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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.|
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 Kenneth Lee (deceased)
|Kenneth Norman Thomson Lee was a Battle of Britain pilot who volunteered for the RAF in 1937. Kenneth Lee joined 111 Squadron at Northolt in March 1939. He was commissioned and went to 43 Squadron at Tangmere. Kenneth Lee flew Hurricanes during the Battles of France and Britain with No.501 Sqn, based at Filton and accumulated 7 victories, the first being when 501 Squadron went to France on May 10th 1940 and Kenneth Lee claimed a Bf 110 destroyed later that day. On the 12th he destroyed a Do 17 and a Bf109. The Squadron flew back from France on June 18th and re-assembled at Croydon on the 21st. On May 27th Kenneth Lee claimed an He111 destroyed and a Do17 on June 6th. While attacking a formation of He111s on June 10th Lee's Hurricane was hit by return fire from one of the He111s and exploded. He took to his parachute and landed at Le Mans. Kenneth Lee damaged a Ju 87 on July 29th and on August 12th destroyed another Ju87. While flying his Hurricane (P3059) Lee was shot down for a second time on the 18th when Oberleutnant Schopfel in an Me109 of III./JG26 shot him down over Canterbury. He was one of four Hurricane of the squadron claimed by Schopfel that day. Kenneth Lee baled out, with a bullet wound in the leg and landed near Whitstable. In October, Lee rejoined 501 Sqn and on the 22nd October he was awarded the DFC. On November 29th Lee was posted to the Special Duties flight at Stormy Down and later transferred as Flight Commander to 52 OTU, at Crosby-On-Eden. In December 1941 Kenneth Lee became Flight Commander with 112 Squadron when he was posted to the Middle East and on the 18th of September 1942 Lee moved to 260 Squadron. On 10th November he destroyed an Mc202. He took control of 123 Squadron at Abadan, Persia in March 1943. In May, Lee with 123 Squadron went to the Western Desert and on July 27th 1943 Lee was shot down for the third time and captured on a dawn raid on Crete. He was taken prisoner of war to Stalag Luft 111 at Sagan and Belaria. Ken Lee left the RAF in late 1945 as a Squadron Leader. Sadly, Kenneth Lee passed away on 15th January 2008.|
Wing Commander Bob Foster DFC (deceased)
|Wing Commander Bob Foster, who has died aged 94, flew Hurricane fighters during the Battle of Britain, when he was credited with destroying and damaging a number of enemy aircraft; later in the war he destroyed at least five Japanese aircraft while flying from airfields in northern Australia. For much of the Battle of Britain, Foster was serving with No 605 Squadron in Scotland; but in September, 605 moved to Croydon to join the main action over the south-east of England. It was soon heavily engaged, but it was not until September 27 that Foster achieved his first success, when he damaged a Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter over Surrey. During this encounter his Hurricane was hit by return fire, and he was forced to make an emergency landing on Gatwick airfield. On October 7 he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 near Lingfield racecourse, and on the following day he shared in the destruction of a Junkers 88 bomber. By the end of the month he is thought to have destroyed another Bf 109 and damaged a third. In 1941 No 605 moved to Suffolk, from where on one occasion Foster chased a lone German Heinkel bomber well out to sea. His gunfire knocked pieces off the enemy aircraft, but it escaped into cloud before Foster could follow up with a second attack. In September 1941 he was transferred to a fighter training unit as an instructor. Robert William Foster was born on May 14 1920 at Battersea, south-west London. After leaving school he worked for the joint petroleum marketing venture Shell-Mex and BP, and in March 1939 ? six months before the outbreak of war ? he joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve to train as a pilot. He was called up in August to complete his training before joining No 605. Foster's spell as an instructor lasted six months, and in April 1942 he was posted as a flight commander to No 54 Squadron. Within weeks of his joining, it was sent to Australia to join two other Spitfire squadrons to form No 1 Fighter Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force. The Wing was ready for action by the beginning of 1943, and moved to airfields in the Darwin area to counter Japanese bombing raids mounted from captured airfields in the Dutch East Indies and Timor. On February 26 Foster intercepted a Mitsubishi Dinah reconnaissance aircraft (all Japanese wartime aircraft types were given British names) and shot it down. It was the squadron's first success in Australia, and the first time a Spitfire had shot down a Japanese aircraft. Enemy bombing raids against Darwin continued, and on March 15 Foster was engaged in a fierce fight during which he downed a Mitsubishi Betty bomber and damaged a second. The three squadrons of No 1 Wing were in constant action throughout the spring of 1943, but Foster had to wait until June 20 for his next success. This came when he was leading No 54 Squadron as his formation intercepted a raid by 18 Betty bombers which were accompanied by a fighter escort. Foster attacked the leading bomber and sent it crashing into the sea. A Japanese Zero fighter broke towards him, and in the ensuing encounter Foster damaged the enemy aircraft. In June, the raids on Darwin became even more intense, and on June 30 Foster claimed another Betty destroyed as well as a probable. A week later he achieved his final successes when 30 bombers were reported to be heading for the city from the west. Foster led his formation to intercept the force, and he shot down a Betty and damaged a second near Peron Island, west of Darwin. He was the third pilot to claim five successes over Australia (earning him the title of ace) and a few weeks later he was awarded a DFC. After returning to Britain in early 1944, Foster joined the Air Information Unit with the role of escorting war correspondents. He arrived in Normandy soon after the Allied landings, and was one of the first RAF officers to enter Paris, joining General de Gaulle's triumphant procession down the Champs-Elys?es. Foster spent the final months of the war at HQ Fighter Command and as the adjutant of a fighter base in Suffolk. In 1946 he left the RAF, but joined the Auxiliary Air Force on its re-formation in late 1947. He served with No 3613 Fighter Control Unit until its disbandment in March 1957, by which time he was a wing commander commanding the unit. He received the Air Efficiency Award. After the war Foster had rejoined Shell-Mex and BP, where he worked as a marketing executive until his retirement in 1975. In 2004 he was reunited with the Hurricane he had flown during the Battle of Britain. The aircraft, R 4118, had been rescued as a wreck in India by the printer and publisher of academic journals Peter Vacher, who brought it back to Britain in 2002 and had it restored to full flying condition. The aircraft now flies regularly as the only surviving Battle of Britain Hurricane and is the subject of a book by Vacher, Hurricane R 4118. Foster was a keen supporter of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, becoming its chairman in 2009. He was a life vice-president of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and a dedicated supporter of its initiative to erect The Wing, a new building at the National Memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne, on the Kent coast. Designed in the shape of a Spitfire wing, the museum and educational facility will tell the story of what the Battle of Britain pilots achieved in the summer of 1940. Foster took the controls of the mechanical digger to turn the first turf and start the work. In recent years he had accompanied some of the tours, organised by the Trust, of Battle of Britain sites in east Kent. Wing Commander Bob Foster, born May 14 1920, died July 30 2014.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Spitfire||Royal Air Force fighter aircraft, maximum speed for mark I Supermarine Spitfire, 362mph up to The Seafire 47 with a top speed of 452mph. maximum ceiling for Mk I 34,000feet up to 44,500 for the mark XIV. Maximum range for MK I 575 miles . up to 1475 miles for the Seafire 47. Armament for the various Marks of Spitfire. for MK I, and II . eight fixed .303 browning Machine guns, for MKs V-IX and XVI two 20mm Hispano cannons and four .303 browning machine guns. and on later Marks, six to eight Rockets under the wings or a maximum bomb load of 1,000 lbs. Designed by R J Mitchell, The proto type Spitfire first flew on the 5th March 1936. and entered service with the Royal Air Force in August 1938, with 19 squadron based and RAF Duxford. by the outbreak of World war two, there were twelve squadrons with a total of 187 spitfires, with another 83 in store. Between 1939 and 1945, a large variety of modifications and developments produced a variety of MK,s from I to XVI. The mark II came into service in late 1940, and in March 1941, the Mk,V came into service. To counter the Improvements in fighters of the Luftwaffe especially the FW190, the MK,XII was introduced with its Griffin engine. The Fleet Air Arm used the Mk,I and II and were named Seafires. By the end of production in 1948 a total of 20,351 spitfires had been made and 2408 Seafires. The most produced variant was the Spitfire Mark V, with a total of 6479 spitfires produced. The Royal Air Force kept Spitfires in front line use until April 1954.|
|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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