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Flight Lieutenant Alex Thom DFC
|Born in Perth, Scotland, Alex Thom joined the RAFVR on June 24th 1939 and flew at the weekends at 11 EARFTS Perth. At the outbreak of World War Two, Thom was called up for full time service with the Royal Air Force and was posted to 3 ITW at Hastings on October 2nd 1939, moving to 15 EFTS at Redhill on April 29th 1940 and on June 15th moved again to 15 FTS, initially at Brize Norton and later to Chipping Norton. Alex Thom went to 6 OTU on September 29th at Sutton Bridge where he converted to Hawker Hurricanes and joined 79 squadron stationed at Pembury only for a short period when he was transferred to 87 Squadron on October 6th 1940, moving with the squadron on the 31st of October to their new base at Exeter. He achieved the rank of Pilot Officer on the 3rd of December 1941. During his time at Exeter he was also based on the Scilly Isles and on one occasion after shooting down an enemy bomber the crew bailed out over the sea. Alex Thom circled the downed German crew who were in a life raft until a motor launch came and picked them up. Thom would later meet the crew and was given a flying helmet by the German pilot, an item he still has today. Alex Thom was appointed B Flight commander on 10th July 1942 and was awarded the DFC on the 14th August 1942. At this time he was credited with two enemy aircraft destroyed and a probable He111. On the 19th of August 1942 while supporting the ground forces at Dieppe, his Hurricane (LK - M) was hit by ground fire and lost oil pressure. He managed to limp back to England where he made a forced landing at East Den. Thom managed to get back to his airfield as a passenger in a Master flown by Flt Sgt Lowe and immediately took off again in Hurricane (LK - A) back to Dieppe where he proceeded to strafe enemy positions. On the 1st of October 1942 he became F/O. In November 1942, 87 Squadron was transferred to North Africa. They were transported by ship to Gibraltar where the squadron flew sorties, and then onto North Africa. Thom was posted away from the squadron to be a flying control officer at Bone. He returned to 87 Squadron which was then based at Tongley and took command on June 27th 1943. He was again posted away from the squadron on September 27th returning to the UK with the Rank of Flight Lt. Thom became an instructor with 55 OTU at Annan on November 17th moving to Kirton in Linsay on March 12th 1944 to join 53 OTU. He was appointed Flight Commander Fighter Affiliation Flight at 84 (Bomber) OTU at Husbands Bosworth on May 19th 1944 and remained there until October 10th when he went to RAF Peterhead as Adjutant. His final posting was to HQ13 Group, Inverness on May 8th 1945 as a Staff Officer and retired from the RAF on December 4th 1945 as a Flight Lt.|
|Flight Lieutenant Roy Daines DFM||Roy Daines joined the RAF as soon as he was able, and after completing his hurried training as a pilot, was posted to join 247 Squadron in the autumn of 1940. Here he flew Gladiators and Hurricanes on coastal patrols, 247 being the only squadron to fly Gladiators during the Battle of Britain, before converting to nightfighting Hurricanes. Later, in 1943, he flew Typhoons with 247 before being posted to join 65 Squadron flying Spitfires and Mustangs.|
Group Captain Byron Duckenfield AFC (deceased)
|Byron Duckenfield started at Flying Training School on 25th November 1935 in a Blackburn B2 at Brough. As a Sergeant, he joined No.32 Sqn at Biggin Hill on 8th August 1936 and flew Gauntlets and Hurricanes. He joined 74 Squadron at Hornchurch on 11th April 1940, flying Spitfires, and on 5th May was posted to 501 Squadron flying Hurricanes at Tangmere. On the 11th of May at Betheniville, he survived a crash in a passenger transport Bombay aircraft in an aircraft in which he was a passenger, While comin ginto land the aircraft at 200 feet the aircraft stalled and the aircrfat fell backwards just levelly out as it histhe ground. 5 of th epassengers were killed when the centre section collapsed and crushed them. Duckenfield was fortunate as he had moved position during the flight. as the two passengers sitting each side of where he was sitting had died in the crash. (it was found later that the Bombay had beeb loaded with to much weight in the aft sectiion. ) recovering in hospital in Roehampton. On 23rd July 1940, he rejoined No.501 Sqn at Middle Wallop, then moved to to Gravesend two days later, scoring his first victory, a Ju87, on the 29th of July 1940. During August and September he scored three more victories. After a spell as a test pilot from 14th September 1940, he was posted to command 66 Squadron on 20th December 1941, flying Spitfires. On 26th February 1942 he took command of 615 Squadron flying Hurricanes from Fairwood Common, taking the squadron to the Far East. In late December 1942 he was shot down in Burma and captured by the Japanese. He remained a POW until release in May 1945. After a refresher course at the Flying Training School in November 1949, he took command of No.19 Squadron flying Hornets and Meteors from Chruch Fenton. After a series of staff positions, he retired from the RAF as a Group Captain on 28th May 1969. Duckenfield would write later his details : |
At first light, 12 Hurricanes IIC aircraft of 615 Squadron, myself in the lead, took off from Chittagong for central Burma to attack the Japanese air base at Magwe, 300 miles away on the banks of the River Irrawaddy. Arriving at Yenangyaung, we turned downstream at minimum height for Magwe, 30 miles to the South and jettisoned drop tanks. Just before sighting the enemy base, the squadron climbed to 1200 feet and positioned to attack from up sun. On the ramp at the base, in front of the hangers, were 10 or 12 Nakajima KI - 43 Oscars in a rough line up (not dispersed) perhaps readying for take. These aircraft and the hangars behind them were attacked in a single pass, before withdrawing westward at low level and maximum speed. A few minutes later perhaps 20 miles away form Magwe, I was following the line of a cheung (small creek), height about 250 feet, speed aboput 280 mph, when the aircraft gave a violent shudder, accompanied by a very lound, unusual noise. The cause was instantly apparent: the airscrew has disappeared completely, leaving only the spinning hub. My immediate reaction was to throttle back fully and switch off to stop the violently overspeeding engine. Further action was obvious: I was committed to staying with the aircraft because, with a high initial speed, not enough height to eject could be gained without the help of an airscrew. So I jettisoned the canopy and acknowledged gratefully the fact that I was following a creek; the banks of either side were hillocky ground, hostile to a forced landing aircraft. Flying the course of the creek, I soon found the aircraft to be near the stall (luckily, a lower than normal figure without an airscrew) extended the flaps and touched down wheels-up with minimum impact ( I have done worse landings on a smooth runway!) My luck was holding, if one can talk of luck in such a situation. December is the height of the dry season in that area and the creek had little water, it was shallow and narrow at the point where I came down: shallow enough to support the fusalage and narrow enough to support wing tips. So I released the harness, pushed the IFF Destruct switch, climed out and walked the wing ashore, dryshod. The question may occur -Why did not others in the squadron see their leader go down? - the answer is simple, the usual tatctic of withdrawal from an enemy target was to fly single at high speed and low level on parallel courses until a safe distance from target was attained. Then, the formation would climb to re-assemble. Having left the aircraft, I now faced a formidable escape problem? I was 300 miles from friendly territory: my desired route would be westward but 80% of that 300 miles was covered by steep north-south ridges impenetrably clothed in virgin jungle; these were natural impediments, there was also the enemy to consider. Having thought over my predicament, I decided the best I could do - having heard reports of mean herted plainspeope - was to get as far into the hills as possible and then find a (hopefully sympathetic) village. I suppose I may have covered about 15 miles by nightfall when I came upon this small hill village and walked into the village square. Nobody seemed surprised to see me (I suspect I had been followed for some time) I wa given a quiet welcome, seated at a table in the open and given food. Then exhaustion took over, I fell asleep in the chair and woke later to find myself tied up in it. Next day I was handed over to a Japanese sergeant and escort who took me back to Magwe and, soon after that, 2.5 years captivity in Rangoon jail.
Sadly we have learned that Byron Duckenfield passed away on 19th November 2010.
Squadron Leader Douglas G Clift (deceased)
|Squadron Leader Douglas G Clift was born in 1919 and joined the RAF in January 1939. Douglas Clift arrived at 11 Group Pool, St Athan on 24 October 1939 and after converting to Hurricanes, he joined 79 Squadron at Biggin Hill on November 17. On 15 August 1940 Clift claimed a Bf 110 destroyed and on 30 August he shared in the destruction of a He 111. In July 1941 he was posted to the Central Flying School at Upavon for an instructor's course. Clift later volunteered for the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit (MSFU) and served with it until October 1942. He remained on flying duties for the rest of the war, finishing up in South-East Asia with the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF). After the war Clift served with 34 Squadron flying photo-reconnaissance Spitfires until its disbandment in August 1947. later he became a radar specialist, sadly Squadron Leader Douglas G Clift passed away on the 31st December 2008 aged 89.|
Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC* AFC
|Tom Neil was born on 14th July 1920 in Bootle, Lancashire. Tom Neil (also to become known in the RAF as 'Ginger') joined the RAFVR in October 1938 and began his flying training at 17 E and RFTS, Barton, Manchester. Tom Neil was called up on the 2nd os September 1939 being sent to 4 ITW, Bexhill in early November. On 1st December 1939, he was posted to 8 FTS and on completion of the course he was commissioned and posted to 249 Squadron in May 1940 flying Hurricanes just before the start of the Battle of Britain flying from North Weald. On 7th September 1940, Tom Neil encountered and claimed a Bf109 destroyed. On the 11th an He111, on the 15th two Bf109s and a Do17 destroyed and another Do17 shared, on the 18th an He111 damaged and on the 27th a Bf110 and a Ju88 destroyed, a Bf110 probably destroyed and a Ju88 shared. On 6th October Tom Neil shared a Do17, on the 25th claimed a Bf109 destroyed, on the 27th a Do17 probably destroyed, on the 28th a Ju88 shared and on 7th November a Ju87 and two Bf109s destroyed. He was awarded a DFC on 8 October, but on 7 November, after claiming 3 victories over the North Sea off the Essex coast, he collided in mid-air with Wing Commander Francis Beamish and his aircraft lost its tail. He baled out of his Hurricane unhurt, Beamish force-landing unscathed. Tom received a Bar to his DFC on 26 November, and on 13 December was promoted flight Commander. The squadron was posted to Malta in May 1941, flying off HMS Ark Royal on the 21st. During a summer of frequent scrambles, he claimed one further victory in June, while on 7th October he led a fighter-bomber attack on Gela station, Sicily. He departed the island in December 1941, returning to the UK via the Middle East, South and West Africa, and Canada, finally arriving in March 1942, when he became tactics officer with 81 Group. A spell as an instructor at 56 OTU, before being posted as a flying liaison officer with the 100th Fighter Wing of the US 9th Air Force in January 1944. He managed to get some flying in over France with this unit, claiming a share in 6 aircraft destroyed on the ground before D-Day, and a dozen or so more later, plus a number of other ground targets. In January 1945 he was sent to the school of Land/Air Warfare as an instructor. In March 1945 he was posted out to Burma, where he undertook some operations with 1 Wing, Indian Air Force, to gain experience of the operations in this area. Returning to the UK in April, he resumed instructing at the school until the end of the year. In January 1946 he attended the Empire Test Pilots School, undertaking No.4 short course and No.5 course, a total of 18 months. Posted briefly to Farnborough, he sought a move to Boscombe Down, where he stayed for some 3 years. In 1948 in went to Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, to take part in the first high altitude pressure suit experiments, as a precursor to the aerospace programme. 1950-51 he was a staff officer at HQ, Fighter Command, while in 1952 he attended the staff college at Bracknell. He was then given command of 208 Squadron in Egypt, which he led until 1956, leaving just before the Suez operation. He returned to the UK to become W/Cdr Operations, Metropolitan sector, until 1958, when he attended the flying college at Manby. He went to the British Embassy in Washington for 3 years from 1959, returning to the Ministry of Defence but retiring from the service as a Wing Commander in 1964. Meanwhile he had added the US Bronze Star to his decorations in august 1947, and an AFC in January 1956.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Hurricane||Royal Air Force Fighter, the Hawker Hurricane had a top speed of 320mph, at 18,200 feet and 340mph at 17,500, ceiling of 34,200 and a range of 935 miles. The Hurricane was armed with eight fixed wing mounted .303 browning machine guns in the Mark I and twelve .303 browning's in the MKIIB in the Hurricane MKIIC it had four 20mm cannon. All time classic fighter the Hurricane was designed in 1933-1934, the first prototype flew in June 1936 and a contract for 600 for the Royal Air Force was placed. The first production model flew ion the 12th October 1937 and 111 squadron of the Royal Air Force received the first Hurricanes in January 1938. By the outbreak of World war two the Royal Air Force had 18 operational squadrons of Hurricanes. During the Battle of Britain a total of 1715 Hurricanes took part, (which was more than the rest of the aircraft of the Royal air force put together) and almost 75% of the Victories during the Battle of Britain went to hurricane pilots. The Hawker Hurricane was used in all theatres during World war two, and in many roles. in total 14,533 Hurricanes were built.|
|He111||The German medium bomber the Heinkel He111 was designed by Siegfried and Walter GŁnter. The first He111 flew on 24th of February 1935, piloted by chief test pilot Gerhard Nitschke. The Heinkel He111 was the primary medium bomber of the Luftwaffe during the opening years of World War Two and the major bomber during the Battle of Britain. It was also used as a torpedo bomber during the Battle of the Atlantic. The Heinkel He111 was used in all theatres, Western, Eastern, Middle East and Northern Africa. He111 continued in production into 1944 and by the end of the war it was used primarily as a transport. Its origins came from a pre war airliner design.|
|Artist Details : Ivan Berryman|
|Click here for a full list of all artwork by Ivan Berryman|
Over the last 30 years, Ivan Berryman has become a leading aviation, motor racing and naval artist. In this time, the subjects of his paintings have been wide and varied as he has deliberately strived to include some of the lesser know aircraft, ships and events in his portfolio, which includes aircraft like the Defiant, TSR2, Beaufort, ships including MTBs and corvettes, and around 100 different aircraft of the first world war. In addition to this he has taken new approaches to the classic subjects of his field, including the Dambuster Lancasters, Battle of Britain Spitfires, Bf109s and Hurricanes, HMS Hood, Bismarck and the best known naval ships, as well as some iconic sporting moments. In his own words : Art and aviation have been like a brother and sister to me. We have grown up together, learned together and made our adult lives together. But you do not have to have an appreciation of aircraft to admire the graceful lines of a Spitfire or the functional simplicity of a Focke-Wulf 190. They are themselves a work of art and they cry out to be painted - not as machines of war and destruction, but as objects of beauty, born of necessity and function, yet given a life and iconic classicism beyond their original calling. My interest and love of art and aircraft was gifted to me by my father, a designer and aeronautical engineer of considerable repute. Denis Berryman C.Eng. FRAeS. He gave me his eyes, his passion, his dedication and his unwavering professionalism. I owe him everything. And I miss him terribly. A love of art and of beautiful and interesting things takes you on a journey. You discover new interests, new fascinations, and you want to paint them. You want to paint them in their environment, in their element. Whether it is an aeroplane, a warship, a racing car or a beautiful woman, their gift to an artist is the same: Their lines, their texture and the way that light and shadows give them form. These are the food and oxygen of an artist. Not the paint and the canvas. These are mere tools. The secret is in the passion and the perception...
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