Douglas Lee

Name: Douglas Lee

Born: 24 April 1921

Joined 92: 8 Oct 1944

Left 92: 27 Dec 1944 Returned May -July 1945

Died: June 2000

Douglas Lee  DFC

Douglas Lee was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 24th April, 1921.

 

His parents were devout Catholics and he was schooled at Marist Brothers and completed his schooling at Jeppe High School.

 

His father was a veteran of the Boer War, but some doubt exists concerning the side on which he fought. He never returned to his native Ireland, and was an exceptionally keen sportsman up until his death in 1937.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under his father’s influence Douglas took up boxing from an early age. He was also a keen rugby player in his school days. 

 

He completed an apprenticeship in the designated trade of Fitting and Turning on the 5th of July 1941, but had already attempted to volunteer for military service prior to this time.

 

A letter from the OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF WAR SUPPLIES dated 20th February 1941 reads;

 

Exemption From Military Service

 

This office has been notified that you recently visited Roberts Heights with the intention of enlisting for Service with the S.A.A.F.

 

As you have been exempted from Military Service by this Tribunal (Exemption Certificate No. 4075) you are not permitted to enlist and must remain in civilian employment.

 

Notification of your action has been sent to the Military and Air Force authorities concerned for puposes of cancelling your enlistment and calling-up notice.

 

It must be kept in mind that every South African combatant in World War II was a volunteer. One could volunteer to serve within the borders of South Africa only, or could volunteer for overseas duty. The “Red Tabs” on the epaulette of a serviceman indicated he had volunteered for duty outside of the borders of South Africa.

 

Douglas managed to circumvent the regulations and commenced Training at No. 5 Air School, Witbank on the 5th April 1943. The aircraft was a Tiger Moth. The course ended on 12th June 1943, having logged 80 hours. The Assessment Of Ability read;

 

1.     As a pupil pilot “Average”

2.     Instrument  Flying “Average Plus”

3.     Night Flying “Average”

 

Further training was undertaken at No. 25 Air School, Standerton, from 15th June 1943 until 25th October 1943. The aircraft was a Master II and the pilot had now logged a total of 240 hours.

 

The Assessment Of Ability read;

 

1.     As a pupil pilot “Average”

2.     As a pilot navigator “Average”

3.     In bombing “Average”

4.     In air gunnery “Average”

 

December 29th 1943 saw Douglas at No. 73. Operational Training Unit, Abu Sueir, flying Harvards.

On the 12th Jan after 256 hours Douglas sat in his first Spitfire V.

 

With 305 hours and 10 minutes logged Douglas arrived on 601 Squadron Venafro on May 1st 1944.

 

Lieut. Beisiegel of 145 Squadron wrote to the family on 10th July 1944;

 

I hate writing to you in this way but it is to tell you that Doug baled out today over enemy territory. He is quite O.K. and was seen floating down. It is more than likely that he will walk back into 601 fairly soon. It is frequently done, and if anyone can do it, Doug can.

 

The log records baling out and landing among the French Corps on the 10th and being back on the Squadron on the 11th, earning 48 hours leave in Rome. Unfortunately, Don Beisiegel did not survive the war.

 

On the 8th October Douglas was promoted to Captain and posted to 92 (E.I) Sqn. as “B” Flight Commander.

 

With a tour of duty completed on the 27th December 1944, having logged 200 hours and 10 minutes of operational flying on 174 sorties, Douglas was posted back to the Republic of South Africa.

 

Douglas returned to 92 Squadron for the months of May, June and July 1945. At his stage hostilities had ceased in that sector and no combat was seen.

 

Major John E. Gasson wrote;

 

Captain Lee carried out an exceptionally fine tour of operations, and in December 1944, was awarded the D.F.C. (Immediate) for his magnificent courage and devotion to duty, which was an example and inspiration to all. His immense popularity, his absolute reliability, and his instinctive ability to command made him an outstanding Flight Commander. On numerous occasions he deputised for me as O.C. of the Squadron, which duties he executed with great success, and had hostilities not ceased he would have risen far higher in the service.

 

After the war Douglas returned to South Africa, where for some years he successfully owned a transport business and a stable of race horses. 

 

Douglas never seemed to adjust to civilian life and moved from one place to another. 

At the age of 52 he suffered a heart attack and afraid he would crash his car, walked six city blocks to the hospital.

 

He stopped boxing after his father died. He said he boxed more because for his father than for his own sake. He never lost his obsession with horse racing.

 

He died in June 2000 at he age of 79 and was survived by his wife, two daughters and Patrick, his son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas was shot down in flames at one point and spent  a week among the Italians getting back to his squadron. After that, on 8 Oct 1944  he was promoted to Captain and posted to 92 (E.I) Squadron as B Flight Commander.

 

Here is a log of the flying he did on 92 Squadron:

 

13 Oct

Spitfire V111 P

Sector recce

11.20     0.40

 

14 Oct

Spitfire V111 S

Bomb ammo Dump

16.35    0.50

Wharf at porto Corsini. Bombing good.

 

15 Oct

Spitfire V111 S

Bomb gun posns

08.10    1.15

 

15 Oct

Spitfire V111 S

Bomb railway Ravenna-Lavezola

16.00    1.00

Bombing good

 

16 Oct

Spitfire V111 P

Bomb gun posns.

08.40    0.40

 

16 Oct

Spitfire V111 S

Practice flying

11.10    0.50

 

20 Oct

Spitfire V111 S

Bomb gun positions

10.35    1.25

Good bombing

 

21 Oct

Spitfire V111 U

Bomb gun positions

07.00     0.55

Bombs caused large explosion. ( Ammo?)

 

22 Oct

Spitfire V111 P

Straffers Ho!

15.35    1.00

Weather U/S

 

24 Oct

Spitfire V111 P

Rover Paddy

09.15    1.10

C

 

31 Oct

Spitfire V111 S

Bomb gun posns.

08.40    1.20

Navigation difficult. Bombing good.

 

1 Nov

Spitfire V111 S

Armed recce. Bologna-Ostiglia

06.20    0.35

Weather U/S

 

4 Nov

Spitfire V111 N

Weather recce Yugoslavia

06.30    0.15

No 2 failed to get off

 

5 Nov

Spitfire V111 N

Rover Frank

11.45    1.05

Heavy guns

 

5 Nov

Spitfire V111 P

Scramble

16.40    0.35

601 type dived into sea

 

8 Nov

Spitfire V111 N

Bomb Gun posns

07.55    1.00

Guns stood out well. Bombing poor

 

13 Nov

Spitfire V111 S

Rover paddy

07.45    1.30

Church. "Hooly" baled out. Jake Lane & Aussie Smith missing 12/11/44

 

13 Nov

Spitfire V111 N

Rover Paddy

1.00    1.30

Mortar posns.

 

16 Nov

Spitfire V111 S

Rover Paddy

14.45    1.15

Clueless trip

 

19 Nov

Spitfire V111 J

Bomb railway line Rovigo

7.30    1.10

 

20 Nov

Spitfire V111 S

Armed recce. Bologna.

18.45    1.45

Moosedale F/O Bale out Udine

 

21 Nov

Spitfire V111 P

Rover David

09.05    1.30

Strong points

 

21 Nov

Spitfire V111 P

From Rimini

12.30    0.20

 

24 Nov

Spitfire V111 P

Rover David

09.35    1.25

 

24 Nov

Spitfire V111 N

Air test

15.45    0.15

 

26 Nov

Spitfire V111 N

Bomber escort. Balts.

13.45    1.40

Poalo Harbour

 

29 Nov

Spitfire V111 Y

Air test

11.00    0.45

 

1 Dec

Spitfire V111 N

Rover Paddy

Tyre burst. Failed to get off

 

2 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Operation Timothy

08.30    1.30

Successful

 

2 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Enemy strong point

15.05   0.50

Strafing M.T. Bomb

 

4 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover David

11.10    1.30

NO 3 to C.O. 5 direct hits

 

4 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Fano to Bellaria

14.05    1.15

 

8 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Air test

10.45    0.20

 

9 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Gun posns

11.45    0.45

Through cloud. 8/10

 

14 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover Paddy

14.20    1.10

Told to jettison. Bombed from 3000' Good results

 

15 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover David

11.45    0.55

Tank busters ho! One Tiger tank confirmed. Canucks congrats.

 

15 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover David

15.05    0.50

House. Not brilliant. Shadow Mc Caan killed

 

17 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover David

11.40    0.40

O. Tower Church Bagnacavallo. 4 D.H.S.

 

19 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Weather recce

09.35    0.35

With the boss

 

21 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Armed recce

15.10    1.15

Meste-Udine. Bad boy! Bombed factory.

 

22 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover David

10.15    1.50

Rlwy Stn. Cotignolo. Congrats from army.

 

22 Dec

Spitfire V111 Y

Rover Paddy

13.45    1.45

Buildings S. Castel Bolognese 5 D.H.s. Tubby Fair killed.

 

25 Dec

Spitfire V111 Q

Dusk Patrol

16.15    1.00

Night time with C.O. 'Y' flown by C.O. Damaged by flak.

 

26 Dec

Spitfire V111 T

Towers. (O.P.) Gotignolo

13.25    0.40

Congrats from Canadians

 

26 Dec

Spitfire V111 G

Dusk Patrol

16.25    0.15

Kite U/S 25th Bandits came in 5 after we pancaked.

 

27 Dec

Spitfire V111 T

Dusk Patrol

16.25    1.00

26th Major got within 2 mile of Hun. R/T U/S Multo A/A

 

 

DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS.

 

Captain Douglas LEE (329130V). S.A.A.F.. 92 Sqn. M.A.A.F.

 

This officer has set a fine example of skill and courage throughout a notable tour of operational duty. He has participated in a large number of sorties, many of them against targets in close support of our attacking ground forces, to whom the result of his accurate bombing of such targets as strong points, observation posts and gun positions have been of the greatest assistance. This officer has set the highest standard of devotion to duty.

 

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