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Ferdinand Maurice Felix West VC Appeal

14 March 2013

Affectionately known as 'Freddie' West by those that knew him, he started his military career in 1914 as a Private in the RAMC, he ended it in 1946 as an Air Commodore in the RAF.  His entire career is a story of heroism and displays of true valor. http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/West_FMF.htm  This site also has a biography for Air Commodore West VC CBE ME.

Despite losing a leg during his VC action, he returned to action as a combat pilot and eventually became the Air Attache in Berne Switzerland where he assisted allied airman escape from Nazi Occupied Germany, the Gestapo were so concerned about his activities they put a 'bounty' on his head prompting him to hire his own bodyguard.

Freddie West holds the distinction of being awarded the first VC of the newly formed Royal Air Force whilst serving with 8 SQN RAF in France. Freddie died in 1988 and is buried in Sunningdale Nr Windsor in Berkshire.

Citation for the award of the Victoria Cross

"Air Ministry, 8th November, 1918.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to Lieut, (actg. Capt.) Ferdinand Maurice Felix West, M.C., - Royal Air Force (formerly of the Special Reserve, Royal Munster Fusiliers), in recognition of his outstanding bravery in aerial combat.

Captain West, while engaging hostile troops at a low altitude far over the enemy lines, was attacked by seven aircraft.  Early in the engagement one of his legs was partially severed by an explosive bullet, and fell powerless into the controls, rendering the machine for the time unmanageable.  Lifting his disabled leg, he regained control of the machine, and, although wounded in the other leg, he, with surpassing bravery and devotion to duty, manoeuvred his machine so skilfully that his observer was enabled to get several good bursts into the enemy machines, which drove them away.  Captain West then, with rare courage, and determination, desperately wounded as he was, brought his machine over our lines and landed safely.  Exhausted by his exertions, he fainted, but on regaining consciousness insisted on writing his report."

Appeal

His grave has now become extremely degraded as a result of neglect.  We intend to ensure that this situation changes and a maintenance plan is put into action.

Following liaison and discussions with 8 Squadron RAF based in RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire we have put together an action plan to renovate the grave of Freddie West VC and the cemetery grounds in Sunningdale.

On the 7th and 8th of May 2013, the Victoria Cross Trust will travel with airmen of 8 Sqn RAF to Windsor, where we will work with volunteers from RHG/D (Blues & Royals) of the Household Cavalry based in Combermere Barracks, Windsor.

We shall spend two days on site in Sunningdale with other civilian volunteers, members of the VC Trust and 459 (Windsor) Squadron Air Cadets.  During this time, the grave itself shall be professionally cleaned and repaired by a qualified team of stonemasons.  The remainder of the cemetery (now in the hands of the local authority) will be cleaned and renovated by our combined team of military and civilian volunteers.

In the meantime we need to raise the funds needed for this project. To assist in this task we have set up an appeal for funds, please assist if you can.  Text HERO47 £5 (or any amount) to 70070, or donate via http://www.justgiving.com/FMFWestVCAppeal

Now a final date has been secured members of the Press, local dignitaries and the public shall be invited to come along and witness the work being done to the grave and to Holy Trinity Cemetery.