On the night of November 3rd, 1943 Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid took his No. 61 Squadron Lancaster off to join a force detailed to attack Dusseldorf, deep in the heart of Germany. Right after crossing the coast of Holland they were attacked by a Me110 night fighter, its gunfire shattering the Lancaster's windscreen and damaging the elevator, making the aircraft difficult to handle. Though wounded in the head, shoulders and hands, after ascertaining his crew was unscathed, mentioning nothing of is injuries, Bill Reid continued towards the target, still over an hour ahead of him. Closer to the target his Lancaster was again attacked, this time by a Focke Wulf 190 which raked the bomber from stem to stern. His navigator was killed, his wireless operator fatally injured, and Bill was again wounded in the attack. Though communications within the aircraft were severed, heating had failed, and only the rear turret remained operative, Bill Reid flew his bucking Lancaster steadily on towards Dusseldorf. Having memorized his course he brought the bomber right over the target with such accuracy the bomb-aimer knew nothing of his captain's injuries or casualties to his comrades. Photographs confirmed the bombs were released right on target.
Growing weak from loss of blood and lapsing into periods of unconsciousness, with the aid of the flight engineer and bomb-aimer, Bill steered the Lancaster towards home navigating by the pole star and moon. Despite the intense cold, they survived a barrage of AA gunfire as they passed over the Dutch coast. As they approached England the captain was revived, took control, and landed safely even though the runway lights were partially obscured by mist, one leg of the damaged undercarriage collapsing as the weight came on. For his tenacity and devotion to duty Bill Reid was decorated with Britain's highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross.
Robert Taylor's dramatic reconstruction shows a split-second during Bill Reid's epic flight as the Fw190 flashes past the port side of the mighty Lancaster. His aircraft now crippled and almost defenseless, illuminated by search lights and fires below, thunders on through the hostile night sky over Germany. As a reminder of the heroics of, and a tribute to all the RAF Bomber crews who flew the torturous night raids against Germany during World War II, a group of distinguished RAF World War II bomber crews have joined Bill Reid VC in signing this superb collector edition.
Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid VC
Volunteering for RAF aircrew in 1940, Bill Reid learned to fly in California, training on the Stearman, Vultee and Harvard. After gaining his pilots wings back in England he flew Wellingtons before moving on to Lancasters in 1943. On the night of 3 November 1943, his Lancaster suffered two severed attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters, badly wounding Reid, killing his navigator and radio operator, and severely damaging the aircraft. Bill flew on 200 miles to accurately bomb the target and get his aircraft home. For this act of outstanding courage and determination he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
After recovering from his injuries he flew Lancasters with the famous 617 Squadron, taking part in the D-Day operations. His flying career ended when his Lancaster was hit by a stick of bombs from another aircraft; only he and his radio operator survived. After parachuting he was taken prisoner by the Germans.
Air Commodore Wilf Burnett DSO OBE DFC AFC
Canadian Wilf Burnett joined the RAF before the war and at the outbreak of hostilities was flying Hampdens. He completed his first tour of 30 operations in September 1940, flying with 49 Squadron at Scampton. His crew had bombed invasion barges in the Channel ports, mined enemy waters, operated against the Ruhr, and taken part in the first raids against Berlin. In July 1942, returning from Hamburg, their Hampden crashed in extreme weather. Wilf was the sole survivor, and he was hospitalized. Recovering he was accepted to command 138 (Special Duties) Squadron at Tempsford who were engaged in dropping agents and supplies to the Resistance in occupied countries flying Halifaxes, later Stirlings.
Air Marshal Sir Ivor Broom KCB CBE DSO DFC** AFC
Ivor Broom flew Bristol Blenheims with 114 Squadron before being posted to the beleaguered island of Malta, still flying Blenheims, which were by now obsolete, in highly dangerous, low-level shipping strikes where squadron losses were high. In 1943 he became one of the very first Pathfinder Mosquito instructors before moving into the Late Night Striking Force with 571 Squadron. He later was tasked with forming 163 Squadron. Ivor Broom completed 103 bombing strike missions, including 22 separate attacks on Berlin. He also flew in the Ardennes Offensive. Throughout his time on Mosquitos his navigator was Tommy Broom (no relation), together the "Flying Brooms' were an inseparable combination.
Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC AE
Tony Iveson's first tour of duty was with RAF Fighter Command, joining 616 Squadron as a Sergeant pilot at Kenley on 2 September 1940 during the Battle of Britain. Commissioned in 1942, Tony did his second tour with RAF Bomber Command, flying Lancasters with the famous 617 Squadron where he was to become one of that squadron's most prominent and well-respected pilots. He took part in most of 617 Squadron's operations, including all three operations against the German battleship Tirpitz, and other high precision attacks.
Overall print size: 31 3/4" wide x 23 3/4" high.
Image size: 25" wide x 16" high.