Norman Cyril Jackson was a flight engineer in a Lancaster bomber and had completed the bombing of Schweinfurt, Germany. The Lancaster was hit by an enemy fighter and fire broke out. Having asked permission to try and deal with it, Sergeant Jackson clipped on his parachute and, with a fire extinguisher, climbed onto the fuselage of the aircraft that was travelling at 200mph at 20,000 feet. Holding on with one hand, he tried to put out the fire, but his parachute partly opened and he slipped on the wing. The fire spread, and he was badly burned. he was then swept from the wing, with his partly inflated, burning parachute trailing behind him. He landed heavily, breaking a leg. His right eye was closed through burns, and his hands were horribly burned and useless. At daybreak, he crawled towards a village on his knees and elbows. He knocked on the door of a cottage, and one of the daughters of the occupant bathed his wounds. After 10 months in hospital, he was sent to a prison camp. He made two attempts to escape; the second time he succeeded and met the American Army near Munich.
After the war, he worked as a travelling salesman, overcame the handicap of permanently scarred hands, and, with help, built a house for himself and his family. Because he had been adopted, he was a passionate family man. Although periodically haunted by nightmares of his brush with death, and occasionally overcome with melancholy, he realised that he was fortunate to survive when so many did not return. He became a deeply religious man, and never spoke of the award of the VC.
Updated: 3 August 2009