Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Raymond Sheppard and Picture Post (Part Two)

Picture Post 12 September 1953 pp. 32-33
In Part One of my look at Raymond Sheppard's work for the Picture Post magazine we looked at some of the Cold War stories, and today we're looking at two flyers and their war and post-war exploits - Neville Duke and Leonard Cheshire.

Cover of Picture Post 5 Sept 1953 showing Mara Lane

Firstly this lovely double page spread from Picture Post 5 September 1953 showing Neville Duke narrowly avoiding barrage balloons in his Miles Master (a training two-seater first flown in 1939). Duke became a famous test pilot and achieved the world air speed record in 1953, the year we read his story in Picture Post.

Picture Post 5 September 1953 pp24-25
The second double-page spread is unusual in that the editor (in my opinion) has chosen to extend the parachute straps across the left hand page. It might be on the original so I could be wrong! Anyway we see Duke and two of his crash landings!

Picture Post 5 September 1953 pp26-27

Picture Post 5 September 1953 p26

In the following issue Duke continues his story and we see him test flying his Hawker Hunter skidding to a halt and a fire engine racing towards him.

Picture Post 12 September 1953 pp.32-33

The next image drawn by Sheppard shows "at the time of my first supersonic bang, one country policeman was feeding his chickens" and we can see the results!

Picture Post 12 September 1953 pp.34

The 19 September issue has the third part of his story and shows Duke's admission that "I learned a sharp lesson", when he flew his Hawker N7/46, the prototype Seahawk at the 1949 Farnborough Air Show and relexed his guard a little too much nearly stalling the sircraft whilst inverted!

Picture Post 19 September 1953 p38-39
Now I'm skipping a few issues (saving the odds and ends for the next article in this series) and we're now looking at another famous post-war flyer. I quote Wikipedia:
Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO & Two Bars, DFC (7 September 1917 – 31 July 1992) was a highly decorated Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot and group captain during the Second World War, and a philanthropist.
Among the honours Cheshire received as a pilot was the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the youngest group captain in the RAF and one of the most highly decorated pilots of the war.
After the war he founded a hospice that grew into the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. He became known for his work in conflict resolution. In 1991 he was created a life peer in recognition of his charitable work
Reading the Wikipedia page is quite amazing, how much of a life he lived!  The first two parts of his story are not illustrated by Sheppard so I'm concentrating on parts three and four here. Part Three entitled "How he won his first D.S.O." is written by Russell Braddon and he tells us:
Pilot Officer Cheshire was at the controls of a crippled bomber. A grotesque figure, uniform in flames, screamed at him: "Fire! The tank's on fire." "Well, put it out then", snapped  Cheshire, who took the plane onto bomb Cologne and win the first of his three D.S.Os.

Picture Post 22 May 1954 p36-37

As if the story of his turning the plane round and hitting his original target on return was not enough, Cheshire was also involved in observing the Nagasaki bomb drop. "Destroyer becomes a crusader" is the title of part 4 of his story by Braddon and the full page black and white wash hits you in the face on turning the page!

Picture Post 29 May 1954 p33
The caption for this image states: "From the rear gunner's turret of a Flying Fortress, Cheshire watched the destruction of Nagasaki".  In an interview (on Youtube) Cheshire admits that the pilot of his aircraft should have been at 30,000 - not 39,000 feet, and should have been 10 miles away from the drop zone - not 50 miles. Yet he describes how the bomb had symmetry and thus showed it had 'controlled power' unlike other explosives he encountered which were 'ragged'. The whole interview is astounding and one of the reasons I like blogging - the many "rabbit holes" I go down as well as extraordianry art.

Next time: Picture Post and advertising

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