Aaron, Arthur Louis

Personal Information

Rank F/S
Forename(s) Arthur Louis
Surname Aaron
Gender M
Age 21
Decorations VC, DFM
Date of Death 13-08-1943
Next of Kin Son of Mr. and Mrs. B. Aaron, of Gledhow, Leeds, Yorkshire.
AARON AL

Aircraft Information

Aircraft Short Stirling III
Serial Number EF452
Markings HA-O

Memorial Information

Burial/Memorial Country Algeria
Burial/Memorial Place Bone War Cemetery, Algeria
Grave Reference II. B. 3.
Epitaph AN EXAMPLE OF COURAGE SELDOM EQUALLED BUT NEVER SURPASSED

IBCC Memorial Information

Phase 2
Panel Number 121

Enlistment Information

Service Number 1458181
Service Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Group 3
Squadron 218 (Gold Coast)
Trade Pilot
Country of Origin United Kingdom

Miscellaneous Information

F/S Aaron may well have survived had he rested instead of insisting on returning to his seat to assist the flight engineer and bomb aimer to prepare for landing at Bone. In the end he became unable to help directly, such were the severity of his injuries but he did carry on giving written instructions using his left hand. His face had been badly injured, and he also sustained injuries to his chest and right arm. Sir Arthur Harris later wrote to Aaron's parents in Leeds: 'In my opinion, never in the annals of the RAF has the VC been awarded for skill, determination and courage in the face of the enemy than that displayed by your son on his last flight.'
VC citation (London Gazette 5th November 1943): "The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned airman in recognition of most conspicuous bravery: 458181 Acting Flight Sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron, D.F.M., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 218 Squadron (deceased). On the night of 12 August 1943, Flight Sergeant Aaron was captain and pilot of a Stirling aircraft detailed to attack Turin. When approaching to attack, the bomber received devastating bursts of fire from an enemy fighter. Three engines were hit, the windscreen shattered, the front and rear turrets put out of action and the elevator control damaged, causing the aircraft to become unstable and difficult to control. The navigator was killed and other members of the crew were wounded. A bullet struck Flight Sergeant Aaron in the face, breaking his jaw and tearing away part of his face. He was also wounded in the lung and his right arm was rendered useless. As he fell forward over the control column, the aircraft dived several thousand feet. Control was regained by the flight engineer at 3,000 feet. Unable to speak, Flight Sergeant Aaron urged the bomb aimer by signs to take over the controls. Course was then set southwards in an endeavour to fly the crippled bomber, with one engine out of action, to Sicily or North Africa. Flight Sergeant Aaron was assisted to the rear of the aircraft and treated with morphia. After resting for some time he rallied and, mindful of his responsibility as captain of aircraft, insisted on returning to the pilot's cockpit, where he was lifted into his seat and had his feet placed on the rudder bar. Twice he made determined attempts to take control and hold the aircraft to its course but his weakness was evident and with difficulty he was persuaded to desist. Though in great pain and suffering from exhaustion, he continued to help by writing directions with his left hand. Five hours after leaving the target the petrol began to run low, but soon afterwards the flare path at Bone airfieldwas sighted. Flight Sergeant Aaron summoned his failing strength to direct the bomb aimer in the hazardous task of landing the damaged aircraft in the darkness with undercarriage retracted. Four attempts were made under his direction. At the fifth Flight Sergeant Aaron was so near to collapsing that he had to be restrained by the crew and the landing was completed by the bomb aimer. Nine hours after landing, Flight Sergeant Aaron died from exhaustion. Had he been content, when grievously wounded, to lie still and conserve his failing strength, he would probably have recovered, but he saw it as his duty to exert himself to the utmost, if necessary with his last breath, to ensure that his aircraft and crew did not fall into enemy hands. In appalling conditions he showed the greatest qualities of courage, determination and leadership and, though wounded and dying, he set an example of devotion to duty which has seldom been equalled and never surpassed”.

Fellow Servicemen

Last Operation Information

Start Date 12-08-1943
End Date 12-08-1943
Takeoff Station Downham Market
Day/Night Raid Night
Operation Turin. 152 aircraft, 2 losses. The crews described the raids as 'heavy and concentrated' although there was little detail from the local authorities except 18 dead.
Reason for Loss Hit by machine gun fire from another bomber in the main force. F/S Aaron was mortally wounded and died the following day after making a crash landing at Bone airfield, Algeria
 
 
 
 

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Casualty Pack

IBCC is delighted to introduce a unique facility to link the Losses Database to the relevant RAF Casualty Pack on the National Archives website. This project is the result of on-going collaboration between IBCC, the MOD Records Office and National Archives, Kew. This document describes what Casualty Packs are, when they were created, the process of making them available to the public and then goes on to describe the process by which you can view the contents of the packs. Casualty Packs (CPs) were created by the RAF whenever there was serious injury or loss of life associated with operational activity within the RAF. This includes operational flying losses, enemy action due to air raids, road accidents either on station or even off-station if they involved RAF vehicles. Deaths due to natural causes in service or accidents that did not involve RAF vehicles did not generally give rise to a CP.

CPs were originally given a unique reference number by the RAF. Each begins with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by six digits, then an oblique (forward slash) and the finally the year in which the incident took place- for example P396154/42.

The CPs are in the process of being made available to the general public as they are passed from the MOD Records Office, Portsmouth to National Archives, Kew. This process requires some rework to the files which is very time consuming, so the process of making them all available to National Archives will take several years. They are being made available in increasing date order.

Once CPs arrive at National Archives they are assigned a unique AIR81 number, so each CP has both a P-number and an AIR81 number. Both are searchable on the National Archives website under ‘Search the catalogue’ and both are included on the IBCC website.

The AIR81 reference on the IBCC website is a link to the file on the National Archives website. When you click on it, the relevant page will open in a new tab on your browser.

There is currently no plan to digitise AIR81 files, partly because they are fragile and partly because the information they contain can at times be sensitive, even harrowing, since they may contain exhumation reports and even photographs of corpses. Family members wishing to read the AIR81 files relating to their ancestors are advised to exercise caution and be guided by National Archives warnings where appropriate.

There are two means for accessing AIR81 files- to attend in person or to order a copy by post.

To attend in person, the attendee should first create a Reader’s Ticket. This can be done online by following this link: https://secure.nationalarchives.gov.uk/login/yourdetails. Then click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and click Order in Advance. Enter your Reader’s Ticket number and state the date on which you intend to visit. National Archives will have the file ready for you when you arrive, saving you time. When you visit Kew, you must quote the Reader’s Ticket number and take along two forms of ID- one bearing your signature and one bearing your address. When you view the files, you are permitted to take photographs of each page, should you wish.

Alternatively, if you wish to order a copy by post, please be aware that there is a charge for this service based on the number of pages in the file. Click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and then click Request a Copy. There is an £8.40 charge for National Archives staff to access the file and give you a quotation for the copying service. The process takes around 24 days to complete and can be expensive.

IBCC wishes to thank the staff at the MOD Records Office and National Archives for their engagement and assistance in making this facility available to our website users.