6 December 1940

6 December1940

Northern Front

Five Vickers Wellesley [1] of No. 47 (RAF) Squadron took off at 08:15 from Sennar to bomb Bure (Ethiopia). The K7713 is forced to return early due to an engine failure. The other four aircraft continue to the target when they are intercepted at 10:40 by a Fiat CR.42. The K8521 (Pilot Officer Basil B. Witty, Paul A. Hunt; Sergeant George A. Bonnar) is quickly shot down and the crew is seen parachuting. Pilot Officer Basil B. Witty is seriously injured in the action and he died a few days later. Three victories are claimed by the Italian fighter, but the three remaining Vickers Wellesley do not seem to have been damaged. After attacking the target, they return to land at Sennar airfield at 12:30.[2]

[1] Christopher Shores reports the presence of four aircraft (one of which is returning due to an engine problem). While the Form 540 reports four Wellesleys, the Form 541 indicates that five aircraft took off on this mission. This information is also confirmed by reading the mission reports written by the crews. For example, Flight Lieutenant Graham R. Magill states that on approach to the target, the formation split into two pairs; while Pilot Officer Gordon writes that five aircraft took off and then the formation of four split.

[2] No.47 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kew : TNA, AIR 27 / 463  ; 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. 82 et 83.

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