By the end of 1943, wrote Adamson, I was appointed an official War Artist to Coastal Command and the Committee had bought a few
drawings I had shown the CO. I could go to any UK Coastal Command station and draw whatever I liked. At certain points,
with two or three finished drawings I was required to take them to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to show and
to leave with the Committee. When Hector Bolitho had flu I had to show him as well, in his bedroom at the Savoy.4
1 In the caption to one of the pictures Adamson wrote, In the first drawing ... the navigator
has clambered slowly aft from his desk--careful of his oxygen tubes and unable to exert himself under these conditions. He opens the hatch and
stands, rather cramped, in the fuselage. Dim forms of auxiliary fuel tank, seamarkers and luggage grow gradually from the darkness. He holds
his bubble sextant and records an average sight of the elevation of a certain star--information which, in conjunction with his
books of tables, helps him to determine his position. It is very cold up here, and the stars peep weakly through a veil of cloud. The rush
of air past the open hatch is like a giants hollow breathing. Back to main text
2 Adamson recorded the events of September 25th, 1942 in his diary:
There was the bark of gunfire and the metallic splutter of hits we were receiving. The pilots cockpit
was dulled with smoke ... I looked through the window over my table to see a glimpse of a Ju88 heading away at
right angles to our track.
Tim was falling from his seat. I caught him heavily and pulled his weight from the stick.
The Winco called out. Two of us got him through the doorway and laid him huddled on the floorboard; unconscious, if not
dead. I thought how futile it was, a fine lovable young man one moment, a helpless body the next. And I thought this is war.
We gave Tim a charge of morphia, for what help it might have been, and laid him more comfortably, his head resting on my
knees; and covered him with a sleeping bag in the hope that only shock and wounds were the trouble. Above passages are quoted in Ernest Schofield &
Roy Conyers Nesbit: Arctic Airmen: The RAF in Spitsbergen and North Russia in 1942, William Kimber & Co Limited, London, 1987, p. 211.
Back to main text
3 See Mike Seymour & Bill Balderson: To the Ends of the Earth: 210 Squadrons
Catalina Years, Paterchurch Publications, 1999. Back to main text
4 The New Zealand born writer Henry Hector Bolitho (1897-1974). As he states in the introduction to
A Penguin in the Eyrie, the book based on his R.A.F. diaries, he began the war as an Intelligence officer in the Air Ministry--then as editor of the R.A.F.
Journal ... . He ended his work as editor in the late summer of 1942 and was appointed editor of the Coastal Command Intelligence Review
at Coastal Command Headquarters at Northwood, Middlesex. He published biographies of Edward VIII (1937) and George VI (1937) as well as lives of Albert and Victoria. In 1944
his book Task for Coastal Command: The Story of the Battle of the South-West Approaches came out and A Penguin in the Eyrie was issued in 1955. Back to main text