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Date: April 1st 1943

Thursday 1st. April

Received a parcel from Argyle today. There seems to be a lull on the battle front for some unknown reason.

Sunday 4th April

Nothing doing these last four days. The weather has been ropey and no one seems to know if we are still under Western control or not.

N.C.O.'s and airmen have been raising a stink about officers pinching our beer. Poor show on the officers part.

Monday April 5th

"Stand by for stand down" is the motto these days. Rumor and duff gen circulate freely.

Tuesday April 6th

Air tested "L" prior to doing an op. tonight.

Wednesday April 7th

The op last night was completed successfully and eventually. was communactions south of Gebes in the Sfax region.

Petre in "B" flight an engine cut on take off. Soon after the other engine caught fire. He jettisoned his bombs and made a safe crash landing. They are still looking for his bombs.

Thursday April 8th.

Barny took another sprog crew last night so I stayed home. Rumors of the 8th army trying to by-pass Sfrx are prevalent this morning in flight tent. Not operating tonight.

This afternoon I took a stroll over the bundo to head quarters sqd. some 5 or 6 miles away. All the boys are and doing O.K. The "ginch" Harvey has 32 ops. Suggitt and Evans have 23 and "Ace" Emmitt has only 10. "Ace" has been sick for some time which has slowed him down considerably.

The gen merchants say we are doing only 30 ops. for the first tour. The ketch is that we have to stay in the country and do another tour in three months time. Sounds typically R.A.F.

Friday April 9th

Aircrew in England ran into some very bad weather over Germany a few days ago, cloud was 10/10 ths. and rose to 20,000 ft. with severe icing in cloud formations. Ice was being flung off the air screw against the fuselage so fast it sounded like machine gun fire. One pilot thought his aircraft was hit when he opened his bomb doors, the ice had frozen them solid. Some pilots saw nothing until their return when the ice finally thawed on descent. 21 air craft missing.

Extract from intelligence report on American bombing at Palermo. One explosion felt at 24,000 ft. This must prove they must do some low flying.

Rommel is being slowly pushed back on all sections. IT would seem that he intends to fight to the last man - several hundreds of his men have surrendered during the past week - they don't agree with him.

Saturday April 10th

Bad weather is holding up operations these days so nothing is happening.

Sunday 11th April

Landed at 40 sqd. last night and we had to get home this morning. Getting some duff gen. from operations we went to 104 first. Finally located it at 40 and brought it back. It showed signs of lax care on the part of its crew. Both nacelle cock rings were ripped off, George in questional condition and the kite left in a general mess. However it will be alright for tonight's raid - my 20th.

Briefing is at 17.00 take off at 18.30 and will be spent 45 minutes in the target area. The target is not officially known but says its an l.g. not far south of Tunis. Night fighters may be expected in raids so far north as that. Sounds like a good trip.

Received my first letters in two months. It was from Mike. Jerry's
forward line is some where near Solisse today. It doesn't seem so long ago it was at El Alemein.

Monday 12th April

We attacked an air drome about half way between Sollisse and Tunis last night with good results. IT was a small place called St. Marie du Zit. The Germans had a few guns strung around the landscape just to keep us moving.

14 Sqd. lost four kites last night. One in the area and one hang up of 2X500. Tough luck!!

The photographs taken last night were all failures. Our pyrotechnics were all u/s last night.

Tuesday 13th April

Nearly all "70" planes were damaged last night by heavy flak at Tameme. The only casualty is Petre who has shot through the heel. He will lose his foot. He had no second pilot and he crash landed the plane himself. That deed should win him a D.F.M. if the C.O. is on his toes. Graves wrote his kite off also as his hydraulics were shot away.
Anderson (Portage la Prarie) was chased by two Macchis and was forced to jettison his bombs.

Our intelligence officer says the war in North Africa will be over in seven days but I think a month is more like will soon see.

Wednesday 14th April

Today I learned the details of Petre's work, which is equal if not greater than most of the R.A.F.'s V.C.'s of this war. While may not outshine the late Sgt. Ward's feat, it makes S/L Nettleton's look mild.
Petre was very calm through out the return trip and gave data about engine performance, temp. etc. from the plane's bed. He also checked the W.O.P.'s signals. Only a pilot knows what it means to stay on duty three hours with one foot shot almost off and then have enough grit left to crash land the air craft. Yesterday I said he should have the D.F.M. - today I say he should have the Victoria Cross.

Thursday 15th April

Last night we raided Korba sough l.s. and the enemy night fighters made us step smartly.

We were intercepted just off the coast but managed to escape him and flew north, then inland and finally south to Korba L.C. All this time we were closely followed by our host. He did not a good chance to attack however and we made a good bombing run. He then chased us up north to Tunis Bay. From there we followed the coast around Cape Bon and made our way south west. Could not see the n.f. plainly so could not identify it.

Although we were off our course we hope that our information will help.

Friday 16th April

Camseen is setting in now so the heat for the next month or so will be quite uncomfortable and operations will be extremely slack. Something smells in Tunis and smells bad.

Saturday 17th April

On the night of the 14th and 15th when we were chased up into the gulf of Tunis we crossed x-bay (called a lake by intelligence) and saw it was camofloked to represent a farm. The Bostons investigated in strength our reports. Such investigations are usually rough but thoroughly also sighted three ships and some which were after on the morning of the 15th, so our operation may be called a complete success.

Sunday 18th April

Much discussion is taking place on these squadrons in regard to the type of delay fuse used lately. They work sometimes at the wront time.
I saw one Halifax blown up in which 12 to 16 men were killed. In my opinion the fuse isn't safe as most reg's types are unreliable. Will we learn some day???

Monday 19th April

Gen. Montgomery sent a special message to the four Wellington Squadrons in appreciation for the help we gave him.

The humble Whimpy is now regarded as the best medium bomber in the world, and that's saying something.

We have dropped more bombs on Rommels forces and defences than the rest of the air craft together.

Tuesday 20th April

Today Jerry lost 55 Ju 52's and 16 Me 109's while we lost 9 Spits.

This is Rommel's hardest blow so far.

Wednesday 21st April

Swift just came back to 37 Sqd. after spending a week in the front line with a Black Watch reg't. Quite a lad.

Thursday 22nd. April

To our amazement the Int. officer says there are only 30,000 Germans in Tunisia. Where the devil did they go? Last week it was reported they had 200,000 I knew something smelt and thats it.

Friday 23rd. April

37 Sqd. operated last night in cloud, one kite reaching the target. Other air craft reported seeing several barges on the north coast of Tunisia. Where the devil did they go? Does this mean that Rommel has already evacuated some of his men?

For some unknown reason being with ic's "while 37" and I are keeping the "111"'s and "X". Lets hope it is as practical as it is interesting. Mail u/s, only received two letters in the last two months.

Saturday 24th April

MISURATA If Musso did as good a job in Italy (there is no reason why he couldn't) I'd say he did more for his country than any other man along that line.

Misurate, while quiet now, must have been a colourful and busy town. The streets, while not paved in gold, are [?] and decorative; such things as public baths, and parks seem to be a good attempt to mimic Ceasar's time.

Musso, the practical man ranks foremost in is day. Musso, the idealist is a hopeless case. He wants, I think to be a second Ceasar but now that he's got this far he remembers Ceasar's violent death.

There are two Italian army police in "MIS" who represents the general feeling of non fascist. They are stalwart, and handsome men and they show no resentment to us what-so-ever. They want peace as much as we do - I think more.

Sunday 25th April

These days are too hot to do anything well, even rest! I'm afraid our Easter tiffin is bully and cheese. I hope next Easter will be different. Allies are claiming ground steadily in North Africa - even Lord Ha Ha says so.

Monday 26th April

Today I received my third letter in so many months - a Christmas card from Aunt Thresa.

We did an air test today in which I spent 30 minutes of it in getting a parachute flare of the tail wheel of the air craft. The guts of the flare came out just as we taking off but darned if I could explain what it was. The casing remained in the tri-cells but in some mysterious way the flare itself came out.

Some damage was done to the fabric and geodetics, port of the tall wheel housing.

We do not expect operations for a few days, but yet are ready to do a series of double ops with Mahars (I think) as our half way house Jerry will have his hands full in an evacuation, so will the Wellingtons.

Tuesday 27th April

Russia has severed relations with Poland on some technical pretext. This may be considered a gentle threat to England, the tone of which I don't like. Russia has had several complaints about our conduct of this war. The most surprising one being that England took some air craft that were intended for the U.S.S.R. and gave them some second hand ones in return - As Stalin, himself made this complaint, the charge may be considered as important.

The scorpians are quite plentiful now so we have to be careful lest we find some in bed with us.

Wednesday 28th April

Just finished a book by H.G. Wells written about 1907 before air craft came into its own. The book is entitled "The war in the air" While the author was called a fool at that time his guesses were remarkably near.

Unfortunately my opinion of H.G. us taken from the author's preface, quote "Again I ask the reader to note the warnings I gave in that year, twenty years ago. Is there any thing to add to that preface now? Nothing except my epitaph, that when the time comes, will manifestly have to be: I told you so, you damn fools." Nice chap!

Thursday 29th April

Stand down to day so we played a game of soft ball with "40" sqd. Harvey, Succitt, Emmett played for "40"; score 9 to 4. Ace gave me 50 Players, or rather Export which is quite a change to the English makes.

Friday 30th April

We had some trouble today again. We were to take "M" for practice bombing. (11 ½ lb. smoke bombs) We had taxied to the watch office when the inter com went u/s, turned back, fixed the inter com but the star board engine decided to catch fire rather than start. We put it out with no damage done to the main plane but the engine will have to be changed.

I got myself wet from head to foot but for once I was glad to get cooled.

Apparently ball team has just arrived, judging from the noise coming from Anderson