21 November 1940

21 November 1940

Northern Front

Two Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 are reported over Port Sudan in the afternoon. Two Gloster Gladiator of K Flight took off around 13h40 : Flying Officer Percy O.V. Green (K7974) and Pilot Officer Geoffrey B. Smither. They meet the Italian bombers at an altitude of about 4 800 meters.

A fight ensued immediately, although Flying Officer Percy O.V. Green was quickly forced to break up due to an engine problem. Pilot Officer Geoffrey B. Smither continues to follow Italian planes as far as the port of Suakin (about 50 km south of Port Sudan). At that moment, he hit one of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 with his incendiary bullets. The Italian bomber appears to be damaged as it begins to lose attitude. However, Pilot Officer Geoffrey B. Smither’s Gloster Gladiator K7948 took damage, which forced him to break off the fight.[1]

A Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 is claimed damaged, in collaboration, by the two pilots. One of the bombers returned seriously damaged at its base with three wounded on board. For their part, the Italian crews claim the destruction of the two British fighters.[2]

[1] It should be noted that several publications indicate that the Flying Officer Green’s aircraft was damaged by Italian machine gunners. However, reading the ORB, it appears that Green’s withdrawal would be related to : « air pressure failed ». There is, unfortunately, no more precision on the reasons (technical or combat-related problem?). On the other hand, it is indicated that Pilot Officer Smither continues the interception then : « K7948 (soit son appareil) hit by shrapnel or bullet », which suggests his Gladiator was damaged during the battle with the S.79.

[2] K Flight : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kew : TNA, AIR 29/858 ; No.14 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kew : TNA, AIR 27/192 ; SHORES, Christopher ; RICCI, Corrado. Dust Clouds in the Middle East – The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940 – 1942. London : Grub Street, 2010 (Reprinted). p. 78 ; SHORES, Christopher. Those other Eagles. London : Grub Street, 2004. p.645 ; CANWELL, Diane ; SUTHERLAND, Jon. Air War East Africa (1940 – 1941). The RAF versus the Italian Air Force. Barnsley : Pen and Sword Aviation, 2009. p. 77 ; RAF 112 Sqn Tribute Website : http://raf-112-squadron.org/nominal_roll.html ; GUSTAVSSON, Håkan. Air Commodore Percy Oliver Valentine Green. Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War : http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/commonwealth_green.htm

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