Express & Star

RAF museum urging people to help keep 'national treasure's' Victoria Cross in the UK

The RAF Museum in Cosford is urging people across Shropshire to donate to a campaign to help keep a 'national treasure's' Victoria Cross in the UK.

Arthur Scarf from the RAF Museum collection

Squadron Leader, Arthur Scarf, was the only recipient of the Victoria Cross medal in the Royal Air Force for his services in the Far East during the Second World War.

Scarf in the centre qualifying for his pilot wings

Arthur's incredibly rare medal – and his personal story of courage and heroism – are considered to be national treasures and the RAF Museum is determined to see the medal remain in the UK.

It is currently at risk of going abroad, after an overseas buyer has put in a bid of £600,000 for the piece and Scarf's other four medals. A decision on the export licence was due to be made on January 27.

The RAF Museum has announced it has only a few months to match the auction bid and is looking for support from people living in the county to make donations via the gofundme page.

Scarfs medals including his Victoria Cross

RAF Museum historian and head of collections, Dr Harry Raffal said: "Not only does Sqn Ldr Scarf’s Victoria Cross represent his outstanding devotion to duty and supreme act of bravery, it is also a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by all the British and Commonwealth service personnel fighting in the Far East, and the role of the RAF within this context.

"This unique medal is part of our nation’s heritage, and a significant element to a decisive moment in British history.

"There is an imminent risk of it leaving the UK, but we’re hopeful that with public support we can prevent this from happening, and for the medal to remain on our shores.

"If we’re successful, the medal will be displayed at the Museum in London, in the heart of our collection, helping us to share the stories of all those RAF personnel who fought, lived and died in the conflict."

Arthur Scarf from the RAF Museum collection

Arthur Scarf joined the RAF in 1936 aged 23, and three years later was sent to Singapore with No. 62 Squadron to join the forces in the Far East.

On December 9, 1941, he led a formation of Bristol Blenheim aircraft in a daylight attack on Japanese forces occupying airfields in Burma, what is today Thailand.

As Scarf became airborne, a formation of Japanese bombers swept over the airfield destroying every British aircraft on the ground.

Scarf in an Anson of 206 Squadron, RAF Bircham Newton 1937/38

Realising that none of his squadron’s aircraft had survived the Japanese bombing, Scarf was determined to complete his squadron’s allotted task.

Flying low for some 30 miles into enemy occupied territory, Scarf skilfully evaded several attacks by Japanese fighters, and released the bombs whilst his crew manned the machine guns.

A Flight, 62 Squadron, RAF Cranfield 1938. Scarf is on the front row, third from the right

With the task complete and now heading home, more Japanese fighters arrived attacking at close range.

Greatly outnumbered, hopelessly outgunned and in aircraft slower than the enemies, Scarf flew at tree top height, desperately seeking whatever protection he could find.

Despite evading the worst of the Japanese attacks, machine gun fire riddled the Blenheim.

Scarf was mortally wounded but continued to fly the aircraft while being held upright by his crew mates and managed to make a controlled crash landing at a nearby British controlled airfield without injury to his crew.

Sadly, Scarf died from his wounds shortly afterwards.

A telegram informing Scarf's family about his death
A wreath which had been layed for Scarf postwar

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

It is the highest decoration for valour in the British armed forces, awarded for an act of extreme bravery.

Only 22 Victoria Crosses were awarded to RAF personnel during the Second World War.

And just one, for their service in the Far East – the VC that was awarded to Arthur Scarf.

Soldier attending the grave of Scarf postwar

To make a donation to the gofundme page, visit