size of prints 28” x 12½"
night falls, Short Stirlings of XV Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall,
Cambridgeshire, await their crews for yet another nocturnal mission.
One of the almost forgotten Bomber Command aircraft that made a
very significant contribution to the war effort.
Signed by the artist and three former Stirling aircrew, including
Please see below for details of the signatories of this edition.
As with all our prints, this edition was signed in the presence
of Sean Whyte, owner and publisher of SWA Fine Art Limited.
Philip West is recognised as one of the world’s finest aviation artists. Collectors of his original oil paintings span the globe, many waiting patiently for his next breathtaking canvas to appear. Self taught, Philip has won many accolades for his paintings, not the least of which was the prestigious Duane Whitney Award for Excellence at the 1997 American Society of Aviation Artists Exhibition.
F/Lt Geoffrey Ware, DFC AE FCA (Pilot) started his RAF career in December 1940 at No 1 Receiving Wing Babbacombe, then No 4 Initial Training Wing at Paignton. A long wait in the Liverpool area during which it was sunbathing or fatigues, led to a five-week trip in convoy to South Africa. There followed an enthralling year in what was then Southern Rhodesia for Elementary Flying Training on Tiger Moths and Service Flying Training on Harvards leading to the award of Wings. Instead of being sent to the Middle East, as was normal, a fast, unescorted trip took a boatload of fledgling pilots and navigators back to the UK.
It appeared that the strategy of the war had changed and the emphasis was then on the build up of Bomber Command and therefore he was converted to multi-engined aircraft on Oxfords at South Cerney and on Wellingtons at further conversion to Stirlings at Waterbeach, plus two further crew members (making a crew of seven) and on to an operational tour with XV Squadron at Bourn and the award of the DFC. It may be appropriate here to mention that the navigator was Brian E.B. Harris, DFC who has provided pictures and information to the authors of “Oxford’s Own” (a history of XV Squadron) and “The Stirling”. He has also produced a video tape called “Remember The Stirling”. Brian is now the Chairman of “The Stirling Project” which is a charity devoted to trying to build a Stirling aircraft for display purposes. (for further details tel: 01483 892626)
Following the appropriate training F/Lt Ware became an Instructor at an Operational Training Unit and was Mentioned in Dispatches. After the War was over he transferred to Transport Command and spent the rest of his time in the RAF flying Liberators, mostly empty, to Karachi, and returning with 26 passengers, mostly troops.
It was not easy to give up flying completely and he remained with the RAFVR and the RAux AF until they closed down, as a relief from and transition to, training to be a Chartered Accountant.
A R Charlesworth (Pilot) volunteered at the age of 18 in 1942 and trained as a pilot in Canada. On returning to England in spring of 1942, he trained on Whitley Bombers and converted to Stirlings in January 1945. He took part in the Rhine Crossing towing a Horsa glider, which was his last operation. He joined 299 Sqdn at Shepherds Gove in April 1945 and was heavily engaged in towing gliders (Horsas) and supply drop training. Before the end of the European was, he flew Stirling IVs supplying our advancing armies through Europe and completed one operational supply drop to Denmark underground forces. He left the RAF in 1947.
Wg. Cdr. F H P Austin OBE RAF joined the RAF in September 1932 as an aircraft apprentice. After three years at Cranwell he was posted to No16 (AC) Squadron and trained as an Air Gunner. In 1937, he joined No. 36 (TB) Squadron in Singapore and in January
1939 he returned to the UK for training as an Air Observer. He was promoted to Sergeant and joined 149 (B) Squadron at Mildenhall. He flew his first operational sortie on 4th September 1939 (Kiel Canal) and continued operating with the squadron until his captain (Wg. Cdr. P.I. Harris DFC) was selected to command No7 Squadron.
After aircraft familiarization on Stirling aircraft he arrived at Oakington in October 1940. Now commissioned he was a crew member on the very first Stirling Operation on 10th February 1941, targeting oil tanks at Rotterdam.
In September 1941, he was selected for Specialist Armament training, followed by spells as Chief Armament Instructor at Moreton-in-Marsh and Wellesbourne Mountford.
Posted to Air Headquarters in India, in September 1945 and subsequently moved to the RAF Staff College in Haifa in 1946. After a flying refresher course he served with the Bomber Command Development Unit at Marham until 1948. After an exchange posting with RAAF HQ Melbourne he returned to the UK in January 1954 on promotion to Wg. Cdr. (Admin) at RAF Kinloss.
His final posting was to the Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe in 1959, retiring in 1965.
Wg. Cdr. Austin also flew in Wellingtons and is a signatory also, to “Final Preparations”.