Owen Miller (Auckland 1907-London 1960)
Our Target is Their Success
Original poster c. 1943
Printed for HMSO by Fosh & Cross Ltd for the Ministry of Aircraft Production
In a daring attack at very low level on the U-boat yards at Flensburg, a Mosquito, skimming the roof-tops, struck a chimney-pot. It tore a huge hold neraly three feet wide in teh fuselage near the wing root. That was right on the roof of Germany, by the Baltic coast, a very long journey home. The Mosquito made it without the slightest trouble, except that hte crew felt a draught. But it was nothing like the draught the Flensburg Nazis felt……
The balsa-wood-and-canvas Mosquito fighter-bomber was a fine aeroplane of the Second World War. During World War II the lack of metal encouraged the British to develop a wooden aeroplane. It was made in furniture factories, turned over to the war effort. DZ313, pictured, was built under the Air Ministry Contract Number 555/C.23(a) in the summer of 1942 by de Havilland at Hatfield as a B.IV Series II, powered by two 1,460 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 21/23 twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled V-engines. It was delivered to No. 105 Squadron at RAF Marham, St Faith, Norfolk, UK on September 16, and coded GB-E it flew its first mission three days later, target was Berlin. On October 20, 1942, at 12.00 hours, the aircraft took off on a cloud-cover attack on Hannover, Germany and failed to return. Both crew, F/Sgt Laurence Walter Deeth (pilot) and W/O Frank Edward Malcolm Hicks (observer), were killed.
Born in New Zealand Owen Miller worked his passage to London as a deckhand and worked as an illustrator for J Lyons & Co. In 1942 he began work for the Ministry of Aircraft Production and after the war produced posters for National Savings.
Born in Auckland and educated at Wellington College he worked as an artist in New Zealand, working with the Maori peoples and as an illustrator for a Wellington newspaper.
Finding working life difficult in New Zealand during the depression he signed on as a deckhand working his passage to the UK. Arriving at the Port of London with £5 to his name his first job was an illustrator for J Lyons & Co, the famous Corner Houses company. His greatest work there was to decorate the directors’ dining room as an aircraft interior. Following the outbreak of war Miller began to work for the Ministry of Aircraft Production in late 1942.
When Lord Beaverbrook commenced his term as Minister of Aircraft Production in May 1940 it was an industry beset with problems. Aircraft parts were produced in sufficient numbers, but assembly into flyable aircraft proved more challenging – the Castle Bromwich Spitfire factory had not produced a single completed aircraft by this point. Moreover the RAF central depots had large supplies of aircraft that had not been issued to squadrons. Once this was all brought under Beaverbrook’s control, aircraft production increased rapidly. During the Battle of Britain, the British production of fighter aircraft was two-and-a-half times that of Germany. Britain had 644 operable fighters at the start of July 1940 – when the Battle of Britain began – against the German 725. By the end of October 1940, when the German offensive finished, British fighter aircraft had – despite significant losses – increased to 732 whilst the Germans were left with just 275.
To achieve this great productivity increase the Ministry was run on informal grounds; few notes were kept; staff members had few formal roles. Essential to the success were motivational posters in the aircraft factories, such as those produced by Miller for the Bayly-Souster commercial art studio in Fleet Street in London for whom he worked.
Life as an artist dreaming up fantasy motivational posters could have hidden risks. One poster Miller produced was a stylised aeroplane without a propellor. Needless to say the jet engine was Top Secret at that time and he was duly summoned to explain what he knew of it – of course the answer was nothing.
Following the war he worked for National Savings, whilst also selling his own art – both sculpture and paintings.
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Condition: Generally excellent, slight edge wear and browning to paper.