When No 49 Squadron Lancasters bombed the S.S. barracks at Berchtesgaden on 25th April 1945, its aircrews completed a campaign that had begun 5 ½ years earlier in September, 1939. From the very beginning, 49 Squadron were in the thick of the action with one of their pilots, Roderick Learoyd, winning Bomber Command's first Victoria Cross.
In 1942 it was Lancasters of 49 Squadron that led the epic raid on Schneider armament and locomotive works at Le Creusot. In 1943 they flew the "shuttle-bombing" raids to Friedrichshafen and Spezia, attacked the heavily defended rocket sites at Peenemunde, and in preparation for D-Day, bombarded the coastal batteries in Normandy and the V-1 sites in the caves by the river Loire, north of Paris. Later in 1944 the squadron notably took part in the raid on German Baltic Fleet, continuing to fly important bombing missions against the Nazi war machine until the final collapse of the Third Reich. So it was fitting that an RAF squadron whose history went right back to 1916, should make the coupe de grace at Berchtesgarden.
Northern Europe's short summer nights, with darkness lasting but a few hours, often saw the RAF bomber crews returning to England at dawn, and it is one such scene which is caught up over the river Orwell at Pin Mill, Lancasters of No. 49 Squadron descend low over Suffolk, heading towards their base at Fiskerton. The night raid on Hamburg is almost completed. Spitfires from No. 129 Squadron, based at Hornchurch, having made an early morning attack on German installations in Holland, have picked up the bombers and escorted them home.
A truly emotive picture from one of the world's most popular aviation artists, each print in the edition is signed by FOUR Lancaster pilots who flew with No. 49 Squadron in World War Two.
Flight Lieutenant Robert Souter
Robert Souter joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in February 1941, and after training was posted in 1942 to the Middle East, joining No. 108 Squadron then flying Wellingtons. He first flew operationally in June of that year, in the Western Desert campaign, and the last operation of his first tour was in November 1942 with the Battle of El Alamein. After a period with No. 26 OUT Wing, Robert undertook a second tour - this time flying Lancasters with No. 49 Squadron, up to the end of the war. He had completed a total of 47 operations by that time. After the war he flew Dakotas and Liberators with RAF Transport Command.
Flight Lieutenant Leslie Hay
Joining the Royal Air Force in May 1941, Leslie Hay was trained as a pilot in Canada. On qualifying he returned to England and eventually was posted to join No. 49 Squadron, then based at Fiskerton in Lincolnshire, flying Lancasters. From there he flew his first operation on 1st August 1944, following the Normandy invasion. Leslie Hay completed a total of 36 combat operations in the Lancaster, all with No. 49 Squadron, at the height of Bomber Commands offensive against Germany.
Flight Lieutenant Eric Jones DFC
Eric Jones joined the RAF in April 1941 and trained as a pilot in Canada. Back in England he was posted to No. 49 Squadron flying Lancasters, and flew his first operation on the night of 22nd August 1943. The target that night was Leverkusen. On the night of 14th January 1944 on a raid against Brunswick his aircraft shot down an Me110 nightfighter south of Hanover. He flew 12 trips to Berlin, the most heavily defended target in the Reich. Eric Jones completed a tour of 29 combat operations in the Lancaster. He was awarded the DFC.
Flight Lieutenant Ernest Webb DFC
After joining the Royal Air Force in June 1941, Ernie Webb was chosen for training as a pilot. After qualifying he was posted in 1943 to join No. 49 Squadron, based at Fiskerton in Lincolnshire. The squadron was by that time flying Lancasters, and heavily involved in the RAF Bomber Command offensive against the major targets in Germany. He flew a total of 30 combat operations in the Lancaster during his tour with No. 49 Squadron, and later went on to serve with No. 242 Squadron, RAF Transport Command. Ernest Webb was awarded the DFC.
Overall print size: 30 3/4" wide x 23 1/2" high.
Image size: 24 1/8" wide x 16" high.