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Branse Burbridge


Our shows on the 8th and 9th November were a great success and we are only too pleased to show you some photos taken on both days. Rather more photos from the Saturday as we were lucky to have a good photographer along on the day – on Sunday I was Chief Photographer and as you can see, photography is not exactly my strong suit!

Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DSO

Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DSO and Bar DFC and Bar signing one of the many items brought in by collectors.

Safely Home


“Safely Home” featuring Branse Burbridge in his Mosquito and a Lancaster from 57 Squadron. Original oil painting (approx. 24” x 15”)signed on the reverse both by Branse Burbridge and 57 Squadron Lancaster pilot Phil Ainley. £ Please contact us.

“Night Hawks”. New painting featuring Branse Burbridge and his navigator Bill
Skelton shooting down a Bf 110 over Germany. Size 24” x 10” £Please contact us.
Signed on the back of the canvas by Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DFC and Bar, DSO and Bar..

About to be published as a limited edition print signed by two night-fighter pilots. Advance orders for this very limited edition print now be taken for delivery in January.

Flt. Lt. Phil Ainley DFC


Flt. Lt. Phil Ainley DFC Lancaster pilot of 57 Sqn. who completed 33 ops.


(Foreground) Flight Lieutenant Peter Arkell, OBE, USAF Medal Of Distinction, joined the RAFVR in 1940 and was sent by convoy to Canada and then to Arizona for pilot training. In 1942 he was posted to 26 Squadron at Gatwick where he flew Mustangs and Spitfires on low level intruder raids and coastline photography. In 1944 he joined 161 SD (Special Duties) Squadron at Tempsford and in a double Lysander operation saw the second aircraft shot down killing the pilot and the two returning agents.

Victor Gill. 617 Sqn. Flight Mechanic who worked on the Dambuster aircraft.

Gordon Beavis (collector) with Philip West on the right

Gordon Beavis (collector) with Philip West on the right. Gordon is the new, proud owner of this magnificent painting.

Gordon with Victor Gill.

Gordon with Victor Gill.

On the Sunday.

Keen collectors taking an interest in Stephen Brown’s fabulous aviation art


Keen collectors taking an interest in Stephen Brown’s fabulous aviation art.

Just a small selection of Stephen’s art on display.

V.I.P GUESTS

We thought you might like these background details on each
WWII gentleman who attended our shows.on the 8th and 9th November 2003.


Flight Lieutenant Peter Arkell, OBE, USAF Medal Of Distinction, joined the RAFVR in 1940 and was sent by convoy to Canada and then to Arizona for pilot training. In 1942 he was posted to 26 Squadron at Gatwick where he flew Mustangs and Spitfires on low level intruder raids and coastline photography. In 1944 he joined 161 SD (Special Duties) Squadron at Tempsford and in a double Lysander operation saw the second aircraft shot down killing the pilot and the two returning agents. Peter was then transferred with six Lysanders to India, and then flew on to Burma to 357 Squadron. Here he continued to fly dangerous Lysander operations behind the Japanese lines supplying Force 136. On his thirty-fifth mission in August 1945 he attempted to land in the mountains during a monsoon and was seriously injured. The local Burmese mountain people took good care of him and both he and his passenger were rescued by another Lysander.


Flt Lt Phil Ainley DFC (57 Sqn. Pilot) was accepted for aircrew training in February 1942 at the age of 17½ years. He was selected for pilot training and was sent to the United States Naval Aviation base in Pensacola. After gaining his United States Navy wings on completion of his Catalina flying boat course, he was commissioned and returned to the UK. Following retraining on land planes, he eventually joined No. 57 Lancaster squadron in May 1944.

The squadron was heavily engaged in attacking both French flying bomb sites, the build up to D. Day and German industrial targets. One sortie to Konigsberg necessitated flying for 11 hours 10 minutes, whilst another was to drop mines in the Stettin canal from 250 feet. For this last sortie Flt Lt Ainley was awarded an immediate DFC.

He completed his operational tour of 33 sorties in October 1944, having flown all this time with the same crew with the exception of a replacement flight engineer.

On completing a course at the Bomber Command Instructors School, he became a flying instructor in Bomber Command.


Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar (85 Sqn. Pilot) gained his wings in 1941. Putting duty before personal feelings as a conscientious objector Branse, together with his navigator, Bill Skelton, became known as “the night hawk partners”.

The two of them went on to shoot down 21 enemy aircraft - 16 during a seven-month period. The total included a Bf110 and three Ju88Gs during the night of 4-5 November 1944. Their officially credited 21 enemy aircraft destroyed made the pair the top night fighting crew in the whole of the RAF. Branse recalls, “I always tried to aim for the wings of enemy aircraft – and not the cockpit. I never wanted to kill anyone.”

The citations for their awards paid tribute to both men setting “an unsurpassed example of outstanding keenness and devotion to duty”.


Flight Mechanic Victor Gill worked on two Dambuster Lancaster aircraft before the raids. One was piloted by Flt. Lt. Bill Astell and the other by Sqn. Ldr. Melvin ‘Dinghy’ Young. Vic retains to this day clear recollections of both men and their aircraft. The bombs arrived covered in red oxide and Vic was one of the men whose job it was to paint them black to blend in with the dark underside of the aircraft.


SUNDAY 9th November.


Sqn. Ldr. Ron Waite was a Pilot with 76 sqn flying 17 ops. before being transferred to become a Flying Instructor on both Lancaster and Halifax aircraft. On the Tirpitz raid Ron was Flight Engineer.
Despite being 92 years of age Ron has travelled from Weston Super Mare to be with us today.


Flt/Lt Derek Lovell volunteered for the RAFVR in January 1941. He trained in Canada on Tiger Moths and Oxfords. He received his wings in April 1942 and was posted to Central Flying School. Following graduation, he taught Fleet Air Arm trainees on Harvards. He returned to the UK in March 1943 and flew Masters at AFU and Hurricanes at OTU. He taught Lancaster crews fighter evasion prior to posting to 84 GSU to fly Typhoons. He joined 197 Squadron at Needs Oar Point in the New Forest in June 1944 and was involved in close support operations and tactical dive bombing and low level bombing throughout the Normandy campaign and on through to VE-Day. He completed 135 operations and in August 1945 was posted to an OTU to instruct on Typhoons and Tempest Vs. He was demobbed in June 1946 and flew weekends in the VR on Tiger Moths and later Chipmunks. He was called up on the G Reserve in July 1951 and flew Harvards, Spitfire XXIIs and then Vampire Vs. He stood down in September as the Korea situation eased.


F/O Tony (Titch) Hallett DFC a member of 198 Rocket Firing Typhoon Squadron operated from bases in Southern England (Manston to Hurn). Operating from Thorney Island on D-Day and then from several landing strips on The Beachhead, France and Belgium between January and November 1944.

After Fighter Pilot training in the USA in 1941/42 he returned to the UK for conversion to Hurricanes and was then posted to an Army Co-operation Unit in Northern Ireland where he gained valuable experience flying various types of aircraft, i.e. Defiant, Lysander, Hurricane, Martinet and Twin Engine Oxford. His operational flying from Southern England consisted mainly of attacking the many strongly defended Radar Stations from Ostend to Cherbourg and on two occasions changed from rockets to bombs for attacks on Noball Targets (flying bomb sites).

Operations from the landing strips consisted, with close Army Support, taking out Gun Positions, attacking Tanks and destroying anything that moved in enemy territory all against very heavy enemy Flak. He completed in excess of 100 sorties and since 1984 has revisited Normandy on many occasions. He attended the official funerals of two 198 Squadron Pilots whose aircraft wreckage had been discovered as many as 41 and 49 years after the events.

 
 

 

 
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