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Somerset artist celebrates anniversary of the Dambusters


On the anniversary of the famous Dambuster raid a Somerset artist, Mike Fuller has stepped in to raise money for 617 Squadron Association which keeps alive the history of the famous squadron

Mike has produced two limited edition prints and for every one sold a donation will be made to the Association which keeps alive the history of the famous squadron which has been recently reformed and will provide F.35 jets to Britain’s latest aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Mike who lives near Minehead said: “ For many years I was an aircraft illustrator with BAC at Brooklands and used to walk by replicas of the grand slam and tall boy bombs that 617 squadron used on their famous raids.

“Since moving to Somerset I have turned my technical illustrator skills into producing highly detailed prints of famous aircraft, ships and motor cars.

“I am particularly proud that I have been given to opportunity to produce prints of Johnny Johnson’s Aircraft T-Tommy which was involved in the famous raid and he has even signed a few which we will be offering over the next few weeks.”

The second print that Mike has produced is of Laurence (Benny) Goodman’s Lancaster, which attacked the Arnsberg viaduct on March 19th, 1945.

“Benny has signed this print so to have two famous veterans endorsing my work is fantastic,” he said.

The Chairman of 617 Squadron Association, Wg Cdr Andy Walters MBE DFC said: “Mike has provided two stunning prints of these two aircraft which were shown to the veterans at our anniversary dinner at Woodhall Spa on Saturday and they were both delighted. The accuracy is truly amazing and I am sure that they will become collector’s items.”

The artist-signed prints which are limited to 1,000 of each and include the association’s “dams” logo can be obtained directly from Mike and money from each will be donated to 617 Squadron Association.

A4 prints are selling for £25.00 plus posting and packing and A3 for £35. Details of this very limited edition of prints signed by both Mike and the pilots will be announced shortly.

Anyone wishing to purchase either of the two prints should contact; or call +44 (0) 1643 821782 and leave a message.


No 617 Squadron was formed at Scampton on 23rd March 1943, under the command of by Wg Cdr Guy Gibson specifically to undertake an operation to breach the Ruhr Dams using Barnes Wallis’ Upkeep weapon – the bouncing bomb. After intensive training, the Mohne and Eder dams were breached on the night of 16/17 May 1943, in a spectacular low-level operation resulting in the loss of 8 of the 19 participating aircraft.

Following this success, the Squadron was retained as a specialist-bombing unit.  After a costly low-level attack on the Dortmund Ems Canal in September 1943, Canal command of the Squadron passed to Wg Cdr Leonard Cheshire.  Under his leadership, the Squadron mounted highly destructive precision raids on targets in occupied territory, using 12,000lb blast bombs.  Using Mosquito aircraft to mark targets, new and even more accurate bombing techniques were pioneered.

On D-Day, the Squadron performed a  vital role in deceiving German forces as to the true destination of the invasion fleet.

Precision attacks continued with Barnes Wallis’ 12,000lb  “Tallboy” deep penetration bomb, targeting a railway tunnel, U-boat pens, and large V-weapon sites. After completing his 100th operation WgCdr Cheshire relinquished his command to Wg Cdr “Willie” Tait. The autumn of 1944 saw attention turn to the German battleship Tirpitz, which was finally sunk after three operations, one being mounted from Russia.

Dams again featured on the target list, and in October Tallboys dropped from low level breached the KembsBarrage.

The spring of 1945  saw an addition to the Squadron’s arsenal, with the advent of the 22,000  lb Grand Slam. Under the command of Gp Capt Fauquier RCAF the Squadron’s specialist skills and weapons were exploited against railway viaducts and naval targets, culminating in a final operation against Hitler’s Berchtesgaden retreat on April 25, 1945.

Japan’s surrender precluded the Squadron’s participation in Tiger Force, Bomber Command’s contribution to the war in the Far East, and in January 1946 the Squadron was dispatched to India, returning to the UK after four months to commence re-equipment with Avro Lincolns.

The following year saw a goodwill tour of the United States, involving the first direct crossing of the Atlantic by an RAF squadron. January 1952 saw the Squadron re-equip with Canberras. After 10 years of peace, the Squadron again saw action in 1955 with operations against the Communist Terrorists in Malaya.

The Squadron disbanded at the end of 1955 and re-formed on 1 May 1958, again at Scampton, equipped with the Avro Vulcan. As part of V-Force the Squadron’s offensive capability was enhanced in 1963 when it became the first Squadron to become operational with Blue Steel. Reverting back to a low-level conventional role during the 1970s the Squadron’s Vulcans continued to be a familiar sight in the Lincolnshire skies until the Squadron disbanded in December 1981.

Reformed as a Tornado unit at Marham in 1983 the Squadron soon re-confirmed its precision bombing capabilities and in 1984 became the first non-American unit to win not only the Le May but also the Meyer trophies in competition against its American counterparts.

In 1990 the Squadron sent detachments to the Middle East for what was to become the Gulf War 1, where it introduced TIALD laser guidance. After the cease-fire the Squadron crews continued to serve in this theatre, patrolling the Southern “No-Fly” zone. The onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 saw seen the Squadron operational again and on 21 March 2003, exactly 60 years after its formation, the Squadron again had the Honour of introducing the RAF’s latest weapon into operational use – “Storm Shadow” – a conventionally armed stand-off missile capable of precision targeting over a range of up to 175 miles. From 2004 until the Squadron was disbanded in 2014, it was in active Service in Iraq and Afghanistan upholding the Squadron’s enviable reputation for determination and accuracy in the face of fierce resistance.  No 617Squadron will reform in 2018 as the UK’s first Joint Strike Fighter (Lightning II) Squadron at RAF Marham.


The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience


I wanted to alert readers of my blog to this travelling exhibition, which you may or may not have heard about.

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience is a travelling exhibition that tells the story of Australia’s involvement in the First World War, and the ensuing Century of Service of Australia’s armed forces in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australia has been involved.

It has already visited some cities but quite a few opportunities remain on the schedule to see it:

Adelaide Mar 2016
Tamworth Apr – May 2016
Toowoomba May 2016
Brisbane Jun 2016
Mackay Jul 2016
Cairns Aug 2016
Townsville Sep 2016
Darwin Oct 2016
Port Augusta Nov 2016
Perth Nov – Dec 2016
Bunbury Jan 2017
Kalgoorlie Jan – Feb 2017
Geelong Feb 2017
Orange Mar 2017
Newcastle Mar 2017
Sydney Apr 2017

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience follows a chronological timeline spanning the period from pre-First World War Australia to the present day, using a mix of visuals, artefacts, audio and film to engage visitors.

An important feature of the experience will be the curated ‘local stories’ zone. These zones will be created with the local communities and will contribute a legacy for each region. The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience is the flagship community event of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary national programme.

Find out more about the Anzac Centenary national programme at this link.

RACS launches Anzac Surgeons of Gallipoli Exhibition

You might have noticed I haven’t been very active in the past week …. you can blame it on the ‘flu.

I thought this might be of interest – the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) will this evening launch the Anzac Surgeons of Gallipoli Exhibition and an accompanying book that commemorates the role of Australian and New Zealand surgeons and medical students who later became surgeons, in the Gallipoli campaign.

The Gallipoli Exhibition features a mock-up of a casualty clearing station in the foyer of the College offices in Melbourne, making reference to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, which remained on Anzac Beach throughout the campaign.

The College Exhibition will feature WW1 artefacts, some borrowed and others from the College’s collections, such as surgical kits and instruments, original stretchers and newspapers from 1915.

It also includes Captain Poate’s map of Gallipoli and Archibald Watson’s surgical diaries.

Captain Hugh Poate, an enlisted Sydney surgeon, was posted to the 1st Field Ambulance, where at the beginning of the campaign he worked on transports ferrying the wounded from Gallipoli to Egypt.

Archibald Watson was a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Adelaide and was the Chief Pathologist in Egypt during the Gallipoli campaign.

The history of the campaign is well documented in the exhibition by museum posters detailing medical arrangements, information on ‘Black’ ships, hospitals on Lemnos and Egypt, as well as information on wounds and infectious diseases.

The accompanying book entitled Anzac Surgeons of Gallipoli, contains 128 biographies written by Australian and New Zealand RACS Fellows and College staff and was edited by the College’s archivist Elizabeth Milford and the incoming RACS President, David Watters.

According to Professor Watters, the book tells the story of the 1915 campaign fought in the Dardanelles by Great Britain, its Empire and France on behalf of their ally, Russia.

“It talks about the medical arrangements, how war wounds were managed almost 100 years ago and is packed full of biographies of the surgeons who served in the Anzac forces on hospital ships and military bases,” Professor Watters said.

 The exhibition will be open to the public during standard RACS museum open hours from 10am-4pm Monday to Thursday at 250-290 Spring Street, East Melbourne, Victoria.

Sights and Sounds of World War I – new website with rare footage


NZ Troops parade in Auckland – World War 1

I thought this sounded interesting – even though it’s not a book.

I received a press release today announcing that a new website exploring the sights and sounds of World War 1 has been produced in partnership by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision in New Zealand.

A curated selection of hundreds of rare films, songs, recorded interviews, documents and photos from the era have been expertly restored and digitised for the website, titled Anzac: Sights and Sounds of World War I .

New content will be added regularly during the Centenary period (2015 – 2019). Initial highlights now available on Sights and Sounds include:

  • The First Troopships: Departure (1914): Departure of the Australian Imperial Force from Albany, Western Australia.
  • Heroes of Gallipoli (1915): Rare footage of the Gallipoli campaign (loaned from the Australian War Memorial).
  • The Exploits of the Emden (1914/1928): Directed by Ken G Hall, this film combines documentary and dramatised incidents relating to the Sydney-Emden naval battle.
  • Cartoons of the Moment (c1915-1916): Australian sketch artist and caricaturist Harry Julius provides a satirical commentary of World War I.
  • If England Wants a Hand, Well, Here It Is (1915): A song performed by Harrison Latimer.
  • Charity Bazaars in Martin Place (c1916): Fundraising for the war effort in Martin Place, Sydney.
  • The Landing of the Troops in Egypt (c1916): A musical and dramatic recreation aimed to encourage support for the war effort.
  • Mrs Barnard (1965): The gargantuan gingernut-baking efforts to fundraise for the war effort.
  • A range of oral histories from soldiers who served at Gallipoli talking vividly about their experiences, the hardships they faced, as well as some of the lighter moments.

ANZAC Tributes: War Memorial exhibition coming to Liverpool

Liverpool City ANZAC commemoration

Liverpool City ANZAC commemoration

Liverpool City commemorates 100 years of ANZAC

Next up in Liverpool’s program of ANZAC exhibitions and events is the launch of ‘A Camera on Gallipoli’, a travelling exhibition from the Australian War Memorial. This is an exhibition of photographs of Sir Charles Ryan who took photos during his time at Gallipoli during World War I, capturing the day to day lives of the ANZAC troops. To check out all of the Liverpool commemorative activities, go to

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