Vimy Painting Gifted to RAF Halton

Arnold and Hilary Tasker from Thame presented a painting of a Vickers Vimy aircraft to RAF Halton which was accepted on behalf of the Station by Wing Commander Ray Morley and Squadron Leader Gary Coleman at Halton House. The painting had been gifted to Hilary by her friend the artist, and as the Vimy was one of the first aircraft to arrive at Halton’s Airfield, she decided it should be given to RAF Halton.

The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft of the First World War and post First World War era. Designed by Reginald Pierson and made by Vickers Limited, its first flight was in November 1917, achieving success as both a military and civil aircraft. The Vimy set several notable records in long-distance flights in the interwar period, the most celebrated of which was the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by Alcock and Brown in June 1919. The Vimy aircraft was retired in 1933.

Hilary Tasker explained how the presentation came about after meeting Wing Commander Morley at the Memorial Service last year in Thame. She said: “It all began last November. My husband wore his medals and as it was the anniversary of the First World War, he put on his fathers medals including his Air Force Cross. Wing Commander Morley commented upon it when he saw us which led to further conversation.”

“Back in 1949 I met David Marshall at Reading University where he was studying fine art. He eventually went to Australia and made his name in the art world by painting aircraft from every era. I kept in touch with him and upon one of my visits to Australia, he had just completed a series of paintings to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Great Australian Air Race and gave me a numbered print.”

“This race was commissioned by the Australian Government in 1919 with a prize of £10,000 (a huge amount of money then) for the first plane to fly from London to Darwin, Australia, within 30 consecutive days. There were six entries but only two finished; an AirCo plane which took 206 days and the Vickers ‘Vimy’ which accomplished it in 28 days after many set backs and claimed the prize. The pilot and navigator were English and the engineers were Australian. I mentioned this picture to Ray Morley and said that if Halton would like it I would love them to have it. The result was our visit on Wednesday.”

“What I did know was that Halton House had been purchased by the War Office in 1919 but what I did not know, until our visit, was that these ‘Vimy’ aircraft were some of the first aircraft at Halton Airfield. With the close links between Thame and RAF Halton, it is lovely to think that the picture has gone to Halton.

We had the most memorable day. It was a real eye-opener for us, the extent of the base the beautiful house and amazing aircraft. Ray and Gary were the most gracious of hosts and such good company.”

Wing Commander Morley commented: “I am responsible for all things heritage at Halton so it was a great pleasure to accept the painting with the Vimy’s historical link to the base.”