Mk IX Spitfires of 126 Squadron, led by Wing Commander Pete Brothers, race back to RAF Culmhead after a low-level attack on enemy transport in Normandy, June 1944.
Like the Messerschmitt 109, its great adversary throughout almost six years of aerial combat, the Spitfire was a fighter par excellence. Good as many other types may have been, these two aircraft became symbols of the two opposing air forces they represented. Their confrontation, which began in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, continued without interruption until the last days of World War Two.
From an air force teetering on extinction in the dark days of 1940, by the summer of 1944 the pilots of RAF Fighter Command had fought their way back to become top dogs. And when the invasion of northern France came, they swept over the beaches in force, cutting deep into enemy occupied territory, hammering the enemy in the air and on the ground.
Key to this air superiority was the supreme performance of the Spitfire, its ability to out-fly the Luftwaffe’s best, and the leadership of the pilots who had survived the early air battles of the war. Among the best was 26 year old Pete Brothers, by 1944 a highly successful and experienced fighter pilot commanding his own Wing. Having fought through the battles of France and Britain, now with a clutch of air victories to his credit, in 1944 he took command of first the Exeter Wing, and then the Culmhead Wing, ideally placed to support the coming invasion of Normandy.
Nick Trudgian’s striking painting recreates a typical scene as Mk IX Spitfires of 126 Squadron, led by Wing Commander Pete Brothers, race back to RAF Culmhead after a low-level attack on enemy transport in Normandy. The Culmhead Spitfire Wing flew constant armed attacks in support of the invasion from D-Day, June 6 1944, till the first improvised strips were established in France a few weeks following the invasion.
This beautiful aviation print, contrasting the frenetic pace of war with a restful English coastal landscape, evokes the memory of a legendary fighter aircraft that, flown by gallant pilots, helped change the course of history. Prints are signed by Pete Brothers and two other pilots who flew Spitfires in combat during World War II.
Each print of BACK FROM NORMANDY is hand signed by THREE highly distinguished pilots who flew Spitfires during the summer of 1944.
Air Commodore PETE BROTHERS
Lieutenant General Baron MIKE DONNET
Squadron Leader ARTHUR “JOE” LEIGH