Sie sind auf Seite 1von 18

Hkan Gustavsson & Ludovico Slongo

Desert Prelude
Early clashes
This work is dedicated to our beloved wives Lotta and Eva.
June -November 1940
S
A
M
P
L
E
2
Introduction ...................................................................................................................3
1940 ...............................................................................................................................4
Before thestorm .............................................................................................................4
June 1940 ....................................................................................................................18
Theground war .....................................................................................................18
Operations .............................................................................................................27
July 1940 .....................................................................................................................57
Theground war .....................................................................................................57
Operations .............................................................................................................64
August 1940 ................................................................................................................93
Operations .............................................................................................................99
September 1940 ........................................................................................................124
Theground war ...................................................................................................124
Operations ...........................................................................................................133
October 1940 ............................................................................................................155
Theground war ...................................................................................................155
Operations ...........................................................................................................160
November 1940 .........................................................................................................186
Operations ...........................................................................................................192
Colour proles ...........................................................................................................205
Index ..........................................................................................................................221
Acknowledgments
This work has used a huge number of sources, which will be recorded in the end of part 2.
However, a number of colleague, friends and historians have also kindly helped the authors
with support, inspiration and additional material. Our gratitude goes especially to:
Giorgio Apostolo, Andrea Angiolino, Roberto Bassi, Nick Beale, Csaba Becze, Christer Bergstrm,
Vincent Biondi, Gianni Biguzzi, Maria Teresa Bobba, Colleen Bowker, Gabriele Brancaccio, Rob
Brown, Gianandrea Bussi, Jean Michel Cala, Massimo Cappone, Alberto Casirati, Matteo Cerofolini,
Don Clark, Gordon Clarke, Shawn Cottingham, Alexander Crawford, Ferdinando DAmico,
Francesco DAmico, Ernest Dean, Peter Dean, Luca Delle Canne, Averil DoRego, Santiago Flores,
Marco Gargari, Luigi Gorrini, Chris Goss, Mike Grierson, Russell Guest, Brje Henningsson, Ian
Hodkinson, Peter Holloway, Clare Gordon Jones, David LaJuett, Stefano Lazzaro, Enrico Locatelli,
Alfredo Logoluso, Petr Lukes, Nicola Malizia, Antonio Maraziti, Giovanni Massimello, Fabio
Marzocca, Francesco Mattesini, Ross McNeill, Carlo Minguzzi, Pierluigi Moncalvo, Patricia Molloy,
Simon Muggleton, Claudio Narduzzi, Gustavo Ottolenghi, Manlio Palmieri, David Park, Michele
Palermo, Antonio Poggi, Tom Polk, Ondrej Repka, Giuseppe Riccardi, Vanni Rinaldi, Roberto
Scaglioni, Flavio Silvestri, Graham Buxton Smither, Gianmaria Spagnoletti, Andrew Thomas,
Gabriele Valentini, Mirek Wawrzynski, Hugh Wheeler, and Paul Whelan.
All the personnel of Ucio Storico Stato magg. Aeronautica and in particular: m. llo. Pasquale
Rubertone, ten. col. Giancarlo Montinaro, ten. col. Massimiliano Barlattani and col. Euro Rossi
The personnel of Fototeca AMI and in particular ten. Gianluca Pasqualini of Troupe Azzurra.
Another special thanks goes to Ian Acworth, Fulvio Chianese, Patricia Molloy, Vanni Rinaldi
and Renato Zavattini, who all provided us with unique images and information for this book, to
Enrico Cernuschi for all his help and encouragement and to Many Souan who kindly shared with
us his knowledge and expertise on French Air Force and in particular the operations of FAFL.
We apologize if we have forgotten any names.
Hkan Gustavsson & Ludovico Slongo, Borlnge & Padova January 2010
Published inPoland in2010
bySTRATUS s.c.
Po. Box 123,
27-600 Sandomierz 1, Poland.
e-mail: oce@mmpbooks.biz
for MMP
3 Gloucester Close, Peterseld
Hampshire GU32 3AX, UK.
e-mail: rogerw@mmpbooks.biz
2010 MMP
http://www.mmpbooks.biz
All rights reserved. Apart
from any fair dealing for
thepurpose ofprivate
study, research, criticism
or review, aspermitted
under theCopyright,
Design andPatents Act,
1988, no part ofthis publi-
cationMay bereproduced,
stored ina retrieval system,
or transmitted inany form
or byany means, elec-
tronic, electrical, chemi-
cal, mechanical, optical,
photocopying, recording
or otherwise, without
prior written permis-
sion. All enquiries should
beaddressed tothepub-
lisher.
ISBN
978-83-89450-52-4
Editor inchief
Roger Wallsgrove
Editorial Team
Bartomiej Belcarz
Robert Pczkowski
Artur Juszczak
James Kightly
Map
Dariusz Karnas
Colour Drawings
Artur Juszczak
Tedor Liviu Morosanu
Kjetil kra
Krzysztof Woowski
Remi Pierlot
DTP
Artur Bukowski
Bartomiej Belcarz
Printed by
Drukarnia Diecezjalna,
ul. eromskiego 4,
27-600 Sandomierz
tel. +48 (15) 832 31 92
fax +48 (15) 832 77 87
www.wds.pl
marketing@wds.pl
PRINTED INPOLAND
Table of Contents
2
S
A
M
P
L
E
3
Introduction
Therst North African Campaign was avery interesting one for several reasons. North Africa
was Italys main front inwhat was later called theParallel War, i.e. theperiod during which Italy
tried toght theCommonwealth autonomously, without thehelp oftheGerman Armed Forces,
andthus aperiod during which achievements anddefeats were due only toItalian merits or mis-
takes. This period is one ofthevery few where historians can try toassess thereal eectiveness
oftheItalian war eort, without being confused bythepresence ofGerman forces, andthis is ob-
viously true also intheeld ofair warfare.
With theBattle ofBritain absorbing practically all thebest resources, theCommonwealth forc-
es ontheNorth African front had torely mostly onsecond line machines, sometimes already put
out of service at home. This, together with the Italian trust in the biplane formula, meant that
theWestern Desert was (together with Greece andEast Africa) thelast battleeld inthehistory
of air warfare where biplanes confronted each other. Needless to say, pilots of these archaic air-
craft were byno means inferior indetermination or skill totheir colleagues ghting inSpitres or
Messerschmitts over theEnglish Channel. Many ofthemost important Italian andCommonwealth
pilots oftheconict drew rst blood during this campaign, notably amongst them thetop Italian
andRAF aces ofWW II, Teresio Martinoli andThomas Pattle.
Despite this, the air war during this campaign has been rather neglected by historians, be-
ing treated only asamarginal sideshow overshadowed byevents ofthesubsequent periods, after
theLuftwae intervention. This book is an attempt tocorrect this negligence, andshow that these
eight months were a period of heavy ghting where large formations of aircraft clashed under
theburning North African sun, with heavy losses suered byboth sides intheair.
Maggiore Ernesto Botto
in an aircraft from the
73
a
Squadriglia, leading
a formation from the
9
o
Gruppo over North
Africa during the return
from a mission. Identified
in the image are fighters
from the 96
a
Squadriglia.
[via Fulvio Chianese at
Associazione Culturale
4
o
Stormo di Gorizia]
3
S
A
M
P
L
E
4
Italian forces
When Italy declared war on France and Britain on 10 June 1940, it faced forces from both
countries in their North African possessions. The Regia Aeronautica forces in the region formed
theAeronautica della Libia, which was commanded byGenerale Felice Porro.
Atthestart oftheconict there were two ghterGruppi inNorth Africa; the8
o
andthe13
o
Gruppi
ofthe2
o
Stormo C.T., soon joined byathird one; the10
o
Gr. ofthe4
o
Stormo C.T.
The2
o
Stormo C.T. was commanded bycol. Angelo Federici. ThetwoGruppi (8
o
and13
o
) had
their headquarters inTripoli Castel Benito attheairbase Enea Silvio Recagno, but on1June they
received orders tomove totheir war bases. For the13
o
Gr. it was thesame Tripoli Castel Benito,
while the8
o
Gr. received orders tomove toTobruk T2 starting from 4June. The8
o
Gr. was wait-
ing for therst deliveries ofCR.42s, andmoved toT2 with only theCR.32 quaters combat-ready.
Only a very small ground echelon followed the pilots because most of the tters and engineers
(among them the best) had to remain in Tripoli to erect the crated CR.42s arriving from Italy.
Inthis quite unsatisfactory situation, the8
o
Gr. moved towar only tond that T2 was amere de-
serted piece ofat land, lacking any form ofaccommodation for pilots andplanes, not tomention
thecomplete absence ofAA defences andwarning network.
The 8
o
Gr. (92
a
, 93
a
and 94
a
Squadriglie) was commanded by magg. Vincenzo La Carruba,
andstarted thewar based atTobruk T2 aireld with afull complement of25 Fiat CR.32quaters.
Pilots in the 92
a
Sq. on 11 June were: cap. Martino Nino Zannier (CO), ten. Riccardo
Marcovich (Gruppo Adjutant), ten. Ranieri Piccolomini, ten. Giorgio Savoia, serg. magg. Guglielmo
Gorgone, serg. Vito Copersino, serg. Nadio Monti, serg. Ernesto Pavan andserg. Bruno Salvi. These
pilots had nine CR.32quaters (including magg. La Carrubas) andone S.81 (piloted bySavini during
thetransfer) available on11June. Onstrength, there was also serg. Giovanni Sessa, but hehadnt
left Tripoli. Anumber ofpilots had been assigned totheSquadriglia before thestart ofthehostili-
ties; s. ten. Alfonso Notari (from the4
o
Stormo on8June), serg.Augusto Mannu (from 53
o
Stormo
on 8 June), serg. Guido Piazza (from 53
o
Stormo on 10 June)
andserg. Clemente Bonfanti (from 53
o
Stormo on10June); these
pilots however remained atTripoli.
Pilots in the 93
a
Sq. on 11 June were: cap. Mario Bacich
(CO), ten. Alberto Argenton, ten. Gioacchino Bissoli, serg. magg.
Italo Bertinelli, serg. Luigi Di Lorenzo, serg. Edoardo Azzarone,
serg. Roberto Lendaro and serg. Duilio Bernardi. These pi-
lots had eight CR.32quaters available on 11 June. On strength
there were also ten. Vincenzo Sansone, s. ten. Alberto Radice,
serg. Orazio Antonicelli and serg. Ottorino Lancia, but they
hadnt left Tripoli. serg. Armando Angelini was assigned from
the53
o
Stormo on9June but healso remained inTripoli.
Pilots inthe94
a
Sq. on11June were: cap. Franco Lavelli (CO),
ten. Giovanni Tadini, s. ten. Giacomo Maggi, s. ten. Nunzio De
Fraia, serg. magg. Trento Cecchi, serg. magg. Danilo Billi, serg.
magg. Alessandro Ruzzene and serg. magg. Arturo Cardano.
These pilots had eight CR.32quaters available on11June.
The13
o
Gr. (77
a
, 78
a
and82
a
Squadriglie) was commanded
bymagg. Secondo Revetria andstarted thewar based atTripoli
Castel Benito aireld, with 25 CR.42s andeleven CR.32s com-
The93
a
Squadriglias
badge onaFiat CR.32
before the war, in 1939.
[Argenton via Fulvio
Chianese Associazione
Culturale 4 Stormo di
Gorizia]
1940
Before the storm
4
S
A
M
P
L
E
Royal Air Force
Fighters
Early inOctober A Flight of33 Sqn rejoined theunit with their new Hurricanes, andB Flight
began receiving these also.
Three ghter Blenheims from A Flight of30 Sqn were detached toHaifa. Thedetachment was
increased during themonth. Two aircraft were lost inaccidents during theperiod.
Bombers
Adetached Flight ofve Blenheims from 84 Sqn, led byF/LtCathill, arrived onattachment
to211 Sqn at12.00 on22October. Therest of84 Sqn arrived from Iraq around thesame period.
This unit was equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk.Is.
For ashort period 202 Group had six modern bomber squadrons onstrength (30, 55, 84, 113
and211 Sqns with Blenheims and70 Sqn with Wellingtons), plus theolder Bombays of216 Sqn
for night bombing duties.
On1October, Wing Commander Lain took command of216 Sqn from Wing Commander
Chichester. Onthesame date S/Ldr Dudgeon was posted to55 Sqn from 45 Sqn.
Reconnaissance forces
On28October, C Flight of208 Sqn relieved A Flight atSiwa.
During themonth, many ying-boats from 230 Sqn ew from Malta onattachment tothede-
pleted 228 Sqn.
Sunderland L5807/R of228 Sqn ew back toEngland for major overhaul. Theaircraft was back
intheMediterranean on7November.
On18October, S/Ldr K. V. Garside took over command of230 Sqn from Wing Commander
G. Francis.
Royal Australian Air Force
F/OWilfred Arthur of3 Sqn RAAF force-landed Gladiator N5769 on5October after theen-
gine cut while practising formation ying with the whole squadron. Arthur was uninjured, but
theaircraft was extensively damaged when it hit adrum during theforced landing mile north-
west ofHelwan.
F/OPeter Turnbull was evacuated tohospital from thedetached ight with 208 Sqn on6October.
Hewas replaced byF/LtGordon Steege. Turnbull re-joined theunit atHelwan on14October.
Early in October A Flight
of 33 Sqn rejoined the
unit with their new Hur-
ricanes.
[via Robert Gretzynger]
156
S
A
M
P
L
E
On 26 October the commanding Ocer of 3 Sqn RAAF received a verbal notication that
the squadron, less its Lysander ight, was to move to the Western Desert. During the period
from 26 to31October thesquadrons aircraft were thus thoroughly serviced, stores were packed
andtheunit was generally preparing for themove.
On28October it 14 Air gunner/Wireless operators from 3 Sqn RAAF were attached to6 Sqn
atRamleh.
An advanced party from 3 Sqn RAAF moved toGerawla on29October toprepare for arrival
ofthesquadron inthis area.
Operations
4October 1940
Benghazi harbour was attacked, but the CR.42s, which scrambled too late due to lack of an
alarm, were unable tointercept.
5October 1940
40 SM 79s raided Mersa Matruh escorted by40 Fiat CR.42s (29 from the13 Gr. and22 from
the8 Gr. led bytherespective Gruppo Commanders theghters took o at12:40 andlanded
at14:50). Thebombers came from the47
o
Gr. (4 aircraft), 46
o
Gr. (9 aircraft), 14
o
Stormo (15 air-
craft), 9
o
Stormo (14 aircraft) andtheHQ ofV
a
Squadra (1 aircraft piloted byGenerale Matriciardi).
ThethreeStormo COs were atthehead oftheir formations. Three aircraft aborted before theattack
but theothers hit thetarget with good precision. Thelast wave ofbombers (that ofthe9
o
Stormo)
was attacked bymany Gladiators, claiming one probably shot down. These were machines from
80 Sqn, which reported being unable toclose toeective distance due tothespeed ofthebombers.
All thebombers were back atbase at15:50 claiming impressive results against therailway station
andtherailway line.
T7106, a 30 Sqn Blenheim Mk.I of the Palestinian detachment, crashed and overturned
onlanding atHaifa. Thecrew (P/OT. Allison, P/OKirkman andSgt Branch) was only slightly hurt
but theaircraft was destroyed beyond repair.
8October 1940
Astrong group ofenemy armoured vehicles was discovered near Bir el Khamsa, south ofSidi
Barrani, bytheItalian reconnaissance aircraft andan attack was immediately ordered.
At07:20, agroup offour Breda Ba.65/A80s ofthe159a Sq. andnine CR.32s ofthe160a Sq. (ac-
cording with other sources three CR.32s) took o from T2. cap. Antonio DellOro lead theBreda
formation, which also included ten. Barbetta, serg. magg. Sacchi andserg. magg. Giovanni Bianchelli,
while cap. Duilio Fanali commanded theFiat formation.
One hour later, they reached thetarget andwere met bystrong AA re. cap. DellOros Ba.65
(MM75169) was hit byAA re andwas seen diving towards theground smoking, andafter ama-
noeuvre asif tolevel theplane, was seen toimpact against aconcentration ofBritish armoured ve-
hicles. Abig explosion followed. Theremaining aircraft ofthe50
o
Stormo returned at
09:30, many ofthem were damaged byground re.
They had attacked, among other vehicles, atroop oftwo Rolls-Royce andone Morris CS9/LAC
armoured cars of the 11th Hussars led by Sgt Lamb (in the Morris), which were out to explore
the area of the Bir Enba gap. Sgt Lambs Morris was hit and the bottom of the car blown out.
Thecrew however was severely shaken but otherwise unharmed. They returned re with their Bren
gun andreportedly hit DellOros Ba.65, which crashed 30 yards from theMorris. Lamb andhis
crew reached theBa.65 andmanaged todrag thepilot free from thewreckage before it burst into
ames, while the other Italian aircraft overhead had stopped their attack as if they didnt want
tointerfere with theattempted rescue oftheir leader. However they found him dead, with two bul-
lets through thehead. Papers onhim conrmed that hewas theCO oftheattacking Squadriglia.
Capitano Antonio
DellOro, CO ofthe159
a
,
12
o
Gruppo, who was
killed on8October 1940
when his Breda Ba.65/
A80 was shot down byAA
fire. Hewas subsequently
awarded aposthumous
Medaglia dOro al Valor
Militare.
[Italian Air Force]
158
S
A
M
P
L
E
29October 1940
RAF ew anumber ofbomber sorties during theday toprevent theRegia Aeronautica from at-
tacking Crete. Two RAF bombers raided Menelao, two more raided Ain Gazala andafurther two
raided Derna but none ofthem caused any damage. Araid onTmini caused six wounded. 55 Sqn
andthedetached Flight of84 Sqn carried out all these attacks.
Two more bombers from 211 Sqn raided El Adem under thecover ofaGhibli thunderstorm,
damaging thebase barracks. They also attacked Menastir andT2, while araid onSollum (probably
made by113 Sqn) destroyed two IMAM Ro.37bis.
One Bombay from 216 Sqn attacked Tobruk harbour.
30October 1940
One Bombay from 216 Sqn attacked Tobruk harbour.
31October 1940
After some days of inactivity due to the incessantly blowing Ghibli wind, a big coordinated
Italian action against Mersa Matruh was planned for theday. It was planned touse atleast 50 SM
79s from the9
o
Stormo, 14
o
Stormo and33
o
Gr. with an escort of40 CR.42s from the2
o
Stormo
and151
o
Gr. toattack theBritish base andits dierent targets.
At10:10, Menastir M was attacked byBritish bombers, reported asten Armstrong Whitworth
Whitleys (infact seven Blenheims from 55 Sqn andthree from 84 Sqn). Thebombers arrived from
a northerly direction completely undetected, and hit the parking area of the 93
a
Sq. with many
small andmedium calibre bombs released from 3000 metres. TheSquadriglia HQ hut was com-
pletely destroyed byadirect hit, while four CR.42s were lightly damaged bysplinters (RS) andone
was heavily damaged (RD). Theheavy damaged CR.42 was immediately taken totheS.R.A.M. ofEl
Adem (according toother sources theRD Fiats were three andtheRS Fiats were two). Luckily no
losses were suered bythepersonnel of8
o
Gr.
At 10:15 (09:40 according to other sources), while the 9
o
Stormo formation was taxiing
onGambut airstrip, aformation ofseven Blenheims from 211 Sqn led byS/Ldr Gordon-Finlayson
The pilots of the 368
a
Squadriglia posed around
their commander cap.
Bruno Locatelli, during
the move of the unit to
Libya in September 1940.
The unit drew first blood
on 31 October 1940
when its pilots claimed
two Hurricanes and a
Gladiator shot down for
no losses.
[Giorgio Apostolo]
167
S
A
M
P
L
E
Sq. (cap. Bruno Locatelli, serg. magg. Davide Colauzzi, serg. Mario Turchi, ten.
Giuseppe Zu, serg. Piero Hosquet andserg. Ottorino Ambrosi).
Thebombers gathered over Tmimi andthen headed east ingroups ofve inar-
row formation. Theghters from the13
o
Gr. ew inights ofthree inechelon right
formation at5000 meters, directed toarendezvous point 20 kilometres south-west
ofMersa Matruh along theroad that connected this base with Bir Kenayis, which
they reached at12:56.
After thebombers arrived over Mersa Matruh, each formation went for dierent
targets but was attacked byBritish ghters while aiming for their targets. At12:46,
the 14
o
Stormo, led by ten. col. Lidonici, attacked the aireld of Bir Kenayis, but
nding it empty they headed for an alternative target ofenemy troops south-west
of Mersa Matruh, who were hit at 13:01. In fact, 80 Sqn pilots on the ground
noticed Italian bombers attacking the aerodrome of Bir Kenayis at 12:45 and re-
ported that bombs fell tothesouth-west andsome distance away, obviously they
thought that theSavoias had missed their intended target bysome miles. Gunners
ofthe14
o
Stormo claimed two Hurricanes andaGladiator destroyed, andanother
Gladiator probable. One SM 79 crash-landed near Sidi Barrani and was written
o, while a second crash-landed in the desert near Tobruk and was also written
o. Three more SM 79s returned at 14:40 so badly damaged that they were clas-
sied RD, and another one went to the SRAM for major repairs. Among the crews there were
three dead (s. ten. pilota-puntatore (pilot aimer) Federico Tonizzo, Primo Aviere Montatore Mario
Padalino, Primo Aviere Armiere Guerino Invorti) and two wounded (Tenete Beltramini, another
aimer, andten. Martinelli (observer)). Ofits 11 SM 79s, bytheevening only ve were still t for
further operations.
At12:55 the9
o
Stormo, led byten. col. Italo Napoleoni, released its bombs ontherailway near
El Qasaba aireld. The diarist of 6 Sqn noted that Quasaba had been bombed at 13:05 by ve
Savoia SM 79s, dropping approximately 30-40 100kg bombs, andthat no casualties nor damage
had been suered bythesquadrons detachment, while thediarist of208 Sqn reported that around
40 bombs ofthe100kg type were dropped by15 SM 79s andthat four ofthem fell inthecamp
damaging three lorries andthree tents, while theremainder fell around therailway siding. Two SM
79s from the11
a
Sq., 26
o
Gr. B.T. were shot down. TheSquadriglia ew inaV formation led byten.
Giovanni Ruggiero, andit was thetwo outer SM 79s that were shot down inames byaHurricane
(s. ten. Fulvio Fabiani, serg. Arturo Bigliardi, Primo Aviere Fotografo Adorno Antonini, Primo Aviere
Motorista Francesco Farina andPrimo Aviere Armiere Vincenzo Scarinci; ten. Roberto Di Frassineto,
serg. magg. Armando Zambelli, Aviere Scelto Motorista Camillo Caiazzo, Primo Aviere Armiere
Alfredo Pacici andAviere Scelto Radiotelegrasta Giuseppe Costa); all but Zambelli (POW) were
killed. Inan aircraft ofthe13
a
Sq., Primo Aviere Motorista Tommaso Giorgio was killed andAviere
Scelto RT Canaponi was wounded byHurricane bullets. Agunner intheSM 79 totheleft often.
Ruggiero, atthetime 22-year-old Aviere Scelto Armiere Cherubino Mariotti, recalled ofthis his rst
combat mission:
On31October 1940 Iwas onaS79, rst left wingmen ofave plane formation that was attacked
byBritish ghters after bombing enemy troops near Mersa Matruh. We, gunners, were returning re
when Inoticed that thetwo end wingmen ofour formation were hit andwere losing height inames.
Suddenly Icentred inmy gun sight aHurricane that was closing tothelast three planes shooting con-
tinuously atus. Arrived atthedistance suitable tostart thefamous turn that permit it tofan with
its eight guns its target, Iwas able toaim atits belly andsaw my tracers entering it. Obviously hit,
the plane directed towards the ground leaving a thick cloud of black smoke. In this way I avenged
theten dear friends lost inthetwo planes that fell inames.
Serg. Pilota Armando Zambelli, who was the only survivor of the SM 79 own by ten. Di
Frassineto, recalled:
F/O Joseph Fraser
of112 Sqn, who claimed
adamaged SM 79
intheMersa Matruh area
on31October.
[via Patricia Molloy]
169
S
A
M
P
L
E
It was 31 October 1940, I was hospitalised in Derna inrmary when I heard
that we were going to start for an important bombing mission. Today it can seem
abit excessive all theenthusiasm with which we wanted totake part inwar missions,
but twenty years old andwith thehigh spirit ofthose days all seemed normal for us.
Ileft theinrmary andreached theSquadriglia. When my Commander cap. Giovanni
Ruggiero asked me how Ifelt Itold him: Perfect andIm ready tostart [infact, ten.
Ruggiero wasnt promoted tocap. until 15November 1940].
My crew was composed of: ten. Di Frassineto, me, Primo Aviere Fotografo Antonini,
Primo Aviere Motorista Stramccioni and Aviere Scelto Armiere Costa [Strangely
enough, Zambelli here quotes among his crew a member of the crew of s. ten.
Fabiani and an airman, Stramaccioni, neither is recorded among the casualties
of9
o
Stormo inWWII]. Theaction was one ofthemost important ofthewar so far
and our forces were fty S 79s with the escort of forty ghters started from an air-
strip near Derna [It appears that the9
o
Stormo was divided intwo formations - one
from the26
o
Gr. (11
a
and13
a
Squadriglie), which started from Derna andtheother
from the29
o
Gr. (62
a
and63
a
Squadriglie), which was surprised bytheBlenheims
atGambut andwas prevented from taking part intheaction] andafter around an hour ofight we
arrived over theairbase ofMatruh.
Our section was composed of ve planes disposed in arrow formation under command of cap.
Ruggero. We were almost onthetarget when ahand onmy shoulder made me turn my head. It was
theMotorista that told me that we were attacked byenemy ghters ofwhich we had already shot down
one [theaircraft claimed byMariotti], sadly theHurricanes andGloster Gladiators from asuperior
height continued tore without respite andafter ashort while Isaw theend wingman opposite tomy
position falling inames; pilots were ten. Fabiani from Rome andserg. Bigliardi from Bologna. We
succeeded inbombing thetarget but following another enemy burst ofre our plane started toburn
andbeing made ofwood andfabric it burned like awax match.
Itold themembers ofthecrew tobale out but without avail because they tried toght there.
Enemy bullets continued to enter the plane and I saw the poor crewmembers hit by the bullets
andreached bytheames. We decided toleave theplane, Iopened theexit door onthetop ofthecock-
pit andimmediately air suction threw me against thetail oftheplane that was burning; Ilost con-
sciousness andIwoke up when theparachute opened. Iwas descending under thearea where our CR
42s andtheHurricanes were ghting. Moving my legs Itried tomove towards theland toavoid fall-
ing into thesea but inthat moment Ilost consciousness again. When Iwoke up for thesecond time
Iwas onaBritish vehicle between abearded Sikh driver andan English ocer that pointed his gun
atme. Iwas taken totheinrmary because Iwas burned intheface andinthehands andhad adis-
located ankle; there Iwas left resting for awhile. Subsequently Iwas examined byaGeneral that told
me that hewas Canadian andthat hehad fought asour ally during theFirst World War [Raymond
Collishaw!]. Heasked me, inapproximate Italian, if inItaly we thought that they killed theaviators
that jumped with theparachute. [].
An anonymous crewmember of a 13
a
Sq. SM 79 (the 13
a
Sq. composed the second arrow
ofthe9
o
Stormo) described thecombat:
Immediately after thebomb release ahard attack ofHurricanes [] immediately theplane took
116 hits [] one wing damaged, engines nacelles damaged, aps andempennages damaged, bomb bay
damaged, thethree propellers hit, [] 1
o
Aviere Motorista Tommaso Giorgio, that was shooting back
with thegun inthehunk died, [] his place was taken byAviere Scelto Marconista Canaponi but af-
ter ashort while hewas wounded too [] nally Primo Aviere Fotografo Marcucci took thegun [].
Intheend thegunners oftheSM 79 expended 1337 rounds. Notwithstanding thedamage suf-
fered, theaircraft was back atbase ataround 15:00.
Therst formation ofve SM 79s from 33
o
Gr., led byten. col. Ferri Forte, was able torepel
the attack by reportedly three Gladiators. At 13:03 they hit with precision the new railway sta-
Richard Acworth of 112
Sqn. Acworth ended
thewar with seven
victories.
[via Ian Acworth]
170
S
A
M
P
L
E
Squadra Aerea awaiting Felice Porros return from Italy, wasnt satised. Inareserved note regarding
the31October engagement Matriciardi commented:
Indirect protection inthesky over thetarget was not reliable for theprotection ofbig formations
ofS79s () so, it happened that theS79 had toght hard () while theghters, inareas far from
theghting, () didnt do anything!.
Looking atRAF losses thejudgement ofMatriciardi seems tobe(undeservedly) too hard. But
indeed, such were thelosses ofthebomber force that for some weeks after the31October daylight
operations had tobecurtailed. Ontheother hand, Calosso, inhis relation ofthecombat, openly
complained about the extreme dilution of the bomber formation whose last aircraft arrived 12
minutes from therst ones thus making thetask oftheescorting ghters almost impossible.
This remarkable combat was remembered by Joseph Fraser and Richard Acworth with two
short poems asfollows:
MUNKEY MUNK (Apologies toStanley Holloway)
Youve eard of112 peraps ofWestern Desert fame
oo braved theEastern mysteries toearn their bloody name.
AtMunkey-Munk they fought & bled till battle came tostop
Andonly aircraft left online were one with busted prop.
Some lost their wings-some lost their tails but It is lost byfar
For though we ew toMunkey-Munk, we did come back bycar.
ByF/OAcworth DFC - Oct.1940
A 112 Sqn Gladiator
undergoes some outdoor
maintenance. The oil tank
has been removed.
[via Alfred Thorne]
174
S
A
M
P
L
E
Giuseppe Oblach
ofthe73
a
Squadriglia,
9
o
Gruppo C.T. infront
ofaFiat CR.42.
[Oblach via Fulvio
Chianese Associazione
Culturale 4 Stormo di
Gorizia]
They strafed from very low altitude, claiming one plane inames for sure andadditional damage.
Back atbase, theItalian War Bulletin credited them with three ground victories. They had infact
managed toburn Wellington F of38 Sqn (themachine ofP/OTimmins) intransit from Marham
to Egypt, and according to post war British studies, they had possibly destroyed an additional
machine of 148 Sqn. During the return journey, ten. Monti became disoriented while escaping
theattentions ofaBritish night ghter andused all his fuel before reaching Comiso, being obliged
tobale out over Stagnone di Marsala. P/OTimmins was immediately sent back toEngland tocol-
lect areplacement machine.
It is also interesting tonote that thesame morning, ten. Monti andserg. Germano Gasperoni
had claimed an additional Wellington intercepted when ying alone 40-50 kilometres from Malta.
Themachine seemed possibly abomber from 38 Sqn that during theday was transferring its B
Flight toEgypt while A Flight was arriving from England, but theBritish units records dont re-
port any engagement with enemy ghters.
25November 1940
Onthenight of25/26November, Tripolis port was dive-bombed bysix Swordsh from 813
and824 Sqns. Carrying amixed load of500lb SAP bombs, 250lb SAP bombs, 250lb GP bombs
andares, they ew 60 miles, encountering moderate ak onarrival but returning safely after ob-
serving bomb hits andres inthetarget area.
26November 1940
Blenheim Mk.IV T2067 of 113 Sqn took o from Maaten Bagush at 07:10 as one of two
Blenheims detailed for a sortie towards Bir Sofa. It was shot down during the sortie, killing
thecrew, Pilot 28-year-old F/ODonald Stanley Anderson, Observer 23-year-old Sgt George Herbert
Lee and24-year-old Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sgt Ernest Seath Young.
En route for Malta, Swordsh from HMS Illustrious 819 Sqn attacked the Italian island
ofLeros, losing theplane ofLieutenant Walter V. Hamilton (aTaranto veteran), who was buried
ontheisland together with his crew.
Giuseppe Oblach (73
a
Sq.) ew aphoto-reconnaissance sortie at400 meters over theroad Sidi
Barrani - Mersa Matruh together with ten. Pietro Bonfatti (73
a
Sq.). Ontheir way back tobase they
strafed some enemy AA sites.
During thesortie Oblach ew CR.42 MM4383/96-11, which was theaircraft eld-modied for
reconnaissance duties.
200
S
A
M
P
L
E
27November 1940
With the British ships of Operation MB 9 close to their rendezvous point and the convoys
reaching Malta, aday ofheavy operations started.
Over thewestern Mediterranean ghters from HMS Ark Royal opened theday at07:55 when
aFulmar section of808 Sqn, led byLieutenant Taylour, shot down aCant Z.506 ofthe196
a
Sq.
(ten. Manlio Ravasini, ten. di Vascello Guido Terconi) ten miles north of Bone o the Algerian
coast. The seaplane was probably that identied ditched in the sea o Bosa (Bona?) at 12:25
byaCR.32 ofthe155
a
Sq., 3
o
Gr.
Ataround midday theopposing eets clashed (asoften quite inconclusively) inwhat was later
called theBattle ofCape Spartivento. Eleven Swordsh from 810 Sqn, led byLieutenant Commander
M. Johnstone, attacked ataround 12:40, claiming ahit onthebattleship Vittorio Veneto (infact,
they all missed).
In the early afternoon, nine Swordsh from 820 Sqn, led by Lieutenant Commander J. A.
Stuart-Moore, attacked theItalian cruisers, claiming two hits (none achieved). Three CR.42s of154
a

Sq. piloted bycap. Giuseppe Tovazzi, ten. Giovanni Giannini andserg. magg. Bortolani intercept-
ed aBritish plane identied asaBlackburn during acruise over theItalian eet andGiannini
claimed it shot down. Ten SM 79s ofthe32
o
Stormo, escorted byCR.42s ofthe3
o
Gr. Aut. then
arrived over Force H andseven Fulmars of808 Sqn, which were up, intercepted at14:30 claim-
ing two or three victories without being able to stop them. Green Sections Lieutenant Rupert
Tillard claimed one SM 79 shot down but then he and the men of his section were bounced
bytheCR.42s. Aformation ofve CR.42s ofthe153
a
Sq. led bycap. Giorgio Tugnoli andincluding
ten. Alfonso Mattei, s. ten. Alfonso Ciapetti (154
a
Sq.), serg. magg. Vittorio Visconti andserg. Sergio
Lucato (154
a
Sq.) reported a combat against seven British ghters, probably Hurricanes, over
thesea 200 km south-west ofCagliari. They claimed ve victories with theuse of1080 rounds,
one of the victories was claimed individually by Ciapetti while Lucato failed to return. In fact,
unable toght back because they were low onammunition andafter having mistaken theFiats
for Sea Gladiators, Fulmar N1941 (pilot Sub Lieutenant Richard Maurice Scott Martin andTAG
L/AAlexander Laird Milne Noble) was shot down into thesea with theloss ofthecrew. TheFAA
pilots were unable toclaim anything andthemissing CR.42 probably ran out offuel after thecom-
bat anddisappeared inthesea with its pilot.
All theSM 79s from the32
o
Stormo returned tobase, even if eight out often were damaged
bytheFulmars andtheAA, two ofthem seriously. However, atransit Vichy French Farman 223
was involved inthecombat andshot down, most likely bytheFulmars.
One hour later, seven Skuas of 800 Sqn led by Lieutenant Smeeton dive bombed the Italian
ships without success, but while coming back toHMS Ark Royal they run across theRo.43 sea-
plane spotter ofVittorio Veneto (piloted bycap. Violante with observer s. ten. di Vascello Davide
Sovrano). Four oftheSkuas shot it down into thesea (Lieutenant Rooper/Sub Lieutenant Woolston
inL3015, P/O(A) Sabey/L/ACooles inL2009, P/O(A) Burston/N/AHolmes inL3007 andP/O(A)
Jopling/N/AGlen inL3017).
Later during theday, three CR.42s ofthe153
a
Sq. piloted byten. Giorgio Pellicioli, ten. Falconi
andserg. magg. Faliero Gelli scrambled andintercepted aBritish aircraft identied asaBlackburn
Roc (probably aSkua) andGelli claimed it probably shot down o theTunisian coast.
At 16:45, the last Italian attack arrived when ten SM 79s without escort attacked HMS Ark
Royal achieving some very near misses. Skuas andFulmars were up but were unable tostop them
and the ghters only claimed some damage. In fact, nine of the bombers came back damaged
byAA andghters.
The 73 Sqn ground personnel aboard the cruiser HMS Manchester witnessed the air attack,
seeing theHMS Ark Royal covered byaurry ofnear misses. Only later they were informed that
theship was not hit.
201
S
A
M
P
L
E
204
S
A
M
P
L
E
G
l
o
s
t
e
r

G
l
a
d
i
a
t
o
r

M
k

I
I
,

L
9
0
3
3
,

R
E
A
F
.

T
h
e

a
i
r
c
r
a
f
t

c
a
r
r
i
e
s

t
y
p
i
c
a
l

R
A
F

d
e
s
e
r
t

c
a
m
o
u
f
l
a
g
e

f
o
r

t
h
e

p
e
r
i
o
d

c
o
n
s
i
s
t
i
n
g

o
f

D
a
r
k

E
a
r
t
h
/
L
i
g
h
t

E
a
r
t
h

o
r

S
a
n
d

w
i
t
h

N
i
g
h
t
/
W
h
i
t
e

u
n
d
e
r
s
u
r

a
c
e
s
.

E
g
y
p
t
i
a
n

C
r
e
s
c
e
n
t

m
a
r
k
i
n
g
s

i
n

f
o
u
r

p
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
s
.

T
h
e

f
u
s
e
l
a
g
e

r
o
u
n
d
e
l
s

s
t
i
l
l

r
e
t
a
i
n

t
h
e

Y
e
l
l
o
w

o
u
t
e
r

r
i
n
g

o
f

t
h
e

R
A
F

r
o
u
n
d
e
l
.

B
l
a
c
k

s
e
r
i
a
l

n
u
m
b
e
r
.
206
S
A
M
P
L
E
B
r
e
d
a

B
a
.
6
5

A
-
8
0
,

M
M
7
5
2
4
4


o
f

1
5
9
a

S
q
.

(
1
2


G
r
.
,

5
0


S
t
.
)

L
i
b
y
a
,

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

1
9
4
0
.

A
i
r
c
r
a
f
t

p
i
l
o
t
e
d

b
y

S
o
t
-
t
o
t
e
n
e
n
t
e

A
d
r
i
a
n
o

V
i
s
c
o
n
t
i

(
1
9
1
5
-
1
9
4
5
)
,

o
n
e

o
f

t
h
e

m
o
s
t

f
a
m
o
u
s

I
t
a
l
i
a
n

p
i
l
o
t
s
.
B
r
e
d
a

B
a
.
6
5

A
-
8
0
,

o
f

1
5
9
a

S
q
.

(
1
2


G
r
.
,

5
0


S
t
.
)

L
i
b
y
a
,

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

1
9
4
0
.
215
S
A
M
P
L
E
F
i
a
t

C
R
.
3
2

M
M
.
4
6
6
6

o
f

1
6
0
a

S
q
.

(
1
2


G
r
.
,

5
0


S
t
.

A
s
s
a
l
t
o
)

L
i
b
y
a
,

J
u
n
e

1
9
4
0
.
F
i
a
t

C
R
.
3
2

M
M
.

?

o
f

1
6
0
a

S
q
.

(
1
2


G
r
.
,

5
0


S
t
.

A
s
s
a
l
t
o
)

L
i
b
y
a
,

J
u
n
e

1
9
4
0
.
216
S
A
M
P
L
E
S
a
v
o
i
a

M
a
r
c
h
e
t
t
i

S
.
M
.
7
5

I
-
N
E
G
H

M
M
4
2
1


w
a
s

a

s
p
e
c
i
a
l

S
M

7
5

b
u
i
l
t

i
n

1
9
3
9

f
o
r

I
t
a
l
o

B
a
l
b
o

a
n
d

e
q
u
i
p
p
e
d

w
i
t
h

t
h
e

t
a
l
l
e
r

t
a
i
l

f
i
n

o
f

a
n

S
M

8
2

a
n
d

W
r
i
g
h
t

C
y
c
l
o
n
e

G
R
-
1
8
2
0

e
n
g
i
n
e
s

i
n
s
t
e
a
d

o
f

t
h
e

o
r
i
g
i
n
a
l

A
l
f
a

R
o
m
e
o

1
2
6

R
C
.
3
4
.

T
h
e

p
l
a
n
e

w
a
s

o
r
i
g
i
n
a
l
l
y

i
n

c
h
a
r
g
e

o
f

t
h
e

1
0
4
a

S
q
u
a
d
r
i
g
l
i
a

A
P
C
.

A
f
t
e
r

t
h
e

d
e
a
t
h

o
f

B
a
l
b
o

t
h
e

p
l
a
n
e

w
a
s

g
i
v
e
n

t
o

t
h
e

n
e
w

C
O

i
n

C
h
i
e
f

M
a
r
s
h
a
l

R
o
d
o
l
f
o

G
r
a
z
i
a
n
i

a
n
d

m
a
r
k
e
d

I
-
N
E
G
H
.

T
h
e

p
e
n
n
a
n
t

o
f

a
n

A
r
m
y

M
a
r
s
h
a
l

(
W
h
i
t
e

f
l
a
g

w
i
t
h

r
e
d

s
t
a
r
s

i
n

i
t
)

w
a
s

a
l
s
o

a
p
p
l
i
e
d

o
n

t
h
e

t
a
i
l

f
i
n
.
S
a
v
o
i
a

M
a
r
c
h
e
t
t
i

S
.
M
.
7
5
,

6
0
4
a

S
q
u
a
d
r
i
g
l
i
a

w
a
s

f
o
r
m
e
d

o
n

9

J
u
n
e

1
9
4
0

w
i
t
h

s
i
x

S
M

7
5

p
r
e
v
i
o
u
s
l
y

p
a
r
t

o
f


A
l
a

L
i
t
t
o
r
i
a
.

T
h
e
s
e

p
l
a
n
e
s

w
e
r
e

g
r
a
d
u
a
l
l
y

c
a
m
o
u
f
l
a
g
e
d

b
u
t

d
u
r
i
n
g

S
u
m
m
e
r

1
9
4
0

h
a
d

o
n
l
y

t
h
e

t
a
i
l

f
i
n

w
i
t
h

m
i
l
i
t
a
r
y

c
o
l
o
u
r
s

w
h
i
l
e

t
h
e

r
e
s
t

o
f

t
h
e

m
a
c
h
i
n
e

r
e
t
a
i
n
e
d

t
h
o
s
e

o
f


A
l
a

L
i
t
t
o
r
i
a

220
S
A
M
P
L
E
221
A
Abbarchi, Rovero 5, 84, 87, 152, 168, 171
Abbs, Len 147
Abrahams, R. J 138, 139, 172, 196
Abu Rabia, Muhammed Ibrahim 24
Accorsi, Giovanni 124
Acworth, Richard 2, 14, 76, 114, 170, 172, 174, 175, 196
Agnelli, Angelo 187
Agnelli, Carlo 58, 166, 178, 196, 197
Albertini, Carlo 123, 138, 155, 168
Alcock 121, 132
Aldis 84, 88, 89
Alesi, Omero 7, 85, 136
Alington 45, 152
Alliata, Emilio 162
Allison, John William 29
Allison, T. 158
Ambrosi, Ottorino 124, 169, 171
Ammannato, Athos 155
Anderson, Donald Stanley 200
Andreani, Luigi 140
Andrich, Alvise 124, 143, 144
Angelini, Armando 4
Angelin, Piero 76
Angeloni, Antonio 178
Annoni, Emanuele 58, 153
Antonicelli, Orazio 4
Antonini, Adorno 169, 170
Arabito, Angelo 136
Aramu, Mario 125, 145, 147, 186
Archbell 38, 43
Argenton, Alberto 4, 5, 19, 28, 45
Armanino, Luigi 184
Arnaud 66, 67
Arrabito, Guglielmo 5, 51, 84, 85
Arragona, Raffaele 111
Arthur, Wilfred 97, 130, 156, 183, 189, 192
Asperges, Giuseppe 159
Atti 46
Aurili, Giuseppe 59, 84, 85, 86, 90, 98, 99, 136, 138, 143
Azzarone, Edoardo 4, 37, 38
B
Baccara, Marcello 34
Bacchilega, Salvo 77
Bacchione, Paolo 186
Bacich, Mario 4, 19, 60
Bacon, J.C. 45
Baculo, Calcedonio 10
Bagatta, Aristide 10
Bain, R.A. 132
Bainville, Rougevin 65
Baird-Smith, M.J. 182
Baker 187
Baker, Benjamin Thomas Morgan 43
Balbo, Italo 29, 33, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 72, 127, 220
Baldin, Filippo 6, 35, 51
Balestrero, Renato 141
Balistro, Alessandro 52
Ballan, Mario 78
Ballatore, Andr 20
Bandini, Mario 6, 39
Banks, Edwin 76, 138, 139, 172
Baptizet, Georges 25
Barba, Giuseppe 34
Barber, James Douglas 54
Barbetta 158
Barbieri 11
Barcaro, Giovanni 59, 98, 148, 149, 153
Bardellini, Giuseppe 186
Barioglio 33
Barion 135
Barker, George 14
Baron, Georges 16, 48
Bartin, Danilo 86
Bartley, Leonard 133, 196
Basoli, Pietro 111
Basso, Leone 5, 87, 144
Bateson, R.N. 145, 148
Battaglia, Carlo 58, 104, 166
Battaini, Luigi 59
Bax, A. R. G. 14, 22, 63, 99, 111, 117, 132, 148
Baxter, H. J. 103
Beauclair, D. 30
Beccaria, Francesco 9
Beduz, Giovanni 5, 87, 152
Bellando 17
Bellotto, Mario 11
Beltramini 169
Beluche 49
Benati, Amedeo 5
Benbow 182, 189
Benco, Rodolfo 124
Benedetti, Giovanni 7, 10, 38, 40, 77, 84, 90, 112, 136, 166
Bennett 29
Bennett, R. J. 14, 63, 69, 138, 139, 196
Benson 30, 73, 190
Benvenuti 135
Berghino 139
Bernardi, Duilio 4, 28
Bernardiello, Mario 121
Berni, Ezio 10, 133
Bertelli, Erminio 10, 75
Bertinelli, Italo 4, 19, 28, 32, 45, 82
Bertinelli, Libero 151
Berti, Paolo 94, 136, 138, 147
Bertoli, Giovanni 112
Bester 195
Bevan-John, D. R. S. 44, 103
Bevilacqua, Domenico 5, 57, 69, 70, 91, 145, 168, 171, 172, 173, 191
Bevington-Smith, Eric 28, 132
Biagini, Bruno 59
Bianchelli, Giovanni 98, 158
Biffani, Guglielmo 58, 134, 141, 154, 155
Biggins, George Kenneth 54
Bigliardi, Arturo 169, 170
Bilancia, Antonio 136
Billi, Danilo 4, 19, 27, 64, 68, 165
Biseo, Attilio 77, 133, 155
Bissoli, Gioacchino 4, 19, 28, 30, 37, 64
Black 23, 49, 51
Bladelli, Alessandro 7, 39, 84, 85, 103, 136, 199
Blain 48
Blair, Ian Jock 132
Bobba, Guido 199, 202, 203
Bocking, Alfred 79, 128
Bogoni, Gino 124, 168
Boldi, Massimo 77
Bolingbroke, Hale Winter 13, 39
Bonfanti, Clemente 4
Bonfatti, Pietro 58, 196, 200
Bonino, Eugenio 168
Bonoli, Riccardo 6
Bonuti, Aldo 124
Bordigato, Antonio 139
Borello, Mario 51
Borgonovo, Pierino 121
Bortolani 201
Bortoletti, Bruno 7, 84, 97, 136, 138
Bosinelli, Giorgio 136
Bott, Giuseppe 5, 35, 192
Bottazzi, Alberto 165
Botti, Enrico 5, 191
Botto, Ernesto 3, 57, 59, 60, 92, 98, 99, 111, 135, 138, 140, 148, 160, 189,
196, 198, 218
Boudier 66, 67
Boulton 13
Bouyer 49
Bower, Peter 28, 29
Bowker 166
Bowker, W. F. 150, 164
Boyd, Alan 97, 130, 131, 183, 189, 192, 193, 194
Bozzolan, Irzio 124, 168
Bracco 55
Bracegirdle, B. L. 97, 131, 183, 190
Index
221
S
A
M
P
L
E