My name is Philip Wade, born in Umtali. I started my National Service at The School of Infantry in January 1978 and was then posted to Directorate of Legal Services under Col. John Reed.
I first met with Mr Smith at his home in Harare to discuss this project towards the end of 1997. The subsequent process of deciding on the composition of the painting, selection of the artist, and gathering of all the research data, meant that the painting was completed towards the end of 1998 and the prints were finished before the end of that year.
I then took the prints up to Harare. When he first saw the print he remarked that that was exactly as he remembered the terrain he flew over. He was visibly moved when I gave him the original painting and in his true selfless way said “Isn’t there anyone more deserving to give this to.” He then undertook the lengthy task of signing each print. This meant that the whole project was completed in 1999.
On 1st July 2000 an article appeared in The Star Newspaper in Johannesburg covering an interview of Mr Smith by Abbey Makoe. In the background you can see the original painting deliberately propped up against a coffee table.
Permission was sought from, and granted on the 15th June 1998 by The Crown Copyright Administrator of the Ministry of Defence, to use the No. 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron RAF badge on the print. Furthermore, The Imperial War Museum in London, The RAF Archives at Hendon, and the Public Records Office in Hammersmith were all visited by me over this period to authenticate all the details as shown in the print.
The end result is this unique limited edition print which depicts 2 Mk IX Spitfires of No. 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron RAF (DV being the code letter combination of this squadron), flying over Tuscany Italy. The Squadron’s Operations Book actually shows that F/O ID Smith flew MK227 on the 26th May and 13th and 14th June 1944, and the other aircraft in the print MH532 on the 13th May 1944 on bomber escort duties and strafing missions. Flight Lieutenant I D Smith flew these and other Spitfires until 22nd June 1944 when he was shot down over Northern Italy.