Branch Art Gallery
Welcome to our art pages. In this index, there is a mixture of art work from various artists. The graphic on the right depicts a modified version of the original 'Dam Busters' poster and used on this website to promote a special screening of the movie in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund some years ago. Seemed a shame to waste it!
In February 2015, the Webmaster received an email from Jack Burgess and which introduced me to the stunning art world of Rich Thistle, a Canadian artist of doubtless talent. He had just received a full size print painted by Rich Thistle and he asked for permission to use it on the website. With all permissions granted, this seemed the ideal place for it to appear.
Upon seeing this and after visiting the Rich Thistle website, I was duly impressed by the artist's work and not just those related to aircraft. Colour, light and shadow: simply outstanding and impressive! Definitely worthy of a link on our regular links page and at the bottom of this article.
I'll let Jack set the scene in his own words......
It’s strange how old customs die hard. All through my social work and education career none of my colleagues knew I was ex-RAF aircrew. It was only by 1985 when I joined the Aircrew Association, that I felt it was safe to admit to my past service. That’s what becomes of flying SOE special ops and careless talk does cost lives, especially in the Far East where it was impossible to have ‘safe houses’ and escape routes as in Europe. This letter is not necessarily for publication, but I simply feel I must share the massive surprise I received when receiving a fine print of a Canadian artist’s painting recently. The full-size print of a B24 Liberator dropping men and/or supplies is NOT my own 160 Squadron, but it is so similar it accurately reminded me of what actually took place.
This is identical to what we did, only 357 Squadron planes were based in North-East India; whereas we flew from a Sri Lanka jungle airstrip. This meant we had to cross the Indian Ocean to reach Singapore, Malaya, Thailand or Burma on every operation.
If this had been our plane in the painting, we would have already been airborne for about nine hours to get to that position having passed through three enemy fighter bases (Sabang) in north tip of Sumatra then having safely dropped our agents/guerrillas and supplies we would have to get back through fighter planes again and another nine hour flight to get back to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), all without refuelling.
The full-size art print was sent by the son and daughter of my wireless-operator in my first RCAF crew. Their dad is now deceased, but aircrew families bond for ever. We all keep in touch with our skipper who lives in Toronto and is now 98 years of age. Unknown to me, they had bought this fine art print from the artist (a link to his website is posted below) named at the top of this letter) I am still so surprised to receive it.
Having been medically discharged from the RAF as a result of undertaking those long-range ops, I overcame all the after effects by becoming interested in recording the aircrew experiences of others. It seems to have worked because I can now discuss the events quite freely.
Next time you visit, I shall let you see the print.
Footnote - A detachment of four 357 Squadron crews was also based in Ceylon and carried out similar SD Ops to 160 Squadron at the same time. In fact, Walter who commissioned the painting was a member of F/L G. Smith's 357 crew. Sadly, on 6th June 1945, another 357 crew flying from Minneriya never returned from an SD operation.