by Philip E. West
Passing low over Norwich Cathedral on this wintry evening, Pathfinder Mosquitoes begin to transit east from their bases on yet another dangerous night-time mission over enemy territory. They will take the lead on this bombing mission and their role is to identify and mark pre-planned targets with flares, enabling the main force of Lancaster and Halifax aircraft to drop their bombs as accurately as possible.
The Pathfinders were elite squadrons in RAF Bomber Command. Like all aircrew, these brave men took the fight to the enemy night after night until victory was achieved.
Overall size approx. 12½” x 19½” / 32 x 49cms
The Primary Edition is signed by a Mosquito Pathfinder pilot and the Artists Proofs have additionally been signed by five Lancaster pilots. For morer details please see below the prices.
The Primary Edition is signed by the artist and:
Flt. Lt. Ted Dunford DFC, (Mosquito Pathfinder Pilot) joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in January 1939 at the age of 19. He was mobilised September 1, 1939. Ted spent the next year training in the UK culminating in receiving his wings in September 1940. He was sent to Southern Rhodesia as a flying instructor, then returned to the UK to join the Mosquitoes of 608 Sqdn. in the Light Night Striking Force (based at Downham Market, Norfolk) , flying fast high level raids, navigated by Flt/Sgt. Bill Read (RCAF) and carrying 4 500lb bombs, and later re-equipped to deliver the 4000lb “cookie”.
On one raid, flak over Berlin caused serious damage, including total loss of aileron control. The subsequent return flight and successful landing (at the third attempt) was recognised by the award of a DFC. On completion of the tour of 55 raids (including 27 to Berlin), navigator Flt/Sgt. Bill Read was awarded the DFM. After the war Ted flew for another 28 years as an airline captain.
The Artist Proofs are also signed by these additional Lancaster pilots:
Sqn. Ldr. Lawrence “Benny” Goodman (617 Sqn pilot) volunteered for aircrew at 18 years of age and was called up in 1940. After basic training he went to RAF Abingdon – a Whitley O.T.U – for what he was told would be ‘straight through’ training. This did not materialise and he found himself in the role of a Ground Gunner. In 1941, a posting eventually came through to the Initial Training Wing followed by Elementary Flying School at Peterborough and an instructor’s course at Woodley, Reading; then to Clyffe Pyparde, a holding unit. A sea journey to Canada followed and Service Flying Training School on Ansons. On completion he was posted to Kingston, Ontario, to instruct Acting Leading Naval Airmen on the Royal Navy tactics of the time. e.g. jinking after take off, dive bombing etc. “However, I had to learn everything first, so I was just about one step ahead of the students!” said Benny.
Eventually returning to the UK and O.T.U. on Wellingtons at Silverstone and Heavy Conversion Bomber Unit at Swinderby on Stirlings. Then a short course at the Lancaster Conversion Unit. After an interview Benny and his crew were surprised and delighted to find they had been selected for 617 Squadron – this was in 1944 and they stayed together as a crew on 617 Squadron until the war in Europe ended. He completed 30 missions – all with William “Jock” Burnett as his flight engineer. Notable raids Benny took part in were on the Tirpitz (29/10/44), dropping the Grand Slam 22,000 bomb on the Arnsberg Viaduct (19/03/45) and the attack on Berchtesgarten ‘Eagles nest’ (25/05/45).
Flt Lt Russell (Rusty) Waughman DFC, AFC, (Special Duties Lancaster pilot) volunteered for the RAF in 1941. After training in Canada, he qualified as a heavy bomber pilot. In November 1943 he was posted to No 101(Special Duties) Squadron at Ludford Magna. He completed a tour of operations, which began during the ‘Battle of Berlin’, where they did several operations. Surviving a mid-air collision, only to write the aircraft off on landing, ‘Rusty’ and his crew on a subsequent flight had a miraculous escape when their aircraft was blown upside down, over the target, at Mailly-le-Camp; they also survived the Nuremberg raid on 30th March 1944, when 97 aircraft were lost – including about one quarter of 101 sqn strength that night.
Flt. Lt. Ronald Homes DFC (Special Duties Lancaster pilot) joined the RAF in March 1942 and after initial training, went to Terrell, Texas, USA for his flying training, where he gained his wings in May 1943. He returned to the UK and joined No. 101 Sqdn. in May 1944, going on to complete 32 Ops. over Europe. After his bombing tour he converted onto Dakotas, joined No. 238 Sqdn. and flew out to India and Burma, then on to Australia and the South Pacific. After the Japanese surrender he joined 1315 Flight and flew up to Japan with the occupation forces.
Flt. Lt. Ken Fillingham DFC (Special Duties Lancaster pilot) joined the RAF in May 1941, eventually joining 101 Special Duties Squadron as a Lancaster pilot in February 1944. Ken took part in many memorable raids, including Stuttgart and Nuremburg. On a raid to Mailly-Le-Camp he credits his Special Duties Officer with having saved the aircraft by alerting Ken to a fast approaching German fighter.
Flt. Lt. Ronald Clark DFC (Pilot) volunteered for flying duties in 1941 and after interviews completed initial training in Paignton. A flying grading course followed at Kingstown near Carlisle surprisingly near my family, before being sent as “Ambassadors” for Britain across the Atlantic to be trained by the USAAF. After more initial training to learn the American way, not a bad way, we embarked on the flying training and after receiving the silver wings, the next port of call was Bournemouth in a hotel which shortly afterwards was demolished by the Luftwaffe.
Several courses preceded our arrival at Lindholme heavy conversion unit before joining the “Battle of the Ruhr” with No 100 Squadron based at Waltham near Grimsby. My crew and I were assigned a brand new Lancaster III EE139 which we almost did for on our twenty-fourth trip with her to Manheim, but she went on to complete 120 operations before being unceremoniously scrapped. Little did we think that over 60 years later she would be “recalled to life” by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
After a period of instructing I was then posted to No 7 Sqdn for deployment to the Far East, which was stymied by the dropping of the atomic bomb, I did a lot more instructing before applying for a secondment to BOAC. (Publishers note: A very modest potted biography by Ron! I highly recommend a visit to this web site where you will find a lot more information about Ron’s flying career. http://www.bbmf.co.uk/bomber.html