I got this in the mail yesterday.
I wondered who could have sent it. I did not order it from Ivan Berryman.
Then I found out who send it.
Never Say Die
This is the title of a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night:
What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.
It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily – and nightly – rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945.
I am indebted.
There is a footnote to the story of this painting. Having completed the original, which measured 36 x 24 inches, it was crated up in a sturdy plywood box for transit to the eager customer. A certain well-known courier company (who shall remain nameless, but let’s just say that their name begins and ends with a ‘T’) promptly lost it! After much ado at my end and head-scratching at theirs, it finally turned up not more than six miles from where it left me – and still my side of the Solent. It was eventually delivered to a very relieved customer, three days late. Fresh underwear please…
On the other hand, another well known courier (who also shall be nameless, but whose name begins with ‘F’ and ends in ‘X’ shipped an even bigger create with another painting from my door to Perth in Australia in under 72 hours. Cue the fanfare and confetti.