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Scarf's VC Saved

Public dig deep as Scarf’s VC is saved for the nation

THE RAF Museum has revealed that it has successfully raised the funds required to prevent the Victoria Cross belonging to Squadron Leader Arthur ‘Pongo’ Scarf from leaving the UK. 

Fears emerged late last year that the medal – the only RAF VC awarded for actions in the Far East – would be departing these shores when it was purchased by a private overseas buyer after being put up for sale by the Scarf family.

Sqn Ldr Scarf

(Sqn Ldr Scarf)

But a campaign was launched by the RAF Museum earlier this year with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the target to raise the £660,000 required to match the sale price and allow the VC to stay in the UK, keeping it on display in London.

“A heartfelt thank you to every single person who supported us,” said Maggie Appleton, CEO at the RAF Museum. “Whether you donated or shared our campaign with friends and family, we couldn’t have done this without you. To have raised £660,000 in three months is simply amazing. Special thanks to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for their major donation of £390k, and to our good friends at the RAFHS (Royal Air Force Historical Society) and the Bomber Command Association. 

“We will be displaying Arthur’s Medal at our London site this summer and will also make short tour of our Midlands site. So come and visit and discover more about this remarkable story.”

Sqn Ldr Scarf is one of No. 62 Squadron’s most famous members, famously launching a solo raid on Japanese forces in Malaya in December 1941, all other aircraft that should have been involved destroyed on the ground at their base at Butterworth. Despite being under constant attack from enemy forces, he completed the bombing run before heading home, his Bristol Blenheim coming under fire again when he was hit in the arm and back. He crash landed at Alor Setar (then Alor Star), all crew safe with Scarf the only casualty.

Known to his family as John and to colleagues and friends as Pongo, Wimbledon-born Arthur was just 28 when he succumbed to his injuries in hospital, with his pregnant wife, who was working there at the time, donating blood in an attempt to save her husband. When Japanese forces advanced through the country, the Allies retreat south saw all records related to the incident lost, with the award only made five years later. 

His wife Sally was presented with the VC by King George VI at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, where the two other crewmen on Scarf’s plane were also recognised: Sergeant (later Squadron Leader) Paddy Calder awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal and Sergeant Cyril Rich, who was killed in action in 1943, posthumously mentioned in Dispatches. 

The VC is the highest decoration for valour in the British armed forces with only 22 presented to RAF personnel during the whole of WW2.

The Royal Air Force Museum

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