War Hero Receives Overdue Medal

Flight Lieutenant John Cruickshank (Retd) who is 103 years old is the sole surviving holder of  the Victoria Cross from World War 2. He lives in Aberdeen and is often visited by an old friend and Foundation Trustee, Gp Capt Bob Kemp.  On one of his visits, Bob noticed that John’s impressive list of medals did not include the Air Efficiency Award (AE). As John had joined the RAF as an RAFVR entrant in 1942 and served until 1946, Bob felt that he should have qualified for the Award. Bob thereupon applied for it on John’s behalf. Unfortunately, the application was rejected on a number of rather questionable counts which Bob contested. His appeal was upheld, and John was awarded one of the only two remaining AE Award medals bearing the image of King George VI.

Bob presented the Medal to a delighted John at John’s home on 18 March 2024. The addition of this medal to John’s many honours and awards clearly distinguishes him as one of the many thousands of reservists who have given so much in the service of this country.

John Cruickshank being presented with his AE Medal by Bob Kemp

The event attracted much local and national media cover. The RAF News report can be seen here.

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of John Cruickshank’s heroic action, the only flying Catalina aircraft in the UKwill perform a flypast over a number of RAF Coastal Command airfields. An abbreviated press release is shown below:

Operation Shetland 2024: 80th Anniversary of Catalina VCs – 16-20 July

Aim: To commemorate two VCs awarded to Catalina Pilots in 1944.

Background: This year is the 80th anniversary of two VCs being awarded to Catalina Pilots. On July 17th it will be 80 years since Flt Lt John Cruickshank won his VC for action flying a Catalina of 210 Squadron RAF out of Sullom Voe. Previously on June 24th, 1944, Flt Lt David Hornell RCAF was awarded a posthumous VC for action flying a Catalina (Consolidated Canso amphibian) of 162 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron RCAF out of RAF Wick. These were the only Catalina VCs and so to commemorate the 80th anniversary a flight is planned from the Imperial War Museum Duxford (IWM Duxford) to overfly various RAF Coastal Command bases, landing in Aberdeen where John Cruickshank lives before continuing to Sumburgh, Shetland.  A flight is planned over Lerwick New Cemetery and Sullom Voe before returning to Duxford via the west coast and a number of RAF Coastal Command stations: Wick, Invergordon, Alness, Inverness and Oban.  The whole trip will take 5 days weather permitting.

This commemorative flight will be in G-PBYA a PBY-5A Catalina flying boat with an experienced crew.  This aircraft is owned by Catalina Aircraft Limited (CAL) operated by Plane Sailing Air Displays Ltd (PSADL) and supported by The Catalina Society (https://www.catalina.org.uk/).  It is based at the IWM Duxford and is the last one still flying outside of the Americas.



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