Sergeant R H Middleton VC, RAAF



Sergeant R H Middleton VC, RAAF


Photographs of two parts of same page. Sub-headline - 'A Jackeroo' gives some background on Middleton and continues account of attack on Turin and fuel difficulties crossing the Alps. Sub-headline - 'both pilots wounded' continues account. Sub-headline 'RAAF's first V.C'. Middleton was first member of RAAF to win the V.C.

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One newspaper cutting mounted on a scrapbook page


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[missing words]
and the bodies of the flight engineer and the from gunner were recovered next day.
But Middleton is missing. Apparently he was too weak to leave his plane. The official citation says:
[italics] “ His devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds is unsurpassed in the annals of the Royal Air Force.” [/italics]

Little more than two years ago Middleton was a “Jackeroo” riding the range for his father, who is manager of Wee Wang Station, Brogan Gate, New South Wales.
Middleton enlisted in October, 1940, and became a Stirling pilot.
The Turin raid was on Nov. 28. Middleton was captain and first pilot of a Stirling detailed to attack the Fiat works.
Great difficulty experienced in climbing to 12,000ft to cross the Alps led to excessive consumption of fuel. So dark was the night that the mountain peaks were almost invisible.
During the crossing Middleton has to decide whether to turn back. There was barely enough fuel for the return journey.
Flares were sighted ahead and he flew on. Despite the difficulty of regaining height, he dived to 2,000ft to identify the target and made three flights over Turin at this low level before picking it out.

Light flak was encountered. A large hole appeared in the port main plane, making lateral control difficult. A shell burst in the cockpit, shattering the windscreen and wounded both pilots and the wireless operator.
A shell splinter tore into the side of Middleton’s face, destroying his right eye and exposing the bone over it. He was probably wounded also in the body or legs. The second pilot bled profusely from head and leg wounds.
Middleton became unconscious. The aircraft dived to 800 feet before the second pilot regained control, took the aircraft up to 1,500 feet, and released his bombs.
Light flak hit the aircraft many times. The three gunners replied until the rear turret was put out of action.
Middleton on recovering consciousness, ordered the second pilot to receive first aid.
Before this was completed, the second pilot insisted on returning to
[missing words]
Course was set for base in a damaged aircraft with insufficient fuel. The possibilities of abandoning the aircraft or landing in Northern France were discussed. Middleton said he would try to reach England for the crew to bale out.
After four hours Stirling reached the French coast, where intense light flak was again encountered. Middleton, still at the controls, mustered sufficient strength to take evasive action.
On sighting England Middleton ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft whilst he flew parallel with the coast for a few miles, after which he intended to head out to sea. Five of the crew baled out. Two remained to assist their captain.
“While all the crew displayed heroism of a high order,” the official citation says, “the urge to do so came from Sgt. Middleton, whose fortitude and strength of will made possible the completion of the mission.”

Middleton, who is 26, is the first member of the R.A.A.F. to win the V.C. He nearly finished his first spell of duty and would soon have been due for instructional work.
This is the 53rd V.C. award of the war and the second within two days.
The Army tops the V.C. list with 15. The Navy has 14, including Tuesday’s to Capt. Robert St. Vincent Sherbrooke of the Onslow, commander of the destroyer force which save the Russian-bound convoy in the engagement off the North Cape on New Year’s Eve.
The R.A.F. has eight, Australian military forces, five, New Zealand military forces four, Indian Army three, and one each to the Royal New Zealand Air Force, R.A.F. (Rhodesian Squadron), and the South African Forces.


MADRAS, Wednesday.
Prof. Bhansali, one of Gandhi’s followers living in the Mahatma’s community dwelling, Ashram Sevagram, has broken a fast of 63 days.
The release of reports on the fast has brought to an end the “strike” of Indians vernacular newspapers against publishing “official” news.
Mr Kasturi Srinivasan, president of the All-India Newspaper Editors’ Conference, stated that the Conference’s ban on all official speeches, communiqués, Court Circulars and New Year Honours lists now ceased. – Reuter.


“Sergeant R H Middleton VC, RAAF,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 30, 2023,

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