“Fleeting Moments” by Philip West

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  • Regular price $155.00

Limited Edition of 100: $155
Artist Proof Edition of 40: $210

Size 18" x 28"

Few people become a legend in their own lifetime. Douglas Bader was one such person. An exceptional pilot and leader. At the age of 21, as a young RAF officer, he had both legs amputated after he crashed his aircraft. Through sheer guts and determination he learnt not only to walk again, but also fly, subsequently becoming the RAF’s most famous WW2 fighter pilot. Flying his Spitfire with the unmistakable DB markings, Wing Commander Bader with his wingman close by, heads home to Tangmere after another successful, action-packed day, taking on swarms of enemy aircraft intent on wreaking havoc over the south of England.

The Primary Edition prints have been signed by the artist and: 

Flight Lieutenant Newman left O.T.U. to join 131 Squadron at Tangmere in time to participate in the closing months of the Battle of Britain. As the enemy activity diminished so the policy of Fighter Command turned to offensive sweeps over western France. By the end of 1942 the A.O.C decided to give the squadrons of 11 Group a rest from their intensive operations, so 131 Squadron was posted to northern Scotland to defend Scapa Flow naval base.

This routine series of operations came to an end when Frank was chosen, together with a number of other experienced pilots, to form a fighter wing for the invasion of North Africa. My mid-1943 Rommel and the African Corps had been swept out of Algeria and Tunisia by General Montgomery and the Eighth Army. After a short rest the Desert Air Force was heavily engaged in the invasion of Sicily and Italy. By this time Frank was transferred to join the already famous 92 Squadron where he was pleased to come under the command of such experienced pilots as Group Captain Brian Kingcome and Squadron Leader Neville Duke.

For the next few months 92 Squadron was heavily involved in a twice-weekly patrol over the Anzio Bridgehead where they occasionally met small units of the Luftwaffe. It was at this point that the squadron was hoping to score its 300th enemy aircraft destroyed. This happened on the 17th February 1944 and it was time for a squadron celebration! The enemy continued to appear in small numbers and later in the year whilst leading a dusk patrol Frank Newman and his fellow pilots were able to add to this score so that by the end of the campaign the total score reached 317½ definitely destroyed and over 200 probably destroyed. Any further increase in this number of victories was made impossible when the squadron was switched to fighter/bombers in late 1944; for this, tactics were so different. Each Spitfire carried a 500lb bomb and was given a map reference for his target by the army ground force.

After the war Fl. Lt. Newman was sent on a training course to be become a Test Pilot. Upon completion of the course he was appointed Test Pilot at the R.A.F.’s biggest maintenance units (132 M.U.) where he enjoyed the privilege of flying thirty-one different types of aircraft.

The Artist Proofs and Remarques have been signed by the following five Spitfire pilots:

Group Captain Billy Drake DSO, DFC*, DFC (US) joined the RAF on a Short Service Commission in July 1936. He joined No. 1 Squadron at RAF Tangmere in May 1937 flying the Hawker Fury before converting to the Hawker Hurricane

Flight Lieutenant Richard Jones began operational flying in 1940 with 64 Squadron flying Spitfires out of Kenley airfield, Surrey, from where he was in action during the Battle of Britain. When 64 Squadron was withdrawn from the front line Richard joined No 19 Squadron based at Fowlmere, part of the Duxford Sector. 19 Squadron was part of “The Big Wing”, led by Douglas Bader, the legendary legless fighter pilot.

Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC joined the RAF with a Short Service Commission in August 1939. He joined no 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 Furious on operation Pedestal, to Malta. (Geoff was a Flt. Lt. during “Operation Pedestal”) He returned to the UK as a test pilot Gloster Aircraft and finished the war as a Pilot Attack Instructor. Geoffrey Wellum was credited with three destroyed, four probables and several damaged and was awarded the DFC in July 1941.

Sqn. Ldr. Percival H. Beake DFC, AE joined the RAFVR at Bristol in April 1939. Flying from Whitchurch Airfield on some evenings and weekends he had completed 50 hours training on Tiger Moths when war was declared. However, the mobilisation of all aircrew in Volunteer Reserve and Auxiliary Units overwhelmed the flying training facilities available and he was posted to No. 3 Initial Training Wing at St. Leonards on Sea where keep fit exercises and ground studies were the order of the day.

Sqn. Ldr. Douglas Tidy was born in 1023. Claiming to be 18 in early 1940 he joined the RAF. Defective eyesight that was discovered (despite charts learned and ‘magic white powder’) ended his career as a tyro pilot and by the summer of 1941 he was in he Operations Room at Portreath in Cornwall, happily still with Spitfires, those of 66 and 130 Squadrons.