D’Arcy Collection. Paintings and Prints by Bill Perring. Aviation, Landscapes, Marine, and Figurative.




What's New




Mary Kelly

Scrap Book
Contact Me


Counting Them In

A Hurricane squadron returns to its airfield at dusk


A Limited Edition of 850
Image Size 11" x 22" (278mm X 560mm)
Price £40 inc p+p

Countersigned by Sqn Ldr Robert 'Bob' Doe. DSO DFC. Group Captain Dennis David. CBE DFC AFC.
Sqn Ldr Laurence Arthur Thorogood. DFC and H. E. 'Tap' Tappin. DFC.
Price £65 inc p+p

(See bottom of page for details of Pilots)


Counting them out and counting them back in - a practice as old as aerial combat itself, and for the inhabitants of this South of England village, just one more daily ritual.

It is the summer of 1941, and the Hurricane squadron based at the nearby airfield are engaged in the highly dangerous ‘Channel Stop’ operations. They have been luckier than many over the past weeks, but casualties have still been high and the returning numbers often short.

Although not acquiring the official title ‘Channel Stop’ until 1941, the sorties began toward the end of 1940 with the intention of paralysing the movement of enemy shipping along the Dutch and French coasts.

A hazardous occupation to begin with, it became increasingly so as the Germans took to defending their convoys with growing numbers of flak vessels. Often just converted trawlers, these ships could put up a tremendous barrage against the attacking Spitfires and Hurricanes, many of which were armed with nothing more than machine guns and cannons.

Not that this concerns the majority of boys engaged in an impromptu cricket match. The drone of returning Hurricanes has long since become an everyday part of their lives and little attention is spared from the more pressing task - cramming in a few more overs before bedtime.

For the adults it is a different matter. Some merely count the aircraft out, then count them back in again, shaking their heads sadly when the numbers fail to tally and speculating over the success of each ‘Op’ as they queue at the shops or gather in the smoky atmosphere of the local pub.

But for others it is a far more personal vigil, with specific identification letters being sought as proof that a loved one has returned.

On the far side of the green the aristocratic wife of the Squadron Leader hears the approaching aircraft and comes to the gate. It is time her son was in bed and she calls to him, trying to maintain the proper reserve she feels is expected - yet despite these best intentions, her eyes are drawn to the sky as she searches anxiously for her husband’s return.

By the forge, a blonde girl in a blue dress shows complete disregard for the convention of the ‘stiff upper lip’, waving and jumping up and down with all the exuberance of youth as she catches sight of ‘her’ plane.

It is a tense time, but at last the final aircraft comes into view, damaged but still flying. The ‘Op’ has been a complete success and on this warm summer evening there are only smiles and waves as the full squadron makes a low pass over the village .

For some, though, this evening homecoming does not mark the end of the day’s worry, but rather the beginning. At the edge of the pond a woman looks up from helping her children to sail their boat. She too counts them in, feeling happy and thankful for the safe return of each pilot - but her own husband is on bombers and she is only too aware that with the coming of night, his work is just about to begin ...

The Signatures

Sqn Ldr Robert ‘Bob’ Doe. DSO DFC

Born in Reigate, Surrey in 1920, Bob Doe joined the R.A.F in January 1939, going to 234 Sqn. that November, and remaining with them through the first half of the Battle of Britain.

His first victories came on August 15 when he shot down one Bf 110 and shared another - but these were merely the first of many. The 18th saw a Bf 109 downed and another damaged. The 21st brought a shared Ju 88, followed by another Bf 109 on the 26th. Three Bf 109s fell to him on September 4, with another on the 5th. On the 6th he destroyed a Bf 109 and damaged three Do 17s with a He 111 added to the score the following day.

Transferred to 238 Sqn. in late September, his success continued with a He 111 on the 30th, a Bf 109 on October 1, and a Ju 88 on the 7th.

Acclaimed as one of the top scorers of the B.O.B, with 14 victories and two shared, his luck finally failed him on October 10 when he was wounded in the shoulder and leg and forced to bale out over Brownsea Island, his aircraft crashing near Corfe Castle. Admitted to Poole Hospital, he was unable to rejoin the squadron until the end of December - But still worse was to come.

During a night flight on Jan 3 1941 his engine failed. Gliding down, he managed a forced landing, but his harness broke on impact and he was thrown forward, smashing his face against the reflector sight and breaking his arm. Placed under the care of plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, it took twenty-two operations before Bob Doe could return to duty.

Bob saw out the war with several squadrons including a time on Mustangs, and in 1943, Hurricane fighter-bomber ops on the Burma front. He retired for the R.A.F in 1966 and now lives near Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Group Captain Dennis David. CBE DFC AFC.

September 1939 saw Dennis David with 87 Sqn. where he claimed his first success on Dec 2, attacking and damaging a He 111.

A blistering series of victories were heralded by the launch of the German blitzkrieg on May 10 1940, with David claiming a He 111 and a Do 17 as well as a share in a Do 17. The next day a Ju 87 and a Do 17 fell to him and on the 12th he added another He 111. On the 14th he shot down at least one He 111, and followed that with a Bf 109 and possibly two others on the 16th. The 18th saw only damage to two Bf 109s, but on the 19th his score was a Bf 110, a shared He 111 and a probable Bf 109 and Bf 110.

87 Sqn. was withdrawn on the 22nd May 1940, going to Church Fenton to refit, but he was soon back in the thick of it. On August 11 he claimed a Bf 109 and a Ju 88. On the 15th a Ju 87. The 25th a Ju 88 and a Bf 109 and on the 15th September a He 111.

Posted to 213 Sqn. at Tangmere on October 16 he shot down a Ju 99 on the 19th before moving to 152 Sqn. as a Flight Commander.

Subsequent postings included 59 O.T.U and 55 O.T.U as chief instructor. July 1943 saw him commanding 89 Sqn. a Beaufighter night-fighter unit, and 1944 as Sector Commander and Base Commander before being promoted to Acting Group Captain and appointed Air Adviser to the Commander of the 15th Indian Corps at Arakan, Burma. He retired from the R.A.F in 1967.

Sqn Ldr Laurence Arthur Thorogood. DFC

An engineering apprentice with the R.A.F.V.R in 1938, Laurence Thorogood was called to full-time service at the outset of the war, joining 87 Sqn. at Church Fenton on June 14 1940, flying with them throughout the Battle of Britain and destroying a Ju 88 on August 25th.

In 1941 he shared in the downing of a Do 18, and later that year was commissioned, leaving 87 Sqn in April 1942 to serve as a Judge’s Marshal before going on a Specialist Armament Officer’s Course prior to a posting as OC of the gunnery flight at Poona, India.

Further service all over the world followed, including postings as Flight Commander with 9 (IAF) Sqn. at Comilla, a spell on Spitfires with 607 Sqn, and command of 273 Sqn. on Ramree Island and Mingaladon.

H. E. ‘Tap’ Tappin. DFC

Having begun flying as a peacetime N.C.O with the R.A.F.V.R in 1937, the outbreak of war saw ‘Tap’ as an instructor at Cambridge where he received his commission in December 1940.

Posted briefly to 52 O.T.U (Hurricane) situated at Debden in 1941, he went on to 3 Sqn. at Martlesham Heath, becoming Flight Commander in March 1942.

In September 1942, 534 Sqn were involved in the Turbinlite Project and it was to this Sqn. that ‘Tap’ was posted as Flight Commander.

Turbinlite operations were flown in three aircraft groups consisting of an American twin engined bomber, the Douglas Boston (renamed Havoc for night intruder duties) carrying a powerful searchlight in the nose, and two Hurricanes flying on each beam.

With no effective nightfighters at that stage of the war, it was proposed that the Boston would illuminate enemy aircraft for the Hurricanes to dispose of, but it was a generally unsuccessful tactic, and with the development of airborne radar, the project was abandoned in 1943.

‘Tap’ went on to serve with 157 Sqn (Mosquito) at Castle Camps, 51 O.T.U at Cranfield and Twinwood Farm, near Bedford, 334 (Special Duties) Wing at Brindisi, Southern Italy, and finally 256 Sqn. (Mosquito).

For all enquiries regarding these prints please contact:
Bill Perring
D'Arcy Collection
8 Marlpit Lane

Tel: 01737 555727