James Thomas Byford McCudden VC, DSO*, MC*, MM

James Thomas Byford McCudden (28/03/1895 – 09/07/1918 ) was awarded the Victoria Cross while serving in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30604, Page: 3997, reads:

“His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer: —

2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) James Byford McCudden, D.S.O., M.C., M.M., Gen. List and R.F.C.

For most conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, keenness, and very high devotion to duty.

Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted  for 54 enemy aeroplanes! Of these 42 have been definitely destroyed, 19 of them on our side of the lines. Only 12 out of the 54 have been driven out of control. On two occasions, he has totally destroyed four two-seater enemy aeroplanes on the same day, and on the last occasion all four machines were destroyed in the space of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

While in his present squadron he has participated in 78 offensive patrols, and. in nearly every case has been the leader. On at least 30 other occasions, whilst with the same squadron, he has crossed the lines alone, either in pursuit or in quest of enemy aeroplane.

The following incidents are examples of the work he has done recently: —

On the 23rd December, 1917, when leading his patrol, eight enemy aeroplanes were attacked between 2.30 p.m. and 3.50 p.m. Of these two were shot down by Captain McCudden in our lines. On the morning of the same day he left the ground at 10.50 and encountered four enemy aeroplanes; of these he shot two down.

On the 30th January, 1918, he, single-handed, attacked five enemy scouts, as a result of which two were destroyed. On this occasion he only returned home when the enemy scouts had been driven far east; his Lewis gun ammunition was all finished and the belt of his Vickers gun had broken.

As a patrol leader he has at all times shown the utmost gallantry and skill, not only in the manner in which he has attacked and destroyed the enemy, but in the way he has during several aerial fights protected the newer members of his flight, thus keeping down their casualties to a minimum.

This officer is considered, by the record, which he has made, by his fearlessness, and by the great service which he has rendered to his country, deserving of the very highest honour.”

On 9 July 1918 McCudden was killed in a flying accident when his aircraft crashed following an engine fault. He is buried at the British war cemetery at Beauvoir-Wavans.

The wartime service and deaths of James McCudden VC and Edward Mannock VC were the subject of a documentary on the BBC entitled “Aces Falling

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