Fundraising appeal to save Second World War Victoria Cross
The Cross was posthumously awarded to Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf for 'cool and determined bravery' on a bombing mission in the Far East
The RAF Museum is appealing for members of the public to donate to save a rare Second World War Victoria Cross for the nation.
The medal, posthumously awarded to Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf, is one of just 22 Victoria Crosses awarded to the RAF during the Second World War and the only one made to an RAF serviceman for service in the Far East.
Scarf was born in Wimbledon on 4 June 1913 and attended school in South London before deciding to join the RAF in 1936 and training to become a pilot.
In 1937 Scarf was posted to No. 62 Squadron and in 1939 they were sent to Singapore as part of the RAF’s defensive forces in the event of a war with Japan.
In April 1941 he married Elizabeth ‘Sally’ Lunn, a military nurse, and the couple lived together at Alor Star military base.
On 8 December 1941, Japan launched its invasion of what is now Thailand.
On 9 December Scarf and No. 62 Squadron, who had been moved to another airfield further south, were ordered to lead a daylight attack on a Japanese airfield in captured Thai territory. Scarf and his crew were the first to take off in their plane, a Bristol Blenheim Mk I, but a formation of Japanese bombers then attacked the British airfield, destroying or damaging the remaining aircraft in the squadron before they could take off.
Scarf then made the decision to fly on alone to complete the bombing mission. As historian Harry Raffal puts it in a blog post on the RAF Museum website: “Unlike many Victoria Cross actions, Scarf was not thrown straight into action and asked to confront a single moment with valour. Instead, what makes this Victoria Cross extraordinary is the cool and determined bravery. Scarf assessed the situation and made the calculated decision that for his Squadron, his Service, and his country, the sortie was necessary despite the incredibly high risks that would need to be confronted.”
Scarf flew the plane on and completed the bombing mission, but the plane was attacked by Japanese fighters on the way back and Scarf was mortally injured by machine gun fire. With help from his crew, he managed to fly back to Alor Star, but died from his wound soon afterwards. Some newspaper reports say that he was able to see his wife before he died, but this isn’t known for certain.
In October 2022, it was announced that the Arts Minister, Stuart Andrew, following the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, had decided that Squadron Leader Scarf’s Victoria Cross was of National Importance. A temporary export ban was placed on the Victoria Cross. This decision followed the sale of Squadron Leader Scarf’s Victoria Cross, along with four other medals awarded to him, at auction for £660,000. This was a record for a Victoria Cross awarded to a member of the RAF.
More like this
In January 2023, because Scarf’s Victoria Cross was recognised as being of national importance, the RAF Museum was offered the opportunity to match the sale price.
The Museum is currently trying to raise the sum of £660,000 by the deadline of 30 April 2023. At the time of writing is has raised £477,864. You can donate to the fundraiser here.