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Bitter Engagement by Robert Taylor. (B) - ivanberryman.co.uk

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Bitter Engagement by Robert Taylor. (B)


Bitter Engagement by Robert Taylor. (B)

Just after midday on 27 September 1940 one of the bitterest engagements of the Battle of Britain took place in the skies over Kent when the Spitfires of 19 Squadron took on the Bf109s of JG54. In the huge dogfight that ensued, 19 Squadron claimed 8 enemy aircraft destroyed.
AMAZING VALUE! - The value of the signatures on this item is in excess of the price of the print itself!
Item Code : DHM6061BBitter Engagement by Robert Taylor. (B) - This Edition
TYPEDESCRIPTIONSIZESIGNATURESOFFERSPRICEPURCHASING
PRESENTATIONBattle of Britain Tribute edition of 25 prints, supplied matted.

Supplied with Book Memories of The Few and matted to include 5 extra signatures.

Great value : Value of signatures exceeds price of item!
Size 26 inches x 22 inches (66cm x 56cm) Davies, Leonard
Ellacombe, John
Iveson, Tony
Hairs, Peter
Lucas, Robin M M D
Flower, Herbert
Jones, Richard L
Elkington, John
Kane, Terence
Gray, Trevor
Duckenfield, Byron
Corbin, William J
Foster, Bob
Wellum, Geoffrey
Drake, Billy
Clark, Terry
Wilkinson, Ken
Pickering, Tony
Neil, Tom
Nicholls, Doug
Gregory, William (companion print)
Brothers, Peter (matted)
Unwin, George (matted)
Sheen, Desmond (matted)
Beamont, Roland (matted)
Gillam, Denys (matted)
+ Artist : Robert Taylor


Signature(s) value alone : £1070
£495.00

Quantity:
All prices on our website are displayed in British Pounds Sterling



Other editions of this item : Bitter Engagement by Robert Taylor.DHM6061
TYPEDESCRIPTIONSIZESIGNATURESOFFERSPRICEPURCHASING
PRINTSigned limited edition of 300 prints.

SODL OUT.
Paper size 13 inches x 9 inches (33cm x 23cm) Davies, Leonard
Ellacombe, John
+ Artist : Robert Taylor
SOLD
OUT
VIEW EDITION...
ARTIST
PROOF
Limited edition of 25 artist proofs.

SOLD OUT.
Paper size 13 inches x 9 inches (33cm x 23cm) Davies, Leonard
Ellacombe, John
Iveson, Tony
Hairs, Peter
Lucas, Robin M M D
Flower, Herbert
Jones, Richard L
Elkington, John
Kane, Terence
Gray, Trevor
Duckenfield, Byron
Corbin, William J
Foster, Bob
Wellum, Geoffrey
Drake, Billy
Clark, Terry
Wilkinson, Ken
Pickering, Tony
Neil, Tom
Nicholls, Doug
Gregory, William (companion print)
+ Artist : Robert Taylor
SOLD
OUT
VIEW EDITION...
Extra Details :
About this edition :

Companion Book :


Matted Print :


Signatures on this item
*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.
NameInfo




Air Commodore John Ellacombe CB DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35

John Ellacombe joined the RAF in 1939 and was posted to 151 Squadron in July 1940, immediately converting to Hurricanes. On 24th August he shot down a He111, but a week later his Hurricane was blown up in combat and he baled out, with burns. Rejoining his squadron a few months later, in February 1941 was posted to 253 Squadron where he took part in the Dieppe operations. On 28th July, flying a Turbinlite Havoc, he probably destroyed a Do217. Converting to Mosquitos, John was posted to 487 Squadron RNZAF, and during the build up to the Normandy Invasion and after, was involved in many ground attacks on enemy held airfields, railways, and other targets of opportunity. He completed a total of 37 sorties on Mosquitos. Flying a de Havilland Mosquito XIII with a devastating set of four 20mm cannon in the nose, John Ellacombe flew deep into occupied France on the night before D-Day searching out and destroying German convoys and railway targets. As the Normandy campaign raged on, 151 Squadron intensified its interdiction sorties - including night attacks on Falaise and the Seine bridges. On August 1st Ellacombe took part in the famous attack by 23 Mosquitoes on the German bar-racks in Poitiers, led by Group Captain Wykeham Barnes. Ellacombe had first joined 151 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, direct from Flying Training School. Within weeks he had scored his first victory but also force landed in a field, having shot down a He 111, and baled out of a blazing Hurricane. He baled out a second time during the Dieppe Raid in 1942 but was picked up safely. Postwar he had a long and successful career in the RAE. Air Commodore John Ellacombe, who has died aged 94, survived being shot down three times during the Second World War - twice during the Battle of Britain. On August 15th 1940 the Luftwaffe launched Adler Tag (Eagle Day), with the object of destroying Fighter Command by attacking the ground organisation and drawing the RAF's fighters into the air. Nine Hurricanes of No 151 Squadron were scrambled during the afternoon and met enemy fighters near Dover at 18,000ft. Ellacombe attacked a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and fired three bursts. The enemy fighter rolled on to its back and dived into the sea. There was heavy fighting over the next few days, and on August 24 Ellacombe engaged a Heinkel III bomber. His fire hit its engines and the bomber crash-landed in Essex . During intense fighting on August 30 he attacked a formation of Heinkels head on. He hit one, which crashed, but return fire damaged the engine of his Hurricane and he was forced to land in a field, where a farmer accosted him with a pitchfork. On the following day Ellacombe damaged two Bf 109s before attacking a Junkers 88 bomber. When the Junkers returned fire, setting his Hurricane's fuel tank ablaze, he bailed out. As he drifted to the ground, a member of the Home Guard fired on him. He was then marched to a police station where he was assaulted by a constable who thought he was German. Later in life Ellacombe remarked: In two days, a farmer had attempted to kill me, the Home Guard had shot at me and a policeman had tried to kill me — quite apart from the Germans. I wondered whose side I was on. He received hospital treatment for his burns, and his fighting days during the Battle of Britain were over. After several months convalescing Ellacombe returned to No 151, which had been reassigned to night fighting. Equipped with the Hurricane and the Defiant, the squadron had little contact with the enemy; but Ellacombe developed a reputation for flying at night in the worst weather, and in April 1942 he was awarded a DFC for his service in the Battle of Britain and for showing the greatest keenness to engage the enemy. Posted to No 253 Squadron as a flight commander, he found night fighting dull, and volunteered for daylight operations. He flew in support of the ill-fated raid on Dieppe, and as he attacked a gun battery his aircraft was hit by flak. Ellacombe managed to get over the sea before bailing out and being picked up by a Canadian landing craft. After a rest tour, Ellacombe converted to the Mosquito before joining No 487 (NZ) Squadron, flying low-level intruder missions over France and the Low Countries. He attacked V-1 sites in the Pas de Calais and bombed roads and railways in support of the Normandy landings. He saw constant action attacking targets in support of the Allied armies and during the breakout from the Falaise pocket. After 37 intruder bombing patrols Ellacombe was rested and awarded a Bar to his DFC. He spent the remainder of the war on training duties, but still managed occasionally to take a Mosquito on an operational sortie. The son of an English doctor who had served during the Boer War, John Lawrence Wemyss Ellacombe was born at Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, on February 28 1920 and educated at Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town. In May 1939 he went to Britain to join the RAF, trained as a pilot and in July 1940 was posted to No 151 Squadron; he had never flown a Hurricane. Post-war he remained in the RAF, most of his flying appointments being in Fighter Command. After service in Aden he led No 1 Squadron, flying Meteor jets, and he commanded the Fighter Development Unit at the Central Fighter Establishment, developing tactics for the Hunter and Lightning . He served in Washington as a liaison officer with the USAF on fighter operations before commanding the RAF flying training base at Linton-on-Ouse, near York. Ellacombe was the senior serving representative at the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment, and on promotion to air commodore in 1968 was appointed Air Commander of Air Forces, Gulf, with headquarters at Muharraq, Bahrain. The withdrawal of British forces from Aden was scheduled for the end of that year, and Muharraq became a key staging post and support airfield . Ellacombe's calm handling of affairs in Bahrain was recognised by his appointment as CB. His final appointment was in the MoD, and he retired in 1973. Ellacombe then became Director of Scientific Services at St Thomas's Hospital in London, and later administrator to the hospital's trustees. A good cricketer and rugby player in his younger days, he played golf three times a week until he was 88, and he was a keen follower of Middlesex CCC. He particularly enjoyed watching his grandchildren play cricket (some of them at county junior level, including a granddaughter who turned out for Essex Ladies). John Ellacombe's wife, Mary, whom he married in 1951 when she was serving in the WRAF, had served on Winston Churchill's staff and been appointed OBE. She died in 2007, and he is survived by their son and two daughters. Air Commodore John Ellacombe, born February 28 1920, died May 11 2014.




Air Commodore Peter Brothers CBE, DSO, DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50 (matted)

Learnt to fly at the age of 16 and joined the RAF two years later in 1936. He first saw action in 1940 when as a Flight Commander in 32 Squadron, based at Biggin Hill, he flew his Hurricane against the fighters and bombers of the Luftwaffe. He recalls this as an intensely busy period, during which he shot down an Me109 - his first enemy aircraft; by the end of August that same year his tally of enemy aircraft shot down increased to eight. Awarded the DFC, he was transferred to 257 Squadron where he joined Bob-Stanford Tuck as a Flight Commander. Promoted in 1941 to Squadron Leader, Pete Brothers then took command of 457 Squadron RAAF, equipped with Spitfires. A year later when 457 Squadron returned to Australia, Pete took command of 602 Squadron. In the early autumn of 1942 he went on to become Wing Leader of the Tangmere Wing, succeeding his old friend, Douglas Bader. By the end of the war Pete Brothers had amassed 875 operational hours over a 44-month period. He was credited with having personally shot down 16 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. He later went on to command 57 Squadron during the Malaya campaign. Upon return to the UK Pete Brothers joined the V-Force, flying Valiant-4 jet bombers. He retired in 1973. Sadly, Pete Brothers died 18th December 2008.
Air Vice-Marshal Denys Gillam (deceased)
*Signature Value : £65 (matted)

Battle of Britain Ace who served with 616 and 312 Squadrons. He scored a total of 7 victories, including one of the fastest ever, where he downed a Ju-88 which was making a bombing run, as he took off from the airfield. He took command of the Typhoon Wing at Duxford in March 1942, which flew their first combat operation in June 1942. He died in 1991.


Flight Lieutenant Peter Hairs MBE (deceased)
*Signature Value : £15

Peter Hairs joined the RAFVR in 1937, and was called up at the outbreak of war in September 1939 to complete his training. After being commissioned he converted to Hurricanes, joining 501 Squadron at Tangmere in January 1940. He went to France with the squadron in May, claiming a share in a Dornier Do17 a few days after arriving. 501 covered the evacuation of the BEF from Cherbourg before re-assembling in England. On the 3 June he was shot down, but fortunately not seriously hurt and two days later he rejoined the squadron at Le Mans. On the 5th of September he downed an Me109, Peter Hairs was posted to 15 FTS, Kidlington on October 13 1940 as an instructor. He went to 2 CFS, Cranwell for an instructors course on February 23 1941. after which he taught at 11 FTS, Shawbury and 10 EFTS, Weston-Super-Mare before being posted to Canada in June as a EFTS flying instructor and then assistant CFI (EFTS). In December 1943 he was posted to join 276 Squadron to 19 OTU. He finished the was in India, receiving a mention in dispatches. He died in 2014.




Flight Lieutenant Richard L Jones (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45

Richard Jones was born in 1918 and in July 1940 Richard Jones was posted to 64 Squadron at Kenley, flying Spitfires. He was involved in heavy fighting over the Channel during the Battle of Britain, with the squadron suffering many losses during July and August. Towards the end of the Battle of Britain, in October, he moved to 19 Squadron flying Spitfires from Fowlmere, and was heavily involved in the fighter sweeps taking place at that time. Near the end of the Battle of Britain, Pilot Officer Richard Jones was shot down during a dogfight over Kent with Me 109s. Jones crash landed his Spitfire in a field, colliding with a flock of sheep - he would go on to write in his log book "Crashed into a load of sheep. What a bloody mess!"After the Battle of Britain, Richard Jones became a test pilot for De Havilland at Witney in Oxfordshire, and test flew thousands of Hawker Hurricanes and other types, including civil types. After the war Richard Jones joined the RAFVR and started a long career in the motor industry. Sadly Richard Jones passed away on 7th March 2012.


Flight Lieutenant Robin M M D Lucas
*Signature Value : £35

Flight Lt Robin Lucas flew with 141 Squadron flying Boulton-Paul Defiants on night missions and flew Defiants during the Battle of Britain.


Flight Lieutenant Terry Clark
*Signature Value : £40

Terry Clark was born in Croyden on 11th April 1919. Terry Clark joined 615 RAuxAF in March 1938 in Kenley, as an Aircrafthand. Called up in 1939, he joined 615 Squadron, Auxiliary Air force, and flew as a gunner in Hawker Hectors before he qualified as an Air Gunner and also a Radio Observer. He joined No.219 Sqn at Catterick in July 1940 and flew on Beaufighters throughout the Battle of Britain. By September 1940, the conflict had reached its zenith and at night the feared Blitz began in earnest. More radar specialists were needed to deal with the threat so Mr Clark was sent to Beaufighters. He did not receive any training and still wore the AG brevet, but people began to ask why a plane without a gun turret had an air gunner on board, so he was given a badge that said RO. Eventually, in recognition of his new role, Mr Clark was awarded his third flying badge – N for Navigator. His job was to track enemy aircraft and guide the pilot towards the selected contact. It was while flying the Beaufighter that he was awarded the DFM on 8th July 1941 after assisting his pilot to down three aircraft at night. He joined 1455 Flight in 1941, forming at Tangmere with Turbinlite Havocs, then flew the same aircraft with 1451 Flight at Hunsdon, locating enemy aircraft by Radar in the Havoc for accompanying fighters to attack and destroy. Commissioned in May 1942 from Warrant Officer and in May 1943 he was posted to No.488 Sqn RNZAF.


Flight Lieutenant Trevor Gray (deceased)
*Signature Value : £30

Trevor Gray joined the RAFVR in 1939 and was called for service on the outbreak of war. As he was only partially trained, he completed his flying training and after being awarded his wings was posted to 7 OTU at Hawarden After training Trevor Gray was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in August 1940. Converted onto Spitfires, and with the Battle of Britain at its Climax, he was urgently posted to join 64 Squadron at Leconfield, arriving on 16th September 1940. The Squadron had re-equipped from Blenheims to Spitfires earlier that year as it fought in the great air battles over Dunkirk, before seeing hectic action in the Battle of Britain. he damaged a Bf 110 in December 1940. He left the Squadron on April 3 1941 having completed his tour and was posted to 58 OTU at Grangemouth as an instructor from there he was posted to Castletown, the most northerly station on the mainland, to join 124 Squadron which was then being formed. Trevor Gray was then given a post as a research engineer officer at RAE Farnborough and finally left the RAF in 1946 as a flight Lieutenant. He died on 21st January 2012.


Flight Lieutenant William J. Corbin DFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £30

Already a member of the RAFVR, William Corbin was called up for active duty in September 1939. Following training and conversion to Spitfires, in September 1940 he was posted as a Sergeant Pilot to join 66 Squadron at Coltishall. With the exception of a few weeks spent with 610 Squadron he remained with 66 Squadron until September 1941. Commissioned in June 1942, he returned to combat flying in September, joining 72 Squadron with whom he went to North Africa. Here he shared in a probable Me109 and damaged another, and in August 1943 was awarded the DFC. Sadly he passed away on 8th December 2012.




Flt Lt Leonard Davies
*Signature Value : £35

Joined 151 Squadron in July 1940 and was wounded in combat over the Thames estuary on August 18th of that year. He later flew Sunderlands in the Middle East.


Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson (deceased)
*Signature Value : £40

Battle of Britain pilot flying Hurricanes, he flew Spitfires with 611 Sqn and then 616 Sqn at Kirton-in-Lindsey and 19 Sqn at Fowlmere during 1940 and after a spell instructing returned to operations on Spitfires, with 234 and 165 Squadrons. After spending time with 53, 24 and 10 Operational Training Units, he left the RAF in November 1945 and served in the RAFVR.
Ken said :
From 1st September 1939 I wrote myself off. I thought, 'you've got no chance' lasting through whatever is going to be. It was quite obvious, in the way the Germans were moving, they were going to make a hell of a war out of it, so I was ready for war. I can remember saying 'we've got to stop this fellow Hitler'. When you think of all the thousands of citizens that were being killed by this absurd bombing. They had to pay for it didn't they. Yes, we lost people. Friends that didn't come back. I don't think we were the sort of people to brood over it, ever. You have to get into an attitude to make sure that you're as cold as a fish. Once someone has failed to return, that's it. Fortune smiled on me and not on some of the others. I can only say that whoever it was who pooped off at me, wasn't a very good marksman. It transpired that we were doing something far more important than we thought. As far as we were concerned, it was just that there were some untidy creatures from over the other side of the channel, trying to bomb England and the United Kingdom. And we didn't want them to bomb us. After all, we never asked the Germans to start this nonsense, did we? But they did, and we had to stop them, and we did. It's our country. You die for you country.




Group Captain Billy Drake DSO DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50

Joined the R.A.F. in 1936. His first posting was to 1 squadron flying Furies then Hurricanes and first saw action over France in the Spring of 1940 and was awarded his first DFC by the end of the year. As a Squadron Leader he was sent to West Africa to command 128 Squadron. 1942 saw his commanding 112 squadron in North Africa, in July saw an immediate BAR to his DFC and in December an immediate DSO. Posted to Malta as Wing Commander he won a US DFC in 1943. Back in the UK he now was flying Typhoons in the lead up to D-Day. With Pete Brothers he was sent to the States to attend the US Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. After the war he continued in the R.A.F. serving in Japan, Malaya, Singapore, Switzerland and his final posting as Group Captain RAF Chivenor, Devon. Retired in July 1963. Going to Portugal where he ran a Bar and Restaurant and dealing in Real Estate. In his flying career he accounted for more than 24 enemy aircraft. Sadly, Billy Drake passed away on 28th August 2011.




Group Captain Byron Duckenfield AFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45

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 :

Burma

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.




Group Captain Desmond Sheen DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £55 (matted)

Desmond Frederick Burt Sheen was born in Sydney, Australia, on October 2 1917. After school, he received a cadetship in the Royal Australian Air Force and in 1937 sailed for Britain, where he was granted a short service commission in the RAF and was posted to No 72 Squadron. During the Battle of Britain, Desmond got his first victories and was shot down twice during the Battle of Britain, in the course of which he accounted for three enemy aircraft destroyed, one shared, two probably destroyed and two damaged. By the summer of 1940, Sheen, was serving as a Spitfire pilot with No 72 Squadron, based at Acklington, Northumberland. Although well to the north of the main area of the Battle of Britain, on August 15 the squadron was heavily engaged with the enemy. Flying from Denmark and Norway, a Luftwaffe force of more than 60 bombers with a 34-strong fighter escort was making for the RAF's fighter bases in north-east England. With two other Spitfire squadrons, No 72 raced to intercept them. In the ensuing action, beyond the Farne Islands, Sheen accounted for two Me 110 fighters, one of which almost did for him.
Flames and smoke appeared near the inside of the port engine. he said. The enemy aircraft, either with the pilot shot or in a deliberate attempt to ram me, approached head on left wing low. Sheen took evasive action and saved his neck. A fortnight later, on August 31, No 72 was ordered south to No 11 Group fighter sector station at Biggin Hill, Kent - where they landed as the airfield was being heavily bombed. The next morning, having transferred to Croydon, they were scrambled to intercept a large enemy force approaching London. This time Sheen's aircraft was hit. As his cockpit filled with dense smoke, he released his straps, turned the Spitfire on its back, pushed the stick forward and dropped out. It was a sunny day, and as he drifted to the ground he had a grandstand view of the battle Several dogfights were going on and an Me 109 went past me in flames. I think the pilot baled out but his harness broke and he didn't make it.On reaching the ground, Sheen was confronted by a girl and a young Army officer who, suspicious of the darker blue of Sheen's old Australian uniform, brandished a revolver. The misunderstanding cleared up, the girl took Sheen to a nearby house where a party of guests were enjoying pre-lunch drinks on the lawn as they watched the battle in the sky overhead. Four days later, back with his squadron, Sheen was shot down again. As his Spitfire hurtled towards the ground, Sheen, though wounded, managed to release his harness. He was sucked out of the cockpit, but his boots caught on the windscreen and he was left lying on top of the fuselage.
After what seemed an age, he recalled, my feet came free and I pulled the ripcord and my parachute opened with a terrific jerk. I just had time to see treetops underneath when I was in them. These broke my fall and I landed on my feet as light as a feather. A bobby appeared on the proverbial bicycle. He pulled out a flask, bless him, and handed it to me. 'You left it a bit late,' he said.
His first real taste of action came on October 21 1939, when he shot down two of some dozen Heinkel 115 floatplanes that were attacking a North Sea convoy off the Yorkshire coast. In early December, north of Arbroath in Scotland, Sheen shared in the destruction of an He 111 bomber. Flying so low that he opened fire at a level below the top of a nearby lighthouse, he was hit by return fire and wounded in the leg.
I stopped a couple of bullets, Sheen explained. One went through my earphones and the other got me in the thigh. The most serious was a bullet in my fuel tank. The petrol began to stream into the cockpit. I went in again to attack but I was dizzy and decided to turn for home.After a spell in hospital, in April 1940 Sheen was posted to the embryo photographic-reconnaissance unit which had been formed under Sidney Cotton, another intrepid Australian. The two men flew down to the south of France and to Sardinia where, flying unarmed Spitfires, they made photo-recce sorties over Italy. Sheen resumed with No 72 at the end of July 1940 and later, after the Battle of Britain and a second spell in hospital, took part in a night action over the North Sea which he described in a broadcast on the BBC. In bright moonlight, on the night of March 13-14 1941, he intercepted a Ju 88.
As I opened fire I could see my tracer bullets bursting in the Junkers like fireworks . . . when I turned in for my next attack I saw that one of the Hun's engines was beginning to burn but just to make quite sure of him I pumped in a lot more bullets then I had to dive like mad to avoid ramming him.
Not long after this, Sheen received command of No 72. Flying from Biggin Hill, he led the squadron - and sometimes the Spitfire Wing - in offensive sweeps over occupied Europe. Subsequently, he held staff appointments and station commands in Britain and in the Middle East. He was awarded a DFC in 1940 and a Bar to it in 1941. Sheen was released from the RAF in 1947, but in 1949, dropping in rank from wing commander to flight lieutenant, he rejoined with a permanent commission. From 1950 to 1952, he commanded No 502, a Royal Auxiliary Air Force fighter squadron equipped with Spitfires, and later with Vampire jets. In 1954, he was posted to the Central Flying Establishment's air fighting unit, and a year later to RAF Leuchars, in Scotland, as Wing Commander Flying. Subsequent appointments included the command of RAF Odiham (1962-64), and Group Captain Organisation at Transport Command. After retirement in 1971, he joined the BAC/British Aerospace to administer the company's BAC 111 and Concorde marketing teams. He died aged 83 in 2001.
Sergeant Hubert Luiz Flower (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35

Hubert Luiz Flower (always known as Luiz) 24.11.1921- 17.04.2015. Hubert Luiz Flower was born in Balla Salla in the Isle of Man on the 24th November 1921 to Connie and Jack Flower. He was the second of four boys and was the last surviving sibling. He joined the RAF in 1939 flying in Bristol Blenheims as a navigator bomber and wireless operator throughout the Second World War. He only realised that he was one of the Few about twenty years ago when he received one of the special medals that were awarded to Battle of Britain crew. He was the youngest airman to fly in the Battle of Britain flying in over 120 sorties. Luiz met his first wife Eve when stationed in Scotland and they had a son, Colin. Luiz Flower and his friend Harry Rose flew together in the Berlin airlift after the war. Luiz completed 103 sorties carrying coal to Berlin. After the war Luiz studied at the London School of Economics and was recruited by the colonial service. He met his second wife Jutta and they had three daughters, Petra, Deirdre and Hilary. Luiz took his young family to Sierra Leone in 1951 serving there for ten years until independence in 1961. While working for the Sierra Leoneon government, he studied as an external candidate for a law degree and was called to the bar at Grey's Inn. He met his third wife Mina in Sierra Leone and had two children, Judith and James.He returned to England in 1966 and started working as a Crown Prosecutor for Custom and Excise. He then became the Courts Administrator for the North of England working in Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. He retired in 1981, meeting his wife Clara, who shared the same pastimes as him of music and walking. They walked in the Himalayas together and have spent the last twenty seven years, happily hopping all over the world together. He sadly died on 17th April 2015.




Squadron Leader Doug Nicholls DFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45

A pre-war RAFVR pilot, in June 1940 Nicholls converted to Hurricanes at 7 OTU, Hawarden. Nicholls flew during the Battle of Britain with 85 and 242 and in September joined 151 Squadron.at Digby On September 30, 1940, he shared in the destruction of a Ju 88 and returned to Digby with his Hurricane P 5182 severely damaged by return fire. Nicholls spent only a brief time with 242 but Bader made a considerable impression. After a hard day Nicholls remembers Bader taking off his legs and dressing the stumps with lotion and talcum powder. Few people realise, Nicholls feels, just how much strain combat flying with artificial legs must have been. Later in the war Nicholls flew Hurricanes with 258 Squadron in the Far East to Seletar airfield, Singapore and flew their first operation on January 31 1942. On February 10 1942 the three surviving Hurricanes of 258 were withdrawn to Palembang with the fifteen surviving pilots, six remained behind to fly with 605 Squadron, with Nicholls being one of the nine evacuated from Java to Ceylon. 258 Squadron was reformed at Ratmalana on March 1 1942 and Nicholls rejoined it. Awarded the DFC (19.5.44) he remained with 258 until August 1944, when he was posted to HQ 224 Group, Burma, as Squadron Leader Tactics. Squadron Leader Doug Nicholls, who has died aged 95, flew Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, avoided capture in Java and earned the DFC flying ground attack missions in Burma. Nicholls and his fellow pilots of No 258 Squadron had just arrived in the Middle East as reinforcements in 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. It was decided to rush the squadron to Singapore and it embarked on the aircraft carrier Indomitable before sailing for the Far East. On January 28 1942, 22 Hurricanes took off from the carrier and departed on the three-hour flight to Batavia. After refuelling, Nicholls headed for Palembang in the south of Sumatra. During the hazardous crossings, the squadron had lost a quarter of its aircraft before facing the Japanese. Two pilots were soon lost in combat. On February 6, the airfield at Palembang was attacked. Nicholls managed to damage a Japanese bomber but he was attacked by a Zero fighter and was forced to bail out over the jungle 30 miles from his airfield. Nicholls started walking and eventually commandeered a car, but found that his squadron had been forced to evacuate Palembang. When the car ran out of petrol he traded it for a railway ticket to a nearby port where he escaped to Batavia to rejoin his depleted squadron. It was soon decided to withdraw the squadron and leave six pilots to fly the only remaining Hurricanes. Three volunteered to stay and the remainder cut cards, the three drawing the lowest to remain. Nicholls cut a jack, which was high enough for him to join the party to be evacuated. On February 28, just six of the 22 pilots who had arrived a few weeks earlier sailed for Ceylon on an overcrowded boat. Those left behind were either killed or became PoWs for the next three years.




Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC
*Signature Value : £35

Joined the RAF with a Short Service Commission in August 1939. He joined 92 Squadron flying Spitfires in June 1940 at the time of Dunkirk. He flew throughout the Battle of Britain, later completing over 50 fighter sweeps and escorts over northern France and Belgium until August 1941. He then joined 65 Squadron as Flight Commander in March 1942 operating over northern France and flew off aircraft carrier HMS Furious on Operation Pedestal, to Malta. Geoff was a Flight Lieutenant during Operation Pedestal. He returned to the UK as a test pilot for Gloster Aircraft and finished the war as a Pilot Attack Instructor. Geoffrey was credited with three destroyed, four probables and several damaged and was awarded the DFC in July 1941.




Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £40

Tony Iveson fought in the Battle of Britain with RAF Fighter Command, as a Sergeant pilot, joining 616 Squadron at Kenley flying Spitfires on 2 September 1940. On the 16th of September, he was forced to ditch into the sea after running out of fuel following a pursuit of a Ju88 bomber. His Spitfire L1036 ditched 20 miles off Cromer in Norfolk, and he was picked up by an MTB. He joined No.92 Sqn the following month. Commissioned in 1942, Tony undertook his second tour transferring to RAF Bomber Command, where he was selected to join the famous 617 Squadron, flying Lancasters. He took part in most of 617 Squadrons high precision operations, including all three sorties against the German battleship Tirpitz, and went on to become one of the most respected pilots in the squadron.




Tony Pickering AFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45

With the RAFVR just before the war commenced, Tony Pickering joined 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill in July 1940, flying Hurricanes, and in August 1940 to 501 Squadron at Gravesend. In September he was shot down in Hurricane P5200, but unhurt in a duel with an Me109, destroying another 109 a few weeks later. In December he joined 601 Squadron at Northolt. After a spell instructing, he joined 131 as a Flight Commander in February 1943, and later served as a Squadron Commander in the Middle East. Tony Pickering died on 24th March 2016.




Wing Commander Bob Foster DFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35

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-Elysées. 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.




Wing Commander George Grumpy Unwin, DSO, DFM* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £65 (matted)

George Unwin joined the RAF in 1929, and in 1936 was posted to Duxford with 19 Squadron as a Sergeant Pilot. He was one of the first pilots in the RAF to fly the Spitfire. With the outbreak of war 19 Squadron moved to Hornchurch and George, now one of the Squadrons most experienced pilots, took part in the great air battles over France and Dunkirk, scoring 3 and a half victories. He flew with 19 Squadron continuously during the whole of the Battle of Britain. He was commissioned in 1941. After a period instructing, he resumed operations, flying Mosquitoes with 16 Squadron. George finished the war with 13 victories, 2 shared, 2 unconfirmed, and 2 probables. He died 28th June 2006.




Wing Commander John Elkington
*Signature Value : £40

John (Tim) Elkington was born in 1920 and joined the RAF in September 1939. Commissioned as a Pilot Officer in July 1940 he was immediately posted to join 1 Squadron flying Hurricanes atTangmere. On 15 August he shot down an Me109 over the Channel, but the following day he was himself shot down over Thorney Island. He baled out injured and was admitted to hospital, his Hurricane crashing at Chidham.




Wing Commander Roland Bee Beamont CBE DSO DFC DL (deceased)
*Signature Value : £55 (matted)

One of World War IIs great characters, Bee flew Hurricanes with 87 Squadron, later leading a Tempest Wing. He had 8 victories plus a further 32 VIs destroyed. After the war he became a highly respected Chief Test Pilot.Wing Commander Roland Beamont, one of the RAFs top buzz bomb interceptors, was born in Enfield England on August 10, 1920. Educated at Eastborne College, Beamont accepted a short service commission with the Royal Air Force in 1938. He commenced flying in 1939 at the the No. 13 Reserve Flying School at White Waltham. His initial duty was with the Group Fighter Pool at St. Athan where he learned to fly the Hurricane. Beamont was soon posted with the No. 87 Squadron which was part of the Advanced Air Striking Force in France. Seeing action in both France and Belgium prior to the Allied withdrawl, Beamont rejoined 87 Squadron in England during the Battle of Britain. In the spring of 1941 Beamont was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after destroying five enemy aircraft. As Commanding Officer of 609 Squadron, Beamont pioneered both day and night ground attack missions utilizing the Typhoon. Beamont was credited with destroying 25 trains in a three month period. He was then made responsible for organizing and commanding the first Tempest Wing at Newchurch. Three days after D-Day Bearnont shot down an Me-109, marking the first aerial combat victory for the Hawker Tempest. In the summer of 1944 Beamont destroyed 32 buzz bombs prior to leading his wing to a Dutch Airfield at Volkel on the Continent. In October of 1944 Beamont was shot down during a ground attack mission over Germany, and he remained a prisoner of war until wars end. Following repatriation Beamont became an experimental test pilot with the Gloster Aircraft Company, which had developed the RAFs first jet aircraft. Turning down a permanent commission with the RAF, Beamont then joined English Electric Company in Wharton as the Chief Test Pilot for the B3/45 (Canberra) jet bomber program. He managed all prototype testing on the Canberra, and in the process set two Atlantic speed records. Later Beamont was involved with the supersonic P1/Lightning program, and became the first British pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound. From 1965 until 1970 he was a founding member of Britains highly succesful Saudi Arabian export program. For several years prior to his retirement in 1979, Beamont was Director of Operations for British Aerospace and Panavia where he was in charge of flight testing for the Tornado. Since his retirement Beamont has authored nine books, and published numerous magazine articles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Scociety and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots in America. He died 19th November 2001.




Wing Commander Terence Kane (deceased)
*Signature Value : £25

Kane joined the RAF on July 25 1938 on a short service commission. During his flying training he was injured in an Audax crash and admitted to hospital, however he was able to complete his training and was posted to CFS, Upavon, for an instructor's course, after which he joined the staff at 14 FTS, Kinloss and later Cranfield. He went to 7 OTU, Hawarden in July 1940, converted to Spitfires and joined 234 Squadron on September 14th. He shared in the destruction of a Ju88 on the 22nd. The next day he failed to return from a routine section patrol. His Spitfire was damaged in combat off the French coast and he baled out at 6,000 feet and was picked up from the sea and captured by the Germans. Before being shot down, he destroyed a Bf109. He was freed in May 1945 and stayed in the RAF until 1950. He rejoined the RAF in April 1954, serving in the Fighter Control Branch, and retired in 1974. He died on 5th August 2016.




Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC* AFC
*Signature Value : £50

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.
Wing Commander William Gregory DSO, DFC*, AFC, DFM (deceased)
*Signature Value : £30

Radar Operator to Ace Bob Braham, flying Defiants, Beaufighters and Mosquitos, and contributing to 29 victories. Wing Commander Bill Sticks Gregory was Air Interception (AI) radar operator to the Second World War night fighter ace Wing Commander Bob Braham. William James Gregory, was born on November 23rd 1913 at Hartlepool, where he attended the Lister Sealy School. Before the war, he worked for his father as a plasterer, and was drummer in the Debroy Somers Band - earning the nickname Sticks. William James Gregory enlisted in the RAF soon after the outbreak of war, and in May 1940 was posted to No 29.Squadron as a wireless operator/air gunner. Subsequently, he was redesignated observer/radio operator and then radar operator. Before teaming up with Braham, Gregory had a nasty experience when he and his pilot were, as he noted in his logbook, scrambled to intercept Huns raiding Liverpool. They were about to shoot down a Do17 when their Beaufighter was hit in the starboard wing by friendly anti-aircraft fire. Having baled out at 16,000 feet, Gregory landed on the roof of Lime Street station - and as he climbed down to the ground rail passengers mistook him for a German airman and roughed him up. Flight Sergeant William Gregory joined Wing Commander Bob Braham when he stood in temporarily for Brahams usual radar operator, Gregorys superb radar skills helped Braham to destroy 29 German aircraft in the night skies over Britain and occupied Europe - a tally which was among the highest of any wartime RAF fighter pilot, flying by day or night. Their first combat took place in early July 1941. Flying in a twin-engine Bristol Beaufighter of No.29 Squadron over a moonlit Thames Estuary, Gregory called to Braham: Contact dead ahead and at 2,000 yards.As Braham went into a gentle dive to close the range and to get below a Ju 88 bomber, the enemy opened fire. When Gregory urged Braham to open up, Braham said calmly: No, not yet. We must get closer to make sure of him. Despite heavy fire from the Ju88, Braham continued to delay firing, until with three short bursts he sent the bomber blazing down into the Thames. Later that year, after a brief detachment in Scotland to assist No.141 Squadron convert from obsolescent Boulton Paul single-engine Defiants to Beaufighters, Braham and Gregory returned to No.29 at West Malling in Kent. Early in 1942, Gregory was commissioned a pilot officer - a promotion for which Braham had been pressing - and he and Braham were posted as instructors to No.51, a night fighter Operational Training Unit at Cranfield. Keen to return to operations, in early June the two men slipped away for an unofficial weekend visit to their old squadron, No.29, in Kent. During a night sortie, Gregory positioned Braham to attack a Do217 bomber. Braham soon set it alight, and it dived into the sea off Sandwich. Bad weather then caused them to divert to Manston, on the Kent coast. With fog rolling in from the sea, Braham overshot and crash-landed in a ploughed field. After the mishap at Manston, Gregory and Braham returned to No.29 Squadron where Braham became a flight commander. In December 1942 Braham, aged only 22, received command of No.141 Squadron at Ford on the south coast; Gregory, at 29 the old man of the team, stayed with him. One moonlit night, Gregory and most of the squadron aircrew were having a party at Worthing, on the Sussex coast, when they heard enemy aeroplanes overhead. Racing back to their airfield they took off in their waiting Beaufighter. Gregory brought the aircraft to within visual range of a Do 217 bomber, flying at 15,000 feet. There was an exchange of fire in which Braham, having rather enjoyed himself at the party, opened up at too long a range. Gregorys caustic comments quickly sobered Braham up, and in four long bursts he sent the Dornier diving ablaze into the sea. Early in 1943 the squadron moved west to Predannack, near the Lizard Point in Cornwall, mainly for night training. Visiting Fighter Command, Braham urged the use of AI night fighters in support of the bomber offensive over occupied Europe, in which heavy losses were being incurred. Although his proposal was not accepted at this stage, he won approval for moonlight attacks on rail and road traffic on the Brest peninsula. At the end of April 1943 Braham and Gregory led No.141 Squadron to Wittering, near Stamford, Lincolnshire. Their aircraft were now fitted with Serrate, a radar device which enabled Gregory and his fellow operators to home in on enemy fighter transmissions from a distance of up to 100 miles. This was an ideal aid in Gregorys new night-intruding role, and after he and Braham had exchanged their Beaufighter for a de Havilland Mosquito equipped with Serrate, the two men went into action in support of Sir Arthur Harriss bomber formations. One night, flying over Cologne, they were attacked by two enemy night fighters, one of which shot out their port engine, obliging them to make a perilous return back to base. Another night, supporting a raid over Mannheim, Gregory logged a hell of a dogfight. In a 25-minute battle, they destroyed one German aircraft - an Me 110 fighter - and drove off another. In March 1944, Gregory, by now highly experienced, joined the night operations staff at No 2 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force (2nd TAF) headquarters, where Braham had preceded him. Such was his and Brahams hunger for action that from time to time they would slip away from their desks to freelance on sorties over Europe with various Mosquito squadrons. On one daylight sortie, they destroyed an He 177 heavy bomber which was circling Chateaudun airfield in France at 1,000 feet. Caught in a stream of fire from their Mosquitos nose guns, the bomber, Gregory recalled, reared up like a wounded animal, winged over on its back and dived vertically into the ground. On May 12 1944, Gregory and Braham - truanting again from the operations room - had just taken part in the destruction of a Fw190 fighter off the Danish coast when an Me 109 fighter struck. Short of fuel, and further damaged by anti-aircraft fire, Braham coaxed the stricken aircraft towards home until he had to ditch 70 miles off the Norfolk coast, where they were rescued by two minesweepers. Shortly after that, the team broke up. Braham was shot down and ended the war as a prisoner; Gregory continued staff duties. While Braham accumulated three DSOs, three DFCs and an AFC in the course of his wartime service, Gregory was awarded a DSO, two DFCs, an AFC and a DFM. At the end of the war, Gregory accepted a permanent commission, specialising in navigation and fighter control. He received the Air Efficiency Award in 1946, and after commanding RAF Wartling, in East Sussex, retired in 1964. Thereafter, until final retirement, he worked as an estate agent at Eastbourne. He was a member of Cooden Beach golf club and, having retained his drumming skills, played with a local band. Later in life, so as to be near his daughter, he moved to Camberley, Surrey, where golf, bowls and darts - he was known as The Demon - brought him much enjoyment. Sadly Wing Commander Gregory passed away at the age of 87, on the 6th October 2001

The Aircraft :
NameInfo
SpitfireRoyal 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.
Me109Willy Messerschmitt designed the BF109 during the early 1930s. The Bf109 was one of the first all metal monocoque construction fighters with a closed canopy and retractable undercarriage. The engine of the Me109 was a V12 aero engine which was liquid-cooled. The Bf109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and flew to the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons. During the Battle of Britian the Bf109 was used in the role of an escort fighter, a role for which it was not designed for, and it was also used as a fighter bomber. During the last days of May 1940 Robert Stanford-Tuck, the RAF ace, got the chance to fly an Me109 which they had rebuilt after it had crash landed. Stanford-Tuck found out that the Me109 was a wonderful little plane, it was slightly faster than the Spitfire, but lacked the Spitfire manoeuvrability. By testing the Me109, Tuck could put himself inside the Me109 when fighting them, knowing its weak and strong points. With the introduction of the improved Bf109F in the spring of 1941, the type again proved to be an effective fighter during the invasion of Yugoslavia and during the Battle of Crete and the invasion of Russia and it was used during the Siege of the Mediteranean island of Malta. The Bf109 was the main fighter for the Luftwaffe until 1942 when the Fw190 entered service and shared this position, and was partially replaced in Western Europe, but the Me109 continued to serve on the Eastern Front and during the defence of the Reich against the allied bombers. It was also used to good effect in the Mediterranean and North Africa in support of The Africa Korps. The Me109 was also supplied to several German allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia. The Bf109 scored more kills than any other fighter of any country during the war and was built in greater numbers with a total of over 31,000 aircraft being built. The Bf109 was flown by the three top German aces of the war war. Erich Hartmann with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories and Gunther Rall with 275 kills. Bf109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen Luftwaffe Aces scored more than 200 kills. Altogether this group of pilots were credited with a total of nearly 15,000 kills, of which the Messerschmitt Bf109 was credited with over 10,000 of these victories. The Bf109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Bf109s remained in foreign service for many years after World War II. The Swiss used their Bf109Gs well into the 1950s. The Finnish Air Force did not retire their Bf109Gs until March 1954. Romania used its Bf109s until 1955. The Spanish Hispanos flew even longer. Some were still in service in the late 1960s.

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