Fears rare medal could be sent to overseas buyer

Fears rare medal could be sent to overseas buyer

The medal collection of war hero Arthur Scarf. (RAF Museum)

A campaign to prevent a coveted Victoria Cross from being sent overseas has been launched.

The rare medal was awarded to RAF Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf, who landed his plane in 1941 despite being mortally wounded by machine gun fire after a near-suicidal raid.

Scarf had been left with the only surviving aircraft from a squadron whose mission was to launch a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Burma.

The medal was auctioned off in April for a world-record £682,000, but the buyer has since been revealed to be overseas.

Now the Royal Air Force Museum, a registered charity, has a few months to raise £250,000 to match the buyer’s auction bid. If successful, the VC will go on public display in the national collection at the RAF Museum in London.

Arthur Scarf was the recipient of the only Victoria Cross awarded to the Royal Air Force during fighting in the Far East during World War II. (RAF Museum)

The museum hopes to raise £250,000 of the needed funds through public donations and a GoFundMe page. Money raised will be added to a contribution from the museum’s own funds and a possible grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

The historian and head of collections at the RAF Museum, Dr. Harry Raffal said: “Scarf’s Victoria Cross not only represents his outstanding performance of duty and supreme heroism, it is also a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by all British and Commonwealth personnel fighting in the Far East and the role the RAF in this context.

“This unique medal is part of our nation’s heritage and a significant element at a pivotal moment in British history.

“There is an imminent risk of it leaving the UK but we hope that with public support we can prevent this and that the medal stays on our shores. If we are successful, the medal will be displayed at the museum at the heart of our collection, helping us to share the stories of all those RAF personnel who fought, lived and died in the conflict.”

A telegram to Scarf’s parents informing them of his death. (RAF Museum)

Arthur Scarf (centre) before his deployment to Japan during World War II. (RAF Museum)

The VC is the highest bravery award in the British Armed Forces, awarded for an act of extreme bravery in the face of the enemy. During the Second World War only 22 Victoria Crosses were awarded to RAF personnel and only one for service in the Far East – the VC awarded to Arthur Scarf.

The story goes on

Scarf joined the RAF in 1936 at the age of 23 and was sent to Singapore three years later with No. 62 Squadron to join forces in the Far East. On December 9, 1941, he led a formation of aircraft in a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Burma. As Scarf blew up, a formation of Japanese bombers swept across the airfield, destroying every British aircraft on the ground.

A wreath surrounds Scarf’s grave. (RAF Museum)

Pictures from the RAF Museum show the aircraft flown by Scarf on 9 December 1941. (RAF Museum)

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Realizing that none of his squadron’s aircraft had survived the bombing raid, Scarf was determined to carry out the task assigned to him. Scarf flew about 30 miles deep into enemy-held territory, dodging several attacks from Japanese fighters and dropping the bombs while his crew manned the machine guns.

Although they evaded the worst of the Japanese attacks, the plane was riddled with machine gun fire. Scarf was mortally wounded but continued to fly the aircraft while being held upright by his crewmates and managed to perform a controlled crash landing at a nearby British-controlled airfield without injuring his crew.

He died shortly thereafter of his wounds. The VC was awarded posthumously in 1946 and presented to his widow Elizabeth by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

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