“…night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate, careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers…”
With these words the British Prime Minister reminded the House of Commons of the heroic role undertaken by the young men of RAF Bomber Command during World War II as they set out across the North Sea to wreak havoc upon the enemy. And the cost they bore – for the odds of a safe return were, at best, marginal.
One aircraft above all came to symbolize the valiant deeds that these young men undertook – the mighty Avro Lancaster. Introduced in early 1942, it quickly became the backbone of Bomber Command and it wasn’t long before a score of airfields across the east of England reverberated to the sound of its four mighty Merlin engines.
Almost Home recreates a scene that was familiar to anyone in Bomber Command. A lone 9 Squadron Lancaster, separated from the main force during a punishing mission to Germany in late 1944, returns to safety. The weary crew are no doubt relieved to see familiar fields beneath them as they approach their base at RAF Bardney. 9 Squadron had received their Lancasters in September 1942 and became a leading unit within Bomber Command. Working on operations alongside 617 Squadron, they specialized in dropping Barnes Wallis’s famous 12,000 lb ‘Tallboy’ bombs, including the successful mission to sink the German battleship Tirpitz.
This previously unreleased work was commissioned by a crew member of the featured Lancaster in 1984, the decade that saw artist Robert Taylor shoot to international fame as the world’s most widely collected aviation artist. A timeless and poignant classic, Almost Home has been selected from the Military Gallery Archives to commemorate the Centenary of the Royal Air Force.
The world’s oldest independent air force, the RAF was formed towards the end of WWI on 1 April 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create what was then the largest air force in the world. Since then the RAF has played a significant role in British military history.
Every print has been signed by highly respected veterans who flew with Bomber Command during WWII, including two who flew with 9 Squadron, creating a historic collector’s edition to commemorate this important anniversary.
THE ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Joining Robert Taylor in signing every print are two highly-regarded RAF Bomber Command veterans who flew Lancasters on operations over Europe during World War II, including a Rear Gunner who served with 9 Squadron:
Warrant Officer HARRY IRONS DFC
Flight Lieutenant RUSSELL “RUSTY” WAUGHMAN DFC AFC LD’H
THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION, ARTIST PROOFS & REMARQUES
Each print in these historic eight signature editions is additionally signed by a further six distinguished RAF Bomber Command veterans including a Mid-Upper Gunner who served with 9 Squadron:
Warrant Officer KEN JOHNSON LD’H
Warrant Officer RUPERT NOYE DFC
Warrant Officer CECIL CHANDLER LD’H
Warrant Officer HAROLD KIRBY LD’H
Warrant Officer REG PAYNE
Flying Officer VIC FARMER
THE BOMBER COMMAND TRIBUTE EDITION
With original pencil drawing and seventeen signatures!
With all the signatures of the Collector’s Edition, each print is issued with a specially commissioned original pencil drawing by Robert Taylor which has been signed by five highly distinguished veterans who flew with RAF Bomber Command during WWII. Each drawing is conservation matted to include the original signatures of a further four famous Bomber Command veterans, including its legendary Commander in Chief, Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris:
Flight Lieutenant KEN TRENT DFC*
Flight Lieutenant GEORGE DUNN DFC MID
Warrant Officer FRANK TILLEY
Squadron Leader DOUGLAS JOSS MBE
Squadron Leader GEORGE JOHNSON MBE DFM
The matted signatures:
Marshal of the RAF SIR ARTHUR T. HARRIS BT, GCB OBE DD
Squadron Leader RICHARD “TERRY” KEARNS DSO DFC DFM
Flight Lieutenant ERNEST WEBB DFC
Flight Lieutenant ROBERT SOUTER