Devotion to Duty
by Richard Taylor
|A Lancaster from 61 Sqn, heavily damaged by German night-fighter attacks, heads to Dusseldorf during a bombing mission on the night of 3 November 1943. Although badly wounded, pilot Bill Reid and his crew pressed on to bomb their target before returning home. For his courage and devotion to duty Reid was awarded the Victoria Cross.|
|Overall size: 23" x 27"|
|Special presentation||Signed by Lancaster Flight engineer W.O. Harold Kirby framed to include the signatures of||$625|
|Bill Reid V.C. and Norman Jackson V.C.|
|The signed print is double matted and framed to include the autographs of Bill Reid V.C. and Norman Jackson V.C. and a miniature reproduction of the Victoria Cross.
All materials and methods used in the matting meet the highest conservation standards. The piece is completed with a top quality Mahogany finish wood frame with gold accent and ultraviolet filtering plexiglass, providing maximum protection against fading.
|The signatures - (* indicates matted signature)|
|W.O. Harold Kirby
Flight Engineer on Lancasters with 467 & 97 Squadrons on missions over Europe including the Bergen U-boat pens, Dresden and the Dortmund-Ems Canal. He finished the war having completed a total of 44 Operations.
|Flt. Lt. Bill Reid V.C. *
After training in Canada, Bill Reid received his wings and was commissioned as a pilot officer on probation in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 19 June 1942. He flew his first operational mission in July 1943 as second pilot, in a Lancaster of 9 Squadron,
Reid was a 21-year-old acting flight lieutenant serving in 61 Squadron when he took part in the raid which led to the award of his VC.
Pressing on a further 200 miles to his target, Reid released the bombs, then set course for home. On the way back to Syerston, he saw the searchlights of RAF Shipdham, a USAAF-operated base in Norfolk. Despite being wounded and suffering from loss of blood, Reid succeeded in landing his plane - though the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft slid along the runway. The wireless operator died in Shipdham's medical centre but the rest of the crew survived.
After a period in hospital, Reid went to C Flight, 617 (Dambuster) Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa in January 1944 and flew sorties to various targets in France. On 31 July 1944, 617 Squadron was linked with 9 Squadron for a "Tallboy" deep penetration bomb attack on a V-weapon storage dump at Rilly-la-Montagne, near Rheims. As Reid released his bomb over the target at 12,000 ft, he felt his aircraft shudder under the impact of a bomb dropped by another Lancaster 6,000 ft above. The bomb ploughed through his aeroplane's
As members of his crew scrambled out, the plane went into a dive, pinning Reid to his seat. Reaching overhead, he managed to release the escape hatch panel and struggled out just as the Lancaster broke in two. He landed heavily by parachute, breaking his arm in the fall. Within an hour he was captured by a German patrol and taken prisoner. After various transfers, he ended the war in Stalag III-A prisoner of war camp at Luckenwalde, west of Berlin.
|W.O. Norman Jackson V.C. *
Norman Jackson joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1939 and originally served as a Classified Fitter IIE (engines). In January 1941, he was assigned to a Sunderland flying boat squadron based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He applied for retraining as a flight engineer and returned to England in September 1942.
On 28 July 1943, he joined No. 106 Squadron which operated Avro Lancaster bombers. Jackson completed his tour of 30 missions on 24 April 1944, but, as he had flown one sortie with a different crew, he chose to fly once more so that he and his original aircrew could finish their tour together. Jackson's 31st mission was a raid on the German ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt on the night of 26–27 April.
Having bombed the target, Jackson's Lancaster was attacked by a German night fighter and a fuel tank in the starboard wing caught fire. Jackson, already wounded from shell splinters, strapped on a parachute and equipped himself with a fire extinguisher before climbing out of the aircraft and onto the wing, whilst the aeroplane was flying at 140 miles per hour, in order to put out the fire. He gripped the air intake on the leading edge of the wing with one hand, and fought the fire with the other. The flames seared his hands, face, and clothes. The fighter returned and hit the bomber with a burst of gunfire that sent two bullets into his legs. The burst also swept him off the wing.
He fell 20,000 feet, but his smouldering and holed parachute worked well enough to save his life. He suffered further injuries upon landing, including a broken ankle, but managed to crawl to a nearby German village the next morning, where he was paraded through the street.
He spent 10 months recovering in hospital before being transferred to the Stalag IX-C prisoner of war camp. He made two escape attempts, the second of which was successful as he made contact with a unit of the US Third Army.
Jackson's exploit became known when the surviving crewmen of his bomber were released from German captivity at the end of the war. He was promoted to warrant officer and his Victoria Cross (VC) award was gazetted on 26 October 1945. When he went to Buckingham Palace to receive his VC from King George VI, he was accompanied by Leonard Cheshire who was also due to receive his on that day. Group Captain Cheshire insisted that, despite the difference in rank, they should approach the King together. Jackson remembers that Cheshire said to the King, "This chap stuck his neck out more than I did – he should get his VC first!”