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Heroes of the Air: G.S.M. Insall by S. Drigin

Link - Posted by David on January 2, 2023 @ 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 7 May 1938 issue of Flying:


LIEUTENANT Insall was flying a Vickers “Gun Bus” with A.M. T.H. Donald as his gunner on the occasion of the action which won him the V.C. He was on patrol when he saw and pursued an enemy machine. Insall gave his gunner several chances to fire and their adversary was brought down. Not content with this, Insall returned and dropped an incendiary bomb on the German aeroplane to ensure its destruction. Making for home, Insall was forced to land only five hundred yards behind the British lines, whereupon the German artillery opened fire, intent upon completely demolishing the “Gun Bus.” The two flyers took refuge in a shell hole until nightfall, when they crept out to examine their machine. A new petrol tank was needed. They sent for one and fitted it. Other minor repairs were carried out and a digging party was requisitioned from the trenches to level out a runway for a take-off. As dawn came the Vickers rumbled off and winged its way into the air, before the enemy artillery had time to fire a shot. The award of the Victoria Cross was later conferred on Insall for “most conspicuous bravery, skill and determination.”