For Valour: Wing Commander Hughie Idwal Edwards (39005) VC DFC

A black and white photo of a man standing in front of an aircraft, wearing a flight suit with a life vest and holding aviation gear, gazing into the distance.

Location: 4 July 1941, over Germany

Who: Wing Commander Hughie Idwal Edwards (39005) VC DFC Royal Air Force 1 August 1914 – 5 August 1982

On Sunday 22 June 1941, the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union; the largest land offensive ever. Some 3.8 million military personnel were involved from Germany and their satellite countries (Bulgaria and Romania, with volunteers from occupied countries). The Red Army was forced to retreat in disorder. To ease the pressure on the USSR, responding to Stalin’s appeals for help, Bomber and Fighter Commands launched raids on Germany and nearby occupied countries.

The VC medal

On 4 July 1941, a daylight raid was ordered by fifteen Bristol Blenheims – nine from 105 Squadron and six from 107 Squadron, based at RAF Great Massingham. The entire formation was led by W/C Edwards, flying Blenheim Mk. IV serial V 6028 coded GB-D belonging to 105 Squadron. At exactly 0521 hrs, W/C Edwards took off from RAF Swanton Morley, heading for the docks at Bremen.

The London Gazette 22nd July, 1941.

“The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery: — Acting Wing Commander Hughie Idwal EDWARDS D.F.C. (39005), No. 105 Squadron. Wing Commander Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability resulting from a flying accident, has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives. On 4th July, 1941, he led an important attack on the Port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany. This attack had to be made in daylight and there were no clouds to afford concealment. During the approach to the German coast several enemy ships were sighted and Wing Commander Edwards knew that his aircraft would be reported and that the defences would be in a state of readiness. Undaunted by this misfortune he brought his formation 50 miles overland to the target, flying at a height of little more than 50 feet, passing under high-tension cables, carrying away telegraph wires and finally passing through a formidable balloon barrage. On reaching Bremen he was met with a hail of fire, all his aircraft being hit and four of them being destroyed. Nevertheless he made a most successful attack, and then with the greatest skill and coolness withdrew the surviving aircraft without further loss. Throughout the execution of this operation which he had planned personally with full knowledge of the risks entailed, Wing Commander Edwards displayed the highest possible standard of gallantry and determination.”

A black and white photo labeled "Flight Photo T.199/44" showing three twin-engine aircraft in formation flight above the clouds, each marked with British roundels and tail numbers.

Bristol Blenheim IV

Frank Wootton painting of Hughie Edwards' GB-D (in which he won his VC)

Artist Frank Wootton portrays Edwards over Holland on way to target. Low level flight has collected tree branch on starboard wing.

After a highly meritorious career in the RAF, Edwards retired in September 1963 as Air Commodore Edwards VC, CB, DSO, DFC, ADC. Born in Australia though serving in the RAF, Edwards retired there and was appointed as Governor of West Australia and was further awarded a KCMG and OBE.

Air Commodore Edwards was cremated and is remembered at Karrakatta Crematorium, Perth, Western Australia.

His Victoria Cross is held by the Australian War Memorial Hall of Valour, Canberra, Australia.

A bronze plaque commemorating Wing Commander Hugh Ieuan Edwards. The plaque lists his decorations: Victoria Cross (VC), Distinguished Service Order (DSO), Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Companion of the Bath (CB), and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). It also lists his date of birth (1 August 1914) and date of death (5 August 1982). The plaque reads "Australia Remembers 1939-1945" and "Lest We Forget".


Citation: The London Gazette 22nd July, 1941.
Additional biographical details: For Valour: The Air VCs Chaz Bowyer, Grub Street Publishing.

Air Commodore Edwards: RAF Museum
Art work: RAF Museum
Blenheim: RAF Museum
Memorial: Richard Yielding via


About the Author

Norman Brice: Volunteer

Volunteer Norman Brice

It all started very many years ago when, lying in my pram, I was awoken by what I later knew as Spitfires on their finals to RAF Biggin Hill, just a handful of miles away. As a schoolboy I was captivated by the annual September Battle of Britain Days at Biggin Hill with a vast range of visiting aircraft, including all three V-Bombers in gleaming anti-flash white.

Fast forward very many years past retirement I joined the RAF Museum London as a volunteer as a Vulcan and Cold War tour guide.