Here is the completed painting, now framed and hanging on my wall. I reckon it looks pretty damn fine:
Avro Lancaster LM475 PO-B for Baker, of 467 Sqn RAAF, sits on its dispersal at RAF Waddington on 11 April 1944. Its crew has just arrived for a bombing raid on the German city of Aachen.
This painting serves as a tribute to the crew of this aircraft:
S/L DPS Smith
W/O RW Purcell
Sgt KH Tabor
Sgt J Parker
F/Sgt AD Johnston
Sgt ER Hill
F/Sgt GF Pate
These men were shot down in this aircraft on an operation to Lille, France, on 10 May 1944. Only the pilot, Phil Smith, survived.
The painting, by Steve Leadenham, was specially commissioned by Adam Purcell, the great nephew of the navigator.
Steve advises that prints of this painting will be available in the future – details on how to get one will be posted here in due course.
Another update from Steve:
The crew are gaining some definition. There is even the hint of a ‘flare chute’ inside the door to the Lancaster. The saucepan shape of the dispersal pan is beginning to take shape. And you’ll see that the bicycle has arrived, leaning against some oil drums.
The bike is an important part of the story. I have documentary evidence that at least Phil Smith and Gil Pate had bicycles that they acquired during their time at training units. The RAF bicycle was ubiquitous around airfields – used to get around the sprawling sites, where accommodation could be a couple of miles from the mess, the briefing room and of course the dispersals. A great pile of bicycles outside a pub in the nearby village was a sure sign that aircrew would be inside.
There’s a personal connection as well – a bicycle has been my primary mode of transport around Sydney for the last five or six years, and my bike has come to define me almost as much as my flying does. So I thought a bicycle would be a nice personal touch to make the painting ‘mine’.
It is now very close to completion – hopefully I’ll be able to pick up the finished painting when I drive to Sydney next weekend.