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Heroes of the Air: Major J.B. McCudden

Link - Posted by David on April 10, 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 21 May 1938 issue of Flying:


THE NOTIFICATIONS of Major J. B. McCudden’s award was made in the following words: “For conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, and a very high devotion to duty. Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted for fifty-four enemy aeroplanes.” McCudden, like several others, was awarded the Victoria Cross not for one particularly brave action, but for consistent gallantry. The incident shown below occurred in February, 1918. It shows his fifty-seventh, and last, victory. McCudden attacked a Hannoverana at close range and poured a stream of bullets into its tail. So furious was this attack that the German observer fell through the shattered fuselage of his machine, to come to earth behind the British lines, while his pilot went on and crashed in German territory. Major McCudden was awarded several other decorations and had the distinction of being the only man to witness the death of Wernher Voss, who was shot down by the guns of Lieutenant Rhys Davids, a member of McCudden’s flight. In July, 1918, he crashed on leaving a French aerodromes for his squadron, and was killed instantaneously. Thus ended the career of one of our most efficient air fighters.