Categories 1941

RAF sustains air assault on Libya

Wellington bombers in flight over Britain

The weekly Naval Military and Air Situation reports were a comprehensive overview of the war for the benefit of the War Cabinet, Commonwealth governments and senior civil servants and military commanders. They tried to encompass every aspect of the war – the air war over Libya merited just one paragraph out of seventy seven this week:

One night attack was made by 15 Wellingtons on Benghazi, and hits were made on military stores.

A heavier raid was carried out against Barce, where the targets bombed included the railway sidings, workshops, barracks and the aerodrome.

A series of attacks was made on enemy aerodromes in Libya. At Derna six enemy aircraft were probably destroyed on the ground, and at Capuzzo one large aircraft was destroyed and a big fire was started at the petrol dump. By day seven Marylands, escorted by fighters, successfully bombed stores and dumps near Gambut, and another attack by nine Marylands was made on heavy guns east of Tobruk.

From the Air Situation Report for the week as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/18/41

For each and everyone of these attacks there were personal stories attached and the direction of people’s lives were radically changed. Iain M. MacDonald was just one of them:

I bailed out of my badly damaged Wellington aircraft over Benghazi at 1 a.m. on the morning of 7th September 1941. A band of wandering Arabs whom befriended us, unfortunately turned out to value the bounty offered by the enemy more than our friendship, turned us over to the Italian/German forces; not before making off with our parachutes, and anything else they could lay their hands on. Thus started a long series of solitary confinement, interrogation, prison camps, travel in cattle trucks and hardship which was to last over three years and seven months. Those events may be summarized as follows:-

Location Dates Details

Apollonia (Lybia) 8th September 1941 – Left Apollonia 11th September 1941
Arrived Derna 11th September 1941 – Left Derna 17th September 1941 by Junkers 52
Arrived Crete 17th September 1941 by Junkers 52 – Left Crete 17th September 1941 by Junkers 52
Arrived Athens 17th September 1941 by Junkers 52 (placed in solitary confinement) – Left Athens 22nd September 1941 by Junkers 52
Arrived Salonika (Greece) 22nd September 1941 by Junkers 52 – Left Salonika 22nd September 1941 3 days sleeping on floor of railway guard’s van
Arrived Vienna (Austria) 25th September 1941 Placed in police prison cell – Left Vienna 28th September 1941 by passenger rail express
Arrived Frankfurt (Dulagluft) 29th September 1941 RAF POW Interrogation Centre – Left Frankfurt 4th October 1941 3 days solitary/interrogation: then 2 days rail
Arrived Lamsdorf, Stalag V111B 6th October 1941 – Left Lamsdorf 13th May 1942 by Cattle truck, 7 months confinement
Arrived Sagan, StalagLuft 3 14th May 1942 by Cattle truck – Left Sagan 10th June 1943 3rd Class rail, 2 days, 13 months confinement
Arrived Hydekrug, StalagLuft 6 12th June 1943 3rd Class rail for 2 days – Left Hydekrug 17th July 1944 by Cattle truck, 13 months confinement
Arrived Thorne, Stalag 357 19th July 1944 by Cattle truck & 2 days by rail – Left Thorne 8th August 1944 by Cattle truck, 2 1/2 weeks confinement
Arrived Fallingbostel, 355,357 10th August 1944 by Cattle truck and 2 days by rail, – LIBERATED! 16th April 1945, 9 months.

Total = 3 years 7 months confinement

Read more of his story at the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association

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