In the Mists of Time
by Philip E West
Approx.overall print size 16½” x 26½ ” / 42 cmsx 67 cms
The Lancaster is one of the most famous aircraft of all time.
During the Second World War some 7,377 examples of this aircraft were built,
And saw service with British and Common wealth bomber squadrons in the dangerous skies over Germany and Occupied Europe.
Of these Lancasters 3,345 were lost in action.
200 Prints in the Primary Edition £135.00
The edition is signed by the artist Philip E. West and:
Flt. Lt. Phil Ainley DFC
Phil 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.
Phil 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 17½.In 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.After 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.
Phil 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!
Phil 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.
It 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.
Once 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!
Unfortunately, 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.
Phil picked a Pilot Officer from the Canadian airforce as his Navigator and a fellow British Pilot Officer as his bomb aimer.