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Heroes of the Air: Major Lionel Rees

Link - Posted by David on July 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 6 August 1938 issue of Flying:


MAJOR, as he was then, Lionel Rees won the V.C. on July 1, 1916. He was 32 years of age, older than most officers in the Royal Flying Corps at that time. It was through a mistake that he came to win the V.C., for what he took to be British machines were in reality German. He had been on a reconnaissance flight when he saw what he thought was a squadron of British bombing machines returning home. Being in a single-seat fighter, the D.H.2, he decided to escort them home, but when he approached them he saw that they were about ten enemy aircraft; all of them scouts. One left the formation to engage him, but within a short time was behind its own lines in difficulties. Major Rees was wounded in the thigh, but he continued to fight until his ammunition was exhausted, when he returned home. It seems probable that the award of the V.C. was made not for this one act alone, but that his gallant career was taken into consideration. Happily, he survived the war and retired from the R.A.F. in 1931 with the rank of Group Captain.

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