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The drawings, watercolors and documents are part of the Wartime Log of F/Lt Raymond Keen of the RAF’s 78 Squadron and as such come with solid historical provenance. With the exception of the watercolor The Long March, all pieces were created by F/Lt Keen and fellow POWs in the North Compound, scene of The Great Escape, between 1943-45.

F/Lt Raymond William Keen was born on 7 April 1915 in the small border town of Haltwhistle, Northumberland in the United Kingdom. He was raised along with three siblings in a local hostelry, The Railway Hotel, owned by his parents. From a very early age, he displayed a natural aptitude for the game of football, and on completing his education, considered taking up the sport professionally, before opting instead for a career in the Royal Air Force. In 1937, while posted at RAF Leconfield in Yorkshire, he met and married a local girl, Irene Andrews, from the neighboring town of Beverley.

Raymond Keen football
Keen in 1931, then aged 16 – Front Row Right
F/Lt Raymond Keen and wife Irene
F/Lt Keen and wife Irene

F/Lt Keen Military Records

The official Ministry of Defence Record of Service for F/LT Raymond Keen, which details his time as a POW.

F/Lt Keen Flight Log

Pages from the Flight Log of F/LT Raymond Keen recording the fateful night his aircraft (Halifax II W7931) was shot down near Duisburg, Germany, and he was officially listed as ‘missing’. Although sustaining its damage over Germany, the aircraft limped across the nearby border into Holland and finally crashed outside the rural village of Gaandaren.

As an additional note, the Flight Log also details F/LT Keen’s involvement in the landmark Operation Millenium, the First 1000 Bomber Raid on Cologne, which took place on the night of the 30th May, 1942.

’30-5-42 Operations Cologne – Target reached and bombed.’

F/Lt Keen Military Records Missing in Action Telegram
RAF Telegram informing F/LT Keen’s wife, Irene, that he was MIA.

Important Mrs I. Keen Spotted Cow Hotel Haltwhisle

regret to inform you that your husband P/O Keen is missing from operations on the night of 26th March letter follows

OC 78 Squadron

F/Lt Keen Wartime Log from Stalag Luft III

The YMCA Wartime Log of F/LT Raymond Keen

YMCA Stalag Luft III Log of F/Lt Keen

F/Lt Keen Stalag Luft III Scrapbook
F/Lt Keen Early Flying Career

F/Lt Keen Injured in Air Crash

F/Lt Keen with King George VI

1. Early days, flying a Hadley Page Heyford

2. Injured during a crash while training over Snowdonia

3. Being presented to King George VI