Buffalo by Robert Tomlin, Bristol Beaufighter Flown By Wing Commander Ken Gatward.
This Buffalo by Robert Tomlin print, depicts the Beaufighter EE-M L2451, the personal aircraft of Wing Commander “later Group Captain” Ken Gatwood DSO, DFC and Bar of 404 Royal Canadian Air Force squadron from Davidstow Moor in Cornwall, England. On the 21st of August 1944, Ken was involved in attacking warships at Le Verdon amongst the anti-aircraft fire exploding around him. The print is framed in a dark wood border with gold highlights and with a light beige mount. This is a truly fine example of the Buffalo by Robert Tomlin print.
Image size: 39cm x 27cm, Overall size: 55cm x 45cm.
NB: Due to the fact that this Buffalo by Robert Tomlin print is behind glass I will only ship this item within the UK mainland.
NB: please note that I’ve done my utmost to try to remove any reflections from the pictures but with the best will in the world I cannot eradicate them all, so if you see anything that you think shouldn’t be on this Buffalo by Robert Tomlin print you can guarantee that it is only reflections and NOT on the pictures.
Operation Squabble: although this print shows Ken attacking warships at Le Verdon, he is best known for his courageous efforts in “Operation Squabble” when he was a young Flight Lieutenant. “This is his story”.
Intelligence gathered by Major Ben Cowburn of the Special Operations Executive in the early Spring of 1942 showed that the Germans paraded down the Champs-Élysées every day between 12:15 and 12:45. With this information, Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert de la Ferté, the Commander-in-Chief of Coastal Command, devised a propaganda idea to boost the morale of the French by draping the Arc de Triomphe with the French tricolour. He called in Flight Lieutenant Ken Gatward to see if he would volunteer for the “unsafe” mission. Ken had already undertaken numerous low-level day light attacks, so he, along with his navigator, Sergeant Gilbert ‘George’ Fern, both agreed. The plan was to fly low level down the Champs-Élysées, and strafe the German soldiers on parade, and as a back up target, attack the Kriegsmarine headquarters in the Ministre de la Marine.
On the 5th of May 1942 Gatward and Fern began to practice for the daring raid by attacking a shipwreck in the English Channel. They also pored over maps of Paris and the best routes to both get in and more importantly get back out again. Prior to the raid Gatward and Fern obtained a Tricolour from Portsmouth Harbour and had it cut into two, the flags were then installed onto their Bristol Beaufighter. One section was to be draped over the Arc de Triomphe, the other over the ministry. On the 12th of June 1942, Gatward and Fern took off at 11:29 hours from Thorney Island in heavy rain. Initial weather conditions of ten tenths cloud at 2,000 feet with heavy precipitation were encountered and the aircraft set a course for the target at 11:31 hours. Crossing the French coast a few miles eastward of Fécamp at 11:58 hours, the cloud cover thinned out and by the time they reached Rouen there was bright sunshine. With excellent visibility the aircraft passed over the suburbs of Paris at a very low altitude and some light flak was encountered for the first time. They circled the Eiffel Tower at 12:27 hours. During this low-level flying he suffered a bird strike in his starboard engine radiator but managed to fly on. At approximately 12:28 hours he banked the aircraft to port and headed towards the Champs-Élysées. The intelligence information about the time of the parade was incorrect so there were no German soldiers to strafe, but Fern released the first Tricolour down the flare shute over the Arc de Triomphe. Gatward then attacked the Ministre de la Marine in the Place de la Concorde, and strafed the building with 20mm cannon shells, scattering German sentries. Fern, then dropped the second part of the Tricolour. Gatward then turned for home at 12:30 hours and landed at RAF Northolt at 13:53 hours. Buffalo by Robert Tomlin.
Group Captain Alfred Kitchener (Ken) Gatward DSO, DFC and Bar, 1914 – 1998.
Excellent Condition. Buffalo by Robert Tomlin.