Britain’s war dead buried in a foreign field were honoured by the Prince of Wales as he remembered a Second World War pilot awarded the Victoria Cross.
Charles paid his respects when he visited the Taiping Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in northern Malaysia and stopped to view the headstone of Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf.
He was given a walking tour of the pristine graves by Commonwealth War Graves Commissioner Paul Price and Colonel Stephen Hall, British defence adviser to Malaysia.
Col Hall said the Prince had paused at the grave of the airman, listening to the story of how he won his VC at the age of 28 and “marvelling at his heroism”.
The officer was posthumously awarded the highest military gallantry award for carrying out a solo bombing raid on a Japanese airforce base in Thailand on December 9 1941.
As he got airborne from RAF Butterworth in Malaya, he watched a surprise attack by enemy aircraft that dive-bombed and destroyed or damaged RAF planes on the airfield which were about to take off and join his raid.
Against the odds, and vastly outnumbered, he continued his mission to Singora and completed it, making a forced landing just over the Thai border in Malaysia at Alor Setar but was mortally wounded.
Among the nurses working frantically to save his life at the local hospital was his pregnant wife, who donated her own blood in a last-ditch bid to help, but her efforts were unsuccessful. Soon after his death, she lost their unborn baby.
On arrival, Charles was greeted by a military piper from the Royal Gurkha Rifles Brunei and first walked to the Muslim cemetery, laying a wreath at the Stone of Remembrance and bowing his head in acknowledgement of their service.
He then crossed a dusty road to the Christian cemetery opposite, where he paused at the grave of Squadron Leader Scarf and then laid a second wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice, again bowing his head to reflect.
A card on the wreath read: “In grateful remembrance of your service and sacrifice.”