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615sqn_Manfred

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  1. 1st August 1940 Northern Front The first day of the month begins relatively early, when three Gloster Gladiators from K Flight: Pilot Officer Robert H. Chapman (L7619), Pilot Officer Percy O.V. Green (K7974) and Flying Officer Richard B. Whittington (K7986) take off from El-Gadarif at 08h10 to search for a Caproni Ca.133 reported in the area. The latter is quickly spotted by Pilot Officer Percy O.V. Green who, after a long fight (50 minutes ! ) and several attacks, manages to shoot down his opponent. According to him : “I saw a Caproni 133 bomber slipping through the scattered cloud at about 900 m. I called the others on the R/T and set off in pursuit. My radio must have been faulty, which was not unusual, and they never heard me. I was soon involved in the exciting business of trying to catch the slow moving bomber whose skilful pilot weaved in and out of cloud hoping to throw me off. I was determined to get him and was able to close in and fire some long bursts which I could see hitting the aircraft but not doing any significant damage, even when they hit the engines. Deciding to close in and see what was happening, I drew alongside only to find that the gunner was very much alive and well and aiming at me with his machine-gun. I felt a ping on my rudder bar and a sharp pain in my left knee. He had fired one shot and then the gun stopped which was extremely lucky for me. I broke away sharply and came in right up behind and let him have a long burst. He started to go down, out of control, and parachutes billowed as those of the crew still alive bailed out. The Caproni came down in a heap in scrub country and I saw two of the crew land and get rid of their parachutes. There was nothing further I could do so I took a brief note of the features of the landscape so I could report their location and set off back to the polo field. There were no real landmarks such as rivers or roads so navigation was largely a matter of timing and gut feel. Finding the polo field again was quite difficult because we took off in such a hurry that I took no note of the time and had no accurate idea of how long I had been airborne. However, I found it, did a bit of a beat up and landed. Nobody knew I had been in action and they were astounded to hear that I had shot down the Caproni 133. The ground crew were ecstatic and soon at work patching the bullet hole and checking the rudder bar and cables for damage. Dickey was a bit annoyed that he and Hugh had missed out but I said that they should have kept a sharper look out and, in any case, I had given all the correct calls over the R/T.” Four members of the Italian crew will finally be found, in the following days, of which one of the officers is reported as a Comanding Officer. In the early afternoon, a second fight broke out, when the RAF decided to attack Shinile airfield with a formation of twelve Bristol Blenheim of No.8 and No.39 (RAF) Squadron escorted by two Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVF of No.203 (RAF) Squadron. Arrived above the objective, at 15h00, the British are confronted with a strong reaction of the AA and several Fiat CR.32 and Fiat CR.42. Capitano Corrado Ricci (410 Squadriglia CT) and Tenente Luciano Cacciavillani (413 Squadriglia CT) claims the destruction of L8406 (Sergeant J.C. Franks, Sergeant J.H. Thain, Leading Aircraftman A.T. Cumner-Price) of No.8 (RAF) Squadron. According to Capitano Corrado Ricci : “My mechanic finishes the last preparations, and I'm flying after a minute. I try to climb as fast as possible. I look around: nothing in sight. But something seems to come out of the sun ... Here they are: six dive aircrafts... seem to be heading for our secret aerodromes ! They fly over Dire Dawa, but they do not bomb the city, so they aim our secret airfields. They are about to miss me at the same altitude, as fast as race cars ! I attack the first section of three aircrafts, by the side, the other sections are still behind. At the moment of opening fire, I find myself on their backs: I shoot the leader, then his right winger. Both aircrafts leave a thin trail of smoke, but I'm not sure I touched them. One of the machine guns jams, but I can not reload at the risk of losing my aim. Bursts pass and I hear a crackle of machine guns behind me : I am also targeted. I emerge by making a large barrel, and then I see on my right, a little lower, the second patrol. I finish my maneuver and find myself exactly in the six hours of the left winger. I have time to reload my machine gun, which allows me to open fire, while they drop their bombs. The first patrol is already far ahead: the two planes, on which I fired, still smoke, though slightly. I am in a rage for not being able to prevent this bombing ! Who knows yet how many victims he will do ! I try to concentrate all my faculties to adjust my aim: it is the turn of the right winger, now. And the machine gun is still jamming ! I re-arm, but the three planes move away leaving a thin trail of white smoke, like the previous patrol. I resume my shot: suddenly, one of the aircraft seems to lose altitude, an illusion ? No, it really slows down, while the other two are moving away more and more. I see his turret turn in my direction and his gunner opens fire. I do the same, while the English pilot continues to do everything to prevent me from staying behind him. I shoot short bursts ... I have to reduce the engine so as not to hit it ... quickly shut down the engine ... a violent blow in the rudder to avoid a collision. We are ten meters above the ground, the British pulls the shutters to land on the ground in a cloud of dust! A feeling of joy runs through me as I pass over Bristol Blenheim, my first victory in the Empire, lying recumbent between the Danakil termites. The three occupants jumped out of the apparatus: the one box and extends under the wing. I hope he is not seriously injured! The others make big signs of surrender. I head for the aerodrome to make the barrel of victory, which makes the mechanics jump! I land and I hear great news: no casualties and no damage to our secret airfields! The bombs exploded in the sand, which helped to reduce their breathing.” The action is, however, not over as the Bristol Blenheim fall on three Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 returning from an attack on the port of Zeila. Two aircrafts of No.39 (RAF) Squadron : L8384 (Pilot Officer J.E.S. White) and L8612 (Sergeant Thomas Crehan) immediately went on the attack, claiming one of the adversaries destroyed, and another probably damaged.
  2. 31 July 1940 The end of July sees various movements within the RAF. The A Flight of No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron is transferred to Tumboni from Wajir, due to regular harassment by Italians. At the same time, No.45 (RAF) Squadron sends a reinforcements detachment to Sudan. This addition is, however, very modest, consisting only of five officers, twenty-five men, and six Bristol Blenheims. Regia Aeronautica is also making several changes to prepare for the imminent offensive against British Somaliland. For this purpose, a Comando Tattico Aeronautico is created under the orders of General Renato Collalti. At the same time, six Caproni Ca.133 of 18a Squadriglia BT move on Dire Dawa where they are joined by nine Fiat CR.32 of 411a Squadriglia CT, while 10th Squadriglia BT arrives in Gura with Savoia- Marchetti SM.81, finally the 26bis Gruppo BT is dissolved for lack of aircrafts.
  3. 29 July 1940 Northern Front No.223 (RAF) Squadron sends five Vickers Wellesley at 04h50 to bomb Asmara. However, the bad weather forces Pilot Officer Collier to divert on Massawa. Arrived above the secondary target, at 08h05, the bombers encounter a very strong anti-aircraft defense which damages one of the aircraft, and an energetic opposition from a pair of Fiat CR.42 of 412a Squadriglia CT (Tenente Mario Visintini and Sergente Maggiore Luigi Baron ?). Four Vickers Wellesley are quickly damaged, but manage to return to Summit. One of the gunners, Corporal Frederick M. Dunn, is immediately evacuated to the hospital where he unfortunately dies the next day following a head injury. In addition, following the clash, the K8524 will be removed, while the K7720 will be rendered unusable for some time since it will be necessary to wait until October to see the aircraft again.
  4. 27 July 1940 Northern Front The RAF returns at around 08h00 on the Airfield of Mille with three Bristol Blenheim Mk I of No. 8 (RAF) Squadron, escorted by a Bristol Blenheim Mk IVF of No. 203 (RAF) Squadron. The three Italian planes seen the day before were immediately attacked: one of them being claimed destroyed on ground and the other two damaged. In addition, aerial photographs confirm the identity of the aircraft: in this case Caproni Ca.133. Without going into the details of French dissidence, from the colonies of North Africa and the Middle East, we can date the origins of the Escadrille d'Aden on 2 July 1940. Indeed, two Glenn-Martin 167F No. 82 (Adjudant Raymond Rolland and Capitaine Roger Ritoux-Lachaud) and No. 102 (Adjudant-Chef Yves Trecan, Capitaine Jacques Dodelier and Sergent-Chef Robert Cunibil) of the GB I/61 take off from Youks-les-Bains (Algeria) to rally Egypt. The arrival is eventful as the two bombers are welcomed by the AA, before being more happily by the British personnel. They sign, shortly after, an engagement with the RAF. A first French formation is, thus, created on 8 July under the name of No.1 FBF (French Bomber Flight) or Ecadrille française of Aden with the two bombers under the orders of Capitaine Jacques Dodelier. The two aircraft leave Heliopolis(Egypt), in the direction ofDjibouti to take there Colonel Edgard Larminat and Lieutnant de vaisseau Jean-Marie Sourisseau to support General Paul Legentilhomme. The detachment arrives the next day at noon, to Aden to be attached to No.8 (RAF) Squadron. The beginnings are, however, complicated and the Glenn-Martin 167F No. 82 loses its left tire on landing at Djibouti. The only solution is to recover the wheel from the other aircraft already in Aden (and therefore safe). The Glenn-Martin 167F No 102 seems, therefore, to be unavailable until at least 24 July when a flight is reported for "landing gear test". It is difficult to determine the entry into action of Escadrille d’Aden. Thus Yves Morieult explain that the Glenn-Martin 167F “No. 82 begins his reconnaissance missions and attacking ground objectives with machine gun over Eritrea and Abyssinia during the period of unavailability of the second aircraft." The first occurrence in the No.8 (RAF) Squadron ORB of a mission by the Glenn-Martin 167F n°102 (Flight Lieutenant Jacques Dodelier, Flying Officer Pierre Fenot de Maismont, Warrent Officer Yves Trecan and Flight Sergeant Emile Lobato de Faria ) is on 27 July 1940, between 08h00 and 12h12 to observe airfields of Dire Dawa, Shinile and Jijiga. Three bombers are reported on the last airfield, while an interception attempt is made from Dire Dawa.
  5. 26 July 1940 Northern Front The No.203 (RAF) Squadron sends two Bristol Blenheim Mk IVFs, from Aden at 14h15, to attack Mille airfield in northern Ethiopia where three aircraft identified as Caproni Ca.133 are seen on the ground. In the ensuing attack, two were claimed damaged by the British. In the early evening, Air Chief Marshal Arthur Longmore experienced a little fright when his Bristol Bombay, on the return from an RAF inspection tour in Sudan, was caught around 17h00 in a heavy cloud cover blocking the view of the surrounding relief. After going around in circles for around thirty minutes, the pilot decided to divert to Port Sudan as a precaution.
  6. 24 July 1940 Following the landing of the first South African elements with the 1st SA Brigade, and because of fears about an imminent offensive against British Somaliland various transfer take place. For example, Major Noel G. Niblock-Stuart was ordered to join Kenya from Egypt with the nine Gloster Gladiators of C Flight, No.1 (SAAF) Squadron. The A and B Flight under the command of Captain Schalk van Schalkwyk are retained in Khartoum for the defense of Sudan. In addition, No.94 (RAF) Squadron detaches six Gladiator Gladiators to the Berbera airfield. Finally, an administrative reorganization of the ground forces takes place in Kenya with the creation of the 1st African Infantry Division (1st East African Brigade and 3rd Nigeria Brigade) and the 2nd African Infantry Division (2nd East African Brigade and 4th Gold Coast Brigade).
  7. 23 July 1940 Northern Front After the massive raid of the previous day, it's Vickers Wellesley's turn. Seven aircrafts belonging to No.14 and No.223 (RAF) Squadron take off in the direction of Massawa. The Italian defense reacts and several Fiat CR.42s of 412a Squadriglia CT intercept the formation after the attack. Sergeant Maggiore Luigi Baron claims a bomber shot down. If there is no total loss on the British side, the L2798 of No.223 (RAF) Squadron is damaged, while crews of No.14 (RAF) Squadron claim an Italian aircraft damaged (not confirmed by Italian documentation).
  8. 22 July 1940 Northern Front After a few relatively quiet days on the northern front, the RAF decides to strike a great blow on Dire Dawa airfield by sending several successive waves of No.8 (RAF) Squadron and No.39 (RAF) Squadron, in the form of Flight of three aircraft. In all twelve Bristol Blenheim between 07h30 and 16h45. One of the Flight is intercepted, around 13h00, by a Fiat.CR 42 and two Fiat CR.32 of 410a Squadriglia CT but without results. However, the bombing is a very relative success and only two Fiat CR.32 are slightly damaged on the ground.
  9. 20 July 1940 The Regia Aeronautica makes some changes, in anticipation of the imminent offensive on British Somaliland and all Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 of 4bis Gruppo BT join Shinile, while Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 of 44bis Gruppo BT are transferred to Addis Ababa.
  10. 19 July 1940 Northern Front No.14 (RAF) Squadron receives a message signaling the arrival from Libya of several Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 to Agordat. Order is given to launch an attack to destroy these bombers. Squadron Anthony D. Selway send five Vickers Wellesley to the target at dawn, where three Italian bombers are reported. Nevertheless, a strong AA requires the British to make individual passes at high altitude without being able to observe the results, even if they claim to have damaged two Italian planes. Southern Front Buna is still targeted in the evening by two Caproni Ca.133 of 31bis Gruppo BT. One of which land in disaster after crossing the border, the crew walking on foot during two days. Again, the bombing does not seem to have caused significant damage.
  11. 18 July 1940 Southern Front The Regia Aeronautica continues its attacks against Buna and Wajir, where several aircraft are strafed on the ground, by three Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 of 44bis Gruppo BT, without consequence. Italian crews report being attacked over the last airfield and claim the destruction of an enemy aircraft in combat (no correspondence exists in archives). In return, all Italian aircraft are marked as damaged, by AA, one of the crew members being wounded. After these multiple attacks, the SAAF decided to retaliate by sending four Junkers Ju.86 of No.12 (SAAF) Squadron to bomb the main Italian airfield, in southern Ethiopia : Negele Borana. If no enemy aircraft is destroyed on the ground, several bombs damaged the fuel reserves and a hangar. However, when returning, Major Danie du Toit must crash-landing (No. 650) about 30 km from Nanyuki due to a motor problem. The aircraft may, however, be repaired the next day and return to its base. Photos taken by Lieutenant Owen Glynn-Davies of a bombing raid on Negele Borana airfield by Junkers Ju.86 of No.12 (SAAF) Squadron. It could be the attack of 8 August 1940 during which four planes claim the destruction on the ground of a Caproni Ca.133, as well as two others damaged, in addition to various other material damages. In return, one of the bombers was damaged and a crew member injured. Collection : SAAF Museum, via Tinus le Roux.
  12. 17 July 1940 Southern Front The day's operations mainly concern Kenya's two advanced airfields. Buna is attacked three times by three Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 and two Caproni Ca.133 of 65a Squadriglia BT between 12h30 and 15h30. After a reconnaissance patrol, Flying Officer Herbert S. Hales and Corporal Hercules L. Maltas (Hawker Audax K7549), of No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron, sighted one Caproni Ca.133 around Moyale. The pilot immediately engaged his opponent from the top and back and one of his shots seemed to silence the rear gunner. But, in its third pass, the machine guns jammed, forcing him to release his prey. According to the Italian documents, an aircraft of the same type is actually damaged as a result of a fight. Nevertheless, landing at Buna, the Hawker Audax is immediately attacked and hit by a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79. Wajir airfield is also a major center of attraction for Regia Aeronautica as it is under attack by three Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s with some light material damage, and a damaged Hawker Fury (this could be the No. 205, transferred the day before by Lieutenant Patrick Rushmere), despite the interception attempt of Flight Lieutenant Robert S. Blake.
  13. 16 July 1940 Northern Front No.14 and No.47 (RAF) Squadron continue to organize joint missions by sending this time nine Vickers Wellesley (four and five) to Asmara around 09h30. The Italian fighters responds by claiming a destroyed aircraft and another probable. This seems to correspond to reality as the L2641 (Sergeant William CH Style, Corporal John Clark, Leading Aircraftman Walter Crossland) crashes on the ground, while the K7771 is seriously damaged. Finally, the K8525 must divert to Port Sudan as a result of a technical problem. Nevertheless, according to No.47 (RAF) Squadron's ORB, losses would be due to an in-flight collision due to bad weather. In addition, only one ennemy biplane would have been observed without conducting an attack. This action could have been carried out by 412a Squadriglia CT with at least two pilots. Sottotenente Giovanni Levi and Sergente Maggiore Ottavio Bracci could have participated, although without claiming any victory. Southern Front In Kenya, Regia Aeronautica returns to Wajir where three Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 of 29bis Gruppo BT report the destruction of two aircraft on the ground. However, South African documents do not mention any damage. Bombing of Asmara airfield by Vickers Wellesley. Collection: Imperial War Museum.
  14. 15 July 1940 Southern Front After having reestablished the communications with Moyale, decision is made to program the evacuation of the fort for the night of 14 and 15 July. This happens without incident. In order not to alert the Italians, the destruction of ammunition reserves is only planned the next day, by aerial bombardment. Three Junkers Ju.86 of No.12 (SAAF) Squadron take off from Wajir to carry out this mission. However, no accurate map of the fort has been provided to the crews and they were only instructed to bomb around the infirmary buildings. Unfortunately on their return, the South Africans learn that the Kings African Rifle had left several wounded on the spot, unable to evacuate them, and that the Hawker Hardy K5923 (Flying Officer R.J.D. Christie, Aircraftman Marshall) of No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron had just taken off to drop a message to the Italians. This error does not seem, however, to have any human consequences.
  15. 13 July 1940 Southern Front A new bombardment of Wajir by two Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 is reported during which the Hawker Audax K7549, of No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron, is damaged and must be evacuated to Nairobi for repair. At the same time, the 5 Kings African Rifles is sent to Wajir to cover the withdrawal of Moyale's troops that is to take place at night. The evacuation must, however, be canceled due to a communication problem.
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