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Thread: Sergeant John Dudley ARMSTRONG, VC recommended, DFM awarded

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    Default Sergeant John Dudley ARMSTRONG, VC recommended, DFM awarded

    It was for cases like this that the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (Flying) was created as an award between the DFM and VC.

    ARMSTRONG, John Dudley, Sergeant (937446) – No. 104 Squadron – Distinguished Flying Medal – awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 September 1941.

    The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy: — In July-, 1941, large-scale attacks were made on German warships at Brest and La Pallice (including the " Gneisenau," " Scharnhorst " and " Prinz Eugen "). A smaller attack was made on Cherbourg. The operations were carried out in daylight and extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire and fighter opposition were encountered by all aircraft when approaching the targets, which at Brest was protected by a balloon barrage. The air crews engaged succeeded, nevertheless, in securing direct hits on their objectives and' in inflicting very severe damage in the target area. During the combats with enemy fighters 21 hostile aircraft were destroyed and others were severely damaged. The precise timing of attack by the various formations of aircraft and their correct approach to and accurate bombing of the objectives in the face of such powerful opposition; demanded great skill and high courage. The great success of these operations was largely due to the bravery, determination and resource displayed by the following officers and airmen, who. participated in various capacities as leaders and members of the aircraft crews: (including Armstrong)

    He was recommended 27 July, 1941 for a Victoria Cross. He had flown 13 sorties (75 hours 45 minutes). Found in Air 2/8858.

    Sergeant Armstrong was rear gunner in aircraft SXV 843, captain of which was Squadron Leader H. Budden, DFC, who was leader of No. 3 section in the attack on Brest ordered in the Sunrise Operational Instructions of 24th July, 1941.

    At approximately 15.50 hours on leaving the target, this aircraft was subjected to a very severe and sustained attack by enemy aircraft (Me.109) just off the North coast of Brittany. Sergeant Armstrong immediately engaged the enemy aircraft. During the first attack, he was wounded, the rear turret caught fire and the intercom was shot away.

    He then got out of his turret, positioned himself in such a manner so that he could fight and extinguish the flames which he succeeded in doing. He then returned to his turret and continued to engage the enemy aircraft which by this time had set alight the fuselage of SXV 843 with incendiary bullets.

    The enemy aircraft again attacked from astern and Sergeant Armstrong continued to return the fire until he was again severely wounded and his turret again catching fire. He only abandoned his place of duty when the severity of his wounds and the fire in the turret prevented him from engaging the enemy aircraft any further. In addition to the fire and his wounds, the rear turret was covered with escaping oil.

    Sergeant Armstrong, with great pluck and determination, managed to crawl to the centre of the fuselage where he collapsed. P/O Sutton and Sergeant Smalley, having extinguished the flames around him, went to the assistance of Sergeant Armstrong who was still unconscious. They lifted him on to the bed where they left him whilst they continued putting out the flames in the rear turret and fuselage. P/O Sutton returned to give aid to Sergeant Armstrong who said “Let me go out as I am”. He thought he was too far gone for human aid. He then asked for pencil and paper which was handed to him and he wrote the following message to the captain of the aircraft (S/L Budden), “The fighter came from port quarter. Could not warn pilot as inter-com u/s. Fighter fired and got me in the leg and setting turret on fire which I extinguished. Fired but missed him. He again fired a short burst hitting me again and putting turret u/s.

    Later, after the aircraft had crash-landed at Exeter, Sergeant Armstrong, still showing a fine sense of duty and terrific fighting qualities, asked the padre who met the aircraft to tell S/L Budden the result of his bombing at Brest. He said that the first bombs straddled the deck and the remainder fell across the Gneisneau. He then lost consciousness.

    I have no hesitation in very strongly recommending this most gallant air gunner for the highest award, namely the Victoria Cross, in recognition of his most conspicuous gallantry. (Signed by R.C. Wilson, Group Captain, Commanding, R.A.F. Station, Driffield, 27.7.41)

    “A most gallant effort, but in my opinion, a DFM is a more appropriate award and I strongly recommend him for this decoration.” (Signed by Air Officer Commanding No.4 Group, 31.7.41; also signed by Air Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command, 8.8.41)
    Last edited by HughAHalliday; 28th February 2022 at 16:52. Reason: spelling

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