Artist Olive Snell and her two paintings “Comrades in Arms” featured in the in the winter edition of the Goodwood Magazine, having recently been acquired for the Goodwood Collection. Here we have used the notes written by auctioneers Cheffins to tell the stories of some of the pilots featured in these paintings. The paintings depict some of the pilots from 610 Squadron who were stationed at RAF Westhampnett, now Goodwood Aerodrome.
Flying Colours - The Pilots
Dubbed "Polish Charlie", most probably Sgt. Karol Michalkiewicz, born 1921, joined 610 Squadron on 21 November 1941 from 316 (The City of Warsaw Polish Squadron). He left 610 on 3 April 1943. There are no records about his subsequent service but it seems that he stayed in Britain after the War and died in Birmingham on 27 September 1988.
P/O Andrew Stewart Barrie was educated at Harrow, studied law and trained in Canada. He was shot down and killed on 22 June 1943 aged 25 whilst on a "Ramrod" escorting mission over Rotterdam. Fighter Pilots intensely disliked Ramrod duties which involved escorting bombers to ground level targets in daylight hours at slow speed. He is buried in the Hook of Holland General Cemetery.
F/Lt. Douglas Owen Collinge, DFC. On his second appointment to 610 Squadron, he became one of two Flight Commanders to his Commanding Officer Johnnie Johnson. Prior to co-joining 610 on 4 September 1942, he had been recommended for the DFC and received his medal from the King at Buckingham Palace on 20 November 1942. He was shot down and killed in Cayeux on 21 April 1943.
Squadron Leader W A Laurie, DFC. A Liverpudlian, he joined 610 on 8 September 1942 and became one of the Flight Commanders. He succeeded Johnnie Johnson as Commanding Officer of 610 from March 1943 until January 1944. He retired from the RAF in 1961.
Squadron Leader James Edgar "Johnnie" Johnson, DFC and Bar. He was officially posted to 610 Squadron as its Commanding Officer on 13 July 1942 and remained in that position until 19 March 1943, when, concurrently being promoted to Wing Commander, he left to take command of the Canadian wing comprising 403 and 416 Squadrons at Kenley.
During his eight months as 610's Commanding Officer, there were innumerable changes to the pilot personnel in the squadron for various reasons, including numerous casualties. His time at 610 was a difficult one for the squadron, particularly because the Mk V Spitfires with which they were equipped, were no match for the German Focke-Wolf Fw B190 fighters. 610 was also heavily involved in the Dieppe raid on 19 August 1942 which was a disaster for the ground forces and not much less dire for all of the squadrons of Fighter Command involved. On that operation, Johnson came perilously close to being shot down.
Johnson ended the War as a Group Captain with a DSO and two Bars and a DFC and Bar. He remained in the RAF and eventually retired in 1966 with the rank of Air Vice-Marshall. In retirement, he set up the Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust Ltd. He died on 30 January 2001, aged 85.
2nd Lt. Arnt Hvinden. A Norwegian, who was a Civil pilot before the War who had been awarded the Norwegian King's Medalie for gallantry during operations in Norway. Born 1917 he instructed in Canada prior to joining 610 Squadron on 20 January 1943 and posted elsewhere (by then a Captain) 12 September 1943. He died in 1987.
P/O Southwell C Creagh, Australian. He joined 610 on 3 April 1942 and was the squadron's "Eye", spotting German fighters before the other pilots. He was shot down over the sea on 19 August 1942, was rescued and returned to 610. In early September 1942 he was credited, jointly with Sgt. Greggory, with shooting down the first Messerschmitt Me 210 to be downed over mainland England. He was transferred from 610 on 19 May 1943. It is believed that he is still alive and living in Queensland, Australia.
Lt. Gerry Volkhersz, Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service. He joined 610 in February 1943, left March in 1943 to join the Fleet Air Arm. He died in 1994.
F/O George Samuel Malton, a Canadian and one of the Squadron's youngest pilots. He joined 610 on 26 August 1942. He was shot down and killed on 28 March 1943 while escorting American bombers near Fecamp. Ironically, he should not even have been flying on that day as he was still on sick leave with a broken jaw following a fight in the Regent Palace Hotel, London, with American servicemen
Olive Snell (1888-1962) married Colonel Ebenezer Leckie Pike, CBE, MC, of Dale Park, Arundel, Sussex. She was born in Durban, South Africa and lived in London and Petersfield, Hampshire.
Olive Snell studied under Boris Anrep and Augustus John, and exhibited at the Goupil Gallery, Fine Art Society, Grosvenor Gallery and the New English Art Club, Portrait Painters, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and The Society of Women Artists.
She was related to Hugh "Cocky" Dundas (later Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas, DSO and Bar, DFC) who was Johnnie Johnson's great friend in the war and indeed his best man at his wedding. It is possible that it was through this connection that Olive Snell came to be asked to paint these portraits, although she is believed to have done similar pilot portraits of 610 Squadron in 1941.
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