"FINAL PREPARATIONS" by PHILIP E. WEST
Limited Edition of 300 : $225
25 Artist Proofs: $295
25 Remarques: $445
Overall size of prints 28” x 12½"
Soon to be cloaked in darkness, Wellington aircraft of 150 Squadron, RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire, prepare for another dangerous mission, never knowing if they would return.
Signed by the artist, two pilots and one aircrew member.
Please see below for details of the signatories of this edition.
Flying Officer Leslie Rosser (Pilot) joined the RAF in April 1941, having transferred from the Army. After two months, he was on his way to the USA via Iceland and Canada. He entered the USA at Detroit, in July 1941, on a student visa and wearing civilian clothes. His pilot training started in Florida at a civilian flying school with most of the instructors being “old barnstormers from flying circuses etc. Discipline was maintained by a few US Army officers. Most of the pupils were ex-British Army, so the change of food, climate etc was much appreciated. The final course, before receiving the US Army “wings” was carried out flying “Harvards”. The course was completed mid-February and the return to Canada followed. On return to the UK and after some delays the conversion to twin-engined planes was completed at RAF Assington.
The OTU course started at Wellesbourne in September 1942, flying Wellingtons, and a full crew formed of pilot, navigator, bomb-aimer, wireless operator and rear-gunner. The crew were posted to 420 Squadron of RCAF at Middleton St George in January 1942. Operations were carried out on targets from Hamburg to St Nazaire – Bomber Command was under pressure to assist the war against U-boats. The last operation over Germany for the crew was on March 5th 1943 and was an historic one for Bomber Command, as the target at Essen was marked by a system called “Oboe”. This involved a high flying Mosquito and various radio and radar equipment.
The crew were posted in April 1943 to 142 Squadron – one of the two RAF Squadrons attached to the US North West African Airforce under General Doolittle. The RAF Squadrons did the night bombing on targets in Tunisia, Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. Twenty-one operations by the crew involved dropping 4,000lb block-busters. After returning to the UK in August 1943, F/Sgt Rosser instructed at Bruntingthorpe OTU and later after being commissioned, at Edgehill. After VE day he converted to flying Mosquitos at Barford St John and was posted to 128 Squadron at Warboys the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. Since the Squadron was destined for Okinawa it meant there would be no second tours of operations and the Squadron was posted to Melsbroek, now Brussels Airport, to join the 2nd Tactical Airforce. Flying consisted mostly of exercises and formations flying over parts of Germany. He was discharged in February 1946.
Mr. F Lowe, DFM (Pilot) joined the RAFVR in 1938 and started flying training at Kidlington. He was posted to 16 OTU, Upper Heyford in July 1940 where he completed a course on Ansons and Hampdens. Later he retrained as a staff pilot until he was posted to CTS Finningsley in November 1940, before transferring to 49 Sqdn. Scampton in December 1940.
He flew a tour of 30 bombing and minelaying operations on Hampdens before returning to 16 OTU, Upper Heyford in July 1941 as instructor on Ansons and Hampdens and then as staff pilot on Air Firing Training Flights, using Hampdens, Lysanders and Wellington aircraft.
On 28 July 1942, he was detailed to captain a Wellington on a “thousand bomber” raid on Hamburg, with a pupil crew. Although recalled due to bad weather, the trainee WOP failed to receive the signal and the aircraft was shot down by an ME 110. Three crew were killed and three bailed out including the second pilot who was later one of the 50 shot after the “Great Escape” from Stalag Luft 3.
Chatting to his twin brother (a Spitfire PRU Pilot) after the end of the war they discovered that he had taken a photograph of a Prisoner of War camp near Bremen, where he was held near to the end of the war. At that time, of course, he had no idea that he was a prisoner in the very same camp! Frank returned to the UK in May 1945 and subsequently was demobbed in January 1946.
G V Tyack MBE enlisted in the RAF VR in 1940 and was initially posted to the Wellington OTU at Basingbourn. Upon arrival of the US 91st Bomb Group in 1942, the 30 MU became the next move.
The monotonous ‘factory’ like’ Hercules engine overhauls were relieved by a DRO requesting volunteers for ‘Combined Operation’ duties – this opened the path to Royal Air Force Chigwell and subsequent formation of 5301B Mobile Signals Unit.
Under control of 2nd TAF, 5301B landed in Normandy and began the incursion into the German homeland, with the never to be forgotten sights of decimation in the country.
Before the Rhine crossing, a halt was caused by Hitler’s final fling, ‘The Battle of the Bulge’ . It was Christmas 1944, a period of the most intense cold known in Belgium for many years. A brief by exciting operational stop over at ‘Hohe Acht’ was made in the Hartz mountains, close by the famous German Nuremburg Ring motor racing circuit. Our final halt was near the Luftwaffe airfield of Gotha, there was nowhere else to go – for the Ruskies Eastern border was only a short distance away.
After demob in December 1945, Gerry Tyack went into the motor industry and became famous for his achievements in Hill Climbs and Speed Events. Two ‘C’ Class International World Speed Records were taken in 1966, and to this day eight British ‘E’ Class records are held with a Brabham B21C. Sir Ivor Broom opened his Wellington Aviation Museum in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, in 1990 and he was awarded the MBE in 1999.
Wg. Cdr. F H P Austin OBE RAF joined the RAF in September 1932 as an aircraft apprentice. After three years at Cranwell he was posted to No16 (AC) Squadron and trained as an Air Gunner. In 1937, he joined No. 36 (TB) Squadron in Singapore and in January 1939 he returned to the UK for training as an Air Observer. He was promoted to Sergeant and joined 149 (B) Squadron at Mildenhall. He flew his first operational sortie on 4th September 1939 (Kiel Canal) and continued operating with the squadron until his captain (Wg. Cdr. P.I. Harris DFC) was selected to command No7 Squadron.
After aircraft familiarization on Stirling aircraft he arrived at Oakington in October 1940. Now commissioned he was a crew member on the very first Stirling Operation on 10th February 1941, targeting oil tanks at Rotterdam. In September 1941, he was selected for Specialist Armament training, followed by spells as Chief Armament Instructor at Moreton-in-Marsh and Wellesbourne Mountford.
Posted to Air Headquarters in India, in September 1945 and subsequently moved to the RAF Staff College in Haifa in 1946. After a flying refresher course he served with the Bomber Command Development Unit at Marham until 1948. After an exchange posting with RAAF HQ Melbourne he returned to the UK in January 1954 on promotion to Wg. Cdr. (Admin) at RAF Kinloss.
His final posting was to the Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe in 1959, retiring in 1965.
Wg. Cdr. Austin also flew in Stirling aircraft and is a signatory also to “Teamwork.”
FINAL PREPARATIONS by PHILIP E. WEST (Wellington: RAF: Bomber Command: 150 Squadron RAF Newton:)@vbader.com/virginiabaderfinearts