by Philip E. West
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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]
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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