By Lord Ashcroft
First published in the Daily Express on 15 September 2020.
On the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day, Lord Ashcroft asks whether an RAF pilot was denied a posthumous VC because he RAMMED his German rival.
EVEN by the standards of do-or-die aerial duels, it was a remarkable spectacle. The Battle of Britain was more than ten weeks old but the residents of Hailsham, Sussex – accustomed to watching dogfights overhead – had never seen anything quite like it. Screaming just feet above the town’s rooftops were the aircraft of Hauptmann Horst Liensberger and Flying Officer Percy Burton. As the two aircraft lifted away over the nearby countryside, they were just yards apart with Burton’s Hurricane on the tail of Liensberger’s Messerschmitt 110 fighter-bomber.
What happened next was certainly deadly but it was also controversial. Eighty years on, there is still a debate over whether Burton should have been awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious gallantry award for bravery in the face of the enemy. (more…)