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  1. 8 July 1940 Northern Front In Sudan, five Vickers Wellesley of No.14 (RAF) Squadron take off around midday to bomb the airfield of Zula. Approaching the target, they intercept at low altitude a Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 of 10a Squadriglia BT. According to Flying Officer Cecil Rowan-Robinson, commanding one of the improved Vickers Wellesley (K7723) : “For it was low over the sea and gave it a long burst from my front gun. Then I overtook it and turned round it to give my chaps a chance to have a go with all their rear guns … eventually we drove it down into the sea where it crashed with a great splash.” This is the beginning of a real ordeal for the Italian crew. All injured during the fight or landing, they manage to put the inflatable raft into the water. But at this moment Sottotenente Goffredo Franchini realizes that it can not float with more than three people. He orders his crew to leave him on the spot, hung on one of the pieces of wings, in order to reach a nearby island and then come back for him. When Sergeant Maggiore Piero Violetti returns, he can not find any trace of Sottotentente Goffredo Franchini (he will receive the Medaglia d'Oro posthumously). Isolated, the unfortunate will take nearly two weeks to reach a village, feeding on bird eggs, before being repatriated to Massawa by a destroyer. Note that the L2649 is damaged during the attack and the pilot receiving bursts of the canopy in the eyes. Injured, partially blinded by blood, Pilot Officer Richard J. Willitts is forced to land in emergency on the island of Aqiq Kabir, off the Sudan, where the crew will be quickly rescued. Southern Front The South Africans of No.40 (SAAF) Squadron receive, on 7 July, the order to deploy six Hartbees at Wajir. The next day, Captain Louis J. Schravesande took off at 14h00 with his aircraft to attack the Italian artillery near Moyale, while Lieutnant Neville K. Rankin (802) was responsible for attracting air defense thanks to the addition of an additional armor plate. The Hartbees attack in dive and claim the destruction of eleven pieces of artillery on the twelve present. After the attack, they return to Wajir before leaving, the next day to Isiolo. During this flight, No. 843 is forced to crash-landing at mid-way. The aircraft is severely damaged, while the pilot : Lieutnant Geoffrey L.H. Tatham suffers from a a broken shoulder. Example of the means used by the Hartbees to relay messages on the Kenyan border. Collection: Laurie Shuttleworth, via Tinus le Roux.
  2. 7 July 1940 Northern Front The Italians continue their operations along the Sudanese border by attacking the Kurmuk Fort, opening the way to Khartoum, with the support of at least two Caproni Ca 133. The attack is a success and the garrison (60 members of Sudanese police) surrenders, allowing the capture of the fort. Regia Aeronautica makes some transfers: two Fiat CR 42s of 413a Squadriglia CT are sent to Assab, while IMAM Ro.37bis of 110a Squadriglia RT return to Dire Dawa.
  3. 4 Juillet 1940 Northern Front Italians launch offensivee along the border with Sudan where the Sudan Defense Force can only oppose 320 men against about 8 000 Italians. The attack began at 03h00 when the Italian columns headed for Fort Kassala, preceded by a cavalry detachment under the orders of Tenente Francesco Santasilia. After several hours of fighting, Kassala was abandoned around 13h00 by his garrison despite fierce resistance that would have killed about 43 enemy soldiers (and 114 wounded), as well as the destruction of six tankette for only 1 dead (and 16 missing) on British side. At the same time, the forts of Gallabat and Karora are also captured. Regia Aeronautica strongly supports the operations with five Squadriglie engaged in ground attack. If the Wellesley of No.14 (RAF) Squadron are placed on alert in the afternoon to intervene in the battle, bad weather leads to the cancellation of all flights while No.47 (RAF) Squadron claims a Caproni Ca.133 damaged during a bombing of Metemma on late afternoon. Note that the Regia Aeronautica makes some moves : two Fiat CR.42 of 413a Squadriglia CT to Assab, while IMAM Ro37bis of 110a Squadriglia RT return to Dire Dawa. Indeed, according to the Capitano Corrado Ricci (410a Squadriglia CT), the bombings on Assab have serious consequences for the Italians : “The port of Assab, very important for its position at the mouth of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, did not have a moment of tranquility. Unfortunately its sheds were filled with many goods: crates of mineral water, wine, rare provisions, clothes, etc. The continuous day and night shelling seriously damaged our reserves and forced our command to disarm the base. Corrado Santoro, who was there before being transferred to Dire Dawa, told me that every night an English plane was flying half an hour over the airfield, dropping some bombs though often without doing any damage. All remained awake during the night and arrived exhausted at the beginning of work each morning.”
  4. 3 July 1940 Northern Front In the North, after a few days of rest, Vickers Wellesley of No.14 (RAF) Squadron are back in operation. Three aircraft take off for photographic reconnaissance of the Eritrean coast and Zula airfield. Unfortunately, L2652 (Flying Officer Samuel G. Soderholm, Sergeant Bernard L. Trayhurn and John C. Dawson) is lost and will never return to base. He reportedly fell victim to a Fiat CR.42, from 412a Squadriglia CT (Tenente Mario Visintini) over Dekemhare. Southern Front The British decided to deploy at Moyale the entire 1/3 Kings African Rifles (Major J. F. Macnab) and the 22nd Mountain Battery R. A. to support the garrison. For this purpose, Flying Officer Off Cyril L. Sindall and Sergeant Ken Murrell of No.237 (RAF) Squadron are instructed to conduct artillery fire guidance with the Hawker Hart SR103.
  5. 2 July 1940 Northern Front The northern front remains relatively calm and the routine of the month of June continues. The British are still seeking to neutralize the Italian threat to the Red Sea and are mounting a series of operations to eliminate the Italian fighters at Assab. The day begins very early with the dispatch of three Bristol Blenheim Mk I of No.39 (RAF) Squadron at 07h50. The opposing defense is, however, already alert after a first raid by two other British aircraft, and they are intercepted by two Fiat CR.42 of 414a Squadriglia CT. A short confrontation broke out to repel the bombers, although the crew of L8387 claimed the destruction of an enemy fighter on the ground. The skirmish expands with the arrival of three Gloster Gladiators of No.94 (RAF) Squadron at 08h36. Squadron Leader William T.F. Wightman (N2283) claims two Fiat CR.42, one on the ground and the other in combat. Sergeant William H. Dunwoodie (N2279), meanwhile, is strafing vehicles when he notices a fighter in his tail. He manages, by maneuvering, to stand in his back and to touch his opponent, which crushes on the ground. On the Italian side, 414a Squadriglia CT recognizes the loss of two Fiat CR.42 and their pilots. If the first, Sergente Luigi Barengo is killed in combat, the second : Sergente Fosco Celleri succeeds to jump in parachute but he need to stay two months in the hospital. Later in the afternoon, five Vickers Wellesley of No. 47 (RAF) Squadron took off to bomb concentrations of enemy troops near the Metemma. Unfortunately, one aircraft (K7777) was hit by AA and crashed on the ground near Gallabat, causing the loss of the crew (Pilot Officer Colin G. Bush, Leading Aircraftman Joseph W. Davidson).
  6. Chapter 2 : Italian Offensives on the borders The beginnings of the new month are mainly marked by a series of limited Italian offensives along the borders aimed at capturing the posts and forts located there. Indeed, they are located in relatively arid areas. Thus that controls the main wells and infrastructures is placed immediately in a situation of advantage compared to its opponent. The latter, in case of offense, will have a more complicated logistics, while the likely location of his first attacks will be known. At the beginning of the war, when the Italians still have a superiority over the British Empire, he imposes to control them quickly. While operations targeting Sudan's border crossings (Kassala, Kurmuk and Gallabat) are fast (the Sudan Defense Force is unable to hold any advance and the weather conditions blocking RAF), the situation in the south is more complex and several clashes break out to capture the forts of Moyale and El Wak. The two British positions fell, however, into Italian hands in mid-July. 1st July 1940 Southern Front On 1st July 1940, an attack is launched on the southern front against Fort Moyale, defended by the A Company of the 1 Kings African Rifles under the command of Captain F.C. Drummond. A column of about 2 000 Italians, mostly Eritrean troops, with around twenty tankettes, was reported in the area as early as 23 June. The attack began at dawn, after a ten-minute bombardment by artillery, when Italian troops attacked several times in the morning, though without success. Due to the lack of available aircrafts, the British can only use those of No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron. For this purpose, two Hawker Audax and two Hawker Hart take off, at 10h00 from Wajir followed by two others at 14h30 under the orders of Flying Officer Evert P. Kleynhans (Hawker Audax K7531). However, if crews claim several hits, it seems that several bombs have fallen on areas in the hands of the King African Rifles. At the same time, Italians are moving 29bis Gruppo BT to the new Shashamane airfield in southern Ethiopia to support the offensive.
  7. 30 June 1940 Northern Front Five Vickers Wellesley of No.223 (RAF) Squadron are dispatched at 04h35 to bomb the Massawa fuel depot. The mission is not easy, as crews face a very strong AA, while enemy fighters are met above the objective. The Vickers Wellesley K7724 is damaged, while the L2694 (Sergeant Bernard Poskitt and Leading Aircraftman Lewis P. Jepp) is shot down by 412a Squadriglia CT which claims two aircrafts, one being credited to Sergente Maggiore Luigi Baron, and the second to Tenente Mario Visintini. According to a letter sent to his mother by Tenente Mario Visintini on 1st July : "Yesterday (...), fighters under my command shot down two aircraft, one being to my credit (...)".
  8. 29 June 1940 Northern Front In response to the British bombardments of previous days, three Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 of 10th Squadriglia BT are sent to Port Sudan at dawn. As they approach, around 05h00, Pilot Officer Jack Hamlyn (K Flight) is ordered to take off with his Gloster Gladiator Mk I L7619. He intercepts one of the bomber, which he sees explode during the fight. Two crew members will survive, including Capitano Umberto Barone. According to Sergeant Arthur F. Wimsett of No.14 (RAF) Squadron : “Aroused by the sound of bombs falling on the airfield. We adjourned to our slit trenches and were most amused at the sight of Flight Sergeant Johns who had slept in the nude - and was rather portly - clutching a blanket to himself like a Venus disturbed at the Bath. Overhead we saw a Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 at about 1 800 m, but what we did not know, was that the two Gloster Gladiators which bad been detached to Port Sudan, were airborne. As we watched the Gloster Gladiators attacked the Savoia-Marchetti SM.81, which exploded in a ball of white flame.”
  9. 28 June 1940 Northern Front The day is mainly marked by a series of bombings on Macaaca led by No.39 (RAF) Squadron. Squadron Leader Alan McD. Bowman opens the day by taking off at dawn on the L8385 with two Glosters Gladiator Mk I of No.94 (RAF) Squadron : N2283 (Squadron Leader William T.F. Wightman) and N2279 (Pilot Officer Alan D. Carter). They are followed by four other Bristol Blenheim Mk I, between 10h00 and 14h00, when one of them surprises the IMAM Ro.37bis of Sergente Maggiore Mario Di Trani landing. Quickly attacked, he tries to use his maneuverability, but the speed of the opponent leaves him no chance. He then decides in despair to hit the enemy, but without success. His landing gear damaged, his instrument panel riddled with bullets, with no fuel, he managed to landing despite its flaps are no longer functional and gets away without serious injury. Several fuel tanks are left on fire by the bombers.
  10. 27 June 1940 Northern Front Regia Aeronautica makes several transfers. Three IMAM Ro.37bis of 110a Squadriglia RT leave Dire Dawa for Assab where they are joined by three Fiat CR.42 of 414a Squadriglia CT under the orders of Capitano Lucertini. Finally, the 412a Squadriglia CT receives three additional aircraft under the command of the Sottotenente Sola. Southern Front In Kenya, Caproni Ca.133 of 31 bis Gruppo BT continue to harass the Wajir airfield and the Rhodesians respond by attacking Italian positions near Moyale.
  11. 26 June 1940 Northern Front Ten Vickers Wellesley of No.14 and No.47 (RAF) Squadron take off to bomb the airfield of Gura. They can carry out the bombing, but they are intercepted at 07h30 by seven Fiat CR.42 of the 414a Squadriglia CT, while they take a return course. According to Squadron Leader Anthony D. Selway Squadron : “The Fiat CR42s were doing beam and stern attacks firing tracer. One of them dived underneath me and pulled up well ahead and up into a half loop and fired at me as he came back completely upside down ... he - or one of the others - was quite a good shot. There was suddenly a very strong smell of petrol and Mildren [Sergeant Joseph J.W. Mildren] said ‘Sir, there’s petrol pouring into the belly of the fuselage from somewhere and it’s nearly ankle deep!’ and indeed the fumes were so powerful that I wondered they could put me out. I told Mildren to switch off all electrics and to stop firing the guns and that he and Lund were to prepare to bale out if I said so. I undid my straps, opened my sliding hood and the little side door and stood up and perched on the side of the cockpit and tried to keep the Wellesley straight and level with one hand. My team drew closer in formation and watched me with some concern ... fortunately there was no spark and no hot pipe and therefore no fire and after about five minutes Mildren said ‘I think it’s going down’. Apparently we had lost most if not all of the fuel in the starboard wing and so I had to watch out for the engine cutting. In any other aeroplane it would have meant a landing in enemy territory but not with the Wellesley with its vast reserves of fuel.” All aircrafts arrive to return to Port Sudan, although two others were damaged during the fight. The gunners claim two Italian fighters damaged : one would have left leaving a trail of smoke, while the second would have fallen on the ground. Italians report that only one aircraft was hit, pilot injured. Following the capture of Italian maps, No.203 (RAF) Squadron fly a reconnaissance above Dessie and Milo (Blenheim Mk IV L9215) which show the presence of ten Caproni Ca.133 on the first airfield and eight Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 and SM.81 on the second. Note that a thorough study of Italian and British maps shows sometimes differences of nearly 25 km.
  12. 25 June 1940 Northern Front No.47 (RAF) Squadron reports the loss of the Vickers Wellesley L2696 following engine problems during a reconnaissance mission above the sector: Asmara, Gura and Massawa. The aircraft was forced into a forced landing and its crew (Sergeant F.A. Saunders ; Corporal G.A. Battye) was captured by the Italians. The No.8 (RAF) Squadron sends several Bristol Blenheim Mk I, in the morning, to fly over the vicinity of the Italian Fort of Biyo in Ethiopia following major troop movements in front of British Somaliland.
  13. 24 June 1940 Northern Front A new bombing mission by Vickers Wellesley is organized. However due to the lack of available aircrafts, decision is made to organize a joint mission of No.14 and No.47 (RAF) Squadron against Asmara with each five aircraft. Arriving above the target, aircrafts begin a rapid dive to 3 300 meters in order to drop bombs on the airfield, despite very bad visibility. Italian fighters are seen, but without consequences, and all crews land at 15h00. Italians report slight damage to a civilian Caproni Ca.133 from Ala Littoria, as well as the forced landing of a Fiat CR.32, due to a motor problem during the interception (410a Squadriglia CT ?). A more serious confrontation took place, when six Bristol Blenheim Mk I of No.11 and No.39 (RAF) Squadron attack Dire Dawa, around 12h00 and are intercepted by the Fiat CR.32 of Sergeant Maggiore Antonio Giardina of 410a Squadriglia CT. Being warned of the arrival of the formation, he can dive on the first three aircrafts which he seems to damage. However his machine guns jammed during the attack. He is however joined by two Fiat CR.42 of 413a Squadriglia CT (including Tenente Luciano Cacciavillani) who claim one Blenheim as destroyed. However, Pilot Officer D.G. Hunter, of No.39 (RAF) Squadron, arrives to crash-landing with his badly damaged Bristol Blenheim Mk I L4920 near the British border. Isolated in adverse territory, Leading Aircraftman Rechinald Olley (radio operator) decides to leave for British Somalia, but he will be found dying on 29 June. Pilot Officer D.G. Hunter and Sergeant R.G.D. Ellis, injured, decide to stay near the aircraft. They will be rescued soon after by Somalis who will guide them to friendly territory. Two other bombers return to the base with various damages.
  14. 23 June 1940 Northern Front A last mission is reported over Djibouti with an IMAM Ro.37 bis of 110a Squadriglia CT between 14h00 and 17h15 before the end of operations following the signing of an armistice between France and Italy. However, despite the end of Italian operations the future of Djibouti still remains very uncertain. On 26 June 1940, a meeting of the Board of Directors at Governor Hubert Deschamps's palace led to a conclusion that was fairly wait-and-see: resistance while refraining from any hostile initiative against Italians, and waiting for the next events. This meeting nevertheless shows a very deep opposition between the various participants. This uncertainty is reinforced by a silence from France between 25 June and 10 July 1940. During this interval, the voice of General de Gaulle is heard when he sending a telegram to General Paul Legentilhomme, dated on 6 July 1940 to consider collaboration between common interests. At the same time, sporadic clashes erupt between Italians and French for the control of the outposts, while several Italian aircraft attacks are reported on the airfield, which remains used by British planes for reconnaissance - bombing, from Aden, on long-range targets. The situation changed on 10 July 1940, after the receipt of a telegram from General Maxime Weygand indicating the clauses of the armistice imposed on the territory of Djibouti. A new meeting of the Board of Directors is organized with again the choice of a waiting position pending further information from France. According to Governor Hubert Deschamps: “From that moment, then, we lived in a sort of equivocal truce, the general and myself, hoping each one, while maintaining courteous relations, to bring the other little by little to his point of view. The regime that reigned at that time in Djibouti was a kind of dictatorship in the hands of the general who had the police, who controlled the letters and telegrams, who had a means of correspondence with the English cable of Aden which maintained a secret correspondence by this means with General Wavell and the British authorities who had kept the liaison officers in Djibouti and allowed English ships and planes to frequent our base.” Things are evolving, however, quickly because of a series of events: the gradual rallying of the various French Colonies, the Mers el-Kebir affair, the loyalist attitude of the various officials, and the Italian threats through the Italian Armistice Commission. The situation changed radicaly, on 14 July 1940, with the arrival of General Germain (in charge of handling the situation in favor of the French Government) at the Djibouti border from Italian territory, after a first attempt on 10 July. Indeed, when the British authorities informed General Paul Legentilhomme of the landing of an Italian plane, carrying a French general to Asmara, he says that: "The orders have not changed. All Italian aircraft must be intercepted and shot down by your fighters ". Finally, a first meeting between the two men took place on 15 July in the hinterland during which General Germain was refused entry into Djibouti. However, the next day, Governor Hubert Deschamps moves to meet the representative of Vichy, then decides that the time has come for a final decision. An extraordinary Board of Directors meets in the afternoon of 19 July, which votes loyalty to the government of Vichy. At the same time, the military authorities began to crack, starting with the commander of the Navy and quickly that of the Air Force, while General Paul Legentilhomme is gradually outvoted. On 23 July, a new ultimatum was issued by Vichy with three essential points: confer on General Germain full civilian and military powers, remove General Legentilhomme and Governor Deschamps from the colony, install General Aymé as new commander of the troops. In the last days of July, General Legentilhomme attempted a last bluff by threatening an imminent revolt of the troops no longer obeying their officers and, in particular, Corsican NCOs and Senegalese. Finally, Paul Legentilhomme, nervously exhausted and now completely isolated, decided to abandon Djibouti by fleeing in the night of 1st to 2 August 1940 in the direction of British Somaliland in the company of two officers. General Paul Legentilhomme. Source : L'Ordre de la Libération
  15. 22 June 1940 Northern Front The Italians are back over Djibouti with consistent strength. The day begins very early as three Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 of 63a Squadriglia BT bombard the habour between 03h40 and 07h55, dropping several bombs near the ships. They are followed by five IMAM Ro.37bis of 110a Squadriglia RT (including Colonel Mario Pezzi) escorted by a Fiat CR.32 from 410a Squadriglia CT (Capitano Corrado Ricci) and three Fiat CR.42 of 413a Squadriglia CT, between 05h40 and 08h30, to attack the airfield. IMAM Ro.37bis (MM10767) is destroyed on landing. According to Capitano Corrado Ricci : "At 04h00 in the morning, we are all ready, hot engines and propellers moving. (...) The Colonnello Mario Pezzi is leading with a patrol of three IMAM Ro.37bis. He has with him, as an observer, an artillery officer who will take care of the bombs. Shortly after, I take off with the other two reconnaissance aircraft, then follow the three Fiat CR.42 escort. Today, I do not have to work as a fighter. These IMAM Ro.37bis are very slow and I have to maneuver constantly to not distance them. We are sailing slowly along the tracks. The landscape is monotonous: yellow sand and some bushes burned. The Danakil, rich in innumerable termite mounds, gives birth to melancholy thoughts. This desert has its charm: towards the border with British Somalia, it is entirely bristling with many yellowish cones rising in the sand. The sea is visible in the distance, we pass over Zeilah. (...) We follow the coast on our left so as not to be spotted. Zeilah, which we have just passed, is a group of a few huts. There is also a makeshift aerodrome: it is naturally desert. The port of Djibouti is emerging: there is black smoke and I see explosions coming from the firing of the anti-aircraft defense. As expected, in the order of operation, our arrival coincides with a bombardment by a patrol of Savoia-Marchetti SM.79. At the agreed time, I signal my wingers to join Mario Pezzi, who orders them to stand in single line before diving for the attack. I am higher so I can defend them in the event of an attack from the opponent's fighters as they approach the target at low altitude. The anti-aircraft defense opens fire: first on Fiat CR.42 that I see above my head, then on me. The shots are very accurate and the shells burst just a few hundred meters to my right. It's quite amusing to see these little bluish-white flakes bloom one after the other, at an almost regular distance, next to me (as long as they do not get too close!). I see the airfield and prepare: I close the radiators, I cut the engine, I start my dive and drop my bombs. I can see from a distance the long row of IMAM Ro.37bis that continue to hover in the direction of the target. The air defense is still active and sometimes I have the impression of seeing tracers. The Fiat CR.42 continues to fly at higher altitudes, but it seems that the French fighter is not part of it. Fortunately for us, because according to our information, they have "Morane Saulnier": a monoplane very fast and very well armed. Here is the attack of IMAM Ro.37bis: a blackish smoke rises from the area while I continue to monitor the surroundings. I see trenches near which anti-aircraft guns seem strangely motionless behind a protection erected with sacks of earth. I attack with my grenades, then continues strafing. I see an area with small shacks very well ordered, certainly military and I decided to throw my last grenades, but I miss the target: shooting too short. I leave in the direction of the airfield. One of our reconnaissance aircraft finally emerges from the blackish cloud that rises above the airfield. Other aircrafts also appear nearby, all scattered after the attack. I'm getting closer to the first one: it's Colonnello Mario Pezzi. I then stand a hundred meters from him, a little higher up, to escort him while the others tighten in close formation. French fighters can still intervene. We are just two hundred meters and we go slowly. Below us, the ground made of a blackish stone reverberates an infernal heat. The cooling water of my engine is almost 100°C, but I can not do anything. And here is the border: the stretch of yellow sand starts again. We pass over the railway station of Aysha (Ethiopia) and its advanced airfield, then we find the long expanse of termite mounds. Finally, the bush in which Dire Dawa and our airfield stand out. I land after three hours of flight: I have almost no fuel. " At 08h05, two Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 of 7a Squadriglia BT take off from Addis Ababa to attack also the airfield and the habour. The attack was made around 10h15, with pilots claiming several hits against the hangars and the south jetty. The two bombers returned at 12h35. They were followed by three other Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, from the same unit, between 08h55 and 12h55, then one Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 of 6a Squadriglia BT between 09h45 am and 13h50 (bombs dropped around 12h00). According to the Italian documentation, Dire Dawa airfield is attacked between 12h00 and 13h00 by unknown aircrafts. Some sources mention French Potez 25, but it is probably Bristol Blenheim Mk I. No.11 and 39 (RAF) Squadron send five aircraft (three + two) between 11h00 and 15h10 and claim the destruction of at least one aircraft on the ground. Sottotenente Miroslav Komjanc (413a Squadriglia CT) tries to join his Fiat CR.42, but it is damaged by a bomb. The Sergeant Maggiore Gaetano Volpe (410a Squadriglia CT 410) try also, but the engine of his Fiat CR.32 (MM4648) refuses to start. Another aircraft is damaged by the bombing while a member of the ground staff is killed and two others wounded. According to Capitano Corrado Ricci : “We couldn’t start to have our lunch that a bomb rain, damned close, hurries us: who runs to recovery, who lies on ground, … windows glass shatters and breaks, roof vibrates and a rain of debris and powder covers us and our maccheroni, floor shatters and it seems that explosions never end. Santoro is on the ground beside me, we’re flat as soles as we look on one another, while the hell continues: we’re both pale… As soon the explosions cease we jump up and run to the airport. There had been three bombers, absolutely unexpected: a driver is dead, hit by a splinter; Colonnello Pezzi shows me it, a few grams of iron, and says: “For this small bit of damned iron a life has gone… and I’ll have to write this to his mother!” Two more airmen have been slightly wounded, a fighter burns at the end of the field, the oil sump of my engine has been penetrated from side to side. Sottotenente Komjanc was on alarm duty and was running towards his CR.42, which his engineer had soon started. While he was wearing his parachute, some bombs dropped nearby and the shock wave threw him on ground. As he rose up, he saw his fighter burning: he’s now telling this to Santoro, and he’s desperate for having lost an aircraft. It seems he still doesn’t realize of the extraordinary luck that protected him!”
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