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Distinguished Flying Awards

Heroes Remember

Distinguished Flying Awards

The DFM is normally awarded to a non commissioned pilot officer. Yes, that’s right. Interviewer: Can you tell me what you won the DFM for? Normally you get, after you destroy 5 air planes, you get a DFC or equivalent, or if you had done something special. But by that by th time I was recommended for it, I had more than 8 destroyed and I didn’t get it at that time. I got them both together in February ‘43 after we were in... almost in to Tunisia. I got the DFM and the DFC together and they were back-dated, of course. But then the DFC was recommended by the Army commander An Army general who was being attacked by the Messerschmitts at the front line and it was my first flight as official flight lieutenant leading the squadron. We ran in to these...we saw the 109's being shot at and we ran in to them and we shot down 6 without loss to ourselves and amongst the flak that the army was sending up. The Army general was so impressed that he insisted on immediate DFC. So it came from the army. And I never met the general. I don’t know who he was. Interviewer: At the conclusion of the campaign in Tunisia, you had scored number of other (Yes.) kills by that point. (Yes.) And in fact, would that normally not indicate that you should be awarded a bar to the DFC? Well yes I was, or something probably, but we’d lost our CO and we had no one there to make up for it. And no one... the new people didn’t know what had happened. But later on, you see, we went into Italy and I destroyed another four or five air planes and I was posted out of there without any recognition. And then I received my bar when I finished in England, before I came home the first time. So I ended up with a bar to the DFC. I always feel very bad about any time I might brag a little bit about something. It just doesn’t fit at all. It’s not worth doing, I think. Interviewer: As you know, Mr. Edwards, this is something that I’ve had to push you to say, and I appreciate very much you being as candid as you’ve been. But sir, it’s my understanding that the Air Force records indicate 16.5 kills with 8-12 probables. (Yes.) In fact, you have more than that unofficially to your credit. Yes and then I have another 8 on the ground, destroyed air planes. Interviewer: And damaged as well? Yes and many bombs. 200 vehicles are officially declared. 200 vehicles destroyed on the ground.

Mr. Edwards reflects on receiving the DFM and DFC (in February 1943) and later a bar to the DFC. In particular, he describes the action for which the DFC was awarded.

James Francis Edwards

Mr. Edwards was born on a farm near Lockwood, Saskatchewan on June 5th 1921. His father, a First World War Veteran, kept horses until the depression forced him to move the family to Battleford where he became an insurance salesman. His mother had been a nurse during the First World War. In June 1940, Mr. Edwards enlisted in the Air Force. He was sent to the Brandon, Manitoba to do his Initial Training, then to Edmonton, Alberta for Flying School. After completing Flying School, Mr. Edwards was sent to overseas. He was assigned to 55 Operational Training Unit in Osworth, England where he flew Hurricanes. From there he was posted to Africa to take part in the Desert Campaign. Among many battles and operations, he took part in the El Alamein Battle (Egypt) and the Tunisian Campaign. In Egypt, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. After a period in Cairo running a gunnery school, he was called back to combat in Italy. There he fought in the Battle of Ortona and Anzio and he was given his own squadron, the RAF 274. He was shot down on his first flight as squadron commander. Surviving, he and his crew were sent back to England to take part in D-Day. He would also fight in Holland and Germany. In total, Mr. Edwards served two tours of duty, flying over 360 missions. He had more than 19 confirmed kills. After the war was over he returned to Canada and continued service with the air force retiring as a wing commander.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James Francis Edwards
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flight Lieutenant

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