by Nicolas Trudgian
|In the summer of 1942, the desperate battle to keep Malta in Allied hands is at its height. The vital Port of Valetta is the target for yet another attack by Luftwaffe JU88 bombers. Leaping to its defence from their nearby airfield at Takali come Spitfire Mk VBs of No.249 Squadron, who, in pursuit of the Bombers, have become entangled with the enemy escort fighters. These include Me109s of JG53
and Italian Air Force Re2001s of 2nd Gruppo based in Sicily. Such gallant efforts by the RAF squadrons led them to overcome seemingly impossible odds to protect this vitally strategic island. They successfully repulsed the Axis attacks and made possible the winning of the war in the Mediterranean Theatre.
|Overall size: 19¼" x 28¼"||Available in the following editions|
|150||Main edition||Signed by two RAF fighter pilots and one Italian fighter pilot||$275|
|300||Artsit Signed Ltd. edition||Signed by the artist only||$185|
|Squadron Leader Keith Lawrence||Flight Lieutenant Len Davies||General Giacomo Metellini|
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|Squadron Leader Keith Lawrence
Born in Waitara on November 25 1919. Lawrence was at Southland Boys’ High School from 1933 to 1936 and then went to work as a bank clerk in Invercargill. He enrolled in the Civil Reserve of Pilots in February 1938 and in June he successfully applied for a short service
commission in the RAF and left for England in the RMS Tainui on February 1 1939.
He began his ab initio course at 10 E&RFTS, Yatesbury on March 16, as a pupil pilot. He went on to 5 FTS, Sealand on May 28 for No 40 Course, which ran from March 30 to November 5 1939.
With training completed, Lawrence joined the newly-reformed 234 Squadron at Leconfield on November 6. The squadron then had Blenheims but began to receive Spitfires in March 1940. On May 6 he was sent to the School of Air Navigation, St Athan for No 6 Short Navigation Instructors’ Course, which ran until June 28 1940. He qualified as an Air Navigator 2nd Class, in preparation to be Squadron Navigation Officer. He rejoined 234 on June 30. Lawrence shared in the destruction of a Ju 88 on July 8, the squadron’s first victory. On July 12 he damaged a Ju 88, on August 24 he damaged a Bf 110 and on September 7 he claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and damaged a Do 17. Two days later Lawrence was posted to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch and on the 15th, his first sortie with 603, he claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and two others damaged. On October 8 1940 Lawrence was posted to 421 Flight, then forming at Hawkinge. On November 23 he damaged a Bf 110 and on a weather reconnaissance over Ramsgate on the 26th he was shot down by Bf 109s. The Spitfire disintegrated and Lawrence found himself falling. He got his parachute open, went into the sea and burst open a dye sachet, colouring the water. He was picked up by a minesweeper and taken to Ramsgate, where he was admitted to hospital, with his right arm dislocated and his right leg broken.
After convalescence at Torquay, Lawrence rejoined 421 Flight on December 4 1941, by then renumbered 91 Squadron. He was sent to 52 OTU, Aston Down for a refresher course on Spitfires. He rejoined 91 on January 10 1942 but was soon afterwards posted to HQ RAF
Mediterranean at Valetta, Malta. From there he joined 185 Squadron at Hal Far on February 17. On March 23 he shared a He 111, on April 9 damaged a Ju 88, on the 24th he damaged a Bf 109, on May 9 he got a probable Ju 87 and damaged a Bf 109, on the 10th got another probable Ju 87 and on the 19th he damaged a Mc 202. Lawrence was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on May 28 1942 and took command of 185, leading it until he returned to the UK in early August. He was posted to 52 OTU, Aston Down but moved to 57 OTU, Hawarden on September 4. He was awarded the DFC (12.9.42). In early July 1943 Lawrence went to Duxford for liaison duties with the USAAF. On October 27 he was posted to CGS, Sutton Bridge, on the Pilot Gunnery Instructors’ Training Wing. In late May 1944 Lawrence went to 28 OTU, Wymeswold, where he flew Hurricanes by day and night against Wellingtons, training air gunners. He returned to operations on February 5 1945, when he joined 124 Squadron at Manston, flying Spitfire IXs. On July 15 1945 Lawrence transferred to the RNZAF. He returned to New Zealand in late May 1946 and went on to the Reserve in September.
|Flight Lieutenant Len Davies
Davies was born on November 17 1920 went to school in Stockton on Tees. He joined 608 Squadron, AAF about July 1939, as an Aircrafthand (808429). Called up on August 24, he remustered as an Airman u/t Pilot. With training completed, he went to 7 OTU, Hawarden on July 1 1940. After converting to Hurricanes, he joined 151 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on July 15.
He made a crash-landing at Eastchurch on August 28, following a combat over the Thames Estuary. He was wounded and did not fly with 151 again until November 6 1940. On December 13 Davies was posted to the Middle East. He arrived at Malta in a Sunderland
from the Middle East on January 30 1941 and joined 261 Squadron at Ta Kali. On February 4 he damaged a Ju 88 and on May 9 a Ju 87. He returned to the Middle East later in the month. Commissioned in December 1942, Davies was released from the RAF in 1946, as a Flight Lieutenant.
General Giacomo Metellini
|Keith Lawrence and Len Davies biographies reproduced with kind permission from the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. ©
Not to be reproduced without written permission.