9 January 1941

9 January 1941

Northern Front

Three Bristol Blenheim Mk IVs, from No.14 (RAF) Squadron, take off at 07:05 for an armed reconnaissance of the Kassala sector. On the return flight, R3899 (Sergeant Leslie A.J. Patey) is badly damaged in a flight with two Fiat CR.42s. According to British documentation, one of the Italian fighters is damaged, before crashing on its way back to base.[1] Wellesley K7750 (Sergeant Aldus) took over at 16.30, with no incident to report.

No.203 (RAF) Squadron continues its daily escort of sea convoys in the Red Sea. Three Blenheim Mk IVFs followed one another during the day (06:25 – 17:40) over the B.S.12 convoy.

At 05h45, five Hawker Hurricanes (Captain Gerald J. le Mesurier; Lieutenants Thomas Condon, E.A. Jarvis, P.H. Smith, Servaas de K. Viljoen and K.A. Young) of No.1 (SAAF) Squadron took off for the forward airfield at Khashm el Girba near the border. After refuelling, Captain Gerald J. le Mesurier and Lieutenant K.A. Young took off at 07:10 for a patrol of the Kassala area. They attack Barentu airfield and engaged a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 twice without success. They are followed at 11:00 by Lieutenants Thomas Condon, P.H. Smith and Servaas de K. Viljoen on a similar mission, this time targeting Tesseney airfield.[2]

Southern Front

After a long hiatus due to engine problems, the Fairey Battles of No.11 (SAAF) Squadron were back in action. In three waves of two aircraft each, six aircraft took off to bomb Yabelo airfield. The first pair, consisting of Lieutenants B.S.M. Hamilton (No. 926 with Flight Sergeant J.W. Dixon) and O.P. Gray (No. 906 with Flight Sergeant C.B. Hanger), were to carry out preliminary reconnaissance. They returned shortly afterwards (14.40) and confirmed at least three Caproni Ca.133s. The other two pairs: no. 925 (Major A.D. Irvine; Flight Sergeant M.M. Oberholzer), No. 924 (Captain E.J. Kelly; Flight Sergeant L.P. White), No. 922 (Lieutenant Cornellius A. van Vliet; Air Sergeant F.L. Cotton; Air Corporal P. C. Sewell) and No. 902 (Lieutenant J.T. Mathews; Flight Sergeant R.P. Wolhuter) attacked between 16.55 and 17.45 from half dive level (1200 to 300 m) and destroyed two Caproni Ca.133 were destroyed on the ground. One of the South African planes was slightly damaged.[3]

No. 41 Squadron (SAAF) was also busy. Twelve Hartbees based at Ndege’s Nest were tasked with a reconnaissance mission in support of South African troops in the Buna area to secure several water points. With three aircraft flying every hour, the Hartbees operated from dawn to dusk. Two aircraft were forced to land, with no casualties to the crews. In all, twenty-five sorties were flown, totalling sixty-five hours, during which seventy-five 20lb bombs were dropped.[4]

At about 16.10, two Hartbees from No 40 Squadron (SAAF) were sent to assist the British troops after a dozen Italian vehicles were spotted near Dukana. One of the Hartbees was damaged by Italian defences. One of the South African planes was lightly damaged by the Italian defences, with no consequences.[5]

[1] No.14 (RAF) Squadron : Operations Record Book (Form 540 and Form 541). Kew : TNA, AIR 27/192 ; NAPIER, Micha el. Winged Crusaders : The Exploits of 14 Squadron RFC & RAF 1915 – 1945. Barnsley : Pen & Sword, 2013.

[2] No.1 (SAAF) Squadron : War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/1.

[3] No.11 (SAAF) Squadron : War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/4 ; January 1941 – Narrative Northern Operations SAAF. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/9 ; No.40 (SAAF) Squadron, War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR 54/5 ; 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. 94 ; SUTHERLAND, Jon. Air War East Africa (1940 – 1941). The RAF versus the Italian Air Force. Barnsley : Pen and Sword Aviation, 2009. p.87.

[4] January 1941 – Narrative Northern Operations SAAF. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/9 ; No.41 (SAAF) Squadron, War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR 54/86.

[5] January 1941 – Narrative Northern Operations SAAF. Kew : TNA, AIR/54/9 ; No.40 (SAAF) Squadron, War Diary. Kew : TNA, AIR 54/5.

Leave a Reply