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Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. - IvanBerryman.com

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Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman.


Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman.

Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents and their equipment whose mission it was to secure and protect 6,755 items of the world's greatest works of art that had been looted and stored by the Germans as they swept across Europe. With the allied forces closing in, the Germans had planned to blow up the entire store to prevent the artworks from falling into the hands of the liberators. Once on the ground, the four agents linked up with local resistance fighters and the mine and its valuable contents were eventually secured, the explosives made safe and the entire cache taken into the safe keeping of the 80th US Infantry Division as the German occupation of Europe crumbled.
AMAZING VALUE! - The value of the signatures on this item are in excess of the price of the print itself!
Item Code : B0488Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. - This EditionAdd any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout! Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price!
TYPEDESCRIPTIONSIZESIGNATURESOFFERSPRICEPURCHASING
PRINTLimited edition of 1150 prints.

Image size 12 inches x 8 inches (31cm x 20cm) Leckie, Bill
+ Artist : Ivan Berryman


Signature(s) value alone : £50
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Other editions of this item : Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. B0488
TYPEDESCRIPTIONSIZESIGNATURESOFFERSPRICEPURCHASING
ARTIST
PROOF
Limited edition of 50 artist proofs. Image size 12 inches x 8 inches (31cm x 20cm) Leckie, Bill
+ Artist : Ivan Berryman


Signature(s) value alone : £50
£20 Off!Add any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout!Now : £70.00VIEW EDITION...
ARTIST
PROOF
Large Size Limited edition of 5 artist proofs. Image size 26 inches x 17 inches (66cm x 43cm)Artist : Ivan BerrymanAdd any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout!£200.00VIEW EDITION...
PRINTLarge Size Limited edition of 10 giclee prints. Image size 26 inches x 17 inches (66cm x 43cm)Artist : Ivan Berryman£10 Off!Add any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout!Now : £145.00VIEW EDITION...
PRINTArtist signed edition of 200 prints, numbered 951 to 1150. Image size 12 inches x 8 inches (31cm x 20cm)Artist : Ivan Berryman£10 Off!Add any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout!Now : £40.00VIEW EDITION...
PRESENTATIONPresentation Edition of 5 prints. Image size 12 inches x 8 inches (31cm x 20cm) Leckie, Bill
Searby, John (matted)
Mahaddie, Hamish (matted)
Bennett, Donald (matted)
+ Artist : Ivan Berryman


Signature(s) value alone : £210
£360.00VIEW EDITION...
GICLEE
CANVAS
Limited edition of 10 giclee canvas prints. Size 16 inches x 10 inches (41cm x 25cm)Artist : Ivan Berryman
on separate certificate
£70 Off!Now : £180.00VIEW EDITION...
ORIGINAL
ACRYLIC
Original acrylic painting by Ivan Berryman. Size 16 inches x 12 inches (41cm x 31cm) Leckie, Bill
+ Artist : Ivan Berryman


Signature(s) value alone : £50
£100 Off!
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Extra Details : Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman.
About this edition :


Bill Leckie signing this edition of the prints.

About all editions :


An account from pilot Bill Leckie :

We took off in Halifax T for Tommy at 23.45 hours in bright moonlight on Sunday 8th April 1945, from our base at Brindisi in southern Italy. My crew consisted of self (Pilot Officer Bill Leckie) Pilot; Navigator W/O Tom Ryden; Bomb Aimer F/Sgt Jim Douglas; Flight Engineer F/Sgt David Pithie; Wireless Operator F/Sgt Jack Pointer; Rear Gunner F/Sgt Charlie Leslie; and dispatcher FI Sgt John Lennox. Also on board were the four SOE agents, our only remit being to drop them in a precise spot; unaware at the time we were involved in Operation Ebensburg. It was a lovely clear night and I flew in a north-west direction, flying parallel to Italy's northern coastline, then turning northwards off the port of Ascona and heading between Venice to the west and Trieste to the east. I now wonder what my feelings would have been then, if I had known one of my 'passengers' was a former Luftwaffe paymaster who had defected to the French Resistance. He was a native of the area to which we were now heading, and had discovered from relatives, the Nazi plan to conceal massive collections of art treasures in this area which was well known to him from childhood. Albecht Gaiswinkler, in addition to informing the Allies of the location of this huge repository, seemed to be the ideal person to receive specialist training in England to become one of the four special agents I was now transporting to the site of this clandestine operation. Gaiswinkler was posted to SOE Special Training School in Dorking, Surrey, and several other highly specialised Special Operational Executive training units (SOE) where he met up with two other Austrians who were to become part of the four-man group. The fourth member (also Austrian) had been a member of the Werhmacht and while serving, had become an expert radio operator. Like the other members of the group he was strongly opposed to the Nazi regime, he defected from the German army while serving in Greece, and joining the Partisans, had already received guerrilla training, then decided to throw in his lot with the Allies. Part of the comprehensive training included parachute exercises which were carried out at Ringway Airfield, Manchester. Although unknown to the crew of Halifax T for Tommy, the primary task of the four agents was to find out the situation at Alt Aussee salt mine, organise local resistance groups and report all information back to HQ code name 'Maryland' and the time was now approaching for the drop. At 02.50 hours, 30 minutes before the designated time, Dispatcher F/Sgt John Lennox indicated to the four Austrians it was now time to prepare for the drop. This came almost as a relief, as they were suffering from cold and stiffness due to the cramped condition in the unheated fuselage. Securing all personal weapons and equipment, all four reported readiness for the drop. Soon afterwards, the Halifax banked gently and started its run at 800 feet to drop the containers. They were watched by rear gunner F/Sgt Leslie floating down by parachute on to the DZ. The four Austrians followed on the second run in, all reported to have dropped on the precise area of the dropping zone as briefed. It was discovered later that all containers except one had sunk into deep snow. The only one retrieved, contained the vital radio but was found to have been damaged in the drop. The group had to hurriedly leave the area, as the sound of the Halifax engines had initiated a mountain search by German troops. Linking up with local resistance groups later, a replacement radio was acquired which was essential to retaining contact with HQ. It transpired that the new radio had been taken from the office of Himmler's second-in-command, who had fled on the advance by Allied troops. Large supplies of Nazi loot were still arriving at the salt-mine depository, and the agents' surveillance of this situation was made much easier by discovering that the man in charge of the mine repository was a communist, and a secret member of the local Resistance Organisation. Following close continuous surveillance organised by the four Austrian agents, it was eventually discovered that among the art treasures arriving, six mysterious crates had been placed in the mine. By resistance workers breaking in to examine those, it was discovered the crates contained 500 Ib aircraft bombs, all set ready to be set off at any given time, in order to completely destroy the stolen priceless valuables and irreplaceable works of art. When the German troops charged with guarding the mine and its valuables decided to desert their charges on the approach of Allied Forces, agent Gaiswinkler became increasingly worried about anyone arriving to trigger off the bombs inside the mine. It was arranged that the bombs were defused, and a minor explosion was arranged to seal off the entrance to the vast number of chambers containing the Nazi loot. Gaiswinkler then sent off two men to try to contact US Forces, to convince them of the urgency required to take over custody of the mine's contents. As luck would have it the two men were captured by German troops, and Gaiswinkler organised a raid to recapture his two men. It was to the immense relief of Gaiswinkler, when the 80th US Infantry Division arrived at Alt Aussee, and realising the importance of the situation, immediately occupied the area and secured the mine and contents. Although secret agent Gaiswinkler and three other Austrians dropped by Bill Leckie, saved 6,755 of the world's greatest works of art, including paintings by Titian, Goya, Rubens, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and numerous others, they subsequently received little public recognition. Albrecht Gaiswinkler was apparently nominated for the King's Medal, a personal gift from the sovereign, the honour was apparently turned down. It is reassuring however, that persons of such high ideals and values are recognised in some publications. The magazine 'Military Illustrated' dated April 2002, provides a great deal more information on the Special Duty carried out by 148 Squadron, with Halifax T for Tommy flown by Bill Leckie. Peter Harclerode covers this subject in an interesting and informative manner, his account of Op Ebensburg is highly recommended to those interested in this subject.

Crew of T for Tommy :
Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, Navigator W/O Tom Ryden; Bomb Aimer F/Sgt Jim Douglas; Flight Engineer F/Sgt David Pithie; Wireless Operator F/Sgt Jack Pointer; Rear Gunner F/Sgt Charlie Leslie; and dispatcher F/Sgt John Lennox

Signatures on this item
*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.
NameInfo




Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW
*Signature Value : £50

Bill Leckie was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 23rd June 1921, joined the Royal Air Force in June 1941 and went to St Johns Wood on the 15th of September 1941. Bill Leckie started his flying training on the 4th of April 1942 at Stoke Orchard near Cheltenham in Tiger Moths. He went to Canada on the 26th of May 1942 at Monkton for further training until June before going on to Detroit and on to Pensacola, Florida on the 1st October 1942, flying Stearman and Catalina Flying boats until 31st March 1943 when Bill went to Prince Edward Island for further training. Back in the UK, Bill was expecting to join a Coastal Command squadron flying Catalinas but was transferred to Bomber Command and a conversion course on to Whitleys at Kinloss Scotland on the 22nd of February 1944, and joined 77 Squadron at Full Sutton on the 19th July 1944 on Halifaxes, flying 6 bombing missions, one being the bombing of the Flying Bomb Factory at Russesheim, before transferring to 148 Special Duties squadron on the 19th of August 1944 and going to Brindisi. Pilot Officer Bill Leckie was involved in the dropping of supplies (guns, ammunition and food) to the Polish during the Warsaw uprising. This was a costly mission and many aircraft were lost. (Bill was flying Halifax JD319 (FS - G). For his efforts in air-dropping supplies during this period, Bill Leckie was awarded the Polish Cross of Valour (KW). Pilot Officer Bill Leckie was also the Pilot for Operation Ebensburg on Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron carried out the misison to drop four SOE agents and their equipment near Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps. Thier mission was to secure and protect 6,755 items of the worlds greatest works of art that had been looted and stored by the Germans as they swept across Europe. With the allied forces closing in, the Germans had planned to blow up the entire store to prevent the artworks from falling into the hands of the liberators. Once on the ground, the four agents linked up with local resistance fighters and the mine and its valuable contents were eventually secured, the explosives made safe and the entire cache taken into the safe keeping of the 80th US Infantry Division as the German occupation of Europe crumbled. Bill Leckie stayed with 148 Squadron until 18th May 1945 when he was posted to Cairo with 216 Squadron (Dakotas) of Transport Command and on 1st January 1946 to 78 Squadron flying Dakotas again until 1st June 1946 , finally leaving the RAF on the 18th September 1946.

The Aircraft :
NameInfo
HalifaxRoyal Air Force heavy Bomber with a crew of six to eight. Maximum speed of 280mph (with MK.VI top speed of 312mph) service ceiling of 22,800feet maximum range of 3,000 miles. The Halifax carried four .303 browning machine guns in the tail turret, two .303 browning machines in the nose turret in the MK III there were four .303 brownings in the dorsal turret. The Handley Page Halifax, first joined the Royal Air Force in March 1941 with 35 squadron. The Halifax saw service in Europe and the Middle east with a variety of variants for use with Coastal Command, in anti Submarine warfare, special duties, glider-tugs, and troop transportation roles. A total of 6177 Halifax's were built and stayed in service with the Royal Air Force until 1952

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