Thomas Mottershead from Widnes in Cheshire enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in 1914 as a mechanic. He was promoted to sergeant in 1916 and underwent flight training. After passing out he was posted to 25 Sqn at St Omer in France flying FE2's.
He won the DCM the same year and in January 1917 earned the only Victoria Cross to be awarded to a non-commissioned officer in the RFC while engaging two Albatros aircraft over Ploegsteert Wood near Ypres..
The citation read:
"For most conspicuous bravery, endurance and skill when attacked at an altitude of 9000 feet the petrol tank was pierced and the machine set on fire. Enveloped in flames, which his observer Lt Gower was unable to subdue, this very gallant soldier succeeded in bringing his aeroplane back to our lines and though he made a successful landing, the machine collapsed on touching the ground pinning him beneath wreckage from which he was subsequently rescued. Though suffering extreme torture from burns, Sgt Mottishead showed the most conspicuous presence of mind in the careful selection of a landing place and his wonderful endurance and fortitude undoubtedly saved the life of his observer. He has since succumbed to his injuries."
He is buried in the Bailleul Cemetery in France.