The architect and the bomber – Raymond McGraph and his aircraft illustrations

Richard Maddox

AUSTRALIAN -BORN RAYMOND McGRAPH was a man of many interests. Most noted as an architect and interior designer he was also an author, poet and illustrator.

Having gained a Fellowship at Clare College, Cambridge, England, and set up his architectural practice, his first commission was the original interiors for the art-deco style Broadcasting House in London, England in 1931.

He was just 27. (1)

He is also remembered for the design of St Ann’s Court, a residential property at Chertsey near London – a Modernist, drum-shaped house made from reinforced concrete. (2)

He then moved to Dublin, Ireland where he would spend twenty years as Senior Architect at the and then Principal Architect at the Office of Public works. Here he worked on many of the country’s major public buildings. (3)

The illustrations shown in this post are from a number commissioned by the British Ministry of Information in 1940.

Using a palette of muted colours they clearly show his interest in light, form and structure.

They all are very precise, not only in their execution but in the way the elements are placed in the picture frame.

In addition the illustration of aircraft hangars (left, IWM catalogue reference ART LD 141, original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/18605) ‘plays’ visually with the idea of camouflage.

The shapes of the painted designs on the hangars are continued onto other buildings, the sky and the airfield taxyways. The idea of an irregular pattern – used for camouflage on the hangars is echoed in the decayed brickwork on where the sandbags are stored.

The two illustrations on the right were commissioned for a book in 1940. They show aircraft under construction with a Bristol Blenheim (top, IWM catalogue reference LD 152. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/18608) and a Supermarine Spitfire, which is having its having its Rolls Royce Merlin engine worked on (bottom, IWM catalogue reference LD 142. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/18606).

The Blenheim picture is almost completely completed in greys with just a camouflaged wing with a blue and red RAF roundel providing a splash of colour.

In both pictures the complexity of the machines, the construction process and the factory is suggested without the details that a photograph would provide, enabling a clutter-free representation that is clean, bright and modern.

The image below is in the same style and uses the elements we have become familar with – restrained but precise detail, limited colour with a subtle accent, unusual view point, light and shade – to create interest.

Additionally the picture shows Armstrong Whitleys P5002 and (almost certainly) P5004 under construction probably at the company’s main factory in Coventry, England.

A VIEW OF ARMSTRONG WHITLEY bomber aircraft being constructed. Five Whitley rear fuselages, complete with rear gun turrets are lined up alongside each other with a section of under construction further back. A number of workers are visible. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference ART LD 149. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/18607.

A VIEW OF ARMSTRONG WHITLEY bomber aircraft being constructed. Five Whitley rear fuselages, complete with rear gun turrets are lined up alongside each other with a section of under construction further back. A number of workers are visible. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference ART LD 149. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/18607.

Even by this early stage of the war the design of the Whitley – which had been rushed into production as a replacement for the biplane bombers that equiped the RAF in the mid-1930s – was obselescent.  However, it continued with RAF’s Bomber Command and Coastal Command until 1942 when – like other British bombers it found new life in second-line duties such as transport and operating as a glider tug.

More than 1800 examples were built. (4)

Coincidentally IWM’s photographic archives has an image of P5004 in service with No.77 Squadron Royal Air Force at Royal Air Force Station Topcliffe in Yorkshire on 19 November 1940 – just over a year after Britain declared war.

P5004 was lost in the early hours of 26 June 1942 while serving with No. 10 Operational Training Unit RAF.  The aircraft – now coded ZG – G and captained by Pilot Officer William Wilson Collegde Royal Canadian Air Force – was returning from the ‘Thousand Bomber’ raid on Bremen, Germany when it ditched in the North Sea. All the crew were rescued by an Air-Sea Rescue launch and Colledge was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on that day.

Just over a year later on 1 July 1943 he was killed in a flying accident. (5)

ARMSTRONG WHITLEY Mk IV KN-U (serial P5004) of No. 77 SSquadron at RAF Topcliffe, Yorkshire, 19 November 1940. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference HU 104648. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205229770.

ARMSTRONG WHITLEY Mk IV KN-U (serial P5004) of No. 77 Squadron at RAF Topcliffe, Yorkshire, 19 November 1940. The aircraft is probably shown under construction in the illustration above. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference HU 104648. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205229770.

Armstrong Whitley P5002 was also lost returning from a raid over Bremen.  On 30 August 1940 – when serving with No. 58 Squadron RAF as GE-T –  it ran out of fuel when it too came down in the North Sea, near Hornsea, East Yorkshire while returning to its base at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. (6)

Although four members of the crew survived, Sergeant Mathew Hill’s parachute carried him out to sea. The twenty-five year old is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing. (7)

Sources

(1) https://architectureau.com/articles/flashback-raymond-mcgrath-in-britain/https://architectureau.com/articles/flashback-raymond-mcgrath-in-britain/ – retrieved 22 July 2019

(2) https://www.ajbuildingslibrary.co.uk/projects/display/id/2869 – retrieved 22 July 2019

(3) https://www.themodernhouse.com/directory-of-architects-and-designers/raymond-mcgrath/ – retrieved 22 July 2019

(4) https://www.tangmere-museum.org.uk/aircraft-month/armstrong-whitworth-whitley – retrieved 22 July 2019

(5) http://www.aircrewremembered.com/parsons-norman-rennison.html – retrieved 22 July 2019

(6) https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=22192 – retrieved 22 July 2019

(7) https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1800124/hill,-matthew/ – retrieved 22 July 2019

After D-Day: The Falaise Pocket 12 – 21 August 1944

Richard Maddox

AS GERMAN FORCES FOUGHT REAR-GUARD ACTIONS against the advancing Allies after D-Day, the German Seventh Army, the Fifth Panzer Army and Panzer Group West became almost encircled. (1)

Up to 110,000 men were trapped in a battle that would last for almost two weeks. (2)

There was a just a break of around 3 kilometres (2 miles) in the Allied net – the Falaise Gap.

Here German troops, artillery, tanks and transport streamed east towards the Seine – and ultimately the defence of Germany itself – while Allied troops battled to stop them.

The area would become one of the most blood-soaked corners of France as Allied tanks, artillery and aircraft – and in particular the rocket-firing Hawker Typhoon ground attack aircraft – attacked and pursued them relentlessly.

FLIGHT SERGEANT John Simon Fraser-Petherbridge RAFVR, of No.198 Squadron RAF lifts off in Hawker Typhoon Mark 1b MN293 TP-D from Thorney Island near Portsmouth, Hampshire, England to attack targets near the D Day landing beaches. IWM catalogue reference FLM 2572. Image copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http: www.iwm.org.uk collections item object 205022921

FLIGHT SERGEANT John Simon Fraser-Petherbridge RAFVR, of No.198 Squadron RAF lifts off in Hawker Typhoon Mark 1b MN293 TP-D from Thorney Island near Portsmouth, Hampshire, England to attack targets near the D Day landing beaches in northern France. IWM catalogue reference FLM 2572. Image copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http: http://www.iwm.org.uk collections item object 20502292

Promoted to Pilot Officer, Fraser-Petherbridge would be reported missing on 20 June 1944.

His body was subsequently recovered and is buried in the cemetery of the village church at Le Pré-d’Auge to the east of Caen. (3)

A FRAME FROM A CINE FILM shot by a Hawker Typhoon of No.181 Squadron Royal Air Force of an attack on German motor transports near Livarot, Normandy while trying to flee the Falaise Pocket. One of the aircraft's 3-inch rockets (equipped with a 60lb warhead) can be seen in flight. Image copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference C 4571. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205023336.

A FRAME FROM A CINE FILM shot by a Hawker Typhoon of No.181 Squadron Royal Air Force of an attack on German motor transports near Livarot, Normandy while trying to flee the Falaise Pocket. One of the aircraft’s 3-inch rockets (equipped with a 60lb warhead) can be seen in flight. Image copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference C 4571. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205023336.

Few, if any comments about the Falaise Pocket during those hot August days – whether made by Allied or German soldiers or airmen, commanders or frontline fighters – fail to mention the Hell-like sights and smells that choked the roads and narrow lanes that the Germans were attempting to escape along.

THE ALLIED CAMPAIGN IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE, 6 JUNE 1944 - 7 MAY 1945 (B 9668) The Falaise Gap: Dead German horses among devastated vehicles and equipment in a lane in the Falaise pocket; this was a typical scene after the battle. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205195383

THE FALAISE GAP – a typical scene after the battle. Dead horses and wrecked vehicles clog a lane used by the German forces as an escape route. this was a typical scene after the battle.Image copyright: © IWM. IWM catalogue reference B 9668. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205195383

Thousands of machines, men and horses – a key part of the German Army’s transport system throughout the Second World War – would be destroyed, killed and injured.

New Zealander Desmond Scott – at 25 the youngest Group Captain in the Second World War – recalls that on the afternoon of 7 August, RAF Typhoons from No. 123 Wing, 2 Tactical Air Force attacked 87 tanks. (4) (5) (6)

Although as a pilot he had played his part in the destruction, Scott was moved when he visited on foot.

… Strangely enough it was the fate of the horses that upset me the most. Harnessed as they were, it was impossible for them to escape, and they lay dead in tangled heaps, their large wide eyes crying out to me in anguish. It was a sight that pierced the soul, and I felt as if my heart would burst. … (7)

During each of the 10-days they were involved, the Allied 2 Tactical Air Force made an average of 1200 attacks. (8)

Tens of thousands of German soldiers would become prisoners of war, many being sent to prison camps in America, although some 50,000 managed to escape.

Casualties were high on both sides in what was a hard fought battle, one that marked the end of the initial phases of Operation OVERLORD, enabling the Allies to breakout from northern France and sweep through Europe.

Paris would be liberated on 25 August 1944.

It was also the worst defeat endured by the German army since Stalingrad.

HOW THE ARTIST SAW IT. Frank Wootten's 'Rocket-Firing Typhoons at the Falaise Gap, Normandy, 1944'. The painting is dated 18 August 1944 and was purchased by the War Artists Advisory Committee. IWM catalogue reference IWM ART LD 4756. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38698.

HOW THE ARTIST SAW IT. Frank Wootten’s ‘Rocket-Firing Typhoons at the Falaise Gap, Normandy, 1944‘. The painting is dated 18 August 1944 and was purchased by the War Artists Advisory Committee. IWM catalogue reference IWM ART LD 4756. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38698.

Frank Wootten was chosen by the Commander in Chief, Allied Air Forces, Air Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory RAF to cover the air Force activities in France after D-Day. Attached to No. 35 Wing he became the RAF’s war artist at the time and bypassed Sir Kenneth Clark’s War Artists Advisory Committee which had rejected his application to be a war artist.

Ironically, the Commission would purchase his oil painting of the ‘Rocket-Firing Typhoons at the Falasie Gap, Normandy, 1944‘.

Besides his aviation works, he was also a very accomplished landscape painter. He died on 21 April 1998. (9)

Sources

(1) https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/scourge-of-falaise-the-hawker-typhoon/ – retrieved 4 April 2019.

(2) The beaches of the D-Day Landings, Yves Lecouturier and Isabelle Bournier. Editions OUEST-FRANCE (2011). Page 127.

(3) https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2633532/fraser-petherbridge,-james-simon/ – retrieved 4 April 2019.

(4) Desmond Scott in his book Typhoon Pilot. Quoted in Wings of War, edited by Laddie Lucas, Grafton Books (1985) – page 434.

(5) Ibid – page 436.

(6) https://www.tangmere-museum.org.uk/news/desmond-scotts-stepson-visits-tangmere – retrieved 4 April 2019.

(7) Desmond Scott quoted in Overlord – D-Day and the Battle for Normandy 1944, Max Hastings, Pan Macmillan (2015). Page 406.

(8) Air Force Blue – The RAF in World War Two, Patrick Bishop, Harper Collins (2018). Page 345.

(9) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-frank-wootton-1166670.html – retrieved 4 April 2019.

Additional information

More information on the Falaise Pocket action can be found at:

http://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/the-main-phases-of-the-battle-of-normandy/falaise-pocket-35-2.html – retrieved 4 April 2019.

https://m.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/closing-the-falaise-gap.html – retrieved 4 April 2019.

https://www.ddayhistorian.com/falaise-gap-tour.html – retrieved 4 April 2019.

The background to the development of the Hawker Typhoon aircraft can be found at the link below.

https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/hawker-typhoon – retrieved 4 April 2019.

The Royal Air Force Museum’s Hawker Typhoon 1b (MN235) – currently the most original and complete example on public display anywhere in the world – never flew operationally.

It was sent to America in March 1944 for evaluation against current US aircraft. Following a minor accident after nine hours flying on the programme it was stored before being returning to the UK in 1968.

More details of its history can be found at:

https://www.historynet.com/the-last-typhoon-restored.html – retrieved 27 May 2019

https://www.raf-ff.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/HAWKER-TYPHOON-IB-MN235.pdf – retrieved 27 May 2019

The ‘Anti-Fascist Rampart’ – IWM London’s sections of the Berlin Wall

RICHARD MADDOX

IT STARTED SLOWLY.

But on Sunday 13 August 1961 the people of Berlin – still occupied by the victorious powers of the Second World War – awoke to find parts of their city in the process of being physically split.

East German troops had started laying out the route of the ‘Anti-Fascist Rampart’- also known as the Berlin Wall. In some parts of the city it was just a hurriedly painted white line, in others rolls of barbed wire guarded by soldiers.

Berliners protested and were often met the pointed bayonets and rifles of GDR border guards. Within days the wall – looking like the sort of wall that might be found between neighbouring gardens or yards – would start to be fortified. Barbed wire screens were added to brick walls. Later concrete blocks would replace bricks.

The dividing lines ran through across streets, cutting through buildings.

At first these became escape routes with Berliners escaping from the East through one side and emerging in the West. Then the East German authorities started to compulsorily empty properties near the wall and brick up windows and doorways.

Over the course of the almost three decades that it stood the barrier would grow from a simple white line painted on the ground to miles of 45,000 concrete panels each 3.6 metres high and weighing 2,750 kg.

They cost 359 Ost Mark (East German Marks) to produce at a time when a loaf of bread was 1.04 Ost Mark. (1)

Some 45,000 sections would snake along for 106 km (66 miles), punctuated by more than 300 watchtowers and 20 bunkers. (2)

A MODEL OF BERNAUER STRASSE IN BERLIN on display at IWM London. It depicted part of the street as it was around 1980. It shows houses in the tree-lined western sector of the city with the 'Death Strip' containing watch towers, anti-tank defences, armed patrols, minefields, guard dogs, floodlights and a variety of sensors - all contained between two concrete walls. Many of buildings in the east near the Wall were forcibly emptied and bricked up with others demolished to create areas where would-be escapers could be intercepted before they reached the eastern wall. Image: © R Maddox 2018

A MODEL OF BERNAUER STRASSE IN BERLIN on display at IWM London. It depicted part of the street as it was around 1980. It shows houses in the tree-lined western sector of the city with the ‘Death Strip’ containing watch towers, anti-tank defences, armed patrols, minefields, guard dogs, floodlights and a variety of sensors – all contained between two concrete walls. Many of buildings in the east near the Wall were forcibly emptied and bricked up with others demolished to create areas where would-be escapers could be intercepted before they reached the eastern wall. Image: © R Maddox 2018

The dividing lines cut across streets and even through buildings with (for example) the front half in the capitalist West and the rear in the communist East.

So why was it built?

From the end of the Second World War the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – a satellite state of the Soviet Union – was seeing its population fleeing to the West. This of course included not just older people but young professional Germans who saw the chance of a better life away from Moscow’s influence.

And not just from East Berlin because all though Berlin was deep in the GDR the western sectors were linked to West Germany and beyond. One source quotes that in the two decades from 1945 more that 2 million people left – and not just through the GDR but also via Hungary and Czechoslovakia, countries were citizens of the Soviet Union could go on holiday to. (3)

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE BERNAUER STRASSE MODEL at IWM London showing the 'Vershönungkirsche; (the Church of the Reconciliation) marooned in the 'Death Strip'. Before it was destroyed by the East German authorities in January 1985 it had served the communities of Wedding and Mittel from 1892 until it 1961. After that date it was used as a military observation post. In 2000 a new smaller chapel (Die Kapelle der Versöhnung - Chapel of the Reconciliation) was dedicated. It serves both as a place of worship and a memorial to those who died attempting to escape. Image: © R Maddox 2018.

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE BERNAUER STRASSE MODEL at IWM London showing the ‘Vershönungkirsche; (the Church of the Reconciliation) marooned in the ‘Death Strip’. Before it was destroyed by the East German authorities in January 1985 it had served the communities of Wedding and Mittel from 1892 until it 1961. After that date it was used as a military observation post. In 2000 a new smaller chapel (Die Kapelle der Versöhnung – Chapel of the Reconciliation) was dedicated. It serves both as a place of worship and a memorial to those who died attempting to escape. Image: © R Maddox 2018.

From the GDR’s viewpoint the Wall helped slow the stream of escapees and made it more difficult – and dangerous – for those who attempted to do so. In addition it went some way to stabilising and then building the GDR economy.

Of course it wasn’t described in these terms to the GDR population. For them the antifaschistischer Schutzwall was to keep the corrupting capitalist influences out.

And here it failed because West German TV and radio programmes – describing a glittering, bright world and affluent world, very different to that experienced by the average East German citizen – could be listened to in East Berlin.

During the wall’s existence around 5000 successful escapes were made into West Berlin. Varying reports cite either 192 or 239 people were killed trying to cross the wall and many more were injured.

Initial attempts – those made in the early days and months of the Wall – involved people crossing the barbed wire fence or jumping from windows of the buildings that lined the wall.

Later tunnels, ‘zip’ aerial wires, air balloons and hiding in special compartments in vehicles were all tried with varying success. (4)

The last person to be die whilst attempting to cross into West Berlin was Chris Gueffroy on February 6 1989. He was 20 years old. (5) (6)

The desire to create something better that lead to families escaping would to also lead to unrest, dissatisfaction against the regime in many more and would see at least 55 deaths in an uprising against Sovietisation in June 1953 as well as many more injured and imprisoned later. (7) (8) (9) (10)

In November 1991 that same desire would lead to the collapse of the GDR and ultimately end in the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

A PANEL FROM THE WESTERN-FACING SECTION OF THE BERLIN WALL installed at Leuschnerdamm in the Kreuzberg district. The painted section faced into the west and the other (blank) side faced the ‘Death Strip’. IWM catalogue reference EPH 467. Image © R Maddox 2018.

A PANEL FROM THE WESTERN-FACING SECTION OF THE BERLIN WALL installed at Leuschnerdamm in the Kreuzberg district. The painted section faced into the west and the other (blank) side faced the ‘Death Strip’. IWM catalogue reference EPH 467. Image © R Maddox 2018.

IWM has at least two panels of the Berlin Wall as well as a number of smaller pieces in its collections. The panel outside IWM London was painted by graffiti artist ‘Indiano’ (Jürgen Grosse). (11)

The open mouth with wording – in this case possibly a reference to the ‘poem Archaischer Torso Apollos‘ (‘Torso of an Archaic Apollo‘) by the Rainer Maria Rilke which ends with the words ‘Du musst dein leben ändern‘, which translated as ‘You must change your life.’ – are a repeating theme in Indiano’s Berlin Wall pieces.

Sources

(1) www.dailysoft.com/berlinwall/history/facts_02.htm – retrieved 21 January 2018

(2) http://www.dailysoft.com/berlinwall/history/facts_01.htm – retrieved 21 January 2018

(3) https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30080724 – retrieved 21 January 2018

(4) https://www.nationalcoldwarexhibition.org/schools-colleges/national-curriculum/berlin-wall/consequences.aspx – retrieved 21 January 2018

(5) https://fotostrasse.com/chris-gueffroy-berlin-wall/#.XEZD-c26K00 – retrieved 21 January 2018

(6) http://coldwarsites.net/country/germany/memorial-to-chris-gueffroy-berlin/ – retrieved 21 January 2018

(7) https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB50/ – retrieved 21 January 2018

(8) https://www.opendemocracy.net/node/1325 – retrieved 21 January 2018

(9) https://www.marxists.org/archive/brendel/1953/east-germany.htm – retrieved 21 January 2018

(10) https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-commemorates-1953-uprising-in-east-germany/a-39289423 – retrieved 21 January 2018

(11) http://berlinwall-indiano-art.blogspot.com/ – retrieved 21 January 2018