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Time To Go
by 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.

This edition is a ‘Tribute To All Mosquito Aircrew’. As such it is signed by crew from various Squadrons, not all from 85 and 157. The notes below were written by each individual, and are largely unedited by SWA Fine Art Publishers.


Flight Lieutenant Robert Bruce
, DFC and Bar was accepted for aircrew training in February 1942, but only entered Navigation School at Mount Hope, Ontario in March 1943. From there he went to Greenwood, Nova Scotia and was again delayed so that it was already almost Christmas 1943 when he met Sq/Ldr Russ Bannock RCAF, DSO, DFC and Bar, and was accepted by him as navigator.

They reached No 418 Squadron RCAF who were Intruders in No 11 Group at D-Day and they destroyed a ME 110 landing at Bourges/Avord on 13/14 June. The Squadron was heavily engaged with VI Flying Bombs through July and August and they destroyed 19. Their other work was on Night Rangers over France and Germany and occasionally on Day Rangers mostly in the Baltic, usually paired with another Mosquito VI.

Robert Bruce and Sq/Ldr D A MacFadyin DSO, DFC went to 406 Squadron to train them in Intruder techniques until the war ended and after that he went as Navigation Officer to No 29 Squadron.


Flight Lieutenant John (Jock) Cairns, DFC and Bar, AE joined the RAFVR in May 1939 and was called up at the outbreak of war as a navigator. He completed his flying training by the early spring of 1941 and spent a brief period with 224 Squadron, Coastal Command before volunteering for Special Duties as a Navigator/Radio Leader.

During training ‘Jock’ Cairns was crewed with an experienced pilot and posted to the prestigious 85 Squadron, Fighter Command and together with his pilot Sq/Ldr Simon Maude, DFC, achieved the destruction of a Dornier 217 during the Canterbury blitz. After six months rest from operations, John took over as the Navigator/Radio Leader of the Squadron – a short and lively tour intruding against Luftwaffe night-fighter airfields and interdiction of rail traffic during which five locomotives were destroyed.

After another six months, Fl/Lt Cairns re-crewed with Fl/Lt John Hall (see next signatory) and they enjoyed a very successful tour with 488 Squadron, RNZAF in 2nd TAF and were both credited with eight victories and each awarded the DFC with Bar.


Squadron Leader John Hall, DFC and Bar joined the RAF in 1940 and after gaining his wings, followed by operational training at Cranfield, near Bedford, he joined 85 Squadron, then stationed at Hunsdon, in the North Weald sector. At that time, 85 Squadron flew twin engine Havocs, a night fighter version of the American light bomber, the Boston, with the radar operator where the Boston’s gun turret would have been and 12 machine guns in the nose, in place of the Boston’s navigator. The radar then was the Mark 4, not very reliable, and with a very limited range. During 1942, the Squadron re-equipped with the much faster and more maneuverable Mosquito, with a scanner in the nose for the infinitely more effective Mark 8 radar and 4 cannon, [instead of the Havoc’s 12 machine guns]

After a rest from operations, during which he taught budding night fighter pilots air gunnery, John Hall teamed up with John Cairns as his navigator/ radar operator and they joined 488 New Zealand Night Fighter Squadron at Bradwell Bay on the Essex coast, destroying three German bombers during the “mini-blitz” of early 1944. The Squadron flew over the D-day beaches from Zeals, and Colerne in Wiltshire, before moving at the end of 1944 to Amiens Glisy in northern France and then to Gilze Rijen in Holland, where it celebrated VE Day. During this time Hall shot down a further 5 German aircraft over France and Germany.


W.O. Donald J. (Jimmy) Lowrie
joined the RAF in late 1941. His initial training was at Booker and Rhodesia. He qualified as a pilot in November 1942 before returning to the UK for AFU training at Perton until July 1942. The next six months was spent training aircrew on A.I. (Aircraft Interception). After this he was posted to 54 OTU Charterhall, where he crewed up with F/Sgt. Tom Davie. Jimmy then trained on Beaufighters based at 85 Squadron, West Malling, from March to May 1944. Thence to 239 Squadron, West Raynham on the formation of 100 Group. Jimmy completed 34 sorties before returning to 62 OTU to train more aircrew on A.I.


Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Derry Perks, DFC was in a reserved occupation and unable to be released to join the RAFVR until July 1941. He was then sent by convoy to the USA, via Canada, for pilot training by the US Army Air Corps in Alabama and Georgia. In January 1943 he joined 420 RCAF Squadron to fly the Wellington initially, before converting to Halifaxes in April and was moved briefly to 427 RCAF Squadron before joining 434 Squadron – a new RCAF squadron in 6 Group. On completion of his tour he was posted to undergo a pilot instructor’s course and returned to 1666 HCU Group in December for instructional duties until the end of 1944.

Geoff then volunteered to fly Mosquitoes in 8 Group and flew with 571 LNSF Squadron from mid-March 1945, completing a further thirteen operations, eight to Berlin, the last to Munich on the 25th April 1945.


Wing Commander H E Tappin DFC started flying as an NCO pilot with the RAFVR at No 3 E & RFTS run by Air ServiceTraining at Hamble near Southampton in April 1937. He was awarded the Pilot’s Flying Badge (wings) in May 1938 and moved to 26 E & RFTS run by Marshall’s Flying School at Kidlington, near Oxford in September 1938. After completing a Flying Instructor’s Course, he started instructing in December 1938. The Kidlington school closed at the outbreak of hostilities and the staff were moved to 22 EFTS at Cambridge, where he instructed until April 1941. It was here that he taught Johnnie Johnson to fly. He was then posted to 52 OTU (Hurricane) at Debden. He had been commissioned in December 1940.

He was posted to 3 Squadron (Hurricane) at Martlesham Heath in June 1941 and became Flight Commander in March 1942. On one sortie in August 1942 whilst attacking Dieppe, the port tank of his Hurricane was shot through but he was still able to return and land safely in England, for which he was subsequently awarded the DFC. He was posted to 534 Squadron (Turbinlite) as a Hurricane Flight Commander in September 1942 and then to 157 Squadron (Mosquito) at Castle Camps and became Flight Commander in July 1943.

His next posting was to 51 OTU at Cranfield and Twinwood Farm near Bedford, as W/Cdr Flying and in January 1945 was posted to the Mediterranean to command 108 Squadron (Beaufighters) only to learn that the Squadron was to be disbanded. He spent a short period with 334 (Special Duties) Wing at Brindisi and in March 1945 was posted to Command 256 Squadron (Mosquito) with the Desert Air Force at Forli in Northern Italy. In September 1945 the Squadron moved to Egypt, from where he returned to Cambridge to continue his work with Marshall's as a civilian pilot. He left Cambridge in January 1961 to instruct at The College of Air Training at Hamble, which had been set up by BEA and BOAC to train new pilots. He retired from Hamble in January 1972.


Flying Officer Jim York DFC joined the RAFVR in 1941 when he was just 19 and early in 1942 he was sent to America for pilot training as a cadet in the US Army Air Corps in Alabama and Georgia. After operational training in 1943 he spent some time ferrying Beaufighters around the Middle East.

Early in 1944 he joined 85 Night Fighter Squadron, 11 Group Fighter Command, at West Malling in Kent, where he flew Mosquitoes on defensive night fighter patrols. In May 1944, 85 Squadron was transferred to 100 Group Bomber Command at Swannington in Norfolk where the Squadron initiated Bomber Support. This meant changing from defensive night fighting to offensive night fighting, attacking Luftwaffe night fighters over Germany. Each aircraft was a predator on its own without the benefit of any Ground Control. They patrolled Luftwaffe airfields, radar beacons and accompanied bomber streams, generally creating havoc amongst the German night fighters.

Jim York stayed with the Squadron until the end of the war and completed 39 Operations over the continent destroying two enemy aircraft. Shortly after moving to Swannington, the Squadron was switched back to West Malling for a short spell to help deal with the VI flying bomb menace and Jim went on to destroy four of the V1 bombs over the English Channel. After the war he resumed his career as a Chartered Surveyor.

 
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