Updated September 3, 2019 with this comment…
In October 2017 we identified the crash-side of « Moonlight Mermaid » near Düsseldorf, Germany. We have found some small parts of the aircraft like instrument disks, but unfortunately we did not find any remains of the original nose art. Sadly it seems to be lost forever.
After finishing our researches we published a book on the story of « Moonlight Mermaid » and her last crew in April this year. Firstly in German language but we are working on an English version which will be published later.
For those interested in the German version:
Title: Das Schicksal des Halifax Bombers »Moonlight Mermaid«. Der Flugzeugabsturz bei Erkrath im Zweiten Weltkrieg
Authors: Helmut Grau, Sven Polkläser, Jürgen Stecher
Publisher: BOOKS ON DEMAND
Available e.g. from Amazon or worldwide from http://www.bookdepository.com
Price:15,99€, free delivery worldwide
“Moonlight Mermaid” from East Moor
Cpl. Thomas Dunn #R86146, posing in front of No. 432 Squadron Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP689, 11 September 1944. The National Film Board of Canada were in England, No. 432 Squadron, East Moor, Yorkshire, completing a 16 mm film on RCAF nose art and the Canadians who painted the bombers. The little nude lady [top image from Tom Dunn] had in fact been painted by Tom on 16 July 1944, and the Halifax has now receiving her 30th Operational Wings.
Thomas E. Dunn was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 23 December 1912. During his high school years Tom enrolled in a correspondence course on hand lettering and show card painting. Tom was born with artistic skills, however Winnipeg schools offered very little in qualified artistic instruction, and he understood good money could be made painting signs, truck doors, and large store wall advertising. In the next two years he gained valuable experience, but during wartime Canada of 1941, sign painters were not in high demand. On 31 October 1941, Tom enlisted in the RCAF at No. 2 Manning Depot, Brandon, Manitoba, and completed his initial training at No. 2 ITS Regina, Saskatchewan. He was posted to St. Thomas, Ontario, for training as an aircraft mechanic [fitter class II] and learned his trade at RCAF Aylmer and Rockcliffe, Ontario, then served at No. 31 Operational Training Unit, [RAF] Debert, Nova Scotia, until August of 1943. LAC T.E. Dunn R86146 was now posted overseas to No. 432 Squadron at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, arriving weeks before the squadron move to a new RCAF base [No. 62] at East Moor, Yorkshire, where “M” Flight arrived on 16 September 1943.
From October 1943 until February 1944, No. 432 [“Leaside” – officially named 11 Oct. 43] Squadron flew the Lancaster B. Mk. II, and Tom had much to learn working on these new four-engine bomber aircraft. In his spare time, he was also kept busy painting many requests from his Commanding Officer [W/C W.A. McKay] for signs which were required around the new base. In the spring of 1944, Tom was promoted to Corporal, now second in charge of a ground crew of six. In February 1944, No. 432 began to convert from the Lancaster Mk. II to the Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft, and it became the nose painting from another 432 squadron artist which spurred Cpl. Dunn into painting RCAF bombers. Ten of the first Halifax B. Mk. III bombers delivered to No. 432 Squadron came from a batch of 27 manufactured by English Electric Co., Salmesbury, Preston, serial LW572 to LW598. Halifax B. Mk. III serial LW593 was given the code letters QO-O and a squadron artist [unknown] created nose art of a Canadian cowboy being bucked off a horse, with name “Oscar the Outlaw.” Shot down Berlin 24/25 March 1944.
Tom believed he could paint just as good, if not better, and his fancy style of lettering soon became his No. 432 squadron nose painting trademark. Cpl. Dunn would first mark off the Halifax nose with chalked squares, then chalk in his basic design followed by a white paint outline. Then when he had time, he would work on the nose art and finished with his fine style of white lettering for the aircraft name. Tom charged five pounds which was $25 Canadian in 1944, a very good sum of money in wartime England. Tom also painted hundreds of bombs on many of the squadron aircraft, which was a timeless job as each Halifax required a new bomb after every completed operation, all included in his total cost if he painted the original nose art painting.
Halifax B. Mk. III serial LW582, carried a most impressive cowgirl “Pistol Packin’ MAMA, QO-M. She failed to return from Aucheres, 8 June 1944, on her 25th operation.
Halifax Mk. III, serial LW583, “Leaside LuLu” is hung up on a fence. Shot down by German night-fighter Haine St. Pierre, 9 May 1944, her eleventh operation, three killed.
Halifax B. Mk. III, serial LW595, “Queen of Them All” wearing her banner “Miss Leaside.” No. 432 Squadron was officially adopted by the Town of Leaside, Ontario, on 11 October 1943, and this was included in the nose art painting on QO-Q for Queen. Flew 34 operations until 7 July 1944, transferred to No. 415 and became 6U-Q. Shot down 1st operation Hamburg, Germany, 29 July 1944, eight aircrew killed in action.
Halifax B. Mk. III, serial LK766, came from a batch of 20 constructed by Handley Page Ltd., Cricklewood and Radlett. Code QO-V “Old Joe Vagabond” [Just atrailing along] flew two operations then crash landed returning from Metz on 29 June 1944. Repaired and transferred to No. 415 Squadron where she completed 34 operatins as 6U-V and later 6U-Q.
On 11 June 1944, No. 432 received a complete ‘stand down’ in flying operations, to begin training in conversion to new Halifax B. Mk. VII aircraft, officially on 20 June. By the end of June, they had on charge 14 Halifax Mk. III and 10 Halifax VII aircraft. The old veteran Halifax Mk. III aircraft were slowly being moved across the field at East Moor and eleven were taken on charge by No. 415 Squadron, who became operational on 28 July. Between 16 June and 30 July 1944, the English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, constructed a batch of 43 Halifax Mk. VII aircraft and 25 were delivered to No. 432 Squadron in June, July, and August 1944. The record on left column is the date each new Halifax Mk. VII flew their first operation in No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron, copied from operations records.
2 July 44 NP687 “A” Lost Stuttgart, 26 July 44. [10 Operations]
4 July 44 NP688 “X” Lost Stuttgart, 26 July 44. [7 Ops]
1 July 44 NP689 “M” “Moonlight Mermaid” painted by Tom Dunn. [81 Ops]
1 July 44 NP690 “G” Swung take-off, burnt, 18 Aug. 1944. [20 Ops]
5 July 44 NP691 “V” Damaged by night fighter Grevenbrioich, 15 Jan. 1944. [62 Ops]
3 July 44 NP692 “D” Crashed and burnt, 27 September 1944.
15 July 44 NP693 “Q” “Queen of the Swamp” SOC 25 June 1945. [71 Ops]
5 July 44 NP694 “R” “Luke 3:5”, painted by Tom Dunn. SOC 15 Aug. 1947. [85 Ops]
3 July 44 NP695 “K” “Clueless Kitty” crashed and burnt, 9 June 1944. [39 Ops]
6 July 44 NP697 “F” “Ferdinand II” [80 Ops]
5 July 44 NP698 “W” Sold for scrap 30 December 1948.
11 July 44 NP699 “O” “Oscar the Outlaw” [Mk. II] painted by Tom Dunn. Lost 18 December 44, returning from Duisburg, had mid-air with another Halifax. [42 Ops]
7 July 44 NP701 “S” Lost Duisburg, 18 December 1944. [36 Ops]
11 July 44 NP702 “B” Lost Hamburg, 29 July 44, [8 Ops]
11 July 44 NP703 “H” Flew until end of war 11 May 1945. [58 Ops]
7 July 44 NP704 “L” Lost Wanne Eickel, 3 February 1945. [56 Ops]
15 July 44 NP705 “Y” No art “82 bombs” painted by Tom Dunn.
11 July 44 NP706 “J” Lost Caen, 18 July 1944. [3 Ops]
11 July 44 NP707 “W” “Willie the Wolf” painted by Tom Dunn, [67 Ops] War Museum, Ottawa, the largest Halifax nose art in the world, and only Tom Dunn original art to survive.
11 July 44 NP708 “E” Sold for scrap 30 December 1949. [73 Ops]
24 July 44 NP719 “N” Lost Kiel, 16 September 1944, collided over target. [21 Ops]
1 Aug. 44 NP720 “A” Flew 9 Ops, transferred to No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron.
1 Aug. 44 NP721 “X” Collapsed wheel on take-off, burnt, 5 December 1944. [22 Ops]
11 July 44 NP722 “S” Crash landed 23 October 1944. [30 Ops]
4 Aug. 44 NP723 “D” Lost Wilhelmshaven, 15 October 1944. [28 Ops]
In July 1990, I spent five hours on a Saturday afternoon interviewing and sharing a few cold beers with Thomas Dunn and his wife. He had no problem recalling the first RCAF Halifax Mk. VII bomber he painted was “Moonlight Mermaid” serial NP689 QO-M. This story is now being published for the very first time.
American Billy DeVorss was working as a bank teller in St. Joseph, Missouri, when in walked a stunning young lady named Glenna. Billy was a self-taught part-time artist with no professional training, and Glenna became his first model, girlfriend, and wife. DeVorss worked with his fingers using a wide variety of pastel colors which he applied directly on his 30” by 40” art board, then finishing his artwork with small brushstrokes. In 1933, he sold his first three pin-up paintings of wife Glenna to the Louis F. Dow Calendar Company in St. Paul, and soon after left his bank teller job. The new couple moved to New York where they spent the war years working for three major calendar publishing firms, including the famous Brown and Bigelow Co. In 1939, Glenna appeared fully nude in a calendar painting titled “Honey Moon” with the sexy pose selling many, many, copies. Billy never sold his original copyright and this money-maker image appeared on more than one calendar.
In 1943, the DeVorss “Honey Moon” painting appeared once again on a calendar sold in United States/Canada, and Tom Dunn purchased a copy. On his overseas posting to No. 432 Squadron in Yorkshire, England, August 1943, he took along his little nude lady. When the aircrew of Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP689, code QO-M [Mermaid] ask Tom to paint a nude “Moonlight Mermaid” [July 1944] he used his calendar girl as the RCAF Halifax nose art model.
Halifax Mk. VII, NP689 flew her first operation on 1 July 1944, and Tom began his painting around this same date, completing “Moonlight Mermaid” by 16 July 1944. Day operations were painted with a white star and night was painted in yellow. [Tom Dunn photo]
#1 1 July 1944 V-bomb site Biennais J12339 F/O R. Jack 99 attacked
#2 4 July 1944 V-bomb site Biennais J7438 F/L G. Larson 98 attacked
#3 5/6 July 1944 V-bomb site Biennais F/L G. Larson 99 attacked
#4 6/7 July 1944 V-bomb site Coquereaux J19885 P/O J. Webb 147 attacked
#5 7/8 July 1944 Caen P/O J. Webb 87 attacked
#6 11 July 1944 Thiverny [Gardening] P/O J. Webb 7 attacked
#7 15/16 July 1944 V-bomb site Nucourt R138409 Sgt. J. Kerr 91 attacked
#8 17/18 July 1944 Caen F/L G. Larson 97 attacked
#9 20 July 1944 Ferme du Grand Bois F/L G. Larson 99 attacked
#10 24/25 July 1944 Ferfay F/L G. Larson
#11 25/26 July 1944 Stuttgart J21377 F/O P Lawrens 153 attacked
#12 28/29 July 1944 Hamburg P/O J. Webb 209 attacked
The 28/29 July Hamburg raid was the very first operation for No. 415 Squadron, and they had on charge eleven ex-No. 432 Halifax Mk. III aircraft, including Thomas Dunn painted “Queen of Them All” LW595, which was shot down with eight killed, and “Old Joe Vagabond” LK766.
This enlarged image [ground crew member Ian Duncan] clearly shows artist Tom Dunn has outlined at least fifteen stars for future operations, and he would paint many, many, more white and yellow stars.
NP689 QO-M operations for August 1944
#13 1 August 1944 Ferme du Forestal P/O J. Webb 151 attacked
#14 3 Aug.44 Forret de Nieppe P/O J. Webb 251 attacked
#15 4 Aug. 44 V-site Bois de Gassone J8973 F/L D VonLaufer 206 attacked
Ground crew member Russel Beach recorded the fifteenth white star painted by Tom Dunn.
#16 5 Aug.44 Leu D’Esserent P/O J Webb 230 attacked
#17 9/10 Aug. 44 Foret de Nieppe P/O J. Webb 161 attacked
#18 10/11 Aug. 44 La Pallice J85061 P/O R. Card 130 attacked
#19 12/13 Aug. 44 Mont Richard F/L G. Larson 38 attacked
#20 14 Aug. 44 Falaise P/O J. Webb 214 attacked
#21 15 Aug. 44 Brussels P/O J. Webb 98 attacked
#22 18/19 Aug. 44 Bremen J8973 F/L Von Laufer 94 attacked
#23 25/26 Aug. 44 Brest-St. Pte Robert F/O J. Webb 27 attacked
#24 27/28 Aug. 44 Mimoyceques F/O J. Webb 197 attacked
#25 31 August 44 Ile de Cezembre F/O J. Webb 22 attacked
#26 3 September 44 Volkel F/O J. Webb 101 attacked
#27 6 Sept. 44 Emden F/O J. Webb 139 attacked
#28 9 Sept. 44 Le Havre F/O J. Webb 104 attacked
#29 10 Sept. 44 Le Havre J25979 F/O A. Craig 201 attacked
#30 11 Sept. 44 Castrop-Rauxel F/O A. Craig 103 attacked
“Moonlight Mermaid” has received her 30th Operational Wings painted on by Tom Dunn.
The National Film board of Canada were at No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron making a newsreel film titled ‘Frontline Artist’s” and Tom Dunn was used in a pose, painting the 30 Operational Wings on Halifax NP689, “Moonlight Mermaid.” I have looked for this film many years, but it must be lost in old archives someplace in Ottawa. This print frame came from the 16 mm film, and Tom sadly never saw the final product, which was shown in movie theatres across Canada.
#31 12 Sept. 44 Wanne-Eickel F/O A. Craig 100 attacked
#32 13 Sept. 44 Osnabruck J18651 F/O W. Tobias 98 attacked
#33 15/16 Sept. 44 Keil F/O A. Craig 190 attacked
#34 17 Sept. 44 Boulogne F/O A. Craig 197 attacked
Operations flown in October 1944 by NP689
#35 9 Oct. 44 Bochum F/O A. Craig 201 attacked
#36 12 Oct. 44 Wanne-Eickel F/O A. Craig 105 attacked
#37 14 Oct. 44 Duisburg J27831 F/O G. Speirs 238 attacked
#38 14/15 Oct. 44 Dusiburg J29832 F/O G. McNicall 225 attacked
#39 21/22 Oct. 44 Hannover F/O A. Craig 101 attacked
#40 23/24 Oct. 44 Essen F/O A. Craig 45 attacked
The ground crew also celebrated her 40 operation. Fitter LAC Ian Duncan from B.C.
#41 28 October 44 Cologne J36215 F/O S. Dean 151 attacked
#42 30/31 Oct. 44 Cologne J89337 F/O J. Hamilton 237 attacked
#43 1/2 Nov. 44 Oberhausen F/O J. Hamilton 239 attacked
#44 2/3 Nov. 44 Dusseldorf J29071 F/O J. Gault 209 attacked
#45 6 Nov. 44 Gelsenkirchen F/O A. Craig 130 attacked
#46 21 Nov. 44 Castrop-Rauxel J9550 F/L C.R. Fyfe 220 attacked
#47 27/28 Nov. 44 Neuss J3489 F/L E.A. Hayes 220 attacked
#48 30 Nov. 44 Duisburg J290068 F/O F.E. Jeffery 231 attacked
#49 4/5 Dec. 44 Karlsruhe C35269 F/O N.E. Patterson 196 attacked
#50 6/7 Dec. 44 Osnabruck F/O N.E. Patterson 182 attacked
#51 17/18 December 1944 Duisburg J35687 F/O G.E. Peaker 215
#52 24 Dec.44 Dusseldorf F/O G.E. Peaker 144
#53 28 Dec. 44 Opladen F/O N.E. Patterson 144
#54 29 Dec. 44 Trois-Dorf F/O N.E. Patterson 142
#55 30/31 Dec. 44 Cologne J27545 F/O J. M. Mills 198
#56 2 January 1945 Ludwigshafen F/O N.E. Patterson 156
#57 5 Jan. 45 Hannover F/O N.E. Patterson 177
#58 6 Jan. 45 Hanau J87362 P/O E.F. Patser 185
#59 13 Jan. 45 Saarbrucken J28109 F/O L.W. Loppe 139
#60 14 Jan. 45 Grevenbroich J87336 P/O G.T. Sherlock 134
#61 28/29 Jan. 45 Stuttgart F/O N.E. Patterson 158
#62 1 February 1945 Mainz F/O N.E. Patterson 83
#63 2/3 Feb. 45 Wanne-Eickel F/O N.E. Patterson 97
#64 4/5 Feb. 45 Osterfeld F/O N.E. Patterson 97
#65 7/8 Feb. 45 Goch F/O N.E. Patterson 48
#66 8/9 Feb. 45 Wanne-Eickel F/O N.E. Patterson 89
#67 13/14 Feb. 45 Bohlen F/O N.E. Patterson 110
#68 14/15 Feb. 45 Chemnitz F/O N.E. Patterson 112
#69 17 Feb. 45 Wesel F/O N.E. Patterson 2
#70 20/21 Feb. 45 Monheim F/O N.E. Patterson 109
#71 21/22 Feb. 45 Worms J14456 F/L J. M. Wallace 105
#72 27 Feb. 45 Mainz J87033 F/O A.L. Potter 182
#73 1 March 1945 Mannheim J3489 F/L E.A. Hayes 159
#74 2/3 March 45 Cologne J10491 F/L F/J. Horan 177
#75 5/6 March 45 Chemnitz R189667 F/Sgt. W.J. Gelineau 170
#76 8/9 March 45 Hamburg F/O N.E. Patterson 82
#77 11 March 45 Essen F/O N.E. Patterson 194
#78 12 March 45 Dortmund F/O N.E. Patterson 191
#79 13 March 45 Wuppertal J91163 P/O J.B. Turner 97
#80 14/15 March 45 Zweibrucken J42472 F/O S.M. Bonter 192
The 80th operation was a special celebration for the ground crew who kept the little nude Mermaid flying. They are from the left: Pinky Molinsky, Peter Wilson, W.J. McDonald, J. Robinson, Ian Duncan, L. Lawson, John Bright and Jack Webb. Their joy was short lived.
#81 15 March 45 Hagen F/O S.M. Bonter [F.T.R.] 139 attacked
F/O Stewart Millen Bonter, 26 years of age and three of his crew were killed, three survived and became POW’s, F/O Vachon, F/O Hinchcliffe and WO2 Anderson. The rear gunner P/O Scott bailed out but was killed by the Gestapo on 3 April 45.
The next Halifax Mk. VII painted by Cpl. Tom Dunn became NP694, code QO-R. Constructed on 24 June 1944, she was delivered to No. 432 Squadron four days later, and flew her first operation on 4 July 44, completing nine operations in July, while her art was being painted.
Tom recalled this Halifax art due to the fact he painted her nose twice, both with Biblical poem from Luke 40:3-5. The above image came from the Dunn collection and shows his original nose art which contained only white lettering. Halifax NP694 flew 65 Ops with this art lettering.
Russel Beach photo.
After completing 65 operations, [17 February 1945] a new aircrew commissioned Tom to repaint new nose art, which involved moving the same lettering up 20 inches. This image was taken by F/L Lindsay Roll #1, Print #4, while the Halifax was at No. 41 Group, waiting to be sent for scrapping at 45 Maintenance Unit, RAF Kinloss, Scotland, 78 Operations.
The clouds were Lt. Blue with Dark Blue highlight, cross Bright White, Blue outline, lightning bolts Yellow, German Swastika Bright Red, and German factory building Lt. Blue.
No. 432 Halifax B. Mk. III serial LW593 was painted [unknown artist] with the nose art of a cowboy beginning bucked off a wild horse, and the name “Oscar the Outlaw. This was the art which first inspired Tom Dunn to try his hand at creating his own style of bomber painting and lettering. The original “Oscar” was shot down over Berlin on 24/25 March 1944. When the new Halifax Mk. VII aircraft arrived in June and July 1944, the code letters QO-O were assigned to Halifax NP699, and Tom was asked to create a second “Oscar the Outlaw. This Halifax flew her first operation on 11 July 1944, and went on to complete 41 more operations. On 18 December 1944, raid to Duisburg, Germany, “Oscar” collided with an RAF Halifax from No. 10 Squadron and crashed over Belgium. Only pilot F/O M. Krakovsky survived, six killed in action.
Halifax B. Mk.VII, serial NP705, QO-Y, constructed 5 July 1944, delivered to No. 432 the following day. Never received nose art, but all 82 bombs were painted by Tom Dunn.
Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP707 was constructed on 5 July 1944, delivered to No. 432 the following day. It was flown to bomb Thiverney, on 11 July 44, by pilot F/L Von Laufer J8973. Tom could not remember the date he painted “Willie the Wolf” however he said it was finished during the period the Halifax aircraft was in the hangar for repairs due to a serious accident.
NP707 was damaged on 26 July 1944 and did not return to operations until 27 August 44. A second accident took place on 13 September 1944, and NP707 did not return to operations until 6 October 1944. Tom was busy painting other Halifax nose art in July, thus, it is possible the nose art of WILLIE “The Wolf” was painted in the period of the second major accident, 13 Sept. to 6 Oct. 1944.
Tom next received a request to paint the very same nose art and name on Halifax, B, Mk. III, serial MZ632, which had been transferred to No. 415 Squadron. This Halifax had flown with No. 432 Squadron as QO-W, completing 25 operations without any nose painting. A second “Look-a-like” nose art [below] with same name, was painted some date in August or mid-September.
This is the second “Willie the Wolf” nose art on Halifax B. Mk. III, serial MZ632, which was transferred to No. 415 Squadron with no art. Tom explained this WILLIE “The Wolf” was painted after he finished his original art on No. 432 Squadron NP707. Transferred to No. 1665 H.C.U. the landing gear collapsed on landing at RAF Tilstock [Shropshire] on 17 March 1945, the bomber swung, crashed, and was destroyed. This nose art seen below, was never salvaged.
Artist Thomas Dunn and his original [surviving] No. 432 Squadron nose art, RCAF Officer’s Mess, Glouster St. Ottawa, 7 August 1991. This original panel is still being confused with the No. 415 nose art which was destroyed on 17 March 1945.
June 1945, F/L H. Lindsay file card on “Utopia” QO-U, serial RG478, a Halifax B. Mk. VII, painted by Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn, No. 432 Squadron. Ottawa neg. #RE77-70.
Halifax B. Mk. VII serial RG478 was constructed 5 February 1945, delivered to No. 432 Squadron 7 February. She flew seventeen operations from 1 March 45 until 25 April 1945, but Tom never painted the 17th Palm tree, the war in Europe was over. Assigned code QO-U, [Utopia] the Halifax was sent for disposal on 28 May 45, and flown to RAF No. 41 Group, No. 45 Maintenance Unit, at Kinloss, Scotland. Marked for salvage and return to Canada, it never arrived with the nose art collection on 7 May 1946. This was the last nose art painted for No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron by [now promoted] Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn.
This RCAF Halifax B. Mk. VII nose art was one of nine photographed by F/L Harold Lindsay in June 1945, and all bombers were selected to be flown to RAF Station Kinloss, in Northern Scotland for scrapping. Six of the nine bombers were veterans from No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron, and three had been painted by Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn, RG478 “Utopia”, NP694 Luke 40:3.5 poem, and NP705, no nose art but 82 bombs. These three are missing from the War Museum nose art collection on display in Ottawa, Canada, today. Their fate is unknown, however in May 2012, an interesting part of Halifax scrapping history was revealed by the British Government at ex-RAF No. 41 Group, No. 45 Maintenance Unit, Kinloss, Scotland. This was selected as a remote postwar dumping ground for Halifax instruments which contained fluorescent radium paint and other chemical weapons including Sulphur mustard. If the RCAF Halifax nose art panels were cut from the fuselage in July to September 1945, [as F/L Lindsay had directed] and the art was never shipped to Canada, they could possibly have been thrown in the burial pits at RAF Kinloss and forgotten. The British Army are investigating the contaminated sites, and might just dig up some old forgotten Canadian nose art.
Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial RG447, constructed 4 March 1945, delivered to No. 426 Squadron on 6 March, then to No. 415 Squadron on 7 March. Flew eighteen operations, for disposal 20 May 1945. Last Halifax nose art painted by Tom Dunn at No. 62 [RCAF] Base East Moor, Yorkshire, England, for No. 415 Squadron. Flown to No. 48 M.U. RAF Hawarden for scrapping 28 May 1945. Replica painted on original skin from Halifax NA337, donated to Royal Western Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, March 2009, to honor Winnipeg born nose artist Thomas E. Dunn.
No. 62 [RCAF] Base, East Moor, Yorkshire, England
Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn arrived at No. 62 RCAF Base East Moor, Yorkshire, on 16 September 1943 and departed in July 1945. In those twenty-two months, he painted hundreds of RCAF signs, and decorated twelve Halifax aircraft with thirteen different nose art images. RCAF #62 Base officially closed on 15 May 1945, and this was the last issue #9 of the newsletter “Plane Facts.”
The last issue header of No. 432 and No. 415 Newsletter at East Moor, 23 May 1945.
The final entry for RCAF Station East Moor, Yorkshire, England, Headquarters Operations Record Book, 31 October 1945.
Psychologists can tell you that many young RCAF airmen in WWII needed to trust, and even have an affection for the large Halifax bombers they climbed into night after night and departed for war. They knew they were out-gunned, over-loaded with volatile fuel and explosives, yet somehow they hoped their personalized nose art would give them that little edge to defy the odds and cheat death in the dark, freezing, skies over Europe.
Tom painted nose art images which provided the wartime RCAF morale builder and today he is totally forgotten, by the RCAF Association, our Air Force Historians, and sadly the War Museum in Ottawa, Canada. The largest original RCAF Halifax nose art in the world hangs in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada, yet there is not one word to explain the reason for these World War Two aircraft paintings, or the forgotten artist who painted this panel called WILLIE “The Wolf.” It’s very simple, Tom only painted what the aircrew asked for, and it was their way of bosting morale in a terrible war, where hundreds of young airmen were killed each night for Canada. Tom painted nude ladies which were frivolous, but they were never anti-social, or offensive towards the female sex or any other group, other than Germans. In the past fifty plus years, I have made a serious effort to document, repaint, and preserve the history of our WWII RCAF aircraft nose artist. I still can’t find one Canadian museum which will display the history of nose art or the men who painted WWII aircraft. Please, do not apply today’s sexual attitudes to the young airmen who flew and died for Canada from 1939 to 1945.
Tom painted the largest, and most impressive original surviving Halifax RCAF WWII nose art in the world, but no body knows. Please Ottawa, don’t be ashamed to show and tell the truth, that’s what these young Canadians died for.
In 1990, I ask Tom which painting was his favorite Halifax nose art and he replied “Moonlight Mermaid.” One year later a package arrived by mail, inside was a little nude lady, painted on WWII RCAF original Avro Anson aircraft skin, by a 79-year-old-nose artist.