Not all nose art follows along the lines of a representation of the pin-up girl or a cartoon character. Many purely adorned their aircraft with a patriotic slogan, quote or statement. Although lacking the sex appeal or humour of other nose art varieties, they certainly packed a punch. One such example is the quote “No enemy plane will fly over the Reich territory” – Hermann Goring which adorns the oldest of the surviving Lancaster B1’s, ‘S for Sugar’, alongside its mission markings. Though not technically on the nose as it is just below the cockpit. The famous quote comes from a statement by the leader of the Luftwaffe at the start of WW 2. It is quite interesting that one of our own planes bore a quote from the enemy, it may have been used as a ‘one finger salute’ to the Germans, a show of defiance or taunt to the enemy, an ”up yours” as it were.
I have been fortunate enough to have been given the honour of using some photographs which belong to the family of flight engineer Sgt. Rowland ‘Rolly’ Harris of 467 Squ RAAF , who served from 1939 until 1946. Unfortunately his exact history is unknown, even to his family, as his Flight record as been lost. It is with great pleasure I share these pictures with you (above and below).
‘S for Sugar’s was originally named ‘Q for Queenie’ after her designated OL-Q and her first assignment was with 83 Squ on 8th July 1942 when along with 284 aircrafts she attacked Wilhelmshaven Germany. She went on to fly 79 assignments with 83 Squ before being transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force. The reassignment took place in November 1943 and she was re-designated PO-S (hence the name S for Sugar). On 11th May 1944 she took on her famous 100th operation in which she was involved with the bombings of the military camp at Bourg Leopold, Belgium. Her last sortie was conducted on 23rd April 1945, where along with 144 other Avro Lancaster’s she flew over the railway yards of Flensburg Germany, however the raid was abandoned when heavy cloud cover obscured the target making it impossible to score a hit. Though she flew a total of 137 operational sorties she has not flown the most for a Lancaster bomber, that accolade goes to ED888 ‘Mike-Squared’ of 103 Squ who pipped S for Sugar to the post with 145.
Following the war she was thankfully preserved and spent time from 1947-1958 at RAF Wroughton, from 1958-1979 at RAF Scampton, from 1970-1972 at RAF Bicester and finally in 1972 she took her final resting place at the RAF Museum in Hendon London, where she continues to reside today.
Here she can be seen ‘at home’ in the RAF museum. Photograph courtesy of Anglocreative
Interestingly S for Sugar is said to be haunted, which considering the life it lead and the many dead it must have witnessed is unsurprising. It has been said that the apparition of a gunner haunts the aircraft and has been seen manning the gun turrets and late at night the sounds of crew men working on the aircraft can apparently be heard. It is almost as if the spirits of those who worked on ‘S for Sugar’ could not bear to be parted from her even in death.
With thanks to Chris Perkins for sharing his families photographs and allowing the use of them.
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