F540 May - Dec 1943
One of our spitfire IX's has been named "India Print and Paper" at the request of THE EAST INDIA FUND FOR BRITISH SERVICES who presented the aircraft to the Squadron. Today we have flown 36 sorties in support of anti-shipping patrols by the KITTTYHAWK WINGS. In the operation just after mid-day we regret t to say that F/Sgt. P. INCHCOMBE was forced to bale out owing to engine trouble and his body was found by the ARMY in the forward areas. Not once were enemy aircraft encountered throughout the day.
We heard today that F/O. P. BRICKHILL, who was reported missing on 17th March, is a prisoner-of-war in GERMANY. Soon after dawn a section of six aircraft carried out a shipping patrol in the GULF OF HAMMAMET and later in the morning we did an offensive patrol in the GULF OF TUNIS with four SPITFIRS IX’s. On these trips and in the third operation of the morning — when we escorted KITTTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the CAP BON area — there was no sign of the LUFTWAFFE. We congratulate S/Ldr. P. OLVER, D.F.C., who has been appointed WING COMMANDER to 244 WING in place of W/Cdr. GLEDE, (GLEED???)who was reported missing on 16th April.
A fairly quiet day for us owing to bad weather over the GULF OF TUNIS. A section of six aircraft did a shipping patrol before breakfast and at mid-day while we had eight aircraft escorting KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in
the GULF OF TUNIS, anothor section of four carried out an offensive patrol in the same area. No enemy aircraft were seen or reported.
We began the day with a shipping patrol just after dawn and finished with another one when our aircraft made dusk landings. In the morning we carried out an uneventful patrol over the GULF OF TUNIS and later on we escorted KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the same area. W/Cdr. P. OLVER DFC., led a formation of three SPITFIRE IX’s on an offensive patrol of the area North of ENFIDAVILLE late in the afternoon but, as in other operations, no enemy aircraft were encountered. Perhaps the HUN is saving his LUFTWAFFE for one final show at the end of this campaign.
At 1000 hours this morning we received instructions for our “A” PARTY to move up to HERGLA and by the early afternoon the move had been completed but the aircraft remained at GOUBRINE. A weather and shipping recce was made at dawn and, when a favourable report was given, our Squadron escorted KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the GULF OF TUNIS. Later in the morning four of our SPITFIRE IX’s carried out an offensive patrol in the same area led by W/Cdr. P. OLVER DFC. The leader and P/O. R. PROBERT damaged a Me 109 each out of a formation of 30 plus Me 109’s and Mc 202’s they encountered. At mid-lay we escorted BALTIMORES and KITTYHAWKS over the CAP BON PENINSULAR and our last operation of the day was an escort to KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the usual area.
COMMANDING OFFICER HUMPHREYS
A signal was received today appointing F/Lt. P.H. HUMPHREYS as SQUADRON COMMANDER to take the place of S/Ldr. W.J. HARPER, who becomes O.T.E. S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS is the eleventh Commanding Officer of the Squadron since it was reformed on 10th OCTOBER, 1939. Our new COMMANDING OFFICER first joined the Squadron in JULY, 1941, and rejoined us on 3rd MARCH this year. F/O. E. SLY takes over command of "B" FLIGHT from today. Before our aircraft flew up to HERGLA this morning, two SPITFIRE V’s carried out a weather recce of the FURNA area, and the Squadron escorted KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the GULF OF TUNIS. KITTYHAWKS were again escorted in the afternoon when they attacked a target in the OUDNA area,. No enemy aircraft were seen on any of these operations or in the last show of the day when we made an offensive patrol over the GULF OF TUNIS.
Our four operations today were all connected with anti-shipping patrols in the GULF OF TUNIS but there were no encounters with the enemy. At night, we had a heavy thunderstorn and the landing ground appeared to be unserviceable. TUNIS is in our hands!
Our aircraft roturned to GOUBRINE one by one as soon as they could be dragged out of the mud this morning. The first operation of the day was an escort and top cover to LIGHT-BOMBERS which “plastered” the landing ground at PANTELLERIA and in the afternoon we escorted KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the GULF OF TUNIS. Four of our SPITFIRE IX’scarried out an offensive patrol during this latter operation. At night, S/Ldr. W.J. HARPER received the news that a possibility existed of his returning to ENGLAND and this was duly celebrated.
The Squadron was active from dawn to dusk again today. At 0455 hours two of our pilots made a weather recce of the CAP BON and PANTELLERIA areas and this was followed an hour later by an escort to KITTYHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol in the same areas. Two Squadrons of KITTYHAWKS were escorted to the CAP BON area later in the morning and just after mid-day four of our SPITFIRE IX’s carried out an offensive patrol there. Another anti-shipping patrol by KITTYHAWKS was escorted to CAP BON in the afternoon and at dusk W/Cdr. P. OLVER DFC., led five
SPITFIRE IX’s on a patrol of the east aide of the peninsular hoping to intercept enemy transport aircraft but none were seen.
The A.O.C. in C., AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR ARTHUR TEDDER and the A.O.C., AIR VICE MARSHAL H. BROADHURST, visited the Squadron today. Three operations were carried out in connection with the bombing of PANTELLERIA by LIGHT BOMBERS and we also escorted KITTYHAWKS on an armed recce of the CAP BON area.
The LUFTWAFFE continued to be conspicuous by its absence. F/O. DICKS-SHERWOOD joined tho Squadron on on posting from 238 SQUADRON. Durin the last few days when TUNIS and BIZERTA have fallen to our ARMIES we have been able to have a rinside view of shelling by our troops against the enemy pocket which still exists within nine miles of our landing ground.
On the three trips today we esscorted KITTYHAWKS on armed reconnaisances of the CAP BON PENINSULAR. The last operation was led by our “ACE” F/Lt. NEVILLE F. DUKE, D.S.O., D.F.C. and BAR, and it was fitting that when on returning he heard the Controllor telling another formation “The show is off” — because our troops had reached CAP BON — he had completed 200 hours on his second operational tour. A really grand show, Neville, with 22 enemy aircraft destroyed!
There were no operational trips for us today and advantage was taken of
this opportunity to train several of our new pilots. Permision was granted for
personnel to visit TUNIS during the next three days and arrangements were made by the Adjutant for 50% of the airmen to go there tomorrow and the remainder on the following day. F/Lt. L.R.HOLT arrived on attachment from No. 25 M.R.S. in time to join in our victory celebrations. It was at 1945 hours that news was received of the final capitulation of the enemy forces in TUNISIA and of the capture of GENERAL VON ARNIM. Attached is a "write-up" of F/Lt. N.F. DUKE, DSO., DFC. and BAR which appeared in today’s issue of “TRIPOLI TIMES”.
Six of our aircraft were at Readiness from 0900 hours to mid-day today but were not sent off and the Squadron was then released for the rest of the day. Three of our lorries were filled with airmen who went on the visit to TUNIS.
No operational flying again today, but we had the Squadron at Readiness for three hours in the afternoon. Anothor large party of airmen visited TUNIS today and, on return, they were agreed that it was the best place we have seen since ALEXANDRIA.
The only flying today was for training purposes. Our “A” Party received instruction, to move to SURMAN and it was decided that the party which had remained at BOU GOUBRINE should proceed there at first light tomorrow.
No operational flying but some training was continued today. "A" Party moved off from BOU GOUBRINE and made good progress, reaching the outskirts of MEDENINE before dinner.
Destination of "A" Party was altered to BEN GARDANE NORTH L.G. and they arrived there at 1100 hours. No arrangements had been made regarding aircraft disposal areas and other units were occupying the best sites but our party parked in the Northeast corner as usual. There was no operational flying from HERGLA. Several pilots from the other squadrons in the Wing were invited to a party in our Pilots' Mess and it went off in the traditional 92 style. There was a pile of trousers and shirts in the Mess when our visitors had gone and we hope that none of them will suffer any effects from exposure!
Sgt. F.E. BRISTER flew to BEN GARDANE with instructions for the “A” Party to move to CASTEL BENITO, within half-an-hour of his arrival, another message was received cancelling those instructions. Some more training was carried out at HERGLA.
MAJOR MOODY, of No. 1 SAAF SQUADRON, called a meeting at WING to allocate dispersal areas for our aircraft. We were fortunate in not having to move our site which is nearest the sea. The landing ground was unserviceable after heavy rain last night.
Our aircraft arrived at BEN GARDANE NORTH L.G. from HERGLA this morning but there was no operational flying. All personnel took advantage of wonderful weather to increase their number of sun-bathing hours.
No operational flying. The main party left HERGLA early this morning and were within 20 miles of GABES when they parked for the night.
Two Sections of four aircraft were sent off this morning to carry out a convoy patrol but neither was able to locate the ships although they made a thorough search of the area. Our main party arrived in the afternoon and set up camp near the sea. Three new pilots reported to the Squadron on posting from WING TRAINING FLIGHT. They are PILOT OFFICERS McDERMOTT, FAKHRY and SAYLE.
We are sorry to lose F/O. D.L.G. TURVEY who left us today on posting as an instructor to the WING TRAINING FLIGHT. Our COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS was busy preparing to go to CAIRO tomorrow on course. There was no flying all day.
No operational flying was carried out today and most of our pilots have gone to the DELTA on leave. F/Lt. E. SLY is in charge of the Squadron during the C.O.’s absence. F/O. HENDERSON joined us today on posting from M.E.C.G.S. BALLAH.
There was no training or operational flying again today. The ADJUTANT, F/O. G.L. TRAVIS, has arranged a cricket competition amongst the Squadron and the first game is to be played tomorrow. A Squadron cricket team today beat a team fron No. 59 R.S.U., but the SALVAGE UNIT proved much bettor at Soccer which they won by 4—1.
In the morning there was some training carried out by our new pilots. In the cricket competition Maintenance Flight decisively beat Headquarters this afternoon. F/O. G.J. CORNISH was today posted to the Squadron as INTELLIGENCE OFFICER. He first joined us on 12th January, 1942, as a Code and Cypher Officer, but has been acting as INTELLIGENCE OFFICER since 27th September, 1942.
During this morning there was some practice flying by our new pilots. We congratulate F/O. J. RAWES on his promotion to FLIGHT LIEUTENANT but we are very sorry to learn that he is leaving us to become WING ENGINEER OFFICER. He has been with the Squadron since January, 1942, and unnder his supervision the seviceability of our aircraft has been higher than that of every other Squadron in the WESTERN DESERT. F/o. LONGSTAFF reported today on posting from No. 59 R.S.U. to take over F/Lt. RAWES’ duties. “A” Flight cricket team won decisively against “B” Flight in the competition.
There was no flying today and Squadron personnel began, in earnest, training designed to toughen them for our next campaign. At night S/Ldr. PORTER, F/Lt. RAWES and CAPTAIN HEFFORD visited the Pilots’ Mess and celebrated nothing in particular but it was a very happy party.
In the cricket competition Maintenance beat “B” Flight today. There was no flying and, consequently, personnel continued to undergo toughening exercises which they appear to enjoy.
Five of our aircraft were flown away this morning for engine change and another six were received as replacement from No. 39 R.S.U. There was no other flying. Competition in the cricket matches is keen and today “A” Flight beat Headquarters by 84 to 51 runs. No arrangements have been made to fly our O.T.E. pilots to the DELTA and four of them are still with us. It is a scandal that pilots with such a splendid record as our F/Lt. NEVILLE DUKE, DSO., DFC. and BAR, should be kept hanging about in this way. P/O. J.H. PHILLIPS reported on posting from 31 A.S.P. to take over the duties of EQUIPMENt OFFICER.
There was no flying today apart from an air test of one of our SPITFIRE IX’s. The total number of sorties for the month was 279 involving 382.25 operational hours and non-operational hours amounted to 115.20
Two of our pilots went to HERGLA today and flew aircraft from there to base. There was no other flying. It was a sad parting today when we bid “Au Revoir” to F/Lt. NEVILLE DUKE, DSO., DFC. and BAR and to F/Lt. C.G. WOOLGROVE. It is our hope that “Neville” is able to go to ENGLAND and continue his grand work from there. “DOC” WOOLGROVE is to become a “Base Wallah” at HELIOPOLIS and we wish him every success.
Several of our pilots carried out training flights this morning and others did some night flying at the end of the day. We shall miss F/O. SIMPSON, P/O. BRUCKSHAW and P/O. MacFARLANE who left us today at the end of their operational tour.
During the morning some practice flying was carried out. Orders were received for our first party to move tomorrow to an unknown destination, and these men were fully kitted at the store during the day. It had been arranged that Squadron Sports Competition would be held but with the move of a large number of men being so imminent, it was decided that a sing-song would be held in the Airmen’s Canteen. Six hundred bottles of beer had been laid on for the occasion and several large fruit cakes bought in CAIRO at GROPPI’S six months ago and sandwiches were provided. By 2100 hours there was not much “Song” in the sing-song but everyone was warmed up for a happy evening which extended until the early hours of the next day. It was an enjoyable party.
The move of the first party was postponed for 24 hours. There was some flying done during the day by pilots testing aircraft received from the R.S.U. F/Sgt. V. CARTER (Signals), who has been with the Squadron since it was re-formed on 10th October 1939, was today posted to 244 WING HEADQUARTERS to await his commission.
In accordanc with Movement Order No. 1 issued by 214 Group our first party left BEN GARDANE at 1115 hours for an undisclosed destination. F/Lt. SAVAGE and F/O. LONGSTAFF attended a conference at WING HEADQUARTERS where GROUP CAPTAIN J. DARWIN spoke on forthcoming events. There was a little flying done in the way of air tests of aircraft.
There was some training carried out during the day. S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS returned from CAIRO where he had been attending a course.
Long-range tanks on several of our aircraft were tested today and seven pilots carried out night flying later.
Ac onvoy of 15 of our vehicles with drivers and F/O. WIHAK and F/Sgt. MacKAY proceeded to TRIPOLI for forward disposal to MALTA. There was more training during the day. P/O. W.E. ALLEN left the Squadron on posting to 206 GROUP and F/Lt. RICHARDSON and F/O. HAZEL joined us. A supply of 800 bottles of beer was obtained and the Squadron enjoyed a very happy party.
Our pilots continued with their training programme.
There was more practice flying today.
P/O. DIBDEN, 2/Lt. GASSON, and Sgt. KING joined us today on pposting from the WING TRAINING FLIGHT. Our pilots are eager to be on operations again, but the only flying done was training to fit themselves to beat the best the HUN can put up against us.
F/O. BRADLEY SMITH was today posted to No. 22 P.T.C. for transfer to the USAAF. WE shall miss him very much as he has been amongst the keenest of our pilots. F/Sgt. C.F. BROWN, in charge of “B” FLIGHT, has been awarded the AIR FORCE LONG SERVICE MEDAL — 18 years undetected crime!!
F/O. LONGSTAFF and P/O. PHILLIPS left by air for MALTA. Long range tanks were air-tested on more of our aircraft today to prepare for tomorrow’s trip.
F/O. CORNISH, P/O. PROBERT, P/O. IVES, F/Lt. RICHARDSON, P/O. McDERMOTT and F/O. HAZEL left for TRIPOLI with 44 men today for shipment to MALTA where they landed (in TRIPOLI) without incident after one and a quarter hours in the air.
Only one aircraft took off today and that was for an air test.
There were several more air tests today but no operational flying. Eight vehicles left BEN GARDANE with ten men for TRIPOLI
More air tests of aircraft and their long range tanks were carried out today. The party of six officers and 44 men arrived in MALTA
There was some training in the air today.
Our last party arrived in MALTA today. A Squadron practice formation was flown in preparation for a “show” tomorrow.
At last we begin operations again! With No. 145 SQUADRON we carried out an offensive sweep of COMISO area in SICILY but it was uneventful. The personnel are finding it difficult to cope with the “Bull” on the island after the comparitive laxity of life in the desert.
From dawn today we had two sections of four aircraft on Readiness and it was not until 1930 hours that there was any flying. Four aircraft then patrolled the island on an interception patrol without incident. We were released at dusk.
This morning our Squadron and No. 1 SAAF Squadron carried out a sweep of SOUTH-EASTERN SICILY. Ever since June last year, when we first flew with SOUTH AFRICANS, there has been a grand spirit of friendship and co-operation between our Squadrons and we hoped that together we might open the score for the WING in operations over MALTA. Our luck was out, however, for there was no sign of the HUN.
There was no flying today although we had a team avilable at Dispersal throughout the day. We are settling down here but shall be happier when operations begin in earnest.
We were released today but a message received during the morning recalled all pilots to the aerodrome to meet the SECRETARY OF AIR, SIR ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR, who had arrived by air to thank the WESTERN DESERT Squadrons for their grand work in the last campaign.
An early morning call for 0300 was booked by our pilots who were doing pre-dawn readiness today. The ride in the bus to the aerodrome awakened them thoroughly but it was not until late in the morning that any were required to take-off. At that time, and again at 1930 hours, a section of four of our SPITFIRE IX’s carried out an interception patrol. The first was uneventful but in the second operation two Me 109’s were sighted 10 miles NORTH OF GOZO. Our pilots chased them as they dived from 25,000 to 7,000 feet but lost them in the haze about five miles from SICILY. Better luck next time we hope.
We had a team available at Dispersal all day but they were not required. In the afternoon, the pilots not on the team bathed near SLIEMA and did some dinghy drill there.
This afternoon eight of our aircraft with 10 from No. 145 Squadron escorted No. 40 SAAF Squadron on a sweep to CATANIA. There was no sign of the enemy but our pilots had their first glimpse of ITALY before they turned about for base.
Throughout the day pilots have been available at Dispersal but they were not called for operations.
The Squadron was released today so S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, our C.O. took a large party of pilots to ST. PAUL’S BAY for an outing which was thoroughly enjoyed. S/Ldr. “BABE” WHITAMORE — ex 92 pilot, now C.O. of No. 81 Squadron — was the guest of the Squadron on this trip. It was with deep regret that we learned today that Sgt. W.C. LAWSON was killed recently at BEN GARDANE during training.
We are pleased to record that the following members of the Squadron have been MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES:-
805184 W/O JENKINS. F.A.C.,
513822 W/O. SAnDERSON. G.,
365145 F/Sgt. BROWN. C.F.,
568330 F/Sgt. WILLIAMS. F.E.,
969070 Cpl. FINNIE. W.,
847690 Cpl. HUMPHRIES. A.W.,
1206411 Cpl. COBBETT. L.,
912662 LAC. HUGHES. E.J.
1283457 LAC. McCARTHY. E.M.
1063063 LAC. ORMEROD. D.,
1407460 LAC. WHITE J.H.W.,
1016577 LAC. HATTLE. J.,
1335957 ACI. EAGLE. D.
With ten aircraft of No. 1 SAAF SQUADRON we carried out a sweep of the COMISO area this afternoon. Plots of enemy aircraft were reported but our pilots saw no sign of the HUN. Our total of operational hours for this month amounted to only 63 hours 15 minutes whereas our non-operational hours totalled 113 hours 5 minutes day and 8 hours 25 minutes for night flying.
FLIGHT LIETENANT J.M.V. CAaRPENTER DFC., joined us today to take over “B” Flight in place of FLIGHT LIEUTENANT E. SLY who became O.T.E. Once again our pilots spent the day at Dispersal but they were not required for operations.
There was a wing sweep over COMISO today in which six of our SPITFIRE V’s and four of our IX’s took part with aircraft from No. 1 SAAF and No. 145 Squadrons. This proved to be a stooge trip for there were no enemy aircraft in sight.
We had two sections at Dawn Readiness today. Just after 1700 hours in the evening we provided one Section of four aircraft to patrol a dinghy which was just over five miles from the Cicilian coast. When the launch arrived to pick up the pilot it was announced on the R/T that it was a HUN in the dinghy! A poor show on the part of the enemy to allow us to snatch one of his pilots from under his nose.
F/O. B. BAKER opened our score for operations from Malta by damaging a Mc 202 over COMISO today. He did this on a show in which 12 of our aircraft, with 12 from No. 145 Squadron, gave higgh cover to MITCHELLS and MARAUDERS which bombed GERBINI aerodrome.
During this evening, with No. 1 SAAF Squadron, we gave high cover to 36 MARAUDERS to GERBINI again but there was no sign at all of any enemy aircraft. Later in the day, eight of our SPITFIRE V’s patrolled over a dinghy ten miles from the SICILIAN coast until five men in it were picked up by the A.S.R. launch. What grand work these A.S.R. men do!
We had 12 aircraft available today and eight of them we “On the line” for a couple of hours in the afternoon but we were not sent off.
This afternoon our Squadron, with 601 and 417 Squadrons, were detailed to give escort and high cover to 48 LIBERATORS bombing GERBINI Satellites 1 and 6. We flew to the target are and patrolled between it and CATANIA for 35 minutes but there was no sign either of our bombers or any enemy aircraft. After tea we had two sections at Readiness for three hours until dusk.
We had two Sections at Dawn Readiness but they were no required to take off. After noon, with 601 Squadron, we escorted 24 MITCHELLS which plastered COMISO aerodrome with bombs.
Today we were given the “gen” on forthcoming operations and our pilots are keyed up to deal effectively with enemy opposition. We wish our forces the best of luck. Our first operation today was to be an escort, with No. 1 SAAF Squadron, to 24 MITCHELLS bombing COMISO, but the bombers did not turn up at the rendezvous. Our SPITFIRE V’s were ordered to return to base but our IX’s swept SOUTH-EASTERN SICILY. They saw no enemy aircraft. In the afternoon F/Lt. T SAVAGE led the Wing escort to 24 LIBERATORS which bombed COMISO. There was no opposition by A.A. or enemy aircraft.
The invasion of SICILY has begun and we have been engaged in maintaining air cover over the PACHINO PENINSULAR throughout the day. We have done a total of 42 sorties. F/Lt. T. SAVAGE opened the score for the Squadron, and the Wing, for operations from MALTA when he destroyed a Ju 88 in his third show today. Our aircraft attacked six Ju 88’s with an escort of 12 Me 109’s and at least 2 Mc 202’s, and besides F/Lt. SAVAGE’S success, 2/Lt. J.E. GASSON (SAAF) damaged another Ju 88. Our joy was overshadowed, however, by the news that both F/Lt. T. SAVAGE and F/O. DICKS-SHERWOOD are missing. It is believed that “A” Flight’s FLIGHT COMMANDER baled out and we are anxious for definite news. At Dusk a Section of six aircraft carried out another patrol of the same area — they saw no enemy aircraft and all made perfect night landings on their return. We are warned that our pilots must be prepared to fly at dawn to an aerodrome in SICILY
The move of our aircraft was postponed until 13th July. Our pilots had further success this afternoon during a patrol of the beaches between SCELAMBRI and GELA. They attacked a formation of 12 Ju 88’s which were escorted by 30 plus fighters and in the ensuing combat four Ju 88’s were destroyed, one probably desstroyed and one damaged. F/Lt. RICHARDSON destroyed one and damaged one, F/O. M. JOWSEY destroyed one, Lt. A. SACHS and W/O. S.R. FRY each destroyed one and 2/Lt. J.E. GASSON damaged one. This is 92 Squadron in its form again! We regret that WING COMMANDER PETER OLVER — who was flying with us — has not yet returned.
From dawn until dusk today our aircraft patrolled over the beaches in SOUTH-EAST and SOUTHERN SICILY, but no enemy aircraft were encountered.
Early this morning eleven of our pilots took off from LUCA to patrol the beaches in the PACHINO PENINSULAR and landed at the new landing ground at PACHINO after an uneventful patrol. Our other pilots flew direct to the new L.G. In all, 41 sortis were flown today in patrols over the beach and our new base. Late in the afternoon P/O. G. WILSON forced landed near SYRACUSE short of petrol, but the local inhabitants proved to be very friendly and gave him food and shelter for the night. His aircraft was only slightly damaged. Squadron personnel left MALTA for SICILY this afternoon. They were delighted to find F/O. DICKS-SHERWOOD at the docks. He had been landed at MALTA from a trawler which picked him up on 10th July.
Before our personnel arrived at PACHINO today our pilots had carried out two patrols. In the second of these our aircraft were jumped by six Mc 202’s and Sgt. T.E. BRISTER’S aircraft was badly shot up. He landed safely at base however. It is interesting to note that although the enemy aircraft had the advantage of height and numbers, they would not stay to fight after the initial attack. There were three more patrols during the day and early in the afternoon, F/O. M. JOWSEY and P/O. PROBERT in SPITFIRE IX’s encountered 12 Mc 202 fighter-bombers. F/O. JOWSEY destroyed one while P/O. PROBERT destroyed one and damaged another.
Two SPITFIRE VIII’s were delivered to us today and the pilots are anxious to tes them. We did five patrols over the AUGUSTA — SYRACUSE area. It was in the third show that four of our SPITFIRE V’s engaged six Mc 202’s and in the combat F/O. M JOWSEY and F/Sgt. M. ASKEY each damaged one. After expending all his ammunition, F/O. M. JOWSEY continued on the tail of the Mc 202 for five minutes just in case the enemy aircraft found it possible to reverse the position.
Nothing more dangerous than KITTYHAWKS were seen on the two patrols we did over the AUGUSTA area early this morning. Eight of our aircraft covered a large number of warships which were off SYRACUSE this afternoon. Included in this convoy were the RODNEY and NELSON which bombarded CATANIA at dusk. Orders were received for the Squadron to move at dawn tomorrow for a new L.G. at CASSIBILE.
Not one enemy aircraft was seen during the five patrols carried out today. It appears, almost, as if the HUN knows that our pilots are spoiling for a fight and he dare not risk his aircraft! It is confirmed that F/Lt. T. SAVAGE lost his life on 10th July. When he destroyed a Ju 88 he followed it down and was hit by A.A. from our warships but was unable to bale out. He will be greatly missed by the whole Squadron, for, quite apart from his grand leadership in the air, he had a charming personality. He had a quiet, unassuming manner which endeared him to officers and men alike.
At dawn we patrolled over the CATANIA — GERBINI area but there were no hostile aircraft in the area. During the morning we were to escort 38 KITTYHAWKS on an armed recce of the CATANIA — MESSINA road and the rendezvous was to be at 500 ft over our L.G. However, the fighter –bombers flew over at 8,000 feet and our aircraft were unable to contact them. We patrolled over the area where the KITTYHAWKS were operating but the patrol was uneventful.
One more day without any sign of enemy air activity! We carried out the usual patrol over the CATANIA area — where our ground forces are meeting stiffer resistance — and later in the day, 18 of our aircraft gave top cover to three Squadrons of KITTYHAWKS on an armed recce north of CATANIA. It is truly amazing the way in which the air battle has died down. With a few hours of leisure available at the odd times of the day, the Squadron has been able to appreciate the countryside in which it finds itself. This is the nearest thing to home we have seen for 18 months.
This has been another day of “stooge” patrols over the CATANIA — GERBINI area. Appreciation has been expressed by the airmen for the supply of “Composite Rations” which is being issued at presenr. It is hoped that we can continue to obtain these items which are a great improvement on the “Hard Rations” we had in the Desert.
We welcomed F/lt. H. HARDS DFM., who reported today from No. 601 Squadron to be FLIGHT COMMANDER of “A’ FLIGHT. F/Lt. R. RICHARDSON, who joined us on 8th June this year, has been posted to No. 93 Squadron. He takes with him our congratulations on his promotion to Flight Commander and our best wishes for the future. Throughout today we have had a Section at Advanced Readiness. It was not until the evening that they “left the deck” and then they were scrambled for an interception 40 miles East of AUGUSTA. There was no sign of any hostile aircraft when our pilots reached the position.
Once during the morning and again in the afternoon our Squadron escorted KITTYHAWKS which bombed targets in NORTH-EASTERN SICILY. There was no enemy opposition.
We escorted two squadrons of KITTYHAWKS this morning on an armed recce of the roads WEST and EAST of TROINA and, later in the day, were close escort to 24 medium bombers which attacked RANDAZZO. Once again, there was no sign of the LUFTWAFFE.
S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, our COMMANDING OFFICER, announced today that one of our former pilots of the BATTLE OF BRITAIN days had been appointed GROUP CAPTAIN in charge of our WING. He is none other than GROUP CAPTAIN BRIAN KINGCOME, DSO., DFC. and BAR. Soon after dawn we carried out a convoy patrol — the only result reported was a distinct soreness on the pilots’ posteriors after a one hour and 40 minutes “stooge” trip. In the afternoon our C.O., S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, and P/O. R. PROBERT climbed up to 29,000 feet in SPITFIRE VIII’s hoping to intercept an enemy recce plane but no plots were reported by the controller. Our last show of the day was to have been top cover to 24 BOSTONS but they did not turn up at the rendezvous so we were instructed to patrol the target area. This proved uneventful. MAJOR “SNOWY” MOODY, DFC., of No. 1 SAAF Squadron, called on us during the evening to say “good-bye.” We shall certainly miss him but are pleased to hear that an ex-92 pilot, MAJOR H. FAURE, DFC., takes his place as their SQUADRON COMMANDER.
There were three shows for us today. The first was an escort to 24 KITTYHAWKS which bombed the roads NORTH of MOUNT ETNA. The other two we carried out sweeps with No. 1 SAAF SQUADRON over the coastline between CAPE MILAZZO and CAPE ROSCOLNO. It was in that area that SPITFIRES of 322 WING destroyed 21 Ju 52’s, 4 Me 109’s and 1 Mc 202 earlier today but we saw no sign of the enemy in the air. “A” Party moved to LENTIN WEST L.G. this afternoon.
At 0700 hours our aircraft flew to the new airfield and were at Readiness all day. We did another sweep over the NORHT-EAST SICILIAN coast but had no luck — perhaps the HUN learned his lesson yesterday! Sgt. PEACOCK arrived today on posting from 244 WING TRAINING FLIGHT.
Three times today we were detailed to escort BOSTONS which bombed targets at AGIRA and CAPE MILAZZO. There was no enemy opposition apart from some flak.
F/O. R.S.S. DICKS-SHERWOOD destroyed a Me 109 when he and 2/Lt. GASSON were on patrol over AUGUSTA. This brought his personal score to 5½ — 1 — 5. Three other pairs patrolled AUGUSTA and SYRACUSE without incident. In the afternoon we were detailed to be close escort to MEDIUM BOMBERS, but they did not turn up at the rendezvous so we patrolled just North of AUGUSTA for an hour. We intercepted four aircraft which proved to be friendly.
WING COMMANDER DUNCAN-SMITH led the Squadron giving top cover to BALTIMORES which bombed a target at CAPE MILAZZO this morning. On returning from this trip he dived on two aircraft over NICOSIA, hoping for joy, but they turned out to be MUSTANGS. With 601 Squadron giving top cover, six of our aircraft provided close escort to 12 BOSTONS towards the target at CAPE MILAZZO. The cloud was too low and thick for the bombers which returned with their load. Bad weather caused the cancellation of further operations planned for the afternoon.
In pairs, our aircraft patrolled over SYRACUSE and AUGUSTA throughout this morning. Several aircraft were intercepted but each proved to be friendly. Four were scrambled for an interception patrol SOUTH-WEST OF CATANIA, but they saw no enemy planes.
Twice this morning, we have provided close escort to medium bombers. There were 12 MARAUDERS in the first show with PATERNO as the target and 12 BOSTONS bombed SAN MARIA in the second. The object of the bombing was to prevent enemy reinforcements being moved from CATANIA westward toward ADRANO and CENTURIPE. There was no enemy opposition. In 88 operations this month our hours have totalled 809.50 day and 10.00 night, while non-operational hours amounted to 23.20. Eight enemy aircraft have been destroyed, one probably destroyed, and six damaged for the loss of two aircraft Cat. III. With one pilot safe, and one aircraft Cat. II through enemy action.
We provided close escort to medium bombers again today. The targets for the three shows were PATERNO, BIANCAVILLA and MILAZZO and on no occasion was there any enemy opposition. In the late afternoon six of our aircraft maintained a standing patrol over base in anticipation of an enemy raid which did not materialise. F/Lt. E.A.G.C. BRUCE was posted to the Squadron (for the third time!) today.
There was only one operational trip for us today. We escorted 12 BALTIMORES which dropped bombs at ADRANO.
Early this morning three sections of two aircraft provided escort to a WALRUS which attempted to rescue a pilot in the sea off RIPOSTO. Unfortunatley, only wreckage was seen. The Squadron maintained a standing patrol over the road between FIUMEFREDDO and BARCELLONA, while KITTYHAWKS were strafing in the area. No enemy aircraft were seen during that patrol nor later in the day when we patrolled between RANDAZZO and TROINA. What has happened to the LUFTWAFFE? There have been signs of the enemy ground forces withdrawing their heavy equipment today so we can expect big movements before long.
We carried out a total of 42 sorties today and maintained a standing patrol between CATANIA and TAORMINA. KITTYHAWKS, straffing in the area, destroyed many enemy M/T and our warships blocked the coast road by accurate shelling. CATANIA, the second largest town in SICILY, fell to the 8th ARMY today.
Escort was provided, on two occasions today, to a Squadron of KITTYHAWKS of 57 PURSUIT GROUP on armed reconnaissance. The first trip was over MESSINA where we experienced concentrated accurate flak from both sides of the STRAITS and S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS’ aircraft had a large hole in the wingtip. It was over the “Toe” of ITALY, between CAPE D’ARMI and CAPE SPARTIVENTO, on the second show, that we expected some excitement, but no enemy aircraft were encountered and no targets were found for the KITTYHAWKS.
An armed recce over the North-East Coast of SICILY was carried out by KITTYHAWKS which we escorted this morning without incident. Twice, in the afternoon, we provided close escort to MEDIUM BOMBERS which attacked RANDAZZO with good effect. For the first time in many days we met some opposition in the air. It was after the MITCHELLS had dropped their load that we were attacked by 9 plus MC 202’s which dived on our formation from 18,000 feet. They climbed after their initial attack and were unwilling to fight. F/O. M. JOWSEY and F/Sgt. M. ASKEY in SPITFIRE VIII’s both fired but saw no results apart from strikes.
Soon afteer dawn, we escorted 12 MITCHELLS to RANDAZZO where they dropped their bombs across the town blocking the road. Later in the morning, ten of out aircraft patrolled between MALETTO, RANDAZZO and FRANCAVILLE to give indirect cover to several formations of KITTYHAWKS which were operating in the area bombing and strafing enemy transport. The third operation was a close escort to WARHAWKS of 64 SQUADRON on an armed recce of the MESSINA STRAITS. Not once during the day was an enemy aircraft sighted.
We expected to be kept busy today because 168 MEDIUM BOMBERS had a 12-hour programme with RANDAZZO as their target but we were disappointed. Ten of our aircraft, in pairs, escorted a WALRUS to ten miles east of TAORMINA, where a pilot was picked up, and back to AUGUSTA, and the only other job we had was a close escort to WARHAWKS of 86 SQUADRON on an anti-shipping recce in the MESSINA STAITS, which proved uneventful.
Our pilots are all anxious for action and are fed up with “stooge” operations in which they meet no opposition. A suggestion has been made that permission be requested for pairs of our aircraft, with long-range tanks, to carry out a sweep over the airfields around NAPLES to stir up the HUN. We provided close escort to KITTYHAWKS of 239 WING on an anti-shipping recce NORTH of MESSINA early this morning, and our pilots brought back valuable information about enemy shipping movements in the STRAITS. Two aircraft were scrambled just before lunch and ordered to patrol base but apparently it was a false alarm because they were ordered to “pancake” after being airborne for 15 minutes.
Only six of our pilots took to the air today; four of them escated eight KITTYHAWKS of 239 WING on an armed recce of the MESSINA STRAITS and the other two were sent off to patrol over AUGUSTA just before dusk. Ten minutes before this pair was due to take off, four aircraft of No. 1 SAAF Squadron were scrambled to a position several miles of AUGUSTA where they encountered two F/W 190’s. They destroyed one and damaged the other. How envious we were of them!
At dawn this morning two of our aircraft carried out an hour’s patrol over AUGUSTA and were relieved by two more. There was no incident. During the morning we provided close cover to KITTYHAWKS of 79 GROUP on an anti-shipping patrol in the MESSINA area, and in the afternoon, we escorted KITTYHAWKS of 239 WING which bombed a special target of gun positions near MALETTO.
We entertained a nursing sister in our mess this evening. She was an old friend of “DOC” HOLT but quite a warm friendship sprung up during the course of the evening between our guest and “ADT” TRAVIS until F/Lt. “TONY” BRUCE came on the scene. He it was who took the visitor out to “have a look at one of our kites” but during this very pleasant interlude the HUN decided to bomb our airfield. It is said that the gallant “TONY” threw himself over the body of the Nursing Sister to protect her from the blast. Three of our aircraft were badly damaged and three more slightly damaged but there were no casualties to personnel. Our pilots and airmen did some grand work helping to extinguish fires which broke out in other dispersal areas.
Although our airfield was made serviceable by mid-day, none of our aircraft took off. There remain three unexploded bombs on the taxying strip on the North side of the runway.
At 0630 hours this morning two of our pilots were scrambled to AUGUSTA where they intercepted an aircraft which proved to be friendly, Once during the morning and twice after lunch we provided close escort to KITTYHAWKS on armed shipping recces, in the MESSINA STRAITS and, apart from intense flak of all calibres, there was no enemy opposition.
Early this morning we covered 12 MEDIUM BOMBERS which attacked a target at SAN NICOLA and then we had four “shows” during the day in which we escorted KITTYHAWKS on the usual anti-shipping patrols over MESSINA. Again here were no enemy aircraft about.
The KIYYHAWK escort shows are becoming monotonous. We began at 0600 hours this morning and escorted three formations during the day, without seeing any sign of the HUN in the sky. His shipping is being attacked all day long with good results and it must be demoralising for the NAZI troops to see only aircraft with ALLIED markings.
W/Cdr. DUNCAN SMITH DSO., DFC., led four of our aircraft on an offensive sweep over VIBO VALENTIA this morning, but the only enemy aircraft seen were two on te scrapheap there. Eight pilots took off at 0725 hours and gave cover to 12 WARHAWKS bombing shipping in the MESSINA STRAITS and six escorted 12 BALTIMORES to MESSINA later in the morning. After noon, we patrolled over warships 12 miles S.E. of TAORMINA for an hour. It is with the deepest regret that we record that F/O. BRENDAN BAKER is missing from the show in which he led four of our aircraft escorting KITTYHAWKS NORTH OF MESSINA. Two of these pilots were forced to return early owing to engine trouble and the two remaining aircraft were attacked by five plus Mc 202’s when five miles S.W. of PALMI. F/O. G. WILSON diced with three of them for several minutes until the enemy aircraft dived away and were lost in the haze. After that operation we escorted another KITTYHAWK formation to the same area and our pilots kept a good look out for a dinghy there but saw no sign of one.
We were the duty Squadron from dawn till dusk today and seven Sections were scrambled for local interception. On three occasions fiendly aircraft were intercepted but not once was the enemy sighted. With the entry of ALLIED troops into MESSINA early today the SICILAIN campaign has been brought to a close. It has been disappointing from our point of view because we have met only slight opposition in the air.
Our Wing was released today and so our C.O., S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, arranged for the airmen to have a tour around MOUNT ETNA. Pilots and officers also took the opportunity to have an outing to CATANIA and TAORMINA.
We are again released all day but several pilots did some practice flying in the morning.
Althoough we had a team Available at Three Hours Notice today, most of the Squadron were able to get a swim in the sea. There was some pracice flying before lunch.
Three times today we provide cover to KITTYHAWK on armed recces over the “TOE” of ITALY, but there was no sign of enemy aircraft on any trip.
Squadron was released again but there was some practice flying.
There was a considerable amount of practice flying but no “ops”. Full advantage has been taken of our days off and both pilots and airmen have paid visits to MOUNT ETNA’S crater.
We had a Wing “show” with long-range tanks this afternoon, in which we took part with 12 aircraft of No. 1 SAAF SQUADRON and 12 of No. 601 SQUADRON. It was a delousing operation for 96 MUSTANGS which attacked targets in SOUTHERN ITALY. It was disappointing because the HUN was conspicuous by his absence.
Another day off! F/Lt. “TONY” BRUCE left us today on posting to 417 SQUADRON. Several members of the Squadron proved their fitness by climbing MOUNT ETNA again, but there wer a number of stragglers!
We were again released, but there was some practice flying in the morning. At night we entertained four CANADIAN NURSING SISTERS who had been invited by P/O. R. PROBERT. F/Lt. J.H. NICHOLLS, DFC., joined the Squadron on posting from the WING TRAINING FLIGHT where he had been CHIEF INSTRUCTOR. He is to be FLIGHT COMMANDER of “B” FLIGHT in place of F/Lt. J.V.M. CARPENTER, DFC., who has contracted malaria.
Twice today, four of our aircraft provided close escort to six BOSTONS which bombed enemy gun positions to the East of REGGIO. We encountered neither enemy aircraft nor flak in these operations.
The Squadron was released today and some more practice flying was carried out during the morning. F/O. “HINDU” HENDERSON and F/O. K. SISSONS joined us today for flying duties.
Six of our SPITFIRE VIII’s were at Standby for several hours today in anticipation of an enemy raid on AUGUSTA and two operations were arranged for them at 1650 and 1850 hours but, owing to heavy rain during the afternoon which rendered the airfield unserviveable, they could not take off.
The landing ground was still unserviceable this morning and, in consequence, the Wing was released. Five of our pilots went to TAORINA for 48 hours leave. They were F/O. E. DICKS-SHERWOOD, F/O. G. WILSON, F/Sgt. M. ASKEY, Sgt. P. SAVILL and Sgt. H. PERCIVAL. At mid-day we were ordered to send an “A” Party to GERBINI MIAN AIRFIELD. From there we carried out an escort to a WALRUS which successfully rescued two pilots from the sea EAST of the “TOE” of ITALY
It was just after dawn when four of our pilots took off this morning and patrolled over PACHINO for an hour without incident. We received instructions to return to LENTINI WEST L.G. and immediately afte lunch the aircraft and “A” Party moved back. There were no further operations. Our total operational hours for this month amount to 433 hours 40 minutes, which is a very low figure compared with that of July when our Squadron flew more hours than any other fighter squadron. We carried 356 sorties on “ops” and there were 126 non-operational sorties involving 77 hours 30 minutes of flying time.
Early this morning six of our SPITFIRE VII’s patrolled over AUGUSTA harbour at 20,000 feet hoping for an interception which did not materialise. Later, at Squadron strength, we escorted 24 MITCHELLS which bombed OLIVETO without any opposition.
We are sorry to say “Good-bye” to F/O. M. JOWSEY and P/O. R. PROBERT who left us on being posted O.T.E. Both of them have done grand work in the Squadron. F/O. DIBDEN reported on posting from the Training Flight. During the forenoon we escorted 12 KITTYHAWKS bombing barges on the coast off FRANCAVILLA and two of our SPITFIRE VIII’s, with WING COMMANDER SMITH leading, carried out an independent patrol of the area. Unfortunately, the WING COMMANDER was unable to switch on his main petrol tank and he was forced to bale out three miles off the coast of TROPEA. 12 of our aircraft deloused for MITCHELLS East of CASTILO without incident in the afternoon and eight SPITFIRE V’s provided close escort to 24 BOSTONS which were detailed to bomb a target six miles N.E. of REGGIO. Later our C.O. led four aircraft to escort the WALRUS which had picked up the WING COMMANDER. It landed at MILAZZO having been shot up by two Me 109’s while another Squadron was covering it. The crew and WING COMMANDER were unhurt and one of the enemy aircraft was shot down by No. 1 SAAF SQUADRON.
The invasion of ITALY began at 0430 hours this morning and throughout the day we have maintained a standing patrol of the MESSINA STRAITS to cover the landings. Out sorties totalled 47 out of the Wing aggregate of 157. On two shows we encountered a formation of eight F/W 190’s and forced them to jettison their bombs but were unable to make any claims. The Squadron was very pleased to hear of the award of a well-earned DFC to F/O. E.S.S. DICKS-SHERWOOD. Grand show, ERIC! F/Sgt. BROWN , who was recently awarded the GOOD CONDUCT AND LONG SERVICE MEDAL, has been promoted WARRANT OFFICER. He joined the Squadron on the day it was formed and has maintained a very high standard in “B” FLIGHT of which he has been “Chiefy” since JULY, 1940.
Who would have believed that on the second day of the invasion, we would be sent off for only one show! We were at 30 minutes available until six of our aircraft were required at 1800 hours to escort a WALRUS to a position 45 miles NORTH OF MESSINA. They were forced to land at MILAZZO EAST landing ground at dusk. Officers and pilots were invited to spend the evening in the SEARGEANT’S MESS to celebrate W/O. BROWN’S promotion. GROUP CAPTAIN B. KINCOME, DSO., DFC., and BAR joined the party and everyone had a very happy time.
F/O. G. WILSON and F/Sgt. M. ASKEY in SPITFIRE VIII’s escorted a STINSON from MILAZZO to REGGIO after breakfast this morning. A pilot of 145 SQUADRON was forced to bale out near CAPE VATICANO and we escorted a WALRUS to the position but the sea was too rough for it to alight. Four of our pilots took off after lunch to cover an A.S.R. launch on its way out and another formoation escorted it back after successfully picking up the pilot. Later, ten of our aircraft patrolled the MESSINA STRAITS until dusk without incident and six pilots landed at MILAZZO airfield.
Four of our SPITFIRE VIII’s were on Standby for most of the day today but it was the V’s which took off for a patrol of the MESSINA STRAITS in the afternoon. Only friendly aircraft were seeen.
From dawn we had four aircraft at Readiness and four at 15 minutes and this state was maintained until dusk. Two formations of four aircraft patrolled the STRAITS in the afternoon but each show was uneventful.
To cover the landings of 231 BRIGADE the WING maintaineda standing patrol of the beaches at PIZZO from dawn until 0900 hours this morning. In all we did 44 sorties but did not have any luck. On two occasions a formation of eight F/W. 190’s were seen but they were out of range. ITALY SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY TODAY.
09/09/43, 10/09/43, 11/09/43, 12/09/43 13/09/43
We have been released in order that acceptance checks may be made on ten SPITFIRE VIII’s which have arrived during the 9th and 10th. A move to an unknown destination is imminent and it is understood that we shall take only our VIII’s with us. “A” party has embarked at SYRACUSE
A party of six pilots, three ground officers and 60 men left LENTINI by air for GROTTAGLIE, near TARANTO, and 16 pilots flew SPITFIRE VIII’s over in the afternoon. 92 SQUADRON is the only Squadron from our Wing which is to operate in ITALY at present and is to be accomodated with 239 WING at GROTTAGLIE. Before we left SICILY, we were told to take the minimum amount of personal kit because it was expected that billets would be found for us and messing facilities available. On arrival we found that nothing at all had been provided and we had to make the best use of two blankets and a mosquito net.
Four of our aircraft have been on Readiness all day for local defence and twice they were scrambled for interceptions but only ITALIAN aircraft were seen. Our orders are not to attack them unless they show hostile intent. In the afternoon, eight of our SPITFIRE VIII’s carried out two diversionary sweeps over the FOGGIA area.
From dawn until 1100 hours we had four aircraft at Readiness and from that time until dusk the number was reduced to two. Early in the morning WING COMMANDER SMITH led four of our SPITFIRE VIII’s which escorted a Squadron of KITTYHAWKS to the EBOLI area. Later in the forenoon, the C.O. S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, led a formation of eight on an uneventful sweep of AVELLINO. At Squadron strength we patrolled between BARI and BARLETTA in the afternoon and also carried out a sweep of the FOGGIA area. The Squadron “A” and “B” parties arrived by sea late this evening. Our congratulations to F/Lt. M.S. HARDS, DFM on being awarded the DFC. He has a personal score of 10 destroyed, four probables and eight damaged.
Wing COMMANDER SMITH, DSO., DFC., led the Squadron on a dawn sweep of the FOGGIA area and on returning they straffed some M.T., damaging four vehicles. During the morning, we carried out another sweep of the same area and after lunch three of our aircraft escorted a Squadron of KITTYHAWKS there. The leader of these three, W/O. S.R. FRY, reported at least 60 Ju 88’s on the FOGGIA satellite L.G.s and after doing another sweep there with six aircraft, we escorted 30 KITTYHAWKS which bombed and straffed the enemy planes. The two pilots who had been on Readiness all day were twice scrambled uneventfully.
“A” Party moved to SAN PANCRAZIO this morning but, as soon as they had unloaded and settled in comfortably, they were ordered to return to GROTTAGLIE. We had two aircraft on Readiness for local defence throughout the day and they were scrambled once but saw no enemy aircraft. Early this morning we carried out a diversionary sweep of the FOGGIA area at Squadron strength and repeated the operation in the afternoon — each time without incident.
In the hope of intercepting an enemy recce plane, F/Lt. M.S. HARDS DFC., DFM., and 2/Lt. J. GASSON patrolled base before breakfast and their efforts were rewarded after half-an-hour’s patrol. Coming out of the sun was a Me 109 at 9,000 feet and 2/Lt. GASSON chased it when it turned north. He closed to 100 yards and obtained strikes with cannon and machine guns. When last seenenemy aircraft was at 1,000 feet diving at an angle of 45 degrees with glycol pouring from it, but “JOHNNY” overshot and did not actually see it crash so he claims a “probable.” Whilst this action was taking place, four of our aircraft swept the FOGGIA area, and later in the morning, six made a diversionary sweep over CERIGNOLA. After lunch, four of our pilots escorting a Squadron of KITTYHAWKS which attacked a large number of enemy M.T. reported near S. ANGELO and just after they landed another section took more KITTYHAWKS to the same area. At squadron strength we swept between FOGGIA and BOVINO later in the day but not once was there any sign of the HUN in the air. Our two aircraft at Readiness all day were scrambled once but had nothing to report when they came in. Another Squadron from our Wing arrived here today.
F/Lt. CARPENTER, DFC., and F/O. “CURLY” HENDERSON being “fed up” with stooge trips over ITALY, decided to carry out a recce over VALONA (ALBANIA) soon after dawn today. Thhey reported only eight multi-engined aircraft on the L.G. there, but were greeted with plenty of heavy and light A.A. Two of our aircraft patrolled base from 0630 to 0750 and again from 0735 to 0835 but were unable to repeat yesterdays performance in contacting a HUN aircraft. We were released for the rest of the day and while a few pilots paid a visit to BRINDISI, most of them had a riotous outing in TARANTO. One particular house of entertainment was the source of much fun and games. In the mess at night we were pleased to have our GROUP CAPTAIN B. KINCOME, DSO., DFC., and BAR, and WING COMMANDER DUNCAN SMITH, DSO., DFC., and BAR. Our C.O., S/Ldr. HUMPHREYS, brought two ladies from TARANTO to join the party and we all had a vey happy evening.
From dawn until 0845 we kept two aircraft patrolling base in the hope of intercepting an enemy recce plane but it did not come over. Also before breakfast, the Squadron carried out a sweep over FOGGIA and BOVINO nd later we maintained a standing patrol over the airfield to cover the landing of the A.O.C.-in-C. in a DC 3. This aircraft was afterwards escorted to BRINDISI by two of our pilots. There was a patrol by two aircraft between BARI and BARLETTA in the afternoon and eight aircraft, operating from GIOIA carried out a patrol of the AVELLINO area. In this last show, six F/W 190’s were sighted three quarters of a mile away and at 1,000 feet above our aircraft; five of them half-rolled and dived for the “deck” while the other remained up but was too far away for interception.
“B” Flight moved over to GIOIA this morning to assist the SERVICING COMMANDS there, now that our aircraft are using the L.G. as a forward base. It is expected that the whole Squadron will move forward in the next day or two. Twice this morning, two of our aircraft carried out uneventful patrols over BARI and after noon, at Squadron strength, we swept the FOGGIA area.
The Squadron moved up to the pleasant airfield at GIOIA this morning and we kept two aircraft at Standby for local defence. These aircraft were scrambled at noon and after intercepting a DC 3 were ordered to “pancake”! Sections of four aircraft made three sweeps over the FOGGIA network in the afternoon and it was evident from the reports of ground observation by the pilots that the HUN was preparing to evacuate the area.
While a section of four aircraft swept over FOGGIA at dawn, another Section patrolled between BARI and BARLETTA but neither saw any sign of enemy aircraft. There were two more uneventful patrols at BARI and another three sweeps over FOGGIA during the day. 30 plus Ju 88’s were reported well dispersed between FOGGIA SATELLITES 2 and 9 but on closer inspection they proved to be unserviceable. A few pilots, off duty for the day, visited the seaside town of BARI and received a grand welcome from the inhabitants.
We were at 30 minutes all day today and the only flying done was in the nature of air tests of aircraft. In the afternoon a “liberty waggon” took 30 airmen to BARI for a swim.
There was no Operational flying today. Another truck load of pilots and airmen spent a happy afternoon in BARI.
The great news of the day was the award of the DFC., to our C.O., S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, and to P/O. R. PROBERT (who left us at the beginning of the month on expiration of his tour). The Squadron was at “60 minutes” all day and was not required for operations.
For one more day here was no operational flying. F/O. K. SISSONS took a party into BARI and was successful in buying some 300 bottles of beer in time for the Pilots’ Mess to celebrate the award of the DFC., to our C.O. Some pilots from 417 SQUADRON and the members of the Sergeants’ Mess were invited together with several officers from Wing and no difficulty was experienced in sinking our available supplies of liquor.
In pairs, we maintained a patrol over shipping in BRINDISI and TARANTO harbour this morning. The ADJUTANT, F/lt. G.L. TRAVIS, went into BARI with our empty bottles and tried to buy a supply of beer for our airmen but was informed that the NAAFI had taken over the brewery. Now we shall probably have to wait six months for them to get half a bottle each!
Our state was “60 minutes” today but 11 of our aircraft, led by WING COMMANDER SMITH did a “Balbe” with 145 SQUADRON over BARI. We have been warned to have our “A” party ready to move off tomorrow morning so we should be able to get some more active “ops” at the beginning of October. This month we have carried out 424 operational sorties involving 541 hours 25 minutes and 166 non-operational sorties with a total of 115 hours 35 minutes.
Our congratulations to W.O. C.F. Brown on being awarded the BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL. After an early breakfast our “A” Party moved off towards FOGGIA but at BARI they were held up for five hours to allow an army division convoy to move up. They reached a position eight miles East of FOGGIA, made rendezvous with WING H.Q. and camped down awaiting further instructions. There was no operational flying.
It was dawn when two of our aircraft took off to patrol BRINDISI and shortly afterwards another pair patrolled the FOGGIA area. A total of 20 sorties were flown over the Northern Sector of the Bomb line in the region of LAKE VARANO but no enemy aircraft were seen.
Five patrols, totalling 22 sorties were flown between LAKE VARANO and SAN SEVERO covering our forward troops. F/Sgt. SAVILL was forced to belly-land at TORREMAGGIORE owing to engine trouble on the first show but he got back unhurt, riding part of the way on a mule and the rest of the journey in a Jeep.
The WING maintained a continuous patrol in the TERMOLI area and we did five shows, each with a Section of four aircraft, during the day. Other Squadrons met and successfully dealt with the few enemy aircraft encountered but we were out of luck, not seeing any sign of the HUN when we were on patrol. “A” Party moved on to the airfield at TORTORELLA this morning and set up camp on what was SATELLITE No. 2 of the FOGGIA network.
Two Sections of four aircraft took off from GIOIA for patrols over the TERMOLI area and landed at TORTORELLA and the remainder of our planes flew up during the morning. From the new airfield two more patrols were carried out without incident.
“B” Party left GIOIA soon after dawn and arrived at TORTORELLA just after noon. We flew a total of 43 sorties in patrols over TERMOLI area and a message of appreciation was received from the EIGHTH ARMY in which it was stated that an enemy counter-attack had been foiled by the RAF. We were giving indirect cover to KITTYHAWKS which flew a total of 408 sorties and destroyed 57 enemy M.T. and damaged 70 more.
Six aircraft patrolled the TERMOLI area before breakfast but after they landed the airfield was made unserviceable by heavy rain. We were delighted to receive news from the B.P.S.O. that F/O. BRENDAN BAKER, reported misssing on the 16th AUGUST, is a P.O.W. in German hands.
The airfield was still unserviceable throughout the day. Yesterday we were delighted to hear that F/O. BRENDAN BAKER was a Prisoner Of War, but today’s developments gave us joy beyond description. At 1700 hours a phone message from 26 A.D. R. U. said that “ a pilot by the name of BAKER has landed here and would appreciate it if transport can be sent to pick him up!” We found him at the entrance to FOGGIA MAIN L.G. wearing his grey sweater and battle dress trousers looking as though he had just landed from an “ops” trip. Before being shot down on the 16th AUGUST, he had destroyed two Mc 202’s. After baling out, he swam for a mile toward the shore and was picked up by a rowing boat. Suffering from shrapnel wounds in the leg, he spent the night in a Regimental Sick Quarters at GIOIA TAURO. Next morning he was taken to a hospital at LAUREANA and he remained there until the 18th AUGUST — the day SICILY was finally conquered — when all wounded were sent back to a hospital at COSENZA. He was there only two days before being moved to NAPLES when a raid was in progress so he spent the night in an Air Raid Shelter. Next morning found him in a P.O.W. Camp at CARUA, but after one night there, on the 25th AUGUST, he was taken to a hospital at CASERTA. There he remained in bed and, when our troops entered NAPLES and the walking wounded were evacuated, he hid in a tunnel until the HUNS had gone. On the afternoon of the 5th OCTOBER a recce Jeep of the 2/5th QUEENS arrived and the BRITISH FLAG was hoisted over the Hospital. That night the MEDICAL CORPS of the “BLACK CATS” took over and it was on the afternoon of the 7th that an ambulance arrived to take him to NAPLES. There was an opportunity to get home to ENGLAND but he was anxious to rejoin 92 and was flown in a DC 3 to FOGGIA. With the Squadron mail tonight was a letter for “BREN” BAKER — from the ENGLAND RVENUE!
During the day we did 24 sorties in maintaining a standing patrol over our forwad troops to the west of TERMOLI and, in addition, two sections of four aircraft escorted formations of BALTIMORES which attacked a target at PALATA.
This day was the fourth anniversary of the Squadron’s birthday and our pilots were anxious to make an addition to our score. They were not disappointed. During a patrol in the TERMOLI area an aircraft was sighted three miles awa and 2,000 feet below flying North East over TERMOLI. Two aircraft were sent to investigate and on their report that the aircraft was a DORNIER, the remainder of our formation joined them in the attack. In all, five of our pilots fired; they were F/Lt. NICHOLLS, DFC., F/O. WIHAK, F/O. FAKHRY, F/Sgt. McKAY and F/Sgt. BRISTER. The enemy aircraft was shot down into the sea five miles West of ISOLE TERMOLI after four of the crew had baled out. Most unfortunately, F/Sgt. McKAY was shot down by return fire from the Do 17Z and he is missing. For the remainder of the day our pilots searched the area for him and escorted a WALRUS there. Three of the enemy’s crew were picked up alive but there was no sign of F/Sgt. McKAY we regret to say. A speciaal dinner was served at night and a party was held in the Airmen’s Mess. We were honoured by the presence of our former FLIGHT COMMANDER, now GROUP CAPTAIN BRIAN KINGCOME, DSO., DFC., and BAR and WING COMMANDER DUNCAN SMITH, DSO., DFC., and BAR. It is worthy of note that we have with us eight of the original members of the Squadron. It was a very successful “get together” night. The Squadron score now stands at 283½ destroyed, 103 probably destroyed and 156 damaged.
At dawn, we had a patrol of eight aircraft over our forward troops West of TERMOLI and, before breakfast, another formation of the same number took off to maintain cover in the area. The weather deteriorated during the morning and we did no further flying apart from a weather reccce late in the day.
Owing to heavy rain which fell during last night, the airfield was unserviceable. The Squadron was kept at “30 minutes” but there was no flying.
Thirty-six sorties were flown by sections of four aircraft over our forward troops to the West of TERMOLI. No enemy planes were encountered.
Our state has been “60 minutes” all day. The only flying was an air test by F/O. BRENDAN BAKER — his first “flip” since being taken P.O.W. Some of our pilots recently bought some pigs and it was decided to kill some today to provide a good evening meal. As guests, we entertained WING COMMANDER DUNCAN SMITH, DSO., DFC., and BAR, S/Ldr. LANCE WADE, DFC., and 2 BARS, and S/Ldr. SKALSKI, DFC., and 2 BARS, F/Lt. W. ALLEN, F/O. D. KERR and F/O. D. STEWART. Some NAAFI stores arrived today and each member of the Squadron had one bottle of beer and a bar of chocolate. It seemed strange that the NAAFI took over the brewery at BARI, last month, our beer comes from SCOTLAND.
There was no operational flying today.
From dawn we have kept two Sections at Readiness. Three times during the day they were scrambled to the TERMOLI and MANFREDONIA areas but no enemy aircraft were sighted. Before lunch a Squadron formation swept westwards of CAMPOBASSO to VASTO but met no opposition. Two of our planes escorted two destroyers proceeding North East from BARI until relieved by 145 Squadron.
We were at “30 minutes” today and no flying was caried out.
Our ‘A” Party left at first light to go to TIRIOLO airfield, the remiander of the Squadron left after mid-day and camp was firmlu established there during the afternoon. Two sections of two aircraft escorted two destroyers going to BARI from a point just East of VIESTE before breakfast. On arriving at TIRIOLO airfield we had four aircraft at Readiness but they were not required. We have acquired a large number of chairs from FOGGIA and both the Pilots’ and Airmen’s Messes are more comfortable than they have been for many months.
Dawn Readiness again! It was mid-day before the first Section was scrambled and, after intercepting a P.R.U. SPITFIRE, they patrolled between TERMOLI and base at 32,000 feet without incident. Four of our SPITFIRE VIII’s with eight of 417, led by WING COMMANDER DUNCAN SMITH, DSO., DFC., and BAR, escorted 36 BOSTONS which bombed a target at BOJANO. In the afternoon a Section waas scrambled to intercept bogey which proved to be another P.R.U. SPITFIRE!
At Squadron strength we escorted 36 BOSTONS whih bombed a target West of TERMOLI before breakfast. There were no further operations.
There was no flying today but we were kept at “30 minutes.” F/Lt. B.L. GARNER has been posted to us with effect from 22nd SEPTEMBER. A very successful game of “TOMBOLA” was held in the Airmen’s Mess tonight.
Throughout the day we have maintained a patrol with two aircrft at 22 – 30,000 feet over base with the object of intercepting an enemy recce plane. Apart from the interception of friendly aircraft, the patrols were uneventful. In a football match this afternoon our side fought a good game with a WING team. The result was a draw 1 — 1.
We were released today and the only flying done was a practice flight by F/Sgt. BUCHANAN, who has rejoined the Squadron after being detached for a few weeks. The football match against a strong “ACK-ACK” side this afternoon was drawn after each side had scored once. The airmen held a Whist drive in their mess tonight, the standard of play was high with the top scores of 145 and 141 recorded.
We carried out two “stooge” patrols over the FOGGIA area today. The first was with four aircraft at 20,000 feet hoping to intercept a recce plane and the other with 12 aircraft stepped up from 10-20,000 feet to cover the landing of LIGHTNINGS at FOGGIA No. 1 AIRFIELD. WING COMMANDER DUNCAN SMITH, DSO., DFC., and BAR, dined with us this evening.
During the forenoon eight sorties were carried out in patrols over base to intercept a HUN recce kite which decided to use discretion and kept out of our way. Later, 12 of our aircraft escorted 24 BOSTONS and 12 BALTIMORES which dropped about 90,000 pounds of bombs on a target 10 miles N.W. of VASTO. A nursing sister, friend of our MEDICAL OFFICER (F/Lt. L. HOLT), was entertained in our Mess tonight. Seeing the admirable arrangements made for her comfort by the ADJUTANT, she decided to sleep on our camp and thus made history. This is the first recorded instance of our hospitality being fully accepted by a lady!
It was our turn for Dawn Readiness today. Three times our aircraft were scrambled to the TERMOLI area but each patrol proved uneventful. During a patrol ordered over the same area F/O. HAZEL and F.O. DIBDEN successfully intercepted a Me 210 flying at 23,000 feet. They clung to it as it dived and it was last seen at 2,000 feet with black smoke belching from the starboard engine. The two pilots shared it as Damaged. The airmen held an open night in their mess where a large crowd gathered for Tombola.
An unfavourable report on the weather was given by F/lt. HARDS, DFC., DFM., and Sgt. KING, who took off at first light on a recce of the ISERNIA area. In consequence, further operations in the nature of bomber-escort were cancelled. The most interesting football match we have seen for a long time was played between the PILOTS’ MESS and our M.T. SECTION this afternoon. Although th pilots lost by 3 — 1 they had much more of the play than the score would suggest.
A feature of the Squadron life during the past two years has been the exhibition in the Airmen’s Mess of a strip cartoon by LAC. F. LUND, of MIANTENANCE SECTION. At last we have been fortunate in securing a copy. It is topical, as usual, and deals with today’s football match.
In spite of adverse weather conditions, a shipping reconnaissance was called for this morning. Four of our aircraft flew at deck level scouring the sea between ANCONA and PRESCARA and then, crossing the coast near TERMOLI they became split in dense cloud. After one hour and 45 minutes flying, W/O K. WARREN landed safely at base, but there was no sign of the others. Later we had news that F/Lt. J.H. NICHOLLS, DFC., had made a perfect landing on a strip near TERMOLI, but F/O. A. SAYLE and F/Sgt. ASKEY are still misssing.
It was a great blow to us to hear that the body of F/o. ALLAN SAYLE had been found in the CAMPOBASSO area. He joined us on 22nd MAY this year and showed great promise as a fighter pilot. ALLAN had a loveable nature which had endeared him to everyone with whom he had contact. He will be sadly missed. There is still no news of F/Sgt. M. ASKEY and during the day searches were carried out by our aircraft for him. Throughout the morning we maintained a standing patrol over TERMOLI but very heavy rain later on put an end to operational flying. The COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, DFC., delighted us at dinner with the news of the award of the DFC., to F/O. BRENDAN BAKER. This was duly celebrated.
There is still no news of F.Sgt. M. ASKEY. E were at “30 minutes” state from early morning with the possibility of a bomber escort show but adverse weather conditions caused its cancellation.
Bad weather persisted and no flying was done. We said farewell to F/O. BRENDAN BAKER, DFC., F/O. G. WILSON, F/O. E.S.S. DICKS-SHERWOOD, DFC., and W/O. S.r. FRY on the expiration of their tours. A large crowd gathered around our football pitch to watch a most amusing game in which the Pilots beat the Senior NCO’s by 8 — 1. It was appreciated when our COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. P.h. HUMPHREYS, DFC., turned out for the pilots, with F/Sgt. F. BRISTER in the centre, Sgt. KING and the C.O. as inside forwards and F/Sgt. SAVILL and F/Sgt. PERCIVAL on the wings, they had a formidable forward line. With 355 sorties this month, 420 hours 20 minutes have been clocked on operational flying and in 74 non-operatonal sorties the hours total 35 hours 10 minutes.
From dawn until mid-day we maintained a standing patrol over our farward troops along the TRIGNO RIVER. A Ju 88 was chased by F/O. K.N.R. SISSONS and F/Sgt. G. BUCHANAN from THERMOLI to POPOLI, but the enmeny aircraft had advntage of height and escaped in cloud. With four aircraft of 417 SQUADRON we escorted three Squadrons of BOSTONS which unloaded their bombs at CARPINONE, and, while they were airborne, four more of our pilots gave cover to a Squadron of WARHAWKS on an anti-shipping patrol to SPLIT, JUGO-SLAVIA. They had the satisfaction of seeing a direct hit on an enemy freighter.
At first light we had a Section of four aircraft patrolling over a FOGGIA airfield where a large number of LIGHTNINGS wwere re-fuelling and we kept up this patrol until lunch time. Eight aircraft, with four of 417 SQUADRON, escorted three Squadrons of BOSTONS, which did some excellent bombing of enemy positions at DOGLIOLA. There was no flying after noon, but excitement was provided by our Squadron football team which won a great victory over the representatives of 601 SQUADRON. The score was 3 — 0. SERGEANT PILOTS BUGDEN and F.M.P. HAMSON joined us today from 244 WING TRAINING FLIGHT.
Our sorties totalled 40 today and were flown in patrols over our forward troops along the TRIGNO RIVER, and in escort s to BOSTONS and BALTIMORES which attacked targets at ALFEDENA and PALMOLI. During our last patrol four Me 109’s were sighted being chased by SPITFIRES of another Squadron. F/O. “CURLY” HENDERSON joined in the attack and managed to ge in a couple of bursts from 400 yards before the HUNS gained sanctuary in thick cloud, but he makes no claim.
We crrie out a dawn patrol over our forward troops WEST of the RIVER TRIGNO and maintained the cover until 0800 hours, but bad weather then put an end to flying for the day.
Weather was bad again this morning over base and two of our aircraft, which carried out a recce of the VASTO area, reported rain and low cloud over the bomb line. At mid-day a patrol of four aircraft covered our forward troops and another patrol was carried out at last light. Both were without incident.
COMMANDING OFFICER MACKIE
There was no flying during the morning, but two patrols were carried out over the mouth of the SANGRO RIVER in the afternoon. There was no sign of any enemy aircraft. S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, arrived today to take over command of the Squadron. A very successful Whist drive was held in the Airmen’s Mess to which members of the Pilots’ and Senior NCO’s Messes were invited. The booby prize was won by one of our ground officers! S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, DFC., held a party in the Pilots’ Mess and the presence of GROUP CAPTAIN B. KINCOME, DSO., DFC., and BAR, S/Ldr. LANCE WADE, DFC., and Two BARS, S/Ldr. TURNER, DFC., and BAR, MAJOR ASTLER, DFC., and S/Ldr. FORD, DFC., ensured a happy evening.
Throughout the day we had a section of four aircraft on patrol along the RIVER SANGRO, but there was no enemy activity. It is amusing to see how well some of our men are getting organised to cope with the cold damp weather. One of our Flight Sections has made a useful stove but ran out of fuel so a man was detailed to stop a train which runs nearby and for a couple of cigarettes he obtained enough coal to last the day!
We carried out three patrols oveer our forward troops without incident this morning, but bad weather put a stop to flying later on. On a rain-soaked pitch our pilots beat 601 SQUADRON pilots at football. Tis was an “away” game but the Squadron turned out in force to support its team.
Rain continued to fall during the night but, although our dispersal areas were waterlogged, the airfield remained serviceable. Weather conditions over the forward areas were unfavourable, however, and although we had eight aircraft at Readiness after lunch they did not take off. News was received that our INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, F/O. G.J. CORNISH, had been MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES
From mid-day we kept a section of four aircraft at Readiness and F/Lt. HARDS, DFC., DFM., with Sgt. KING did a weather recce but brought back an unfavourable report so there was no further flying.
There was only one patrol carried out by four aircraft along the SANGRO RIVER. Weather in the forward areas was bad with very low cloud and, although we had aircraft at Readiness, there was no further flying.
The four patrols over our forward troops today proved uneventful. It was a clear day and our pilots were hopeful that some HUN aircraft would be airborne but they were disappointed.
Our only operation today was by eight aircraft which deloused for BOSTONS and BALTIMORES attacking a targe at PALENA. Our COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, with five other officers accepted the invitation to join the Whist drive held in the Airmen’s Mess tonight. There were 18 tables and everyone spent a very happy evening.
We had two scrambles early this morning. On the first an unidentified aircraft was spotted very high over CERIGNOLA but it was impossible for our Section to intercept it. We learned later that it was a friendly aircraft. There was one patrol during the forenoon along the RIVER SANGRO and a Ju 88 was sighted over PENNA POINT at 19,000 feet. It was already well ahead and by the time our Section had climbed from 14,000 feet it had drawn away too far for interception. Other aircraft were kept at Readiness until last light but were not sent off.
Patrols had been arranged to keep our aircraft busy throughout the morning but once more our forward areas were shrouded in low cloud and operations were cancelled. Soon after mid-day the Squadron was released. We congratulate F/Lt. J. CARPENTER, DFC., who left us today to become a FLIGHT COMMANDER in 145 SQUADRON
The weather remained clear over the forward areas today and we maintained a patrol of four aircraft over the RIVER SANGRO throughout the day. Not once was there any sign of enemy air activity.
After an early morning weather recce we carried out two uneventful patrols over our forward troops but rain storms put an end to flying from mid-day. In the evening a large number of visitors including GROUP CAPTAIN BRIAN KINCOME, DSO., DFC., and BAR, WING COMMANDER DUNCAN SMITH, DSO., DFC., and BAR, S/Ldr. S. TURNER, DFC., and BAR, MAJOR ASTLER, DFC., and S/Ldr. DISNEY, joined the officers, pilots, and senior NCO’s of this Squadron at a farewell party to our late COMMNDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. P.H. HUMPHREYS, DFC. To wind up a merry, noisy, party the GROUP CAPTAIN spoke of the excellent record of the Squadron and said how ably S/Ldr. HUMPHREYS had led us in the campaign through SICILY and in ITALY, upholding and enhancing the traditions of 92. On our behalf he also officially welcomed S/Ldr. E.D MACKIE, DFC., and BAR.
In an early morning patrol this morning our aircraft sighted two Me 109’s but they were too far away for interception and we lost sight of them against the background of the hills. There was another patrol along the SANGRO and two aircraft covered Tac/R. SPITFIRES on a job over ROCCHETTA but no more enemy aircraft were seen.
The airfield was unserviceable owing to heavy rain. “A” Party moved to the TERMOLI area and found their airfield at CANNE water-logged.
There was no flying owing to further rain.
“B” Party were ready to move but the airfield remained unserviceable and our aircraft could not take off.
There were five patrols over our forward troops with Sections of four aircraft and two of our pilots escorted a couple of BALTIMORES which dropped leaflets near CASTELVECEBIA. The pilots all landed at CANNE after the last three patrols. Their kits arrived for them at 2200 hours.
“B” Party arrived at CANNE and found a camp site two miles from the airfield and on the only stretch of ground which was not water-logged, so “A” Party dug temselves out of their site to join them. There were only two patrols today along the SANGRO and each proved uneventful.
Six patrols were carried out today starting at dawn. All were without incident until the last patrol when two enemy aircraft were sighted flying North along the RIVER SANGRO at 3,000 feet. With a whoop of joy at getting the “jump” on a couple of F/W 190’s, F/Sgt. G. BUCHANAN dived from 8, 000 feet, closed to 250 yards and fired two bursts at one of them. The army confirmed that this kite crashed although on returning “Buck” only claimed a ‘probable.” The leader of the Section, F/Lt. NICHOLLS, DFC., had detached himself to investigate other bogies reported by controller which proved to be friendly aircraft.
Our pilots were “on their toes” when they took off for the two patrols today but they did not encounter any HUNS.
Dawn again saw a Section of four taking off for a patrol over our troops along the SANGRO RIVER and two more Sections patrolled after noon in the same area.
Parols were over our forward troops and continued throughout the day. Bogies were reported but on investigation they proved to be friendly aircraft.
A formation of ten F/W 190’s and Me 109’s attempted to sneak through our defences this morning only to be met by a Section of four of our aircraft over TORINO DI SANGRO at 15,000 feet. F/Lt. J.H. NICHOLLS, DFC., destroyed a F/W 190, W.O. K. WARREN destroyed a Me 109, whilst F/O. DIBDEN and Sgt. PEACOCK damaged a F/W 190 apiece. Two more patrols after lunch were uneventful.
Only eight of our aircraft took off today. Two of them escorted two SPITFIRE V’s of 601 SQUADRON on an armed recce
To PESCARA, but no target was found. The formation of six was scrambled to intercept aircraft which were later reported to be friendly.
Lt. A. SACHS added one F/W 190 destroyed and another damaged to our score during the first patrol today, when our Section of four met 10 plus F/W 190’s and Me 109’s over the RIVER SANGRO. The number of aircraft on patol was increased to eight for the next two shows and just after mid-day F/Sgt. G. BUCHANAN and F/Sgt. F.E. BRISTER diced with six F/W 190’s at 80,000 feet over CASOLI. F/Sgt. BUCHANAN fired a short burst at one which turned on its back and dropped vertically but he made no claim. F/Sgt. BRISTER was forced to bale out, but he is reported safe by the ARMY who added that two aircraft cashed together. We are awaiting the retutn of F/Sgt. BRISTER before putting in a claim. In the last show of the day, S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR led six of our pilots on patrols. Two bogies were reported at 14,000 feet flying towards the mouth of the RIVER SANGRO and F/O. “CURLY” HENDERsON with Sgt. PEACOCK were detached to intercept them. They spotted a F/W 190 apparently on a Tac/R, escorted by two Me 109’s at 13,000 feet. F/O. “CURLY” HENDERSON destroyed the F/W 190 bringing the Squadron score to 280½ confirmed, 105 probables and 160 damaged. F/Lt. D.L.G. TURVEY rejoined the Squadron today after being in charge of the WING TRAINING FLIGHT for six months. We flew 394 operational sorties this month, involving 468 hours 53 minutes; 51 non-operational sorties added another 31 hours flying time. The attached “write-up” by visiting pressmen on the occasion of the Squadron’s fourth birthday, was circulated for newspapers in ENGLAND.
Eight of our pilots took off at dawn to patrol along the west side of the RIVER SANGRO, but it was appprarently too early for the HUN. A patrol of four aircraft at mid-day also was uneventful, but afterl lunch our Section spotted eighteen unidentified aircaft about a mile away which dived through a gap in the clouds West of PENNA POINT. Our leader, F/Lt. J.H.NICHOLS, DFC., vectored aircraft of 145 SQUADRON on to them as we had just been relieved.
Once again, our dawn patrol was without incident. After four of our pilots had escorted two TAC?R. SPITFIRES to PESCARA, eight of our aircraft, led by the COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, went out to patrol oveer the forward troops. On their way out they heard the controller reporting bandits at 27,000 feet over CASOLI. Six Me 109’s were spotted a couple of miles away divingfrom 20,000 and the leader closed to 350 yards but was unable to get into a good position. W.O. KEN WARREN after chasing one down in a dive to 200 feet opened fire from 200 yards and claims a damaged. There were two more patrols in which no HUNS were sighted and a section escorted two destroyers on their way from PENNA POINT to PESCARA.
Just after midnight last night, F/Sgt. F.E. BRISTER, who baled out on 30th NOVEMBER, returned to the Squadron. He claims one F/W 190 destroyed on that day. We had only one patrol of eight aircraft along the RIVER SANGRO today, but we made the most of it. Yellow Section, led by the COMMANDING OFFICER, climbed to 19,000 feet and wer no sooner on patrol than they sighted 12 Me 109 fighters and fighter-bombers on their port side at 18,000 feet flying east. The C.O. fired at two of them, but was unable to concentrate because the HUN, for once, was inclined to mix it. He closed to 300 yards astern of another and this time made sure of it.It crashed on the side of a hill West of CASOLI. Meanwhile, Sgt. F.M.P. HANSON, gave a burst at another which slowed down. He closed to 50 yards and theenemy aircraft burst into flames before craashing near CASOLI. Red Section, at 10,000 feet patrolled with no incident, apart from seeing the “flamer” go in. We congratulate our “parent’ Squadron, No. 601, on reaching their 200 destroyed today. S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, F/Lt. M.S. HARDS, DFC., DFM., and F/Lt. J.H. NICHOLLS, DFC., were invited to a party to celebrate this success in 601 Squadron Pilots’ Mess tonight
There were three patrols over the RIVER SANGRO today, but there were no HUNS in the sky, possibly because low cloud covered the hills to the west of our forward troops.
Our first patrol with eight aircraft, which were airborne before breakfast, was uneventful, but just after mid-day while Yellow Section were investigating a formation of “bogies’ flying toward PESCARA; Red Section met 25 plus F/W 190’s and Me 109’s. Sgt. J.H. PEACOCK damaged a F/W 190 and Lt. A. SACHS destroyed two F/W 190’s and probably destroyed another. His story is an epic. He positioned himself behind the 12 plus fighter-bombers and F/O. F WIHAK with Sgt. J.H. PEACOCK, attacked the fighter cover. After destroying one F/W 190 with a one-second burst from 150 yards Lt. SACHS saw another on the tail of a SPITFIRE so he turned into it firing a 30° deflection shot, then fired again from point blank range astern. The aircraft blew up and portions hit SaCH’S windscreen, smashing it, while another large piece struck his starboard wing. F/W 190’s were then diving on him from both sides and one shell exploded on his tailplane blowing off his starboard elevator. He turned towards another F/W 190 which was attacking him at point blank range on hisport side and felt a jar as he collided with it. The enemy aircraft dived away out of control minus its fin and rudder. The attack continued and finally, after his elevator and aileron controls were useless, Lt. SACHS was forced to bale out. This success brought the number of enemy aircraft destroyed by this Squadron since it left ENGLAND to 100, while the total score ia now 293½ confirmed. “On to the three hundred!” was the slogan of the eight pilots as they took off for the final patrol of the day and they were not disappointed because the COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, who wasleading, destroyed a Me 109 which went down in flames. Eleven aircraft destroyed in eleven days without losing a pilot!
At dawn three of our aircraft took off to patrol over the RIVER SANGRO, but with the cloud base at 500 feet there, they returned after passing a weather report. The weather deteriorated during the day and we had four aircraft at Readiness for local defence but they did not take off.
Our two morning parols over the ORTONA area proved uneventful. It is hoped that the JERRY has not given up the air war on this front — we are most anxious to obtain our 300th destroyed before Christmas.
By way of change, after an ealry morning patrol, six of our pilots deloused for three Squadrons of MITCHELLS which bombed a target at AQUILA. After lunch two of our aircraft were scrambled for an interception, but did not sight any hostile aircraft. We finished off the day with an uneventful patrol.
There were three patrols over ORTONA area during the day. Just after noon our eight aircraft had a dog-fight over CHIETI with 25 plus F/W 190’s and Me 109’s, but results of our attacks were mostly unobserved, several of the pilots fired at two or three aircraft, but the only claim was by Lt. A. SACHS, who damaged a F/W 190. The WING was honoured by a visit from AIR CHIEF MARSHALL SIR CHARLES PORTAL accompanied by AIR CHIEF MARSHALL SIR ARTHUR TEDDER and AIR MARSHAL CONINGHAM.
Thirty two sorties were flown on patrols over ORTONA, starting at dawn and ending at last light.
Owing to low cloud over the forward areas, the number of aircraft on each patrol was reduced to four and only eight of our pilots got off apart from a weather recce flown this afternoon. The report brought back then put an end to flying for the day. There was a very enjoyable Whist drive held in the Airmen’s Mess tonight to which officers and senior NCO’s were invited.
The weather was bad again today and after a weather recce only one patrol with four aircraft, was flown in the ORSOGNA area. Unfortunately, the HUN took a “dim view” of our SPITFIRES and opened up with flak which hit F/O. M.J. FAKHRY’S machine. He had to force land near PENNA POINT and received cuts in the head and leg.
There was an improvement in weather conditions and consequently patrols with eight aircraft were resumed. We had no excitement in our three trips.
It was dawn when eight of our pilots took off for a patrol over ORTONA and ORSOGNA, which proved uneventful. Two more patrols with four aircraft were flown during the morning, but at mid-day thick cloud covered the area from 2,000 feet so we were released for the afternoon.
With low cloud generally our patrols were flown with four aircraft only. Altogether twelve pilots took off but there was no HUN opposition.
Before breakfast, four of our aircraft on patrol encountered 16 enemy aircraft near CASOLI, but only Sgt. HANSON was able to get into position to open fire. He has made no claim but the Forward Controller reported that a Me 109 had crashed. The next Section patrolled without incident but it was decided to increase the number of kites to eight. This was a wise move because our formation, airborne just before lunch, had a dice with 20 F/W 190’s. F/O. R. HAZEL damaged two of them and F/O. IVES damaged a third. There were too many around to allow our pilots to observe full results of their efforts. Again in the afternoon we met over 20 F/W 190’s and Me 109 fighters and fighter-bombers. F/lt. M.S. HARDS, DFC., DFM., probably destroyed a Me 109 while S/Ldr. E.D. MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, and Sgt. HANSON damaged a Me 109 each.
Sixteen sorties were flown in uneventful patrols between ORTONA and GUADIAGRELE and a weather recce was flown over CAPRANO and CASSINO.
After a dawn weather recce over ORTE and FOSINONE, we had two patrols of eight aircraft over the forward troops. The COMMANDING OFFICER and seven other members of the Pilots’ Mess accepted an invitation to attend a Whist Drive in the Airmen’s Mess this evening. We congratulate F/Lt. M.S. HARDS, DFC., DFM., on being promoted to command No. 111 SQUADRON. F/Lt. J.F. EDWARDS, DFC., DFM., has been posted to us from No. 417 SQUDRON to take over “A” FLIGHT.
There was another early recce over ORTE and FROSINONE and then patrols were resumed after breakfast with four aircraft. Weather improved after mid-day and eight of our pilots took off but no enemy aircraft were airborne. It is hoped that we shall have some clear days so that the HUN will be coaxed into the air for our pilots to reach the 300 destroyed before Christmas.
Our pilots did three patrols between ORTONA and CASOLI but met no enemy aircraft; some “bogies” were reported but they proved to be friendly aircraft. The airmen have been busy decorating their mess for Christmas.
The weather was poor but patrols were flown throughout the day with four aircraft. Our pilots also carried out two weather recces over ORTE. There was an extra large attendance at the Whist Drive held in the Airmen’s Mess and special prizes were presented by the COMMANDING OFFICER, S/Ldr. E.D.MACKIE, DFC., and BAR, at the end of a most enjoyable evening.
Our three patrols over the positions of our forward troops were carried out by formations of eight aircraft. News was brought back by our pilots that Units of the EIGHTH ARMY had entered ORTONA. It is with much regret that we record the death of 1072451 LAC. STOUT, K.H., Equipment assistant, who died late this evening in No. 19 C.C.S., TERMOLI, from injuries sustained in a road accident which occurred during this afternoon. His pleasing disposition and jovial manner will be much missed by the Squadron as a whole.
There was very low cloud when eight of our pilots took off for the early patrol today and four of whom were sent back to land at TRIGNO landing ground after being airborne for just over half-an-hour. Our airfieldbecame shrouded in mist and, consequently, the other section was instructed to join the first one at TRIGNO L.G. After a hearty breakfast with one of the SAAF SQUADRONS there, our pilots were able to return in pairs to base, but there was no more flying during the day.
Aftter the usual dawn weather recce there was no chance of taking off for patrols owing to heavy rain and low cloud. In the afternoon we kept four aircraft at Readiness for local defence but they were not scrambled. The pilots and officers had their Christmas dinner this evening and a very fine meal it was. Pilots invited their crews in to the party after dinner and everyone had a merry time in 92 style!
Christmas day in sunny Italy! After breakfast four of our pilots carried out an uneventful patrol over ORTONA but low cloud and heavy rain caused the cancellation of the remainder of the flying programme. We did some Readiness in the afternoon but the pilots were released in time to assist the officers and senior NCO’s in waiting on the airmen for their Christmas dinner. Each man had four bottles of beer to wash down the splendid meal of turkey, pork, plum pudding, mince pies and Christmas cake, and there was a parcel of 70 cigarettes on each plate. At night , the Adjutant (F/Lt. G.L. TRAVIS), F/O. J. LONGSTAFF, F/O. G.J. CORNISH, Sgt. HANSON and Sgt. BUGDEN carried out guard duties on the landing ground to allow the men to continue their celebrations.
Our aircraft on the dawn recce were unable to reach their objective owing to dense cloud and the four pilots which took off to patrol over ORTONA were recalled for the same reason. However, another recce was successfully carried out over ZARA in JUGO-SLAVIA where weather conditions were more favourable. Our airmen produced a very enjoyable concert, compered by F/O. R. HAZEL, in their mess tonight. Lt. ALBERT SACHS, SAAF, left otday being posted O.T.E.. He joined the Squadron at CASTEL BENITO and has since destroyed four enemy aircraft, probably destroyed two and damaged three.
A strong wind with gusts up to 50 miles an hour blew across he runway today and after our two “Jim Crow” aircraft had returned from a recce over AQUINO there was no more flying.
Our weather recce today took F/O. R. HAZEL and F/Sgt. PERCIVAL to METKOVIK in JUGO-SLAVIA. There were three patrols over OrtoNA by Sections of four aircraft which met no opposition. In the late afternoon two of our pilots were scrambled to escort a DC 3 carrying GENERAL MONTGOMMERY to a landing strip beside the RIVER SANGRO.
In spite of a strong gusty wind, eight of our aircraft were airborne at first light to patrol between CASOLI and ORTONA. There was low cloud over the forward areas so the number of aircraft on patrol was first reduced to four and later to two. The Squadron was released after lunch and the opportunity was taken to test the cannons on several of our “kites.”
There was a considerable improvement in the weather today and early recces were flown over METKOVIK and ZARA. During the morning two patrols were flown by four aircraft over the ORTONA area, but with reports of HUN aircraft in the air, our last patrol was increased to eight. However, there was no sign of enemy aircraft.
The dawn weather recce took our pilots to FROSINONE. It was bright and clear over base when our formation of eight aircraft took off for a patrol over ORTONA and we had high hopes that contact would be made with the HUN, but we were doomed to disappointment. At mid-day, eight more pilots were airborne on patrol but the weather had deteriorated with cloud covering the area at 5,000 feet. We must wait for next year now to bring our total of aircraft destroyed to the 300 mark! This month our operational hours have reached 619 hours 50 minutes, involving 501 sorties, while 34 non-operational sorties were flown with a total of 19 hours 35 minutes. The Squadron is on the “top line,” ready to uphold the reputation of 92 throughout the year 1944. May our efforts bring victory next year!