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This sculpture by celebrated artist Gregory Percival entitled ‘For Valour’, depicts Flt Lt James Nicolson (later Wing Commander) baling out of his stricken Hurricane over Southampton Water, after the aerial combat which resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the only one given to a pilot of Royal Air Force Fighter Command during World War II.
Nicolson’s flight of four Hurricanes had been attacked by several Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engined fighters. Despite his aircraft being severely damaged and on fire and ignoring his own significant shrapnel injuries, he stayed with his burning aircraft to attack and destroy one of the Bf 110s before baling out. Nicolson survived the action but was later killed whilst serving in India in May 1945.
In his research for the work, Greg was granted privileged access to aircraft, authentic pilot’s clothing, and the flying logs of Wing Commander Nicolson. To ensure that the figure is as true to reality as possible, Greg himself attempted to recreate the body positions of a pilot baling out of a static display Hurricane, then had to allow for 200+ mph winds to fight against. This attention to detail and research is what has contributed to the drama of the piece being perfectly captured.
‘For Valour’ is the inscription found on the front of the Victoria Cross, which is made from the bronze of a captured nineteenth century cannon. The VC is the highest military decoration and is awarded for a person’s ‘most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy’.
Each edition of the limited run of 25 pieces will be signed and numbered by the artist and comes with a certificate of issue.
Composition: 4 individual bronze castings
Base: Bonded Welsh slate - 4 sections
Height: 80cm (including base)
Width: 40cm square base
Figure: 30cm long