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Print 12/19
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Operation Jericho - The Jailbreakers Artists Proofs
by Gerald Coulson
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Commemorating the 75th Anniversary

Image size: 28"wide x 18 1/2" high.

View the original RAF black and white news real telling the Operation Jericho story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GI2AxVJbLg

On 18 February 1944, a combined force of RAF, RAAF, RNZAF and RCAF aircrew flew one of the most hazardous daylight bombing raids of WWII. In atrocious weather their Mosquitoes and Typhoons flew an ultra-low level mission to spring French Resistance Fighters from the Amiens Prison, then under control of the Gestapo.

With snow still falling nineteen Mosquitoes, eighteen Mk VI fighter-bombers of 140 Wing and one Mk IV PRU, took-off from RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, at 1055 hours on 18 February 1944. Their job was the breach the walls of the Amiens Prison and free Resistance Leaders leading up to D-Day - the Allied invasion of Europe.

First to attack were the five Mosquitos of 487 Squadron led by W/C I S 'Black' Smith. Their task was to breach the twenty-foot high, three-foot thick outer wall at both the eastern and northern sides of the prison.

Following closely were five Mosquitoes of 464 Squadron, and a sixth Mosquito from 487 piloted by G/C P C Pickard. Led by W/C Bob Iredale, their task was to breach the main building and destroy the guards quarters at the east and west ends of the prison. It was intended that the cell doors would be sprung open by concussion from the bomb blasts, allowing the prisoners to escape.

One of the RAF's most celebrated airmen was overall Commander of the raid, G/C P C 'Pick' Pickard. He was last over the prison the exact moment captured in Gerald Coulson's remarkable painting just seconds before the delay fuse bombs exploded.

Resistance Leader Dominique Ponchardier sent this message to London in March 1944:

"I thank you in the name of our comrades for the bombardment of the prison. We were not able to save all. Thanks to the admirable precision of the attack the first bomb blew in nearly all doors and 150 prisoners escaped with the help of the civilian population. Of theses, 12 were to be have been shot on February 19. In addition, 37 prisoners were killed, some of them by German machine-guns, and 50 Germans were also killed."

THE ARTISTS PROOF: 100 Signed and Number prints.

 Wg Cdr I S 'Black' Smith, Squadron Leader Pilot Pilot: EG*R 487 Sqn.
 Flt Off Maxwell N Sparks, Pilot: EG*T 487 Sqn.
 Plt Off Arthur C Dunlop, Navigator: EG*T 487 Sqn.
 Flt Lt B D 'Tich' Hanafin,Flight Leader Pilot: EG*Q 487 Sqn.
 Plt Off C Frank Redgrave, Navigator: EG*Q 487 Sqn.
 Plt Off D R Bob Fowler, Pilot: EG*J 487 Sqn.
 Wg Cdr R W Bob Iredale, Squadron Leader Pilot: SB*F 464 Sqn.
 Sqn Ldr A Ian McRitchie, Flight Leader Pilot: SB*T 464 Sqn.
 Flt Lt Tom McPhee, Pilot: SB*V 464 Sqn.
 Flt Lt Geoffrey W Atkins, Navigator: SB*V 464 Sqn.
 Flt Lt D A 'Buck' Taylor, Flight Leader Pilot: YH*D 21 Sqn.
 Flt Lt Arthur E C Wheeler, Pilot: YH*C 21 Sqn.
 Flt Lt G Ian Mallett, Flight Leader Pilot: XP*R 174 Sqn.
 Flt Sgt Frank E Wheeler, Pilot: XP*Y 174 Sqn.
 Plt Off W Don Burton, Pilot: XP*C 174 Sqn.
 Flg Off Harry V Markby, Pilot: XP*A 174 Sqn.
 Flt Lt E B Ted Sismore, Navigator: 2 Gp Op Navigator

Andre Pache, Amien Prison escapee
Raymond Bonpas, Amien Prison escapee

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