25 December 1940

25 December 1940

Northern Front

Following the previous day’s event, Flight Lieutenant Eric Smith and Flying Officer John W.J. Taylor took off, between 06:30 and 07:40, in two Hawker Hardy in order to search for the Caproni Ca.133 shot down the previous day.[1]

According to Eric Smith :

« At 04:00 on Christmas Day, just when the rum party had developed into fire walking, a worried Flying Officer John Taylor brought in a signal ordering us to destroy the original Caproni attacked by Mac [Flying Officer Alexander S. MacIntyre]. It had been seen to force-land by our forward troops. I decided an immediate take-off was the only solution and was not in the least worried to see my gunner, Sergeant Green [2], being carried out, dumped paralytic in the gunner’s cockpit. I merely ordered him to be roped down in case he woke up and fell out. Accompanied by Flying Officer Taylor in another Hardy the mission was accomplished ».[3]

Note that a claim on a Gloster Gladiator above Gallabat is reported on this date, by Sergeant Maggiore Luigi Baron. As Håkan Gustavsson indicates [4] no loss or battle appears in British or South African archives. The only documented operation of a fighter is the take-off on alert of Major Lawrence A. Wilmot, No.1 (SAAF) Squadron, aboard a Hawker Hurricane to intercept an unidentified aircraft over Port Sudan. The latter turns out to be a Bristol Blenheim from the No.203 (RAF) Squadron. [5] A date error is probably highlighted here, with the subsequent events of 27 December.

[1] No.237 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kew: TNA, AIR 27/1450.

[2] In reality, Sergeant John S. Gray.

[3] SALT, Beryl. A Pride of Eagles : The Definitive History of the Rhodesian Air Force (1920 – 1980). Johannesburg : Covos Day, 2001. p.74

[4] GUSTAVSSON, Håkan. Sergente Maggiore Luigi » Gino » Baron. Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War  : http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_baron.htm

[5] K Flight: Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kew : TNA, AIR 29/858 ; No.1 (SAAF) Squadron : War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/1.

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