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Squadron Salute

Bob Beardsley in a Mark V Spitfire of 41 Squadron over flies a comrade's wedding

41 Squadron Mark 5 Spitifires salute a comrade

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

Countersigned by Bob Beardsley D.F.C. 41 Sq. pilot of EB-B and G. H. 'Ben' Bennions D.F.C
Price £50 inc p+p

Countersigned by Bob Beardsley and Ben Bennions and with three further 41 Sq. pilot signatures.
Cyril Bamberger D.F.C. Peter Brown D.F.C and Norman M. Brown
Price £65 inc p+p

(See bottom of page for details of pilots)


They had first met in the church, and from a few shy words exchanged in the shelter of the lych-gate, their friendship had grown. An exchange of gifts at Easter, long walks across the fields on still summer days, and then, at the the end of the Harvest Supper, a kiss.

For either of them to leave the village was unthinkable; family roots, centuries old, bound them to that corner of Sussex - but it hadn't been so long ago that similar roots had been wrenched up and sacrificed to a World War - and before many more harvests were to pass it would happen again.

1939. The blackout. Rationing. Talk of enlisting - fatherly advice, motherly concern, and later, as he boarded the train bound for town and the recruiting station, a lover's tears. But he returned that evening, and for a few weeks there was little change. Then one early autumn morning came a brown manilla envelope.

Flying school, and with youth on his side, selection to fighter training. Letters home, photographs exchanged. A spot of leave, but seldom long enough for the trip back. Days in the sky, nights in the mess. Beer on the floor and footprints on the ceiling. Passing out parade and a posting to the Operational Training Unit, then some weeks later, to a Squadron. Tangmere!

Walking back into the village on that August afternoon he'd felt different. Proud? Certainly. But then she'd stepped from a shop and run toward him and suddenly he knew. A phrase from the first film they'd ever watched together came to him . . . "Top of the world, Ma!"

Weddings had, of necessity, become quickly arranged affairs, and just a few weeks later they were standing side by side beneath the same vaulted roof under which they'd first met, to be declared 'Man and Wife'. To the rest of the village it was the culmination of a romance that had been long in fermentation, and they drank deeply of the event, welcoming the momentary release from the tensions that two years of war had brought to their small community. In the not-too-distant future the names of many of those present would adorn the simple memorial at the cross-roads, joining those who had fallen a generation earlier, but for one day at least such worries could be set aside, and delight taken in a true ‘village’ wedding.

Unlike our happy couple, Bob Beardsley received only two days and one night's leave when he married during the Battle of Britain, but by the time he was flying Mk5 Spitfire EB-B in 1941, things had eased up a little, and three days was the norm.

Bob joined the Volunteer Reserve in 1938 as a Sgt Pilot. Narrowly missing selection for conversion to Bombers, he served with 610 Sq. flying Spitfires throughout that momentous summer of 1940. Chasing a pack of Me109's back across the channel he suddenly found himself alone in the pursuit, and discretion being the better part of valour, he decided it was wiser to give up the chase. Unfortunately the disappearance of the rest of the flight hadn't gone unnoticed by the Germans who quickly turned after him and managed to put a cannon shell into the fuselage, which shot through the cockpit, taking the throttle control from his hand before smashing into the engine. With flames engulfing the front end of the plane, he managed to crash land onto the runway at Hawkinge, jumping on to the grass from the still moving aircraft.

Barely a month later he was back at Hawkinge again -having brought in another disabled aircraft. As he stood checking himself over and looking at the crashed plane he was approached by the Group Captain in charge of the station who offered him a mug of tea and said in a matter-of-fact voice, "I do hope you aren't going to make a habit of this, old chap!"

Posted to 41 Sq. in September 1940, Bob flew EB-B until leaving the squadron in October 1941.

The Signatures

R. A. Beardsley. D.F.C

Bob Beardsley joined the Volunteer Reserve in 1938 and served with 610 Sq. from July 1940 until September 1940. From there he was posted to 41 Sq. In this painting he is shown flying Mark 5 Spitfire EB-B which he kept until his transfer to Spitfire Instructor at Grangemouth, Scotland in October 1941.

September 1942 saw him posted to 93 Sq. which was forming for the invasion of North Africa, but following an accident while pulling a pilot from an upturned aircraft in Algiers, he was invalided home with a double crush fracture of the spine. After a period of convalescence, he was once again posted to a Spitfire Training Unit, spending the following nine months as an instructor.

July 1944 saw him posted to Hornchurch as a Flight Commander from where he was transferred back to Tangmere in preparation for D-Day.

Demobbed after the war, he returned to the R.A.F three years later as a Flight Commander on Meteors. Later years saw him in various non-flying postings, and at the age of 50 he retired to spend the last years of his working life as a teacher in Woodbridge, Suffolk where he lives to this day.

G. H. 'Ben' Bennions D.F.C.

Ben joined the R.A.F in January 1929 and was posted to 41 Sq. in 1936 - flying with that squadron until seriously injured during the closing stages of the Battle of Britain.

Involved in a skirmish with Me109’s over the Sussex countryside, he was shot down, losing an eye and sustaining substantial cannon shell wounds. Bailing out at 30,000 feet he landed in a field where a foal was in the process of being born. Found by the farmer and his wife who, supposing that he did not have long to live - and not wanting him bleeding all over the house - carried him to a nearby barn.

He survived and was taken to the Queen Victoria Hospital at East Grinstead where he was treated by the pioneering Sir Archibald McIndoe, becoming in the process one of the founding members of the ‘Guinea Pig Club’. The foal was subsequently named ‘Bennions’ Spitfire’.

‘The Caterpillar Club’ was an organisation formed by the Irvine Parachute Company, membership being limited to those whose lives had been saved by their product.

Ben is the sole surviving Battle of Britain pilot who is a member of both.

Recovering from his injuries, Ben returned to duty as a controller, and while in Algiers he accepted the invitation to fly Spitfires with the American Airforce who were gearing up for the invasion of North Africa.

After the war he too went into the teaching profession, specialising in woodwork and metalwork as well as swimming. He now lives in Catterick. Yorkshire.

Cyril Bamberger D.F.C

Born in 1919, Cyril Bamberger joined 610 Sq. AuxAF in 1936 on ground staff. Accepted for pilot training in 1938 with the RAFVR, he flew Spitfires with 61 Sq. throughout the majority of the Battle of Britain. Posted on the 17th September 1940, he fought the final stages of the battle with 41Sq. based at Hornchurch, downing a Bf 109 on the 5th October.

1941 saw him involved in the defence of Malta with 261 Sq. destroying a Ju 87 on the 18th January and another on the 19th. Volunteering for North Africa, he joined 93 Sq. before moving on to 243 Sq. as flight Commander, destroying a Ju 87 on May 25th 1944 and shooting down a Bf 109 over Italy.

Released in 1946, he was recalled to the R.A.F for the war in Korea, finally retiring in 1959.

Peter Brown A.F.C

Born in 1919, Peter joined the R.A.F in 1938 and flew with 611 Sq. during the Battle of Britain until he was posted to 41 Sq. in September 1940, downing a Bf 109on the 20th October.

He remained with this squadron until June 1941 when he was promoted to Flight Commander with 61 Sq. OTU Heston.

Norman M. Brown

Born in Edinburgh in 1919 Norman joined the R.A.F Voluntary reserve early in 1939 and was commissioned as Pilot Officer to No7 OTU in June 1940. Posted to 611 Sq. in August, and with the Battle of Britain still raging, he flew Spitfires with them until posted to 41 Sq. based at Hornchurch in the September of 1940.

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

Tel: 01737 555727