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  • Christina Drummond

Leading Aircraftman Albert Matthew Osborne GC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1942, Leading Aircraftman Albert Matthew Osborne GC, (widely known as Matt), the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, was killed in Malta in an explosion while fire-fighting.

He had enlisted in the Royal Air Force Reserves in July of 1940, and after what was considered to be very basic training he was put to work as an aircraft mechanic. It is not known what work he had done before enlisting, but he was a competent mechanic, serving at various bases around the United Kingdom before being posted to Malta, upon which the Luftwaffe were making regular attacks. The Air Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Mediterranean, stated that “Leading Aircraftman Osborne was one of the bravest airmen it has been my privilege to meet.”

He was awarded the posthumous George Cross for his "unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty" during German air attacks, and the citation details his many acts of valour: “The King has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross to 1058637 Leading Aircraftman Albert Matthew Osborne, Royal Air Force: During a period of fierce enemy air attacks on Malta, Leading Aircraftman Osborne has displayed unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty. In circumstances of the greatest danger he was always first at hand to deal with emergencies, whether in fire fighting operations or in rescue work. The following are examples of his promptitude and gallantry: - * Rendered safe the torpedo of a burning torpedo aircraft, working 3 feet from the main petrol tank for ten minutes. * Extinguished a burning aircraft during a heavy bombing attack. Attempted to save a burning aircraft and subsequently removed torpedoes from the vicinity. Assisted in saving the pilot of a burning aircraft and extinguishing the fire. Saved an aircraft from destruction by fire. * Attempted for six hours to extricate airmen from a bombed shelter, despite continued heavy bombing and danger from falling stone-work. Fought fires in two aircraft, his efforts resulting in the saving of one. Freed the parachute of a burning flare caught in an aircraft, enabling the pilot to taxi clear. Checked the fire in a burning aircraft, the greater part of which was undamaged. * The last three incidents occurred on the same day. Leading Aircraftman Osborne was unfortunately killed on 2nd April, 1942. During an intense, air attack he led a party to extinguish the flames of a burning aircraft. A petrol tank exploded and he was injured and affected by the fumes. On recovery, he. returned to fight the fire and was killed by the explosion of an air vessel while attempting to pour water over torpedoes which were in danger of exploding. * This airman's fearless courage and great leadership on all occasions have been beyond praise. The Air Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Mediterranean, has stated that he was "one of the bravest airmen it has been my privilege to meet "

He is buried in the Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery, where sadly his grave-stone does not mention his name, it is merely carved with the number 96. At RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, the Reserves basic recruitment course was renamed the “Osborne Course” in his honour.

Matt, from Grimbsby, was 35 years old and married.

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