The indomitable spirit of an RAF hero moments before his death has been revealed in moving letters from his widow amid urgent appeals to keep his Victoria Cross in the UK.
Pilot Arthur ‘Pongo’ Scarf was honored with the highest award for bravery for single-handedly attacking an enemy airfield after all other aircraft in his squadron had been destroyed.
He was the only member of the RAF to be awarded the VC in the Far East during World War II. But his medal was bought by a foreign buyer for a record £660,000 last year.
Now, with just weeks to raise the remaining money needed to save his medal for the nation, letters written by his widow Sallie have been unearthed, recounting how he shouted his last words to her: ‘Don’t worry, stick your chin up!’ , since he, mortally wounded, he was wheeled into the operating room after miraculously completing his mission.
She was pregnant and a nurse at the Malaya hospital where she died after her selfless act. She donated blood for him while doctors fought to save him.
Pilot Arthur ‘Pongo’ Scarf was the only member of the RAF in the Far East in World War II to receive the highest award for valor – the Victoria Cross.
In the photo (from left to right): The Victoria Cross with the detail of the engraving on the reverse: ‘S/Ldr. Scarf ASK. 62 m2 RAF’ and ‘June 11, 1946.’; The 1939-45 star; The Pacific Star; Defense and War Medals 1939-45
Pictured left to right: Norman Irving and Sqd Ldr Scarf en route to Singapore in 1939. It was Mr Irving who wrote the recommendation for Scarf’s posthumous VC award on 1 March.
A painting of Arthur Scarf, who single-handedly attacked an enemy airfield after all the other planes in his squadron had been destroyed.
She later wrote to a close friend, Pat Boxall, who was also a nurse at the same hospital, recalling Squad Leader Scarf’s last words to her.
Sallie, who was off duty when he arrived at the hospital, also recounted how she had rushed to him and was told her arm was injured.
“I got really depressed when I heard he was left-handed, since he was left-handed and once told me that flying was his whole life and I thought, how is he going to manage if he can’t fly?” she wrote in the early 1980s.
‘Then when they took you off the stretcher, the severe wound on your back bled profusely and you put on a drip and gave me two pints of blood. What cheered me up was when I heard him say to you, ‘Now, Pat, don’t get sour on my mammary glands!’
Pictured: Sqd Leader Scarf VC medal
But Sqd Ldr Scarf lost consciousness before the anesthesia began. He died before the blood transfusion was complete as a result of extreme bleeding and shock.
He was 28 years old, and he and Sallie had been married for seven months. Heartbroken and traumatized, she lost her unborn baby. Both he and his wife lived in Wimbledon, South West London, but only knew each other in Malaya. He later remarried and died in 1985.
Sqd Leader Scarf was posthumously awarded the VC for ‘supreme heroism’ against ‘enormous odds’ for his actions on 9 December 1941.
He attacked a Japanese airbase in Thailand in his Bristol Blenheim bomber after all the other planes in his squadron were destroyed or damaged on the ground in a Japanese surprise air raid before they could take off.
His VC citation said it would have been “reasonable” if he had abandoned his mission, but he decided to go ahead alone as he “appreciated the moral effect it would have on the rest of the squadron, who watched helplessly as their planes burned.” on the floor.’
He completed his mission successfully despite facing constant attack from enemy fighters and despite his injuries, he returned to Malaya and managed to force-land his bullet-riddled aircraft in a rice field near his base without causing injury. to its two crew members, who both survived.
The VC of Sqd Leader Scarf was awarded posthumously in 1946 and presented to his widow by George VI at Buckingham Palace.
In another letter seen by the Mail, she wrote how she was “bottled up” after hearing the King say: “Your late husband did a wonderful act for which this country will be forever grateful.”
As previously reported, his VC was put up for sale by relatives and bought by an anonymous buyer at auction last year. It was then seized by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, preventing it from being taken overseas on the condition that a British-based buyer or institution would match the sale price.
Arthur Scarf in his flying gear and his widow Sallie
Pictured: 62 Squadron of RAF Tengah in 1940
The RAF Museum has so far raised £478,205, including donations from the public. You must reach the goal by April 30.
The letters from the late wife of Sqd Ldr Scarf were shared with the Mail by their recipient’s daughter, Sallie Hammond. She was named after his wife, who was his godmother.
Ms Hammond, 78, a bereavement counselor in London, Ontario, Canada, who is secretary of her branch of the Malayan Volunteer Group, which researches the history of the Malayan Campaign, told the Mail: “This fundraising campaign of funds is noble and generous”. do. I sincerely hope you are successful.
‘Never giving up would have been Arthur Scarf’s philosophy.
“He did not abandon his mission for 62 Squadron RAF even though he knew the immense risks.
‘He did not give up his two crewmen. He did not lose hope of recovering from his injuries and seeing his wife again.
‘He did not renounce life until his death.’
Pictured left to right: Sallie, Arthur Scarf and Harley Boxall
Pictured: Sallie Hammond, the goddaughter of Sqd Ldr Scarf’s widow, Sallie
Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh, Vice President of The Not Forgotten, a service charity, also urged others to support the campaign, saying: “Arthur Scarf is an excellent role model, especially for today’s youth, and is essential his medal.” he remains in the UK.
RAF Museum historian and head of collections, Dr Harry Raffal, said: “The scarf squadron leader’s Victoria Cross not only represents his outstanding devotion to duty and supreme act of bravery, it is also a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by all Britons and the Commonwealth”. service personnel struggling in the Far East.
If we are successful, the medal will go on display in the Museum, at the heart of our collection.
To donate: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-the-scarf-vc