Spitfires Over The Needles
June 1940, The Battle of Britain
by Philip E West
Spitfires of 609 Squadron returning to their satellite station airfield at
Warmwell to re-arm and re-fuel, following an intercept mission against enemy aircraft trying to disrupt shipping along the South Coast of England. Like many other RAF Squadrons, No 609 the (West Riding) Auxiliary Squadron distinguished itself in many great air battles with honour and courage.
Overall size approx. 12½” x 19½” / 32 x 49cms
The Primary Edition is signed by Battle of Britain pilot Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC and the Artists Proofs have in addition been
signed by a further three Battle of Britain pilots.
For more details please see below the prices.
The Primary Edition is signed by the artist and:-
Squadron 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.
the Artist Proofs are signed by Sqn. Ldr. Geoffrey Wellum and:
Group 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.
He 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.
Although 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.
Flight Lieutenant William James (Bill) Green is a British Battle of Britain Fighter pilot, who served with the RAF. Flight Lieutenant Green flew Hawker Hurricanes for 9 days during the Battle of Britain, between the 20th and 29th August, 1940. During that time he was shot down twice: the first time on 24th August 1940, crash landing at Hawkinge and the second time on the 29th August over Deal in Kent.
Fl. Lt. Green had joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as an engine fitter in December 1936, and later trained as a pilot. On joining No. 501 Squadron RAF on 19th August 1940, Flight Lieutenant Green had flown only about 5 hours on Hurricanes and had only flown one for the first time the day before but was sent into action regardless on 20th August 1940. Green considers himself to have been one of the least trained pilots during the Battle of Britain and lucky to have survived.
The first thing Flight Lieutenant Green knew of being shot down on 29th August was a large hole appearing in his armoured windscreen and he never saw the aircraft that shot him down. He managed to exit his aircraft but his parachute initially failed to open as his drogue parachute lines had been cut about nine inches above where they joined the main parachute. His boots were ripped off his feet during the ensuing high-speed fall and he remembers quite clearly wondering whether his wife of 12 weeks, Bertha, would wonder whether he had wondered what it would feel like to "hit the deck". The parachute eventually opened without the drogue and he landed in a farm in Elham Valley near Folkestone only to discover that he couldn't stand as he had been wounded in the leg:
"Two blokes came out of the farmhouse with shotguns and realised I was English. They helped me up and I couldn't stand because I'd been hit, without knowing it, in the leg. They took me back to the farmhouse and gave me a cup of tea and that was the end of the Battle of Britain as far as I was concerned."
He continued to serve in the RAF, rising from the rank of Sergeant Pilot to Flight Lieutenant.
Wing Commander J.F.D, ‘Tim’ Elkington was born in 1920 and joined the RAF in 1939 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in July 1940. For further details we recommend visiting these web site pages