Express & Star

RAF captain receives award for wartime service more than 75 years late

Pilot John Cruickshank sank an enemy U-boat despite suffering 72 different injuries, two of which were life-threatening.

John Cruickshank Air Efficiency Award

A 103-year-old RAF captain has been awarded a medal for giving “so much in the service” of the country during the Second World War.

John Cruickshank was given the Air Efficiency Award – which recognised volunteers who served in the RAF’s reserve contingents during the war – at his home in Aberdeen earlier this week,

Due to an oversight which was discovered last month, Mr Cruickshank did not receive his award at the time.

Mr Cruickshank previously received the UK’s highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross.

The pilot was presented with the VC after sinking a U-boat despite sustaining 72 separate injuries. He is the last living recipient of a VC awarded during the war.

John Cruickshank’s received the Air Efficiency Award (Bob Kemp/PA)

He was the captain of a Catalina flying boat with 210 Squadron, flying submarine hunting missions from RAF Sulom Voe, Shetland.

On July 17 1944 on a patrol north into the Norwegian Sea to protect the British Home Fleet as it returned from an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz, Mr Cruickshank and his crew spotted a German Type U-boat on the surface.

He dropped depth charges, sinking the U-boat, while four of his crew were injured and his navigator killed by German anti-aircraft fire.

Two of his 72 injuries were life threatening but he managed to get the aircraft and his surviving crew members home and land safely.

Late last year, retired group captain Bob Kemp, of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation, noticed that the Air Efficiency Award was not on Mr Cruickshank’s medal rack, and began researching to check if he was eligible.

He sent his findings to the Medals Office which, after an appeal, confirmed Mr Cruickshank should have received the award over 75 years ago.

There were only two such medals left in stock, one of which he has now received.

Presenting the award, Mr Kemp, said: “It is always a pleasure to meet John in Aberdeen, and I was delighted to be able to present him with his long overdue medal.

“John Cruickshank’s many honours and awards clearly distinguish him as one of the thousands of RAF reservists who have given so much in the service of this country.

“The RAF has a proud tradition of maritime patrol that they continue from Scotland to this day – a tradition exemplified by John Cruickshank and his generation.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.