The Scot Honoured by Enemy Pilots as RAF's 'Gentleman Flyer'

Article excerpt


IT was an act of mercy that earned him the admiration of his enemies - and the nickname 'the Gentleman Flyer'.

After shooting down two of the Luftwaffe planes which had killed two of his comrades, Flight Lieutenant Johnstone Edgar refused to fire on the survivors in the water below.

The Scot's compassion so impressed the German airmen that, after the war, their commanding officer tracked him down and presented him with an inscribed silver cigarette box as a token of their gratitude.

Now, 60 years later, the box is to go on display with a collection of Mr Edgar's medals and mementoes at the Scottish War Museum in Edinburgh Castle.

Mr Edgar won the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1944 for his skill at sinking enemy ships in the Mediterranean.

The citation for his medal describes him as a 'courageous, resolute and determined pilot'.

It adds: 'He has greatly distinguished himself, having assisted in the destruction of six supply boats, a small tanker and an E-boat.' But it was his daredevil attack on a flight of Junkers 52s off the coast of Libya earlier that year that won him the respect of his foes. Flying his Bristol Beaufighter straight into the heart of the enemy formation, he shot down two of the three planes, while his wingman bagged the third.

Two of their comrades were shot down in the battle and, as the 11 surviving Germans sat defenceless in their dinghies below, they expected to be machine-gunned as an act of revenge. …