Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Honored Allies Wednesday: Hugh G. Malcolm (United Kingdom)

"This officer commanded a squadron of light bombers in North Africa.  Throughout his service in that theater his leadership, skill and daring were of the highest order.  On 17th November, 1942, he was detailed to carry out a low-level formation attack on Bizerta airfield, taking advantage of cloud cover. Twenty miles from the target the sky became clear, but Wing Commander Malcolm carried on, knowing well the danger of proceeding without a fighter escort.  Despite fierce opposition, all bombs were dropped within the airfield perimeter.  A Junkers 52 and a Messerschmitt 109 were shot down; many dispersed enemy aircraft were raked by machine gun fire.  Weather conditions became extremely unfavorable and as a result, two of his aircraft were lost by collision; another was forced down by enemy fighters.  It was due to this officer's skilful and resolute leadership that the remaining aircraft returned safely to base.  On 28th November, 1942, he again led his squadron against Bizerta airfield which was bombed from a low altitude.  The airfield on this occasion was heavily defended and intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire was met.  Nevertheless, after his squadron had released their bombs, Wing Commander Malcolm led them back again and again to attack the airfield with machine gun fire.
These were typical of every sortie under-taken by this gallant officer; each attack was pressed to an effective conclusion however difficult the task and however formidable the opposition.  Finally, on 4th December, 1942, Wing Commander Malcolm, having been detailed to give close support to the First Army, received an urgent request to attack an enemy fighter airfield near Chouigui.  Wing Commander Malcolm knew that to attack such an objective without a fighter escort—which could not be arranged in the time available—would be to court almost certain disaster; but believing the attack to be necessary for the success of the Army's operations, his duty was clear.  He decided to attack.  He took off with his squadron and reached the target unmolested, but when he had successfully attacked it, his squadron was intercepted by an overwhelming force of enemy fighters.  Wing Commander Malcolm fought back, controlling his hard-pressed squadron and attempting to maintain formation.  One by one his aircraft were shot down until only his own aircraft remained.  In the end he, too, was shot down in flames.  Wing Commander Malcolm's last exploit was the finest example of the valor and unswerving devotion to duty which he constantly displayed."

From W/Com Malcolm's Victoria Cross citation, awarded on 23 April 1943.
May you be at peace,

The RAF's Malcolm Clubs were named in his honor.  These were welfare clubs for RAF personnel, which operated in several countries between 1943 and the early 1970s, although the club at RAF Wittering continued until the 1990s.  They are mentioned in Queen's Regulations.

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