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Heroes of the Air: Captain J.A Liddel

Link - Posted by David on June 10, 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 30 July 1938 issue of Flying:


On July 23rd, 1915, Captain J.A. Liddel, V.C., was making a long range reconnaissance patrol over the area around Ostend and Bruges. At that time he was in No.7 Squadron and flying an R.E.5. In order to get plenty of information he had to fly very low, with the result that he came under a great deal of anti-aircraft fire. He managed to escape the shrapnel for a little time, but he was eventually wounded in the thigh. He fainted, but the flow of cool air revived him and he took control of his machine once more, and in spite of the agony he was suffering from his wounds he continued his reconnaissance. He could have landed at once and received medical attendance, but he preferred to remain in the air, although shrapnel was now bursting around him more ferociously than before. At last, his work finished, he turned for home. On landing he was hurried to hospital where, unhappily, he died from his wounds one month later. Notification of the award was made in the London Gazette on August 3rd, 1915, with the following words: “The difficulties overcome by this officer in saving his machine and the life of his passenger cannot be readily expressed, but as the control wheel and throttle control were smashed, and also one of the undercarriage struts, it would seem incredible that he could have accomplished what he did.”