Acclaimed local artist and sculptor, Greg Percival, accompanied by the well-known aviation journalist and film maker Arthur Williams, recently brought his latest piece to the museum for a photo shoot. The sculpture, entitled ‘For Valour’, depicts Flt Lt James Nicolson baling out of his stricken Hurricane over Southampton Water after the combat which resulted in his award of the VC, the only one awarded to a pilot of Fighter Command during WWII.
Nicolson’s flight of four Hurricanes had been attacked by a number of Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin engine fighters. Despite his aircraft being mortally wounded and on fire and ignoring his own significant shrapnel injuries, he stayed with his burning aircraft to attack and destroy one of the Bf 110s before baling out. Greg had spent many hours in the museum researching the Nicolson story.
The museum is fortunate to have in its collection the uniform Nicolson was wearing during the combat and subsequent bale-out; the shrapnel damage to the uniform and James’s left shoe being clearly visible. The exhibit is also supported by a recording of an interview with Nicolson made at the time by the BBC.
Photos: Dudley Hooley and David Burleigh