Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson VC

This print was presented to Corhampton Golf Club by Bill Jasper, a past Club Captain 1992 and Seniors Section Captain 1989. It hangs in The Hartwell Room following the room redurbishment.

William.C (Bill) Jasper

Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson VC

On August 16th 1940, 23 year old Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson, a Yorkshireman of No 29 Squadron was scrambled from Boscombe Down flying Hurricane P3576 of Red Section with Squadron Leader Eric King and Pilot Officer Martyn King.

The pilots were to intercept and attack BF110’s approaching Southampton from Gosport. While over Corhampton Down, where Corhampton GC is now, the fighters were attacked by a Staffel of Messerschmitt BF110s and all three Hurricanes were damaged.

Squadron Leader King managed to return to Boscombe Down and Pilot Officer King bailed out.

Four cannon shells hit Nicolson’s aircraft. One destroyed the Perspex canopy and injured his left eye temporarily blinding him with blood.  The reserve petrol tank was also struck along with his left leg. The Hurricane was now ablaze with the instrument panel melting, his hands badly blistered from the heat and his trousers alight.

As he prepared to bale out, a BF110 appeared in front of him. He slid back into the cockpit and chased the enemy plane. Closing in, Nicolson opened fire and sent the German plane crashing into the sea.

It was a very brave thing for Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson to do because pilots mostly feared the flames. The petrol in front of him, because that’s where the petrol tanks were, had exploded and the plane was on fire but he bravely got back in and of course he would be badly burnt doing so.

Finally baling out of his stricken aircraft, Nicolson sustained severe burns to his left hand, part of his face, his eyelid was torn and his foot badly wounded.

His problems were not over as the Home Guard mistook him for a German paratrooper and he ended up with shotgun pellet wounds as well.

His bravery and disregard for his own life earned him the Victoria Cross, which was awarded on 15th November 1940.  This was the only VC awarded to a fighter pilot during the war.

This RAF tunic, a ‘Mae West’ and shoe, below were worn by Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson on August 16 1940 when he was shot down in his Hurricane over Romsey near Southampton. The medals and other exhibits can be seen at RAF Museum, Hendon.  


From Corhampton Chronicle September 2022 Issue No.26