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  1. 5 September 1940 Northern Front Following the events of the day before, No.203 (RAF) Squadron is responsible for providing air cover for a maritime convoy accompanied by H.M.A.S. Hobart. HMAS Hobart – Source : Wikipedia Around noon, the Blenheim Mk IVF L9042 (Pilot Officer Heslop M.F. Barnitt, Sergeant Albin J. Finch, Leading Aircraftman Blackburn) attack five Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 from the 44bis Gruppo BT. He is, however, quickly hit by the defensive fire of the bombers and forced to break the fight to return after a pursuit of thirty minutes. British ships are attacked three times in the morning, but seem to be unscathed [1]. In the evening, Kamaran’s field is visited by two Italian aircraft [2]. The day before, six Bristol Blenheim Mk I of No.11 and 39 (RAF) Squadron were sent to Perim Island to conduct a raid on Dessie airfield. However, at dawn, the mission is canceled due to a lack of available fuel and the aircraft are diverted to a secondary target: the port of Assab where a 120-mm coastal artillery is destroyed, as well as a stock ammunition [3]. Southern Front Around 07h00, a IMAM Ro.37bis of 110a Squadriglia RA is reported over the various advanced airfields along the Kenyan border [4]. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « 5 september 1940 » 203 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58; J. Sutherland et D. Canwell, Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, op. cit., p. 65. [2] « 5 september 1940 » 203 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [3] « 5 september 1940 » 11 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; « 5 september 1940 » 39 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58. [4] « 5 september 1940 » Narrative northern operations SAAF, September 1940, op. cit.
  2. 4 September 1940 Northern Front After several false alarms the day before, several Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 of 44bis Gruppo BT, based in Dire Dawa, attack Aden with some efficiency and the ship SS Velko is damaged, the advanced terrain of Kamaran strafed by eight aircraft, as well as various damage in the harbor. Two Gladiator Glosters: N5757 (Pilot Officer Bartlett) and N5787 (Sergeant Buchanan) of No.94 (RAF) Squadron take off to intercept at least three bombers around noon. If the first can not intervene, Sergeant Buchanan manages to catch an Italian aircraft over Khor Umera. He makes two passes without being able to appreciate the result before being outdistanced. A victory is claimed by the Italian crews, but the two fighters land at their bases. On the other hand, a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 is slightly damaged [1]. No.8 (RAF) Squadron sends three Bristol Blenheim Mk I to bomb the Aiscia station (near the border with Djibouti) [2]. However, contrary to what is asserted by Shores and Ricci [3], the attack of Kassala envisaged by No.14 (RAF) Squadron is canceled [4]. Southern Front No.11 (SAAF) Squadron decides to vary its objectives after a long series on Mogadishu and four Fairey Battle Mk I take off from Archer’s Post to bomb the airfield of Baidoa (southern Somalia) around 13h30. Four Caproni Ca.133 are claimed on the ground by the crews (two destroyed and two heavily damaged). Then crews continue on Bardera where the radio station is attacked [5]. At the same time, four other aircraft carry out an armed reconnaissance of the Afmadu – Jelib – Gobwen sector, but without result [6]. -------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « 4 september 1940 » 94 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), Kew – TNA, AIR 27 / 755; « 4 september 1940 » 203 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58; J. Sutherland et D. Canwell, Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, op. cit., p. 65. [2] « 4 september 1940 » 8 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [3] C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58. [4] « 4 september 1940 : Three aircraft stood by to bomb Kassala, but the operation was not carried out. » 14 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [5] « 4 september 1940 +Operation Instruction No 51 + Operation Order No 18 » 11 Bomber Squadron SAAF, War Dirary, op. cit.; « 4 september 1940 + Operation Order » Narrative northern operations SAAF, September 1940, op. cit.; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58. [6] « 4 september 1940 » Narrative northern operations SAAF, September 1940, op. cit.
  3. 3 September 1940 Northern Front The RAF has more and more difficulty organizing “massive” attacks, except by regrouping all its Squadrons. For example, No.47 (RAF) Squadron aligns only two Vickers Wellesley during a bombing raid on Kassala, where bombs are reported falling on several buildings. However, an additional aircraft (K7729) is flown from Egypt by Flight Lieutenant J. Stewart [1]. Finally, No.8 (RAF) Squadron loses Pilot Officer Derek N. Janes [2], transferred to India [3]. The latter was injured when the Bristol Blenheim Mk I L8506 was severely damaged ,and forced to a forced landing in Djibouti on 11 July 1940, by two Fiat CR.32 of the 410 Squadriglia CT. It is interesting to note that the the crew had, therefore, been authorized by the local French authorities to return to Aden. Southern Front After a long break, No.12 (SAAF) Squadron sends three Junkers Ju.86 to bomb Yabelo airfield in southern Ethiopia. The anti-aircraft defense is, however, intense as No. 654 is hit and crashes, killing all of its crew (Lieutenant Robert G. Donaldson[4] ; Warrant Officer Patrick W. Byrnes[5] ; Air Sergeant Cornelius F. Maritz[6] et James V. Penberthy[7] ; Air Gunner Alexander A. Cusens[8], Francois P. du Toit[9] and Air Mechanic I.D. du Plessis[10]). This is the first losses of the Squadron since its deployment in Kenya [11]. A Fairey Battle of No.11 (SAAF) Squadron is sent shortly thereafter for photographic reconnaissance, confirming the destruction of three Caproni Ca.133 on the airfield [12]. ------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « 3 septembre 1940 » 47 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [2] « Casualty details : Janes, Derek Norman », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2259494/JANES,%20DEREK%20NORMAN [3] « 3 septembre 1940 » 8 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [4] « Casualty details : Donaldson, Robert Graham », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2160138/DONALDSON,%20ROBERT%20GRAHAM [5] « Casualty details : Brynes, Patrick William Westley », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2160042/BYRNES,%20PATRICK%20WILLIAM%20WESTLEY [6] « Casualty details : Maritz, Cornelius », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2160824/MARITZ,%20CORNELIUS [7] « Casualty details : Penberthy, James Victor », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2157459/PENBERTHY,%20JAMES%20VICTOR [8] « Casualty details : Cusens, Alexander Adolphus », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2160095/CUSENS,%20ALEXANDER%20ADOLPHUS [9] « Casualty details : Du Toit, Francois Petrius », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2160151/DU%20TOIT,%20FRANCOIS%20PETRIUS [10] « Casualty details : Du Plessis, I D », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2160150/DU%20PLESSIS,%20I%20D [11] « 3 septembre 1940 et Operation Order No 30 » 12 Bomber Squadron SAAF, War Dirary, op. cit.; W. Brent, 85 tears of South African Air Force (1920 – 2005), op. cit., p. 62; J.-A. Brown, A gathering of eagles, the campaigns of the South African Air Force in Italian East Afica (1940 – 1941), op. cit., p. 64; S. McLean, Squadron of the South African Air Force and their aircraft (1920 – 2005), op. cit., p. 130 à 131; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58; J. Sutherland et D. Canwell, Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, op. cit., p. 65. [12] « 3 septembre 1940 » Narrative northern operations SAAF, September 1940, Kew – TNA, AIR 54 / 8. The Junkers Ju 86 No. 641, former ZS-ANI. This aircraft is the only copy of the K-1 version purchased by SAAF. The belly gunner position specific to this version will be quickly adapted to the other Z-5 models. This aircraft, having served with No. 13 (SAAF) Squadron for maritime patrols and join No.12, then to No. 16. He will be lost following an accident to Debra Tabor on 23 September 1941, with No. 5 (SAAF) Coastal Flight. Source : SAAF WW2 Heritage Site – Lawrie Shuttleworth, via Tinus Le Roux.
  4. 2 Septembre 1940 Northern Front Following the loss of the previous day, No.14 (RAF) Squadron performs six sorties to search for the missing aircraft. The latter is finally spotted around 18h00 on the island of Harmil, while listening Radio Roma confirms the fate of the captured crew and death of rear gunner Aircraftman Charles D. Lampard. On the Italian side, several Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 of 44bis Gruppo BT decide to return the favor to the British by targeting the port of Aden [1] where two torpedo boats are very badly damaged [2]. Finally, the No.430 (RAF) Flight joins the advanced ground of Azzoza on the Sudanese border, where is already based a detachment of No.1 (SAAF) Squadron, with three Vickers Vincent and four Gloster Gauntlet [3]. Southern Front No.11 (SAAF) Squadron has a slight change when Captain Hans H. Borckenhagen is recalled to South Africa, the command of A Flight is temporarily taken by Lieutenant Piet J. Robbertse, while Captain Johan L.V. de Wet occupies that of C Flight. Captain Johan Louis Venter de Wet, No.11 (SAAF) Squadron. Source : SAAF Museum ------------------------------------------------------------------------ [1] Curiously, the 203 (RAF) Squadron does not mention any attack  : “A.H.Q. received more information an attack by 7 S79’s, scheduled for today. (…) The information must have been wrong, as no attack materialized during the day. 203 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [2] C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58; J. Sutherland et D. Canwell, Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, op. cit., p. 65. [3] C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 58; Håkan Gustavsson, « Gloster Gauntlet », op. cit
  5. 1st Septembre 1940 Northern Front The day is mainly marked by a massive raid against the naval base of Assab. The RAF engages all its Bristol Blenheim Squadrons based in Aden. Thus, no less than ten, five and six sorties are performed, respectively by No.8, No.11 and No.39 (RAF) Squadron. The attack is a success as the Italians report the loss of twelve men (and three hundred wounded), as well as significant damage against several naval installations. A bomber is claimed by the DCA, however, no significant loss or damage is mentioned in the British documents [1]. The Vickers Wellesley L2689 (Sergeant Harold N. Norris, Sergeant Bernard M. D’Arcy, Aircraftman Charles D. Lampard) of No.14 (RAF) Squadron disappears early in the morning on a reconnaissance mission over the Island of Harmil, victim of Tenente Luigi Baron, Raimondo Di Pauli and Mario Visintini (412 Squadriglia CT) [2]. According to Sergeant Norris: « Halfway down the third leg,” reported Norris, “we were attacked by three CR42s. The first burst of 20mm cannon fire hit Lampard in the leg and damaged the engine controls and hydraulics… I had no engine and nowhere to go except down. Ahead was a quite small island, rocky and uneven. I set up a classic forced landing approach, but there was a danger of overshooting into the oggin. With no flaps, we almost stalled over the shoreline and I shoved the port wing and bomb carrier into the rocky ground a quickly came to a rest. Before I could undo my straps and chute, the aircraft was surrounded by an unruly mob of Italians … I left the aircraft and tried to reach the rear gunner’s position but was prevented from doing so. D’Arcy was unable to escape until Lampard had been lifted out and carried away. His leg was almost severed and he was bleeding profusely. »[3] The latter dies the next day[4]. Aerial photograph of an Italian aerodrome on the island of Harmil. There is a silhouette of a Vickers Wellesley on the first picture. These were taken on September 2nd, 1940 during the searches made by No.14 (RAF) Squadron to find the L2689 shot the day before. Source : Imperial War Museum Southern Front No.40 (SAAF) Squadron has a busy day when three Hartbees are sent to patrol the border (Buna – Korindil – Ajao sector) under the command of Captain C.M.S. Gardner. Several concentrations of men and camels are bombed, however two gunners are injured (Air Sergeant Crowther and Petzer), while the three aircraft are slightly damaged.
  6. 9 June 1940 As the day before, nine pilots left Kenley at 10h15 to join Tangmere for an offensive patrol, with No.111 and 601 (RAF) Squadron, over the Le Tréport - Aumale - Poix sector (12h00 - 13h30). Again, one Hawker Hurricane (Flight Lieutenant James G. Sanders) had to abandon the mission due to technical problems. This time, however, the stopover was not in France, but at Hawkinge airfield, from where a second patrol was carried out over the same sector in the afternoon (15h35). The eight remaining aircraft returned to Kenley at 19h15. The pilots flew 04h40, once again without encountering the Luftwaffe. Visibility was reported to be very poor, while the pilots noted large columns of smoke rising from the cities of Rouen and Beauvais. Pilots and Aircrafts : Flight Lieutenant Lionel M. Gaunce (P2966) ; Flying Officer Peter Collard (P2768) ; Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo (P2963) ; Flying Officer John R.H. Gayner (P2871) ; Pilot Officer Cecil R. Young (N2337) ; Pilot Officer Cecil R. Montgomery (L1584) ; Flight Lieutenant James G. Sanders (P3487) ; Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts (P2793) ; Pilot Officer John R. Lloyd (2801). Losses : Hawker Hurricane Mk I P3487 (Flight Lieutenant James G. Sanders) : returns to Kenley due to a technical problem.
  7. 31 August 1940 Northern Front If the last day of the month is relatively calm, the No.14 (RAF) Squadron ORB provides a very interesting document summarizing the action since June 1940. It can be noted that : « After nearly 3 months operations against Italian East Africa a brief summary of the work carried out will be of interest. During this period a total of 24 bombing raids have been carried out involving a total flying time of 627 hours. One of these raids was with 9 aircrafts, 12 with 5 and the remainder with 4, 3 and single aircraft. These figures do not include the Convoy and General reconnaissance flyinf carried out by C Flight which specially detailed for this work. This flight escorted three North and South bound convoys most successfully and carried out 257 hours flying during the quarters. During the passage of each convoy most pilots did over 12 hours flying per day. The average duration of each raid was 06h10 and the average load was the maximum permissible all up weight (11 100 lbs) plus an overload of approximetely 1 500 lbs. The total weight of bombs dropped was 43 tons of all types of bombs, the most usual being the 250 lbs bomb. During these operations a total of two raids failed to reach their objectives owing to weather conditions and one failed owing to enemy actions. One airmen was killed, two officers and two airmen were posted as missing and two airmen were wounded. One aircraft forced landed in the sea whilst on convoy duties and its crew were rescued by a destroyer. Two aircraft only were lost over enemy territory. Apart from damaged known to have been done to targets by bombs, one S.81 bomber was shot down, five enemy aircraft are known to have been destroyed on the ground and one fighter has been shot down (confirmed) whilst two further fighters are belived to have been shot or driven down. Damaged done to our own aircraft by A/A and Fighter action amounted to three aircraft damaged beyond repair, nine damaged necessiting major repairs and five damaged necessiting ninor repairs. In spite of the vintage of the aircraft and these losses, the average percentage of serviceavility for the poast quarter has been 76 %. The climate at Port Sudan deserved mention owing to its trying nature. It is hot, humid but healthy (from the point of view of malaria). The average daily temperature at mid-day during July and August has been between 43°C and 48°C in the shade.”[1] ---------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « Summary» 14 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. Interior views of a Vickers Wellesley. Source: Imperial War Museum.
  8. 30 August 1940 Northern Front An Italian bombing on Hayya station is reported at dawn. Again, as on the southern front, these attacks by two or three aircraft are more like nuisance raids [1]. At 05h05, three Vickers Wellesley of No.223 (RAF) Squadron take off from Summit to bomb Agordat airfield, where a Caproni Ca.133 is claimed damaged, then make a reconnaissance around Kassala. Aircrafts return at 09h50 [2]. Finally, in the afternoon, the French make a new reconnaissance, this time over Eritrea (Assab – Dessie) with the Glenn Marin 167-F No. 82 (Flight Lieutenant Roger Ritoux-Lachaud, Flying Officer Pierre Fénot de Maismont; Flight Sergeant Raymond Rolland, Sergeant Portalis) between 13h38 and 17h42. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1] « 30 august 1940 » 47 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [2] There is a slight date problem with this mission. While Form 540 and Shores - Ricci indicates 29 August, Form 541 mentions the next day, a hypothesis supported by the reports of the crews involved, all dated 30 August. C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 57; 223 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.
  9. 29 August 1940 Northern Front Six Bristol Blenheim Mk I of No.8 (RAF) Squadron take off, between 06h05 and 09h30, to attack Tandaho (Ethiopia). The first three attack the target at low altitude, while the other three are performing a dive bombing. Several bombs are reported on the buildings housing Italian troops without it being possible to evaluate the results [1]. No.203 (RAF) Squadron receives the reinforcement of three Bristol Blenheim MkIV (T2072 ; T2075 ; T2112) [2] with crews. However, it is surprising to note that while the Squadron is specialized on the MkIVF version, they are configured as bomber [3]. ------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « 29 august 1940 » 8 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [2] « 6 september 1940 » 203 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [3] « 29 august 1940 » Ibid.
  10. 28 August 1940 Northern Front Three Vickers Wellesley of No.223 (RAF) Squadron are sent bombing the airfield of Barentu between 05h00 and 09h00. The attack seems a success with several direct hits on hangars. However, Italian air defense is relatively effective as two aircraft (K8526 and K8528) return damaged to Summit (Soudan) and are returned to the rear for repair, reducing the Squadron to only five aircraft [1]. Between 05h30 and 10h30, the French take off for a reconnaissance over Somaliland with the Glenn Marin 167-F No. 102 (Flight Lieutenant Jacques Dodelier, Warrant Officer Yves Trecan, Flying Officer Pierre Fenot de Maismont, Flight Sergeant Emile Lobato de Faria ). During the flight, a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 was sighted on the Berbera airfield [2]. Southern Front The day is marked by the great success of No.11 (SAAF) Squadron. Ten Fairey Battle, divided into three formations, are sent to Mogadishu. Once again, the IMAM Ro37bis of the 110 Squadriglia RT try to intervene, but the speed of the Fairey Battle allows them to escape without major damage. A large concentration of vehicles is attacked. If the crews report several shots, the reconnaissance photograph confirms the success of the bombing and at least 800 vehicles appear destroyed. Congratulatory telegrams from London and Pretoria are raining down immediately, and crews are getting a weekend of permission in Nairobi. The truth will, however, be discovered when capturing the city. According to Major Robert H. Preller : « The big joke was the collection of vehicules which we had once bombed so splendidly in Squadron formation (…) we had been told to bomb it [in die lug te laat spring !]. Now we saw that it was a collection of ancient derelict vehicles abandoned since the Abyssinian war »[3]. After a long series of monotonous missions, the No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron knows some excitement when the Hardy K4319 (Flying Officer Stan E. Flett Corporal John Gray) see three Caproni Ca.133 during a reconnaissance above the Tana River. The crew decides to attack bombers, but Italians are lost sight, when approaching Garissa. They attack, shortly after, Buna airfield, with no results around 18:00 [4]. Finally, four Junkers Ju.86 of No.12 (SAAF) Squadron bomb the airfield at Jimma, but poor weather conditions, as well as inaccurate maps, prevent crews from finding the target [5]. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « 28 august 1940 » 223 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [2] « 28 august 1940 » 8 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [3] « 28 august 1940 » 11 Bomber Squadron SAAF, War Dirary, op. cit.; « 28 august 1940 » Narrative northern operations SAAF, August 1940, op. cit.; J.-A. Brown, A gathering of eagles, the campaigns of the South African Air Force in Italian East Afica (1940 – 1941), op. cit.; Ibid., p. 60 à 61; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 57; J. Sutherland et D. Canwell, Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, op. cit., p. 65. [4] « 28 august 1940 » 237 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [5] « 28 august 1940 » 12 Bomber Squadron SAAF, War Dirary, Kew – TNA, AIR 54 / 4.
  11. 8 June 1940 After a short period of reorganization, No. 615 Squadron is quickly returned to operation over France. Nine Hawker Hurricane Mk I take off from Kenley toward Hawkinge at 09h45. After the necessary preparations, the formation take off, at 12h50, with No.111 (RAF) Squadron for an offensive patrol over the sector Le Tréport – Aumale. At the end of the mission (14h15), order was to land on the French airfield of Dreux in order to refuel and rearm planes. Unfortunately, Pilot Officer David Evans damaged the P3380 propeller on landing. [1] He will have to wait until 14 June to return to Kenley via the island of Jersey. The eight remaining Hawker Hurricanes left in the evening (19h30) for a second sector patrol before returning to Kenley, where they landed at 21h00 [2]. Pilots and Aircrafts : Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo (P2963) ; Flying Officer Peter Collard (P2768) ; Pilot Officer Michael R. Mudie (P2966) ; Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders (L1992) ; Pilot Officer John R. Lloyd (P2003) ; Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts (P2578) ; Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (P2793) ; Flying Officer Herbert S. Giddings (P2801) ; Pilot Officer David Evans (P3380). Losses : Hawker Hurricane Mk I P3380 (Pilot Officer David Evans) : propeller damaged on landing at Dreux aerodrome. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007, p.446. [2] No.11 (Fighter) Group ORB. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 25/193.
  12. 27 August 1940 Northern Front This day sees part of No.14 (RAF) Squadron engaged in a special mission. Indeed, in mid-August 1940, the local command of the RAF is contacted by the intelligence services. According to them, the Regia Aeronautica has planned to try, around 20 August, a shipment of aircraft toward East Africa. To this end, several Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 have to leave Benghazi to land in the evening on an airfield in the middle of the desert, from where they have to leave at dawn towards Eritrea. After a long search, one of these airfield is identified near the border between Libya and Sudan : Jebel Uweinat. However, the neutralization of these aircrafts appears very difficult : Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 flying night, an interception by fighters is impossible and a prior destruction of the airfield is useless. The only solution is to surprise the Italians during the refueling by bombing. Again, the difficulties are many as to identify, at night, an aifield in the middle of the desert and attack for a short time of about an hour. No.14 (RAF) Squadron is then consulted and a group of five crews is formed. The detachment leaves for the advanced airfield of Wadi Halfa on 24 August. On 27 August, the code “Gin and Tonic”, announcing the immediate order of attack, is received at 13h00. The five Vickers Wellesley take off immediately to take the direction of the target. Aircrafts are equipped with a mix of 40lb incendiary and fragmentation bombs. A problem arises, however, immediately. Indeed, the target is located about 650 km from Wadi Halfa is about eight hours of flight, which corresponds more or less to the autonomy of Vickers Wellesley. According to Flight Lieutenant Deryck C. Stapleton : « The weather was kind,” recalled Stapleton, “clear blue skies, visibility good, some ominous streams of sand scuffing the surface. In the last fifty miles the flight dropped down to low level to make an approach. At the going down of the sun, the silhouette of the conical mountain came up on cue – a jagged pile of an extinct volcano, sandblasted to a core of red and beige vertically cracked rocks. The aircraft slotted into line astern, all safety switches locked to ‘off’ and the airfield in the lee of the mountain appeared dead ahead in the centre of the windshield. The navigators had done their stuff. » It is, then, planned a first pass with machine gun to damage Italian aircrafts, a second to drop the bombs, and an immediate return to the base. Still according to Stapleton : « the windsock – a somewhat tattered edition… the refuelling pumps… the landing strips, but no aircraft. All this grinding flight and there was nothing, not even a building, a shed or any transport on the place to receive explosive frustration.” The Vickers Wellesley return at 21h30 at the limit of their autonomy, the engines of an aircraft stopping when landing. Finally, if five Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 seem to have left Benghazi, a violent sandstorm would have forced the formation to turn back, one of them crashing in the desert [1]. Southern Front Regia Aeronautica continues its raids of nuisance and at least two Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 attacked Garissa, as well as two unidentified aircrafts on El Katulo, without consequence [2]. If the SAAF activity is still limited to some reconnaissance flights of No.40 (SAAF) Squadron, some welcome reinforcements arrive in Kenya. If the first two Fairey Battle Mk I (No. 917 and 918) and a Hawker Hurricane (No. 272) are highly appreciated [3], the second are more criticized. Indeed, No.2 (SAAF) Squadron receives six additional Hawker Fury. According to the War Diary : “Six new ??? Fury are assembled and ready to fly. They must come out of Noah’s ark. The numbers: K5663 (207), K6669 (210), K3733 (208), K3735 (209), K5670 (212) and K5672 (211). They are so old that they still turn to 77 octanes. “[4] ------------------------------------------------------------- [1] « 27 august 1940 » 14 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; M. Napier, Winged Crusaders: The Exploits of 14 Squadron RFC & RAF 1915-45, op. cit. [2] « 27 august 1940 » 237 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; « 27 august 1940 » Narrative northern operations SAAF, August 1940, op. cit. [3] Order No 23, 24 August 19401 Fighter Squadron SAAF, War Dirary, op. cit. [4] « 27 august 1940 » Ibid.; W. Brent, 85 tears of South African Air Force (1920 – 2005), op. cit., p. 45; A. Crawford et P. Listemann, Hawker Fury, Allied Wings, 2010, p. 43.
  13. 6 June 1940 Flying Officer Herbert S. Giddings (P2801) and Pilot Officer John R. Lloyd (P3487) take off between 12h15 and 12h50 for a short patrol over Kenley (Raid X.38). The suspect contact turns out to be a civilian training aircraft.
  14. 26 August 1940 Northern Front Since his return to Sudan, No.223 (RAF) Squadron tqke off for its first mission when five Vickers Wellesley leave to attack the Asmara airfield between 06h00 and 10h00. The opposing reaction is intense with a strong anti-aircraft defense, as well as two Fiat CR.42 from the 412 Squadriglia CT. During the fight, a fighter is claimed damaged, while Tenente Mario Visintini claims a bomber [1]. Indeed, the Vickers Wellesley K7731 (Pilot Officer Joseph C. Smitheram [2], Sergeant Denis F. Shaller [3], Leading Aircraftman Meads [4]) crashed without the crew being able to jump. [5] Pilot Officer Joseph Colin Smitheram, No.223 (RAF) Squadron. Source : Ancien Combattants Canada – Mémorial Virtuel du Guerre du Canada. A little earlier in the morning, at 05h30, the Bristol Blenheim Mk IVF L9218 (Flying Officer Stanley C. Pendred [6], Flying Officer Frank M. Hunter [7], Leading Aircraftman Walter Love [8]) is sent for a reconnaissance of the Assab – Mille sector. However, the aircraft not returnn and the Glenn Marin 167-F No. 82 (Flight Lieutnant Jacques Dodelier, Warrant Officer Yves Trecan, Flying Officer Pierre Fenot de Maismont, Flight Sergeant Robert Cunibil) is sent on research, though without success. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] H. Gustavsson et L. Slongo, Gladiator vs CR.42 Falco (1940 – 1941), Oxford, Osprey Publishing, 2012, p. 42. [2] « Casualty details : Smitheram, Joseph Colin », Commonwealth War Graves Commission : http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2272220/SMITHERAM,%20JOSEPH%20COLIN ; « In memory of Pilot Officer Joseph Colin Smitheram, who died on August 26, 1940 », Canadian Virtual War Memorial : http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2272220 [3] « Casualty details : Shaller, Denis Frederick », Commonwealth War Graves Commission : http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2272215/SHALLER,%20DENIS%20FREDERICK [4] The latter may have survived since his name does not appear on the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. [5] « 26 august 1940 » 223 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.; C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 57; J. Sutherland et D. Canwell, Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, op. cit., p. 65. [6] « Casualty details : Pendred, Stanley Clifton », Commonwealth War Graves Commission : http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2272185/PENDRED,%20STANLEY%20CLIFTON [7] « Casualty details : Hunter, Frank MacDonald », Commonwealth War Graves Commission : http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2272103/HUNTER,%20FRANK%20MACDONALD [8] « Casualty details : Love, Walter », Commonwealth War Graves Commission : http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2272130/LOVE,%20WALTER
  15. 25 August 1940 Northern Front Six Bristol Blenheim Mk I of No.11 and No.39 (RAF) Squadron (three and three), having joined the advanced airfield on the island of Perim the day before, are sent to bomb concentrations of vehicles, near Dessie, between 06h00 and 09h30. It is, however, not possible to know the result. The adverse reaction is reduced and is limited to a few shots of the anti-aircraft defense [1]. Note that the Bristol Blenheim Mk IVF L9173 of No.203 (RAF) Squadron (Flight Officer Nelson and Holmes, Leading Aircraftman Ffoulkes) take off for a patrol over the airfield of Perim between 08h30 and 09h30 [2]. The French of the Escadrille d’Aden continue their reconnaissance flights. Glenn Marin 167-F No. 102 (Flight Lieutenant Jacques Dodelier, Warrant Officer Yves Trecan, Flight Officer Pierre Fenot de Maismont, Flight Sergeant Robert Cunibil) makes a reconnaissance, between 06h25 and 10h55, over the north of ‘Éthipoie. Among the observed elements, we can note three Caproni Ca.133 at Mieso [3]. Southern Front At 07h00, the Bristol Battle Mk I No. 909 (Lieutenant B.L. Hutchinson, Air Sergeant S.H. Hipkin, Air Corporal P.C. Sewell) took off from Archer’s Post for a photo reconnaissance of the El Wak airfield at an altitude of about 2 200 meters. Once the mission is completed, the aircraft lands at Nanyuki to send photos to No.40 (SAAF) Squadron [4]. No.237 (Rhodesia) Squadron receives some reinforcements with the arrival of six Hawker Hardy [5]. If the Squadron continues to have a relatively large activity (three to four sorties per day), these are still reconnaissance flights without significant events. ------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] Contrary to what is written, notably by C. Shores et C. Ricci, Dust Clouds in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 57, the bombing of Dessie did not take place on the 24th, but on the 25th. Although the formation had reached the forward field at Perim the day before, the documents relating to 11 and 39 (RAF) Squadron clearly confirm that the bombardment was not carried out until dawn the next morning. Moreover, it was not only 3 Blenheims from 11 (RAF) Squadron, but a joint operation with 39 (RAF) Squadron. “Three of our aircraft and 3 of No.11 Squadron took off and landed at Perim to refuel. At first light on 25 August, 1940, the formation took off to attack (…),« 25 august 1940 » 39 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), Kew – TNA, AIR 27 / 407 and “24 : Three aircraft and crews proceeded to Perim prior to raid on Dessie (…). 25 : The above aircraft bombed (…), three aircraft of No 39 Squadron (…),« 24 and 25 august 1940 » 11 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), Kew – TNA, AIR 27 / 162. . [2] « 25 august 1940 » 203 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [3] « 26 august 1940 » 8 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit. [4] « 26 august 1940 » et « Operation Order no.16 » 11 Bomber Squadron SAAF, War Dirary, op. cit.; « 25 august 1940 » Narrative northern operations SAAF, August 1940, op. cit. [5] « 26 august 1940 » 237 Squadron RAF : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), op. cit.
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