Philip E. West
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.
do hope you will find these biographies of interest. We hope that
by knowing a little about the men behind each signature, it will
help you get the most from your copy of “Lancaster Legend”.
We would ask you not to reproduce the biographies in any format
without our permission. Please bear in mind that the notes have
been prepared by each individual and copied, with virtually no editing,
by SWA Fine Art.
Lt. Phil Ainley DFC
was 15 when war was declared on the 3rd September 1939. He had always
wanted to be a pilot and the only way to do this was to join the
RAF or the RAF Volunteer Reserve. However, he couldn’t join
until he was 17 and so he took up an engineering apprenticeship.
When Phil tried to join up again he was told he couldn’t because
he was in a reserved occupation.
finally joined the RAF in November 1941 when he opted for aircrew
as this was the only way he could get out of his apprenticeship.
However, he couldn’t start his flying training until he was
November 1942, Phil was sent to St John’s Wood, to the Air
Crew Receiving Centre. Here he was given a uniform and white flashes
to put in his cap to show that he was aircrew. He and his colleagues
spent five weeks marching around London and having inoculations.
St John’s Wood, Phil was sent to Manchester’s Heaton
Park. This was a holding centre for volunteer aircrew and from here
everyone was sent for specialist training as pilots, navigators,
bombardiers and wireless operators.
was sent for pilot training in Silloth, Cumbria. Here he received
just a few hours of flying in Tiger Moths and then when he was safe
to fly he was passed back to Manchester. From here, Phil was selected
for pilot training and was sent with a batch of naval ratings to
the US Air Base Gross Ille, Michigan, USA. It was extremely cold,
but even so physical exercise had to be carried out at 5.30 in the
morning and in singlet and shorts!
passed out from his basic flying training and then proceeded to
the US Aviation Base, Pensacola, Florida. Here, Phil learned to
fly single engine aircraft of various types. In December 1942, Pearl
Harbour was attacked and American patriotism was everywhere even
on the pats of butter. Any Britons were treated as honoured guests
and were adopted by local families.
was decided that Phil was better suited to multi-engine rather than
single-engined aircraft and so he was sent to train on Catalina,
flying boats. In May 1943 he passed out as a pilot and was awarded
his American Naval Gold Wings. The advantage of Phil’s training
was that he learned seamanship as well as airmanship.
back in Great Britain Phil went to Moss Bros to purchase his brand
new Pilot Officer’s uniform. His pay had gone up from 5 shillings
a day to 10 shilling and 6 pence and beer was only 9d to 10d (old
pence) a pint!
there was no need for more flying boat pilots but as Phil had multi-engined
experience, he was sent to fly 4 engined aircraft. This meant further
training as landing aircraft on land rather than the sea required
a different technique. Once this new technique had been mastered
Phil was sent to a Wellington Operation Training Unit. Here people
were either picked or they did the picking of aircrew.
picked a Pilot Officer from the Canadian airforce as his Navigator
and a fellow British Pilot Officer as his bomb aimer.
was when training on Short Stirling aircraft that Phil met the rest
of his crew; a wireless operator, a Canadian mid-upper gunner, a
rear gunner and a flight engineer. Phil’s wireless operator
was only 17 ½ as was his rear gunner. Although they had flown
in the aircraft for only a few hours, they were seen to be ready
to fly Lancaster bombers and were sent to Nottinghamshire for training.
This consisted of 14 hours flying time on the Lancaster, 7 hours
during daylight and 7 hours at night.
the 15th May 1944, Phil and his crew were sent to 57 Squadron East
Kirby, Lincolnshire. He then experienced his first operational flight,
sitting alongside a ‘veteran’ pilot. They flew to Amiens
where they were due to deposit bombs on marshalling yards. However,
they returned with their bomb load!
first operational flight with his crew was on the 24th May. Their
target was the marshalling yards in Antwerp. Things were building
up for the D Day landings and so the aim of the bombing raids was
to cause maximum disruption to the Germans.
the crew were not told when D Day was to happen, they returned from
a mission in the early morning on the 4th June and saw numerous
ships and barges, so they knew something was occurring. By July,
Phil and his crew had flown 14 missions and they were flying almost
every other night. After the troops had been landed in France there
were more trips into Germany and more aircraft went missing. In
the summer of 1944, Phil’s logbook recorded two trips, one
with 31 missing and one with 49 missing and each of those aircraft
had a crew of 7 men.
the 16th August 1944 the crew were briefed to do a ‘gardening’
mission. Gardening was code for dropping sea mines. The area to
be mined was the Stettin Bay Canal in Germany. The mines had to
be dropped from only 250 feet and this area was fiercely guarded.
Only 6 crews had been detailed to fly down the canal and Phil’s
was one of them.
had laid on an attack on the town of Stettin itself to draw attention
away from the Canal. However, the bombing was delayed as the marking
for the bombs was off track and the aircraft had the terrifying
prospect of orbiting the target at only 250 feet, whilst marking
was relaid. The aircraft in front of Phil was blown up and they
had to negotiate the debris. Out of the 6 aircraft earmarked to
bomb the Stettin Canal, one was blown up, one did not reach Stettin
and one went missing. It was for this mission and pressing home
the attack that Phil was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
successfully completed 33 missions Phil and his crew left the Squadron
on the 6th October. In 2002, after 58 years Phil was re-united with
his Navigator at a Re-union at East Kirkby, the Station from where
they flew during the war.
Flt. Lt. Ronald Homes DFC (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 the Special Operations
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.
following men have signed only the Artist Proofs and Remarqued edition
of “Lancaster Legend”.
Former WW2 paratrooper and actor who portrayed Guy Gibson so brilliantly
in the legendary “Dam Busters” film.
Flight Mechanic on the 617 Squadron Dambuster aircraft.
Bomb Aimer 9 Squadron.
WOP 49 Squadron, POW and youngest (15) WOP in RAF.
Bain. DFC AE WOP/AG
44 & 49 Squadrons. 54 ops.
Inward DFC Flt. Eng. 35
& 76 Squadrons (first tour 25 ops.) and 578 Squadron, 22 Ops.
Nav/Air Bomber on Liberators based in Italy. Took part in the air-bridge
to Warsaw, Poland. Bombed the Ploesti, Rumanian oilfields.
Bomb aimer 100 & 156 Pathfinder squadrons.