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"Flying Fortress !"

Eighth Airforce Flying Fortress over Pin Mill, Suffolk


A Limited Edition of 850
Image Size 12" x 22" (305mm X 560mm)
Price £40 inc p+p

The 91st BG of the U.S Eighth Air Force arrived in England in the Autumn of 1942. The 'Ragged Irregulars' as they were known, were based briefly at Kimbolton, but when their heavy aircraft began breaking up the hastily built runways they thankfully exchanged that damp and bleak station for the more comfortable accommodation offered at Bassingbourn - where they remained throughout the war. The first group to fly 100 missions, they did it at a cost - also losing the most aircraft and crews.

By the summer of 1944 the familiar olive drab and grey aircraft of the 'Mighty Eighth' were giving way to those with the new natural finish, which for many represents the definitive 'Flying Fortress'.

The first crews to be equipped with the shiny new bombers were apprehensive that the bright metal and colourful markings would make them more of a target, and many units waited until they had enough of the new look aircraft to fly a formation. It was an unfounded fear, but the crew of this 91st BG Fortress could be forgiven for believing it to be true.

Flak over the target finished the port inner engine, and the resulting fire burned away part of the stabiliser before being extinguished. An encounter with a Luftwaffe fighter as they crossed the enemy coast added to the damage. A cannon shell made a mess of the tail, and machine gun bullets riddled the fuselage, damaging both electrical and hydraulic systems and causing the undercarriage to drop.With pressure falling in another two engines, and losing altitude all the way, they crossed the Shotley Peninsula and, with little chance of making it back to their own airfield, a new course is plotted for the emergency landing strip at Woodbridge.

Eight miles south west of Woodbridge lies Pin Mill. Well known for its boat building and sail making, this tiny waterside hamlet on the bank of the River Orwell was immortalised in Arthur Ransome's book 'We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea', first published in 1937, in which John, Susan, Roger and the unfortunately named Titty, the children first introduced in 'Swallows And Amazons', begin a new adventure when they stay at 'Alma Cottage' - the end house in the charming pink-fronted terrace.

The real life inhabitants of Pin Mill were made up largely of barge-men and boat builders, and a group of these are hard at work refitting a Thames sailing barge which is drawn up on the hard. This barge was one of the armada of small ships that sailed for Dunkirk years before, and is now employed by the War Department.

A fishing smack heads for the sea, and the Ipswich bus gets ready to depart from the courtyard of the Butt and Oyster, a Public House where, at high water, a boat can be rowed beneath the windows, and a pint enjoyed without the need to ever set foot on dry land.

Pin Mill appears very much the same today as it did in 1944, though the trees in the background are taller now, and the boat house to the left of the pub has given way to a building of more substance but considerably less charm.

I have tried to make the scene as authentic as possible, but there is always some piece of information that you find out too late - there are, I am told, eleven species of wildfowl and waders to be found in the Pin Mill area. Obviously the locals have been supplementing their meat ration, which is why only seagulls are to be seen in this painting!

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

Tel: 01737 555727