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The Workhorse by Anthony Saunders features Lancasters of 576 Squadron returning home.
Of the 7,377 Lancasters built during the Second World War, it’s sobering to think that only a tiny handful managed to complete more than 100 missions. But it is perhaps not surprising given the average life expectancy of a new bomber joining an operational squadron was no more than a couple of months. The outlook for the crews was almost as bleak, Bomber Command casualty rates were appalling: 55,573 of 125,000 men who served were killed, 8,403 were wounded whilst another 9,838 were captured and taken prisoner. All things considered perhaps it’s no wonder that the 35 Lancasters to achieve the 100 mission target were considered ‘lucky’.
Designed by Avro’s chief designer Roy Chadwick, the mighty Lancaster entered service in 1942 and soon became the mainstay of Bomber Command, able to deliver a greater payload than any other bomber in World War Two and arguably the finest piston-engine bomber of its time. Crewed entirely by volunteers mainly from Britain and the Commonwealth, with the odds of survival stacked heavily against them, they endured the cruellest flying conditions imaginable.
In his breath-taking tribute to the Lancasters of Bomber Command and the crews who flew them, Anthony Saunders has chosen one of the 35 ‘ton-up’ Lancasters to take centre stage in his atmospheric piece The Work Horse. Using his considerable talent Anthony magically conjures up a glorious winter landscape just as it must have been on that cold, crisp, snow-clad morning of 5 January 1945 when Lancaster LM227 UL-I – call sign ‘I-Item’ of 576 Squadron once again made it safely home. Battle-scarred and with her paintwork showing the signs of a long, hard winter ‘I-Item’ descends gradually towards RAF Fiskerton. Now, with gear down on final approach, the weary pilot must concentrate hard as he steadies the bomber for touchdown. Behind them the rest of the squadron, some probably damaged with wounded on board, follow them home.
The Workhorse by Anthony Saunders is signed by two highly-regarded aircrew who flew Lancasters from RAF Fiskerton with 576 Squadron during WWII:
Warrant Officer HARRY PARKINS - Flight Engineer with 630 & 546 Sqns
Warrant Officer ROY BRIGGS - Wireless Operator with 576 & 156 Sqns.
26.5 x 19.5 inches overall including borders - image 21 x 13
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