Last Mission 

Mixed media. Watercolour pencil on paper. 

60 X 76cm 


During World War Two, Britain’s Royal Air Force was divided into a number of functional and geographic commands. Bomber Command was based in Great Britain and was responsible for bombing targets in enemy-controlled Europe. The total number who served in Bomber Command was 125,000, 10,000 of these were from the Royal Australian Air Force crews, all who served in Bomber Command were volunteers with an average age of between 19-23. It was made up of aircrews from many of the Empire nations. Bomber Command experienced heavy losses of about one in three and more than 4,000 Australians died as a result of their service. In total, 55,573 lives were lost. The life expectancy of a bomber aircrew was two weeks. 


Depending on what time of year it was, bomber crews would take off in the evening for night bombing over Germany. It would be a round trip of between 7-8 hours. My painting is of an Avro Lancaster Bomber leaving England at sunset for operations over the enemy held lands. The Lancasters were exceptional aircraft with great handling and flying ability. I have entitled my painting “Last Mission” because for many aircrews it was their last operation, their last meal, their last cigarette, their last letter to write, and prior to take off, they were to hand in their locker key so their belongings could be forwarded on to loved ones. The sacrifice of those who served in this theatre of war caused Winston Churchill to comment that Bomber Command contributed greatly to the shortening of the war.”