Every print in the edition is signed in pencil by the artist
Philip West. The Primary Edition
prints are signed by the Supermarine Spitfire pilot Flight
Lieutenant Newman. The Artist Proofs and Remarques
are signed by Five former Supermarine Spitfire Pilots. Group
Captain Billy Drake DSO, DFC*, DFC (US), Flight Lieutenant
Richard Jones, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC, Sqn. Ldr.
Percival H. Beake DFC, Sqn. Ldr. Douglas Tidy.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
flew Hurricanes in France at the outbreak of war, scoring
his first victory in May 1940. Having achieved two further
victories over France he was shot down and wounded by a Messerschmitt
BF 110. In October 1940 he returned to operational duty with
No 213 Squadron at RAF Tangmere, flying Spitfires. Posted
to the Western Desert in early 1942, Billy Drake took command
of 112 Squadron, flying P40 Kittyhawks, leading them with
considerable success. He later served in Malta, and then as
Wing Leader of 20 Typhoon Wing. Billy Drake was an outstanding
Ace, scoring 24 ½ victories and in addition, another
13 aircraft on the ground.
one of the only two pilots in this photo not to receive a
DFC in June 1940 (having been shot down and wounded on 13
May), he was to end the war as the most successful of all
this group of outstanding fighter pilots. He had by then been
promoted to Wing Commander, and had claimed some 28 aircraft
shot down (three of which were shared and two unconfirmed),
plus 15 more destroyed on the ground. He had also been awarded
a DSO, DFC and Bar, and a US DFC. He remained in the RAF post-war,
becoming a Group Captain.
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.
the Battle of Britain was drawing to a close Fl. Lt. Jones
was shot down by an Me109 during a dogfight over Kent. After
the Battle of Britain he became a test pilot
for Hawker Hurricanes and many other aircraft types.
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.
Best Selling book “First Light”, recalling his
wartime flying career, is highly recommended by SWA Fine Art.
To give you some idea of the popularity of this book, sales
to date have reached 500,000 copies! The book is available
to order through most book shops. Alternatively, the book
can be ordered online at www.Amazon.co.uk
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
was not until 26/3/1940 that he was posted to Redhill to commence
flying training again from scratch. Training continued on
different aircraft until 31/8/40 when he was posted to Hawarden
where he first flew a Spitfire. After three weeks there he
was posted to 64 Squadron at Leconfield. A month later the
Squadron moved to Coltishall. It was not until 10/11/1940
that the Squadron was moved to Hornchurch in the London area
by which time daylight raids by masses of enemy bombers had
been discontinued in favour of night time raids.
February 2nd 1941 Percy made a forced landing in a field at
Sheperdswell in Kent. He tried to make a wheels-down landing
to save his aircraft but ended up head down in the mud. Percy’s
aircraft was a write-off and he suffered concussion for which
he was treated in the RAF Officers Hospital in Torquay. He
did not get back to the Squadron until March 27th. On May
16th the Squadron was posted to Turnhouse near Edinburgh.
On June 26th Percy complained to the CO about the lack of
combat opportunity there and the following day he was posted
to 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill.
On July 8, having taken part in a mission over France, he
was shot down by an
Me 109 just after leaving the French coast but he managed
to bale out over the sea and was picked up 18 miles east of
Dover by an RAF Rescue Launch. Towards the end of October
the Squadron moved to Digby in Lincolnshire and by the end
of the year Percy had completed 100 operation sorties and
was declared ‘tour expired’.
January 1942 Percy was posted to 601 Squadron which at the
time was equipped with Aircobras. These aircraft had serious
maintenance problems and were never made operational. However,
the Squadron was re-equipped with Spitfires in March and was
posted to Malta. The CO said “Beaky you are tour expired”
so I can’t take you to Malta – you will have to
go to instructing at an OUT. So it was he arrived at 58 OUT
in Grangemouth on April 1st 1942. He remained instructing
until the end of the year when he was posted to Harrowbeer
in Devon as a founder member of a new squadron - 193 –
being formed to fly Typhoons. The Squadron became operational
in April 1943. On February 8th 1944, whilst flying over France
they were lucky to see some FW 190s returning to Gael airfield.
Two were on their landing approach. The leader touched down
successfully but was immediately attacked and destroyed by
Percy’s Wing Commander who was leading the operation.
The second FW had decided to go round again but Percy shot
him down and the ‘190 burst into flames when it hit
the end of March 1944 Percy was posted to 84 Group Support
Unit which had been formed as a reserve of potential leaders
to replace the expected casualties in the build up to the
invasion. At the end of May I was posted to command 164 rocket
firing Typhoon Squadron based on Thorney Island, its CO having
been shot down by flak on the previous day.
to D – Day the Squadron was exclusively employed attacking
radar installations. On D – Day they carried out two
armed reconnaissance’s in the Caen area. The first was
uneventful but on the second one they were engaged by five
FW 190’s. Percy shot one down but one Typhoon pilot
was also lost. Percy was awarded a ‘Mention in Despatch’
on June 8th and the DFC on July 25th. The citation read as
follows:- This officer has commanded the squadron for several
months and during this period has led his formation on many
sorties against heavily defended targets with good results.
He is a first class leader whose great skill, thoroughness
and untiring efforts have contributed materially to the successes
obtained. Squadron Leader Beake has destroyed two enemy aircraft.
was amazed, baffled and disappointed to be then called by
his Wing Commander after landing from an armed recce on August
13th to hear him say “Beaky you have just done your
last ‘op’ – you are not to fly again until
you get back tot eh UK and that is an order.” Percy’s
(Beaky’s) protests were ignored and on being asked ‘why’
the Wing Commander said “You may not realise this but
you are the longest surviving CO in my Wing and I want to
send you home whilst you are still alive”. Back in the
UK Percy was sent to the Fighter Leaders School where he was
put in command of the Typhoon squadron and he remained in
that capacity until he was demobbed in December 1945. On leaving
the RAF he was granted the Air Efficiency Award.
Ldr. Douglas Tidy was born in 1923. 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
1942 he was in his way to the Middle East, having flown on
his first twin-engined aircraft, a Wellington of 38 Squadron,
as a Wireless Operator. After an attachment to the Transjordan
Frontier Force at Zerka, he joined 74 Squadron which was assisting
B24s of the 98th Bomb Group, United States Army Air Corps
at Ramat David in Palestine. He served under five Commanding
Officers with 74 Squadron, before joining 244 Squadron with
Blenheims at Sharjah in the Persian Gulf and later with Wellingtons
on Masirah Island. From there he went to Aden and back to
the UK with redundant aircrew to Mosquitoes at Haverfordwest.
numbered certificate of authenticity included.
Print Size 28" x 18" (inches) Printed in lightfast
inks on acid free archival paper.
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