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Pilot Officer Rawdon Hume MiddletonPrint Page Print this page

05-August-2015
05-August-2015

Photographs supplied by Tom Bird

A monument commemorates Pilot Officer Rawdon Hume Middleton, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (V.C.) in World War Two.  

He attended school in Dubbo, becoming a keen sportsman and later finding work as a jackeroo.   He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 14 October 1940 under the Empire Air Training Scheme. Having learnt to fly at Narromine, New South Wales, Middleton was sent to Canada to continue his instruction. He reached Britain in September 1941 and was promoted to Flight Sergeant in December that year. In February 1942 Middleton was posted to 149 Squadron, Royal Air Force, and began his operational career. His first operational flights, to the Ruhr, were as second pilot in Stirling bombers but by July he had become first pilot. His first operation as captain of an aircraft was to Düsseldorf. 

On 28 November 1942 he took off on his 29th operation, to the Fiat works in Turin, Italy. Middleton's aircraft was struck by flak over the target, one shell exploded in the cockpit wounding Middleton in the face and destroying his right eye. The same shell also wounded the second pilot and wireless operator. Middleton lost consciousness and the aircraft dived to just 800 feet before the second pilot brought it under control. They were hit by more flak as they tried to escape the target. 

When Middleton regained consciousness he began the long and gruelling flight back over the Alps towards England, knowing that his damaged aircraft had insufficient fuel to complete the journey. The crew discussed the possibility of abandoning the aircraft or trying to land in northern France but Middleton decided to head for England where his crew would have the chance to bail out. As they approached the French coast the Stirling was again hit by flak but flew on. Now over the English coast with only five minutes of fuel left Middleton ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Five men left the stricken plane, and two remained on board to help Middleton before attempting to parachute to safety, although unfortunately both were drowned. The Stirling then crashed into the sea, killing Middleton. He was only one operation away from completing his first tour on bombers. 

Middleton's bravery was recorded in the English press and earned him the admiration of the British public and a posthumous Victoria Cross. His body washed ashore at Dover on 1 February 1943 and he was buried in the churchyard of St. John's, Beck's Row, Suffolk, with full military honours

 

Location

Address:Darling & Talbragar Streets, Victoria Park, Dubbo, 2830
State:NSW
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -32.247656
Long: 148.606781
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Military

Dedication

Front Inscription

402745 Pilot Officer MIDDLETON,
Rawdon Hume, VC 
(Military History & Citation) 

 

Back Inscription

"MIDDLETON GROVE"
     Fraxinus Raywoodii
Planted 28th November 1992
                   by
Air Marshal DAVID EVANS AC DSO AFC
    James Osman Middleton
Alderman ANTHONY McGRANE Mayor
       Commemorating
           Pilot Officer
RAWDON HUME MIDDLETON VC RAAF  
R.I.P.  29 November 1942 
Alderman A.M. McGrane     A. G. Kelly  
Mayor                               General Manager / Town Clerk

 

 

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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