“The Mosquito had a big impact on me as a young lad after seeing the movie “633 Squadron” and its famous 6-3-time theme music written by the late, great Ron Goodwin. I have forever thought of this fabulous aircraft with low, fast flight over water and its own theme tune! Now, as a grown-up, I still love the movie and the Mosquito is as potently beautiful as ever she was.
I wanted to show this magnificent aircraft, made of natural, organic materials within an elemental setting, away from an obvious combat zone. That’s for another painting! And to focus on its aesthetic beauty and pure flying capability”.
Having previously operated Blenheim IVs, 105 Sqn was the first unit to receive the Mosquito. During the Command of Wing Commander John De Lacy Wooldridge DSO DFC & Bar DFM it gained a colourful appearance with Disney cartoon characters and progressive ‘Ops’ mission marks for its nose art and a continuing reputation for excellence in the low level precision strike role for which the aircraft would become legendary.
“I chose the rugged coastline of north-western Scotland as a setting where the unit carried out many training and low-level practice sorties. This gives a stark background of elemental forces, winds and flying spray, to contrast with the elegant line of the Mosquito IV bombers of this Squadron. A scene many a Mosquito pilot and navigator would recognise immediately.
As a former RAF serviceman turned artist and a musician myself, John De Lacy Wooldridge’s character appeals to me too”.
A man of contrasts, John De Lacy Wooldridge began his career as a Sergeant pilot flying Avro Manchesters with 207 Sqn RAF Bottesford and became a highly effective officer and wing leader, despite the affectionate nickname “Dim”. During his wartime flying career he completed 97 bombing operations, some of which were as a Flt. Lt. Flight Commander with 106 Sqn. under Guy Gibson.
He was aerial advisor to the Petroleum Warfare Department in the development of Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation, better known as FIDO, as an anti-fog aircraft runway landing aid.
In 1944 he wrote an excellent book called “Low Attack” describing the experience of flying the Mosquito operationally in the Daylight Precision Bombing role.
After the war, he returned to his chosen, more peaceful career as a musician and composer. He was a great friend and contemporary of William Walton and wrote the music for 14 feature films. This included the score for the 1952 Dirk Bogarde war film “Appointment In London”, one of the best post war British films depicting life on an RAF Bomber Command unit during WW2.
It is the more tragic to conclude that John De Lacy Wooldridge was killed in 1958 in a road traffic accident at the age of 39.
Copyright Image and Text Simon W. Atack