History of War


In December 1940, the BBC broadcast an anonymous RAF fighter pilot talking about his experiences during the Battle of Britain earlier that year. That unnamed pilot was Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson, who had flown Hurricanes with 249 Squadron from RAF Boscombe Down. In fact, by the time of the broadcast, an announcement had been made in the London Gazette on15 November promulgating the award of a Victoria Cross to Nicolson. But for those listening to James Nicolson telling his story, there was absolutely no connection to the recent public announcement of his VC.

By the middle of August 1940, the Battle of Britain was in full swing and many of the RAF’s fighter squadrons had already seen action. 249 Squadron, though, had been in the relative backwater of RAF Leconfield, Lincolnshire. Then, the unit was posted south to Boscombe Down on 14 August. Two days later, over Southampton, the squadron had its first real taste of battle.

In the space of a few minutes two Hurricanes were shot down,

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