Fight to keep RAF medal in the country as it’s sold to oversea buyer

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The medal, one of only 22 Victoria Crosses to be awarded to RAF personnel during the Second World War, was given posthumously to Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf who despite being mortally wounded in an operation in Burma continued to fly his aircraft and save his crew.

His decoration has been sold at auction to an overseas buyer – the identity of whom is confidential. However, the Royal Air Force Museum has been given the opportunity to fundraise and match the sale price of £250,000.

Now the museum has launched a race-against-time fundraiser to try to keep this slice of British history on native soil. They only have until April 30th to raise the quarter of a million pounds.

In an online post, the museum explained: “Arthur Scarf was the recipient of the only Victoria Cross awarded to the Royal Air Force during the fighting in the Far East in the Second World War.

“This medal, and Arthur’s Story, are too significant to our nation’s heritage to be lost from our shores.

“Arthur’s story can inspire future generations for many years to come.”

Arthur Scarf was born in Wimbledon in 1913 and joined the RAF in 1936 before the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1939, he was sent to Singapore with No. 62 Squadron to join the forces in the Far East.

On 9 December 1941, Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf led a formation of Bristol Blenheim aircraft in a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Burma, which is known today as Myanmar. As Scarf became airborne, a formation of Japanese bombers swept over the airfield. This attack destroyed every British aircraft that had been on the ground.

Realising that none of his Squadron’s aircraft had survived the Japanese bombing, Scarf resolved to complete his mission. Flying low for some 30 miles into enemy occupied territory, Scarf skilfully evaded several attacks by Japanese fighters. He released the bombs, whilst his crew manned the machine guns.

Despite using great skill to evade the worst of the Japanese attacks, machine gun fire riddled the Blenheim. Scarf was mortally wounded but continued to fly the aircraft and managed to make a controlled crash at Alor Star.

This was where Scarf’s wife, pregnant with their first child, had worked as a nurse until weeks before. Scarf crash-landed the aircraft without injury to his crew but died from his wounds two hours later.

The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously to Scarf in 1946 and was presented to his widow, Mrs Elizabeth Scarf, by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

Sharing the story on their gofundme page, the museum asks for whatever donations people can manage: “Help us to raise the funds to keep the Victoria Cross and enable the Nation to have it on display at the Royal Air Force Museum.

“Arthur’s story can inspire future generations for many years to come.” 

To find out more about the museum, Arthur, and his medal, visit the museum’s fundraiser here. 

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