Oil paint on stretched canvas. 36" x 24" Painted Jan - Mar 2018.
As dawn broke on the morning of 4th July 1943, Wellington X – HF 493 coded QO-C of No 432 (Leaside) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force piloted by Sgt R Burgess RAF, and crew, found themselves overhead Gravesend whilst trying to land at RAF West Malling in Kent. The aircraft had been tasked the night before with bombing Cologne; but effective enemy anti-aircraft fire saw QO-C sustain significant damage to its wing and fuel tanks. The crew abandoned the mission opting to divert to West Malling in Kent – a lack of useable fuel adding to the dilemma that the occupants faced. So bad was the damage, that Bomb Aimer Sgt A Dabous RCAF had already bailed out over enemy territory.
Alongside them was Wellington QO-B of the same squadron. The crews could talk to each other by radio, but nobody else. The south east of England was fogbound, and within minutes of running out of fuel, a consultative decision was made by the remaining crew to bail out of the stricken aircraft by parachute. The abandoned aircraft crashed almost immediately near Gravesend. The other aircraft crashed into a house shortly afterwards whilst attempting to land, and three crew members were killed.
The crew of HF493 QO-C were as follows:
Sgt R Burgess – RAF
Sgt J Bell – RCAF
Sgt W Calderwood – RAF
Sgt J Mufford – RCAF
Sgt A Dabous – RCAF
This oil painting is now finished; and acts to preserve the military heritage of the crew of HF493.
432 Sqn lost x4 Wellingtons that day, with the loss of x13 souls. We remember them. – R.I.P.
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