A Winter’s Dawn
By Philip West
Approximate Overall print size 17″ x 27″ / 46 cms x 69cms
Artist Studio Proof Edition £225.00
This peaceful scene at East Kirkby in the winter of 1944 gives a very real feel for the vitally important work undertaken by ground crew in all weathers.
At this stage of the war, to help identification at a distance, the tail fins of 57 – squadron Lancasters wore a black vertical bar on a red background.
The squadron flew on 348 raids, with 108 Lancasters lost in action plus 31 accidents.
All the prints are signed by 57 Squadron Lancaster pilot Flt. Phil Ainley DFC.
The Artist Studio proof are also signed by three additional 57 squadron Lancaster pilots – including Marshall of the RAF Sir Michael Beetham GCB, CBE, DFC, FRAcS.
Presentation Print. Or Artist Studio Proof Normally reserved for crew members and their immediate families.
With their requests fully met we are pleased to now be able to release a very small number to collectors.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham, GCB CBE DFC AFC DL
Born in 1923. On leaving school he joined the RAF in October 1941 and after pilot training he completed a tour of bomber operations with 50 Squadron and then served on 57 and 35 Squadrons.
Following the Second World War, Sir Michael’s appointments have included:
Officer Commanding 214 Squadron, Station Commander RAF Khomaksar (in Aden),
Commandant of the RAF Staff College and Commander in Chief RAF Germany and Commander of NATO’s Second Tactical Air Force.
His final tour saw him appointed as the professional head of his Service and he served for more than five years as Chief of the Air Staff.
As an Marshal of the RAF, Sir Michael remains on the RAF’s active list albeit not on full time duty since October 1982,
since when he has held various RAF related appointments including Honorary Air Commodore of No 2620 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment 1983-2001.
He was also Chairman of the Trustees of the RAF Museum 1983-1999.
He is currently President of the Bomber Command Association, President RAF
Flt Lt Phil Ainley DFC
was accepted for aircrew training in February 1942 at the age of 17½ years. He was selected for pilot training and was sent to the United States Naval Aviation base in Pensacola.
After gaining his United States Navy wings on completion of his Catalina flying boat course, he was commissioned and returned to the UK.
Following retraining on land planes he eventually joined No. 57 Lancaster squadron in May 1944.
The squadron was heavily engaged in attacking both French flying bomb sites, the build up to D. Day and German industrial targets.
One sortie to Konigsberg necessitated flying for 11 hours 10 minutes, whilst another was to drop mines in the Stettin canal from 250 feet.
For this last sortie Flt Lt Ainley was awarded an immediate DFC.
He completed his operational tour of 33 sorties in October 1944, having flown all this time with the same crew with the exception of a replacement flight engineer.
On completing a course at the Bomber Command Instructors School, he became a flying instructor in Bomber Command.
F/Lt Ronald W Meeking
Undertook flying training at Heany, Southern Rhodesia and at Nakuru,
Kenya before joining No 55 Squadron in the Western Desert where he flew Mark 4 Blenheims and Baltimores.
Following an injury, he was repatriated to the UK and eventually joined 57 Squadron at East Kirkby in December 1944.
From then until 1945 he completed 16 operational flights, the last being on April 25th 1945 when he was engaged in dropping mines in Oslo Fjord and upon returning to East Kirkby the aircraft he was flying, Lancaster LM231 was the last Lancaster to return to East Kirkby from an operational flight.
F/Lt S G “Steve” Stevens DFC AE*
Unable to join the RAF because he was too young when war broke out, but he carried out voluntary duties as an ARP Controller.
Reporting for duty one night in 1941 he was told that his own house had been bombed and the following morning stood among the wreckage and swore to become a bomber pilot and exact his revenge.
His sole possessions were now one pair of Scout shorts and a battered school prize, so he had little to lose.
“Steve” was trained in both England and at a small British Flying Training School in California.
May 1st 1943 found him reporting to 57 Squadron at Scampton and after a few days he was given a brand new Lancaster ED946 identified as DXE. He loved it from the first – it was a super aircraft.
His crew and the ground crew were busy equipping it for its combat duties.
A few snags were discovered and corrected before they were ready for battle. On 12th May he did a single raid on Duisberg as second pilot.
On May 16th he waited for some 617 Squadron aircraft to take off before he could fly, and that night saw 617 Squadron do its first raid and become the “Dambusters”.
The Battle of the Ruhr was now under way and 23rd May saw his first operation against Dortmund followed by several Ruhr trips.
These were followed by the Battle of Hamburg and he saw the first firestorm with its massive column of smoke about five miles high.
Three raids on Italy included the longest flight made by Bomber Command.
“Steve” completed his tour on October 20th.
During that time his gunners had fought off several night fighter attacks including one in which one of his engines was severely damaged and the fighter was shot down.
They sustained some light flack damage and once a large hole was made in the underside of the fuselage causing considerable trouble – 669 of their aircraft had been shot down over enemy territory during F/Lt Steven’s tour.
Artist Studio Proof Edition £225.00