Sunday, June 14, 2009


The Battle of Malaya's first Victoria recipient was Squadron Leader Arthur Stewart King Scarf (Deceased), Royal Air Force, No. 62 Squadron.

On 9th December, 1941, all available aircraft from the Royal Air Force Station, Butterworth, Malaya, were ordered to make a daylight attack on the advanced operational base of the Japanese Air Force at Singora, Thailand. From this base, the enemy fighter squadrons were supporting the landing operations.

The aircraft detailed for the sortie were on the point of taking off when the enemy made a combined dive-dombing and low level machine-gun attack on the airfield. All our aircraft were destroyed or damaged with the exception of the Blenheim piloted by Squadron Leader Scarf. This aircraft had become airborne a few seconds before the attack started.

Squadron Leader Scarf circled the airfield and witnessed the disaster. It would have been reasonable had he abandoned the projected operation which was intended to be a formation sortie. He decided however, to press on to Singora in his single aircraft. Although he knew that this individual action could not inflict much material damage on the enemy he, nevertheless, appreciated the moral effect which it would have on the remainder of the squadron, who were helplessly watching their aircraft burning on the ground.

Squadron Leader Scarf completed his attack successfully. The opposition over the target was severe and included attacks by a considerable number of enemy fighters. In the course of these encounters, Squadron Leader Scarf was mortally wounded.

The enemy continued to engage him in a running fight, which lasted until he had regained the Malayan border. Squadron Leader Scarf fought a brilliant evasive action in a valiant attempt to return to his base. Although he displayed the utmost gallantry and determination, he was, owing to his wounds, unable to accomplish this. He made a successful forced-landing at Alor Star without causing any injury to his crew. He was received into hospital as soon as possible but died shortly after admission.

Squadron Leader Scarf displayed supreme heroism in the face of tremendous odds and his splendid example of self-sacrifice will long be remembered.

No.62 Squadron Blenheim L1134 Mk I flown by S/Ldr Arthur Scarf attacked Singora airfield completely alone, avoided interception, and made one bombing run across Singora airfield while his WOp/Ag, F/Sgt Cyril Rich, machine-gunned the rows of parked enemy aircraft.They were chased by several fighters, which - fortunately - attacked one at a time rather than simultaneously, although the lone Blenheim was hit repeatedly in the running fight at low level. Scarf flew skilfully, his Gunner defended the aircraft well, and they finally escaped the pursuers, but the Pilot's left arm was shattered and he was wounded in the back - the armour plate behind the seat had been removed to lighten the Blenheim for its attempted interception of the Japanese reconnaissance aircraft two day earlier. Assisted by his Observer, F/Sgt Gordon Calder, the barely conscious Scarf- held upright in his seat by Cyril Rich, who had crawled through from the turret into the 'well' in the centre-section behind the Pilot - managed to fly to Alor Star, guided there by Calder, as it was nearer thanButterworth. Scarf made a smooth belly-landing, the riddled Blenheim sliding over the rice paddies to within 100 yards of the hospital. The crew lifted him from the cockpit and laid him on the port wing, then all three lit cigarettes, ignoring fuel running from the rupturedtanks. Scarf's recent bride, Elizabeth, worked at the hospital as a nurse, and he laughed and joked with her from the stretcher while being carried in. The doctors assured her that his injuries were not life-threatening, although they might not be able to save his left arm. His young wife started giving her blood for a transfusion but, tragically, while she was doing this he died from secondary shock. His sacrificial bravery went unrecognised until after the war when, following information from released Prisoners of War, he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, which his widow received at Buckingham Palace on 30 July 1946.

Source from The London Gazette. 21 June 1946.

1 comment:

  1. S/Ldr Scarf VC is buried in the Taiping Commonwealth War Cemetary. The only Malaya VC buried in Malaysia.
    I think the only other VC buried in Malaysia is Australian Army Major Peter Badcoe VC killed in action 1967, in Vietnam. He lies in Terendak Cemetary a restricted area as it is a Malaysian military camp today.