MIDDLETON, RAWDON HUME, VC
|Service:||Royal Australian Air Force|
|Date of Birth:||22 July 1916|
|Place of Birth:||Waverley, NSW, Australia|
|Date of Death:||29 November 1942 (Aged 26 years)|
|Units:||No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School, RAAF|
No. 7 Squadron, RAF
No. 149 Squadron, RAF †
No. 214 Squadron, RAF
No. 23 Operational Training Unit, RAF
No. 1 Service Flying Training School, RCAF
|14 October 1940||Enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force.|
Aircraftman 2nd Class on Enlistment.
Posted to No. 2 Initial Training School, RAAF, Lindfield.
|7 December 1940||Promoted to Leading Aircraftman.|
|12 December 1940||Posted to No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School, RAAF.|
|6 February 1941||Posted to No. 2 Embarkation Depot, RAAF.|
|22 February 1941||Embarked at Sydney for Canada.|
|16 March 1941||Disembarked at Vancouver.|
|20 March 1941||Posted to No. 1 Service Flying Training School, RCAF, Camp Borden.|
|6 June 1941||Promoted to Sergeant.|
|9 August 1941||Posted to No. 1 "Y" Depot, RCAF, Halifax.|
|20 August 1941||Embarked at Canada for the United Kingdom.|
|15 September 1941||Disembarked United Kingdom.|
Posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, RAF.
|7 October 1941||Posted to No. 23 Operational Training Unit, RAF.|
|6 December 1941||Promoted to Flight Sergeant.|
|1 January 1942||Posted to No. 214 Squadron, RAF.|
|2 January 1942||Posted to No. 7 Squadron, RAF.|
|17 February 1942||Posted to RAF Station Waterbeach.|
|26 February 1942||Posted to No. 149 Squadron, RAF.|
|25 August 1942||Posted to No. 7 Squadron, RAF.|
|2 September 1942||Posted to No. 149 Squadron, RAF.|
|15 November 1942||Promoted to Pilot Officer.|
Flight Sergeant Middleton was captain and first pilot of Stirling aircraft detailed to attack Fiat works, Turin, one night in November, 1942. Great difficulty was experienced in climbing to 12,000 feet to cross the Alps which led to excessive consumption of fuel. So dark was the night that the mountain peaks were almost invisible. During the crossing Flight Sergeant Middleton had to decide whether to proceed or turn back, there being barely sufficient fuel for the return journey. Flares were sighted ahead and he continued the mission and even dived to 2000 feet to identify the target despite the difficulty of regaining height. Three flights were made over Turin at this low altitude before the target was identified. The aircraft was then subjected to fire from light anti-aircraft guns. A large hole appeared in port main plane which made it difficult to maintain lateral control. A shell then burst in the cockpit shattering the windscreen and wounding both pilots. A piece of shell splinter tore into the side of Flight Sergeant Middleton's face destroying his right eye and exposing the bone over the eye. He was probably wounded also in the body or legs; the second pilot received wounds in head and both legs which bled profusely. The wireless operator was also wounded in the leg.
Flight Sergeant Middleton became unconscious and the aircraft dived to 800 feet before control was regained by the second pilot who took aircraft up to 1500 feet and released the bombs. There was still light flak, some very intense and the aircraft was hit many times. The three gunners replied continuously until the rear turret was put out of action. Flight Sergeant Middleton had now recovered consciousness and when clear of target ordered the second pilot back to receive first aid. Before this was completed the latter insisted on returning to the cockpit as the captain could see very little and could only speak with loss of blood and great pain. The course was set for the base and crew now faced the Alpine crossing and homeward flight in the damaged aircraft with insufficient fuel. The possibilities of abandoning the aircraft or landing in Northern France were discussed but Flight Sergeant Middleton expressed the intention of trying to make the English coast so that his crew could leave the aircraft by parachute. Owing to wounds and diminishing strength he knew that by then he would have little or no chance of saving himself. After four hours the French coast was reached and here the aircraft flying at 6000 feet was once more engaged and hit by intense light anti-aircraft fire. Flight Sergeant Middleton was still at controls and mustered sufficient strength to take evasive action.
After crossing Channel there was only sufficient fuel for five minutes' flying. Flight Sergeant Middleton ordered crew abandon the aircraft while he flew parallel with the coast for a few miles after which he intended to head out to sea. Five of the crew left the aircraft safely while two remained to assist Flight Sergeant Middleton. The aircraft crashed in sea and the bodies of the front gunner and flight engineer were recovered on the following day. The gallant captain was apparently unable to leave the aircraft and his body has not been traced.
Flight Sergeant Middleton was determined to attack the target regardless of the consequences and not to allow his crew to fall into enemy hands. While all the crew displayed heroism of high order, the urge to do so came from Flight Sergeant Middleton whose fortitude and strength of will made possible completion of the mission. His devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds is unsurpassed in the annals of the Royal Air Force.
|Cemetery:||BECK ROW (ST. JOHN) CHURCHYARD|
|Grave:||Row D. Grave 1.|
|Epitaph:||True to the End|
||5 feet 11 inches
World War 2 Nominal Roll
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
National Archives of Australia [NAA] 1948, MIDDLETON RAWDON HUME : Service Number - 402745 : Date of birth - 22 Jul 1916 : Place of birth - WAVERLEY NSW : Place of enlistment - SYDNEY : Next of Kin - MIDDLETON FRANCIS, A9300, MIDDLETON R H.
Record updated on 25 November 2017.
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