Limited Edition Print signed by Flying Officer John Cruickshank VC
We have been fortunate to purchase four limited edition prints which we are listing today, all published by ‘Legends’(UK) in 1989. Each is signed in pencil by the artist J.G.Keek and the subject, in this case John Cruickshank VC who was born 20 May 1920 and today is the oldest living recipient of the Victoria Cross for air action from the Second World War, as well as the last living Scottish holder of the VC.He was posted to 210 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Coastal Command in March 1943and he piloted a PBY Catalina flying boat, based at Sullom Voe. On 17 July 1944 on a patrol north into the Norwegian Sea to protect the British Home Fleet as it returned from the unsuccessful 'Operation Mascot' raid on the German battleship Tirpitz he found a German Type VIIC U-boat U-361 on the surface. Cruickshank had to fly the Catalina into the hail of flak put up by the U-boat. On the first pass his depth charges did not release so he brought the aircraft back round for a second time and this time straddled the U-boat with his charges sinking it with all hands. The German flak however had been deadly accurate, killing the Catalina's navigator and injuring four crewmen, including the second pilot Flight Sergeant Jack Garnett and Cruickshank himself. Cruickshank had been hit in seventy-two places, with two serious wounds to his lungs and ten penetrating wounds to his lower limbs. Despite this he refused medical attention until he was sure that the appropriate radio signals had been sent and the aircraft was on course for its home base. Even then he refused morphine, aware that it would cloud his judgement. Flying through the night it took the damaged Catalina five and a half hours to return to Sullom Voe with the injured Garnett at the controls and Cruickshank lapsing in and out of consciousness in the back. Once there Cruickshank returned to the cockpit and took command of the aircraft again and the Catalina was safely on the water. For this action in sinking the U-Boat and saving his crew he received the Victoria Cross while Flight Sergeant Jack Garnett received the Distinguished Flying Medal. John Cruickshank's injuries were such that he never flew in command of an aircraft again and after the war he returned to his pre-war job of banking. This print (and the others we have purchased) came sealed in acetate and we have left them sealed for protection so the actual image quality is better than that shown in our listing. In addition to the fine image of Cruickshank the 210 Squadron crest is also shown with the motto below “Yn y nwyfre yn hedfan”- translated literally as ‘Hovering in the Heavens’ This print is a large size at 24” x 16” (60 cm x 40 cm) and would benefit from being framed sand glazed. The print is not faded in any way and the original John Cruickshank pencil signature is strong. This and the other prints listed today depict chaps who are all real time ‘Boy’s Own' heroes and we hope you enjoy reading the account of their exceptional valour in WW11 even if you do not wish to invest in the prints!