12 September 1940

12 September 1940

Northern Front

Three Bristol Blenheim Mk I’s of No. 11 (RAF) Squadron are sent to attack the jetties at Assab harbor. Despite strong air defense, crews reports indicate that all bombs have fallen on the target[1].

Southern Front

The day is more active in the south because after a few days’ break for maintenance, SAAF engages all of its bombing forces against Italian airfields.

Four Junkers Ju.86 of No. 12 (SAAF) Squadron are first above the airfield of Jimma, around 08h30, where eleven aircraft are reported on the ground. Nine are claimed destroyed and two others damaged. According to the Italian documents, five Caproni Ca.133 have actually been lost, a shed destroyed, as well as various materials damaged to varying degrees [2].

They are followed by three Fairey Battle of No. 11 (SAAF) Squadron on Shashamane airfield [3]. Again, the crews are able to claim a Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 destroyed and another damaged while a direct hit is reported on the building housing the command. However, they are intercepted by four Fiat CR.32 of 410a and 411a Squadriglia CT. In the ensuing fight, Tenente Alberto Veronese and Sergente Maggiore Athos Tieghi claim the destruction of an enemy aircraft [4]. Indeed, the Fairey Battle No. 911 crashed into flame with his crew (Lieutnant Edward G. Armstrong [5] and Air Sergeant Edward C. Adams. [6] According to the usual tactics, the Fairey Battle No. 913 take off for a photographic reconnaissance of the target after the attack at 600 meters. Not surprisingly, he is attacked by Italian fighters already on alert and claimed by Maresciallo Alberto Gobbo [7]. The Air Gunner VP McVicar and Air Sergeant Louis A. Feinberg are quickly wounded and the aircraft begins to catch fire, when Lieutenant JE Lindsay decides to land near the border in a crash. The landing is violent as a villager is reported killed on the ground. Italian troops arrive immediately and capture the crew.


[1] « 12 september 1940 » et « Appendix F serial no. 104 », No. 11 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541), Kew – TNA, AIR 27 / 162.

[2] « 12 september 1940 et Operation Order No. 31 », No. 12 (SAAF) Bomber Squadron, War Dirary, Kew – TNA, AIR 54 / 4 ; Shores C. et Ricci C., Dust Clouds in the Middle East, 2e éd., London, Grub Street, 2010, p. 60.

[3] « 12 september 1940 ; Operation Instruction No. 55 ; Operation Order No. 23 », No. 11 (SAAF) Bomber Squadron, War Dirary, Kew – TNA, AIR 54 / 3 ; Brent W., 85 tears of South African Air Force (1920 – 2005), Nelspruit, Freeworld Publications, coll. « African Aviation Series », 2005, p. 123 et 126 ; Brown J.-A., A gathering of eagles, the campaigns of the South African Air Force in Italian East Afica (1940 – 1941), Cape Town, Purnell, coll. « South African Forces World War II », 1970, p. 64 ; McLean S., Squadron of the South African Air Force and their aircraft (1920 – 2005), Cape Town, auto-édition, 2005, p.162 ; Shores C. et Ricci C., Dust Clouds in the Middle East, 2e éd., London, Grub Street, 2010, p. 60 ; Sutherland J. et Canwell D., Air War East Africa, the RAF versus the Italian Air Force, Barnsley, Pen & Sword Military, 2009, p. 67 ; Tidy P.D., « Major Cornelius Arthur van Vliet, DFC », Military History Journal, vol. 2, no 6, Décembre 1976.

[4] Gustavsson Håkan, « Tenente Alberto Veronese », Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War , http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_veronese.htm ; Gustavsson Håkan, « Sergente Maggiore Athos Tieghi », Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_tieghi.htm.

[5] « Casualty details : Armstrong, Edward George », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2273018/ARMSTRONG,%20EDWARD%20GEORGE

[6] « Casualty details : Adams, Edward Charles », Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2273003/ADAMS,%20EDWARD%20CHARLES

[7] Pour une longue description des opérations (en anglais) : Gobbo Alberto, « Fighting Fairey Battle », The South African Military History Society http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol132ga.html ; « Colonello Alberto Gobbo », Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_gobbo.htm




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