The VC was, along with four other medals, awarded posthumously to Squadron Leader ASK ‘Pongo’ Scarf for recognition of his bravery on a daylight raid on Singora, Malaya.
Scarf was in command of 62 Squadron in 1941 who were flying Blenheims close to the Malay-Thai border when the Japanese attacked.
He achieved his bombing run, despite the rest of the planes being attacked before they took off, but was mortally wounded on his return journey.
Scarf crash landed at Alor Star without causing any injury to his crew but died two hours later in hospital.
His sacrifice was recognised nearly five years later when King George presented the VC to his widow Sally at Buckingham Palace on June 30, 1946.
The medal was sold at Spink on April 27 along with four other medals awarded to Scarf for £550,000 (£660,000 with premium), against an estimate of £350,000-450,000 (see ATG No 2541). The price was a record for a RAF VC.
His VC is rare as only 181 were awarded during the Second World War. Of the 22 awarded during the conflict to the RAF, this VC is of particular interest because it is the only one awarded to the RAF for their service in the Far East. (Four VCs were awarded for the Battle of Malaya.)
Arts minister Stuart Andrew said: “This Victoria Cross and collection of medals represent not only Scarf’s story but the stories and experiences of all those who fought, lived and died in the conflict. I hope that a UK buyer can be found so these incredibly important objects can be displayed for future generations to see.”
The minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The committee noted the medals represented an extraordinary and highly poignant story of great personal courage from an under-researched campaign of the Second World War.
Committee member Tim Pestell said: ‘’Famous as the ultimate symbol of bravery in combat, the Victoria Cross remains our most nationally significant military award following its establishment over 160 years ago. The example in this group of medals provides a poignant yet powerful reminder of the attributes required to win the award, in a tale that could have come straight from a Boy’s Own story.
“Not only does Squadron Leader Scarf’s award speak eloquently of the determination and bravery displayed in winning a VC, its acquisition by a UK institution would provide a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by British and Commonwealth servicemen fighting in the ‘forgotten war’ of the Far East.’’
The decision on the export licence application for the medal will be deferred until January 27. A buyer must raise £660,000 (plus VAT of £22,000 which can be reclaimed by an eligible institution).