Military History

The Highest Honour #33 | Ron Middleton | Mick Moon

By The Cove August 30, 2021


Pilot Officer Rawdon Hume Middleton VC (1916 - 1942, 26yo)

Ron Middleton was born on 22 July 1916 at Waverley, New South Wales. At the completion of schooling he joined the Royal Australian Air Force on 14 October 1940 under the Empire Air Training Scheme.

After learning to fly he arrived in Britain in September 1941 where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant in December and posted to No.149 Squadron, Royal Air Force in February 1942. He became a First Pilot and Captain in July 1942.

On 28 November 1942 Middleton and his crew conducted a sortie to Turin, Italy. While over the target they were hit, with one shell exploding in the cockpit wounding Middleton. His right eye was severely injured with the bone exposed; it is also reported that he may have been wounded in the body and legs. With his aeroplane severely damaged, Middleton rejected the options of flying to Africa or bailing out over German-occupied France and insisted on returning to England for the sake of the crew. The flight lasted more than four hours, during which he was in constant agony. He could barely see and suffered further pain when he spoke. On reaching the English coast, he flew over land so that his comrades could parachute safely. Five of them reached the ground and survived. He then turned back towards the English Channel to avoid crashing in a populated area. Two of the crew remained with their Captain, parachuted into the sea and drowned. Middleton was too weak to leave the Stirling which crashed into the sea on the morning of 29 November 1942, killing him. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and promoted to Pilot Officer (with effect from 15 November).

Middleton's body was washed ashore at Shakespeare Beach, Dover, in February 1943 and buried in St John's churchyard, Beck Row, Suffolk, with full military honours. He had won the first V.C. awarded to a member of the RAAF in World War II.

Lieutenant Rupert Theo Vance (Mick) Moon VC (1892 - 1986, 93 yo)

Mick Moon was born on 14 August 1892 at Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. At the completion of schooling at the age of 16 and became a bank clerk. On 21 August 1914 he enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force as a trumpeter.

A part of the 4th Light Horse Regiment he was employed as Infantry at Gallipoli from 24 May 1915 until the unit evacuated to Egypt in December. Promoted to Sergeant on 06 March 1916, he left for France where, on 09 September, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and appointed a Platoon Commander in the 58th Battalion.

Promoted to Lieutenant on 06 April 1917, Moon led his battalion in the successful breaching of the Hindenburg Line in the second battle of Bullecourt. Assisted by the British 7th Division, on 12 May 1917 it made the initial assault on a large dugout, a concrete machine-gun redoubt and a hostile trench. Moon personally led the assault during which he was wounded four times. Despite heavy enemy shelling his platoon achieved its objectives and trapped 186 Germans, including two officers. For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the citation reading: ‘His bravery was magnificent and was largely instrumental in the successful issue against superior numbers, the safeguarding of the flank of the attack, and the capture of many prisoners and machine guns’. 

In March 1918 Moon was sent home to recuperate. His bravest act was to volunteer to return to active service. In August he rejoined the 58th Battalion near Corbie, France, taking part in operations at Mont St Quentin. Promoted to temporary Captain on 05 February 1919, he returned to Australia as an honorary Captain in August 1919. His AIF appointment terminated on 04 October and he was placed on the Reserve of Officers.

Post his service he had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. He resigned as a bank clerk and after numerous job offers accepted a job as a livestock manager. A racehorse owner, Moon was a life and committee member of Moonee Valley Racing Club, and a life member of the Victorian Amateur Turf and the Naval and Military clubs. He was also a member of the Victoria Racing, the Melbourne and the Geelong clubs. Survived by his wife and their son and daughter, he died at his Barwon Heads home on 28 February 1986 and was buried with Anglican rites at Mount Duneed cemetery.

 


Portrait

Biography

The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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