Officer Norman Cyril Jackson V.C. (1919-1994), born in Ealing, London was adopted by the Gunter family as a small child and was educated at Archdeacon Cambridge and Twickenham Grammar School. Interested in engineering, he became a fitter and turner after he left school. On the outbreak of war Jackson volunteered to join the R.A.F.V.R. and enlisted on 20.10.1939. After trade training at Halton and Hednesford he was classified as a Fitter II E (Engines). Posted overseas to Freetown, Sierra Leone he joined 95 Squadron on 2.1.1941, a unit just reformed with Short Sunderland Flying Boats, for maritime reconnaissance, and was employed as an engine fitter on aero engines and marine craft. An opportunity arose to re-muster as air-crew. Jackson applied for training as a Flight Engineer and returned to England in September 1942. After six months at 27 O.T.U. (Officer Training Unit) he proceeded to R.A.F. St Athan to complete his instruction at the end of March 1943. On 14 June he was re-mustered as a Flight Engineer, promoted to Sergeant and was posted to No. 1645 H.C.U. (Heavy Conversion Unit). On 28 July he joined No. 106 Squadron at Syerston (Lancasters), and completed nine sorties before the Squadron moved to Metheringham early in November. On 24 April, Jackson completed his tour of 30 operations mostly over heavily defended German targets which included: Nuremburg; Mannheim; Munich; Stuttgart; Magdeburg (21/22.1.1944), 57 aircraft including 22 Lancasters were lost, mostly to nightfighters; Leipzig (19/20.2.1944) 78 aircraft lost including 44 Lancasters; Swinemunde; Frankfurt, and 10 trips to the most heavily defended target of all, Berlin. On 2/3 December 1943, Jackson's fifth visit to the German capital, the 'Squadron Record Book' states "Attacked by fighter aircraft, extensively damaged. Also hit by heavy flak and whole of return journey was made on three engines.", 37 Lancasters were lost in this operation. One More, "Just For Luck" Although Jackson had completed his 'tour' of 30 operations, one of those sorties had been with a different crew and as he intended staying with his friends until they also were 'tour expired' he volunteered for one more "just for luck". 106 Squadron's target for the night of 26/27.4.1944 was Schweinfurt, the home of the German ball-bearing industry. At 21.35 hours Flying Officer Mifflen, D.F.C. took off in Lancaster ME669 Z-NO from R.A.F. Metheringham for the 1,000 mile round trip to Schweinfurt with the 'Old Firm', Flying Officer F.H. Higgins (Navigator), Flight Sergeants N.H. Johnson (Rear Gunner), E. Sandelands (Wireless Operator), M.H. Toft (Bomb Aimer), Sergeants W. Smith (Mid-Upper-Gunner) and Norman C. Jackson at the Flight Engineer's instrument panel. Jackson had heard earlier in the day that his wife Alma had just given birth to their first son, Brian; celebrations of a liquid nature were understandably postponed. Unexpected strong head winds delayed the main bomber force of 215 Lancasters en route which gave the German night fighters more time to detect the main bomber stream. Combats took place all the way to the target and during the period of the raid. 106 Squadron experienced its most tragic evening of the war - five Lancasters failed to return. Norman Jackson's example of gallantry carried out on one of those aircraft under the most horrendous conditions has not been equalled. Of Jackson's crew, Mifflen and Johnson both died in their aircraft and are buried together in Dürnbach War Cemetery. Higgins, Toft, Sandelands and Smith parachuted to safety becoming prisoners of war, and only when they were repatriated at the end of hostilities could the amazing story of Jackson's courage be told. V.C. London Gazette 26.10.1945 905192 Sergeant (now Warrant Officer) Norman Cyril Jackson, R.A.F.V.R. 106 Squadron. 'This airman was the flight engineer in a Lancaster detailed to attack Schweinfurt on the night of 26th April 1944. Bombs were dropped successfully and the aircraft was climbing out of the target area. Suddenly it was attacked by a fighter at about 20,000 feet. The captain took evading action at once, but the enemy secured many hits. A fire started near a petrol tank on the upper surface of the starboard wing, between the fuselage and the inner engine. Sergeant Jackson was thrown to the floor during the engagement. Wounds which he received from shell splinters in the right leg and shoulder were probably sustained at that time. Recovering himself, he remarked that he could deal with the fire on the wing and obtained his captain's permission to try to put out the flames. Pushing a hand fire-extinguisher into the top of his life-saving jacket and clipping on his parachute pack. Sergeant Jackson 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 to 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, which was blown away. By this time, the fire had spread rapidly and Sergeant Jackson was involved. His face, hands and clothing were severely burnt. Unable to retain his hold, he was swept through the flames and over the trailing edge of the wing, dragging his parachute behind. When last seen it was only partly inflated and was burning in a number of places. Realising the fire could not be controlled, the captain gave the order to abandon aircraft. Four of the remaining members of the crew landed safely. The captain and rear gunner have not been accounted for. Sergeant Jackson was unable to control his descent and landed heavily. He sustained a broken ankle, and his right eye was closed through burns and his hands were useless. These injuries, together with the wounds received earlier, reduced him to a pitiable state. At daybreak he crawled to the nearest village, where he was taken prisoner. He bore the intense pain and discomfort of the journey to Dulag Luft with magnificent fortitude. After 10 months in hospital he made a good recovery, though his hands require further treatment and are of only limited use. This airman's attempt to extinguish the fire and save the aircraft and crew from falling into enemy hands was an act of outstanding gallantry. To venture outside, when travelling at 200 miles an hour, at an incredible 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. The spilling of his parachute and the risk of grave damage to its canopy reduced his chances of survival to a minimum. By his ready willingness to face these dangers he set an example of self-sacrifice which will ever be remembered'. Since the publication of the original London Gazette citation, some additionable information has become available. The wing fire prompted Jackson's course of action. He climbed onto the Navigation table and deliberately opened his parachute inside the aircraft, while Higgins and Toft sorted out the rigging lines and chute to prepare themselves as 'anchor-men'. Releasing the upper escape hatch, Jackson squeezed himself out into the freezing 200mph slipstream. Firmly grasping the edge of the open hatch he edged his body out, laid flat along the top of the fuselage and lowered himself until his feet met the wing root below. He flung himself forward and managed to grasp the leading edge air intake and directed the contents of the extinguisher into an engine cowling opening. The flames died down momentarily. The Lancaster banked to port, taking evasive action against the returning German fighter which raked the aircraft with cannon fire again and wounded Jackson for the second time. After the impact of the shellfire, the extinguisher was blown away. The flames once again erupted, blowing over Jackson's body. He lost his grip and was swept off the wing, to be held in the slipstream by the smouldering rigging lines and canopy furiously being played out by Toft and Higgins before they released the parachute. Breaking free from the stricken Lancaster he descended rapidly. Attempting to extinguish the smouldering cords, he became conscious of the pain of his back and leg wounds, but his hands, shrivelled and contracted by the flames, were mercifully numb. Jackson remembered later that the canopy of the parachute was not only slashed and torn, but, more ominously, had burning holes in it which were getting larger as he fell to earth. Miraculously his fall was cushioned by a mass of bushes. Barely conscious, Jackson lay where he landed until day-break. Then, with a broken ankle to add to his earlier injuries, he crawled to a cottage on the edge of the forest. Banging on the door with an elbow he was confronted by an irate middle-aged German who verbally abused him, before two young girls took Jackson into the cottage and nursed him. Alerted by the cottage owner, some local Police officials appeared and Jackson, supported by one of them, was made to walk to the nearest town where he was briefly treated at the local hospital. He was then paraded through the town where some people jeered and insulted him. Jackson said later that he understood their anger, "after all, how would we have felt after being bombed night after night?" Jackson spent about ten months in hospital at Obermassfeld slowly recuperating from his injuries before being transferred to Stalag IXc at Bad Sulza, Muhausen. He made two escapes from the prison camp, and on the second attempt succeeded in contacting U.S. troops from Patton's Third Army near Munich. Norman Jackson was returned to Britain on V.E. Day. On 26.10.1945 the Victoria Cross was gazetted to Jackson, now a Warrant Officer and he was invested with the Cross at Buckingham Palace on 13.11.1945, together with Group Captain Cheshire. Norman Jackson left the Royal Air Force with a disability pension of £2 a week.

Sold for £200,000

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