Random bullet strikes down General Horrocks

6th June 1943: Random bullet strikes down General Horrocks

I retain only two memories of the next twenty-four hours. The first was when I was lying on the floor of divisional headquarters with a group of people standing round. Recognising the face of the divisional A.D.M.S. – the chief doctor – I asked him if I would be well enough to take the Corps to Salerno. He shook his head. Luckily for my peace of mind it never entered my head that at this time he thought I was going to die.




‘Battle in the Bay’ – Sunderland v Ju 88s

2nd June 1943: ‘Battle in the Bay’ Sunderland v Ju 88s

1855 hours. The turrets moved slowly while eyes strained in the sunlight. This was indeed the Tiger Country, a slaughteryard, a stage for a play of suspense and savagery, where all men at one tike or another knew the meaning of fear. Here there were no parachutes and no patriots in the back country.




The score reaches 1000 at Biggin Hill

15th May 1943: The score reaches 1000 at Biggin Hill

Hardly had I begun to turn to starboard when a nice little job slid under my starboard wing. I turned on my back without even trying to identify it. I went at terric speed, giving the plane all it had. As I dived after my National Socialist, for I could see his black crosses shining now, I gave rapid orders over the radio so that my faithful troops would cover my attack.




Spitfires versus Focke-Wulf 190s over France

21st April 1943: Spitfires versus Focke-Wulf 190s over France

I identified it at once-it was a Focke-Wulf 190. I had not studied the photos and recognition charts so often for nothing. After firing a burst of tracer at me he bore down on Martell. Yes, it certainly was one – the short wings, the radial engine, the long transparent hood: the square-cut tail-plane all in one piece!




RAF trials – a high altitude radar guided dogfight

10th April 1943: RAF operational trials – a high altitude radar guided dogfight

The small, fierce sun threw harsh shadows on the wing, and as we climbed the sky became darker and darker, and the windows began to frost over until only part of the windscreen and a few patches at the side remained clear. This was all quite different from what I had known of even our fairly regular flights to the higher altitudes of about twenty-five thousand feet. The cabin pressure was at an artificial thirty-two thousand feet, but the altimeter needle, slowing down now, had just passed the mark for forty-three thousand feet.




Landing a Spitfire onto an Aircraft carrier

4th January 1943: First go at landing a Spitfire onto an Aircraft carrier

It was so good in the air that I hadn’t the least desire to go down, my approach, as I lost altitude, looked more and more difficult and the deck hardly seemed to have changed in size. I had to touch down with my wheels immediately behind the bulge of the deck. If I succeeded in placing myself well in the centre, the cables would do the rest, provided my speed were correct. Therein lay the difficulty.




Spitfire Ace shot down over Malta

14th October 1942: Spitfire Ace shot down over Malta

Just as I shot Willie’s pal down, another Me nailed me from behind. He got me right in the belly of the Spit. A chunk of cannon shell smashed into my right heel. Another went between my left arm and body, nicking me in the elbow and ribs. Shrapnel spattered into my left leg. The controls were blasted to bits. The throttle was jammed wide open and there I was in a full-power spin, on my way down from somewhere around 18,000 feet.




Canadian Spitfire Ace scores four over Malta

27th July 1942: Canadian Spitfire Ace scores four over Malta

The 27th was my biggest day on Malta. At six A.M. Bryden, Willie, Georgia, Scarlet, Micky Butler, Hogarth, Hether, and I scrambled to intercept a fifty-plus attack from seven Ju 88s and their lighter escort.

We slammed up the hill to 25,000 feet where the fighters were covering the bombers. The Ju’s were just going to work on Takali when we came along and they plastered the joint, leaving the drome pocked with bomb craters.

I was the lucky lad who spotted the sweep and called into the RT: “Enemy aircraft at four o’clock, slightly below!” and led the gang in, with everybody hotfooting after me. I spotted four Machis running in line astern and took Number Four.




The strain of constant battle readiness on Malta

What really worries me is the way my body’s in open revolt. For weeks past I’ve fought the increasing Dog pain, and, in the last few days, its utter lifelessness; but this morning I’ve been vomiting without success in the ruins of a stone house behind my Spitfire, vomiting into my oxygen mask while flying over the harbour, and repeatedly leaving this tent after coming down on the ground again.




Malta – ‘you never have time to be scared’

8th June 1942: Malta – ‘you never have time to be scared’

Bombs were liable to come whistling around your ears any minute. If you looked up you’d see Spits and Me’s split-assing all over the sky and every once in a while some poor devil who hadn’t kept his tail clean would come spinning down in flames.

Flak went up in flowerbeds and parachutes came drifting down. From the ground the constant din of ack-ack batteries . . . Up high the clatter of machine-gun and cannon bursts and the roar of full-engined Spitfires, Me’s and Macchis diving … Erks scurrying about the drome, patching bomb craters… Engineers detonating time bombs …. Rescue launches rushing to sea to pick up floating parachutists …

The Maltese population trying to carry on the day’s chores between headlong dives for the shelter and protection of walls, cracked-up houses, or wrinkles in the rocks … Cats and dogs fighting in the streets in keeping with the tempo of the place … Never a dull moment, day or night.

That was Malta in the blitzes. Before you had been there a day you got the idea Jerry had decided to either sink the damned island or blow it away – and you weren’t far wrong.!