I went up at sunrise in the back of Broadhurst’s Audax, without a parachute like a fool, and we drop 20lb bombs on the guns in conjunction with Oxfords and Wellingtons from Shaibah. I use the rear gun on an escaping lorry, but it’s so damn hard when pulling out of a dive.
Next sortie I go up with Broughton, but we go too low and I feel something tug at my sleeve. Then liquid comes back over me, which to my horror I find to be blood. I can’t see out of my goggles so stand up and find Jimmy B. in front is shot through the face and blood pouring out like a perforated petrol tank. I buckle on my parachute, but luckily he is fully conscious and we land on the polo pitch OK. I am a bit shaken and we then get shelled on the polo ground and in the mess, without much effect. Ling, Garner and Broughton get shot, and Chico Walsh with two pupils Skelton and Robinson is shot down in flames in an Oxford.
Dan Cremin orders us four to do a continual patrol to Baghdad with R/T. I do one at about 11am and over Falluja Plain meet three Gladiators, but they pass me by and I take it they are ours. I see 13 troop lorries on the plain and do a little front gunning, though not very successfully. We get shot up and bombed in the camp by Bredas, Savoia Marchettis, Northrops and “Peggy” Audaxes, but no damage round me. These Iraqis have guts I must say. We are a bit windy about these Bredas, as we think of ours as a “suicide patrol” – we are sitting meat for them, we haven’t been taught the slightest thing about air combat.
Pete (Gillespy) goes off at 3 and at 4 we get worried as he hasn’t been heard of for an hour. At 4.30 Ian (Pringle) goes off on the patrol and finds his burnt out plane in the desert near Falluja. He is himself attacked by a Breda with tracer but escapes. I do a patrol to Najaf in the evening, windy as hell. I see a Gladiator and am off “through the gate” without waiting to see whose it was.
This morning at dawn there’s a heavy shelling of the polo ground and, it seems, the room next to mine. Today I do a photography job, or try to (knowing nothing about it), over the Plateau and up to “Palm Grove”. I keep at 6000′ as their A/A stuff is known to fall down again at 5000′. Later we all do a bit of dive bombing. I am told how to let go the quadrant and a rough idea of it, and off I go. I thought I pulled out between 1500′ and 2000′ but anyway my plane is U/S on return, and several bullets have just missed the water jacket. Funnily enough after the pullout I went sharp left, but all my holes were on the starboard side! All this is by Dhibban Village and do we give them hell! Dan Cremin and his boys! Phew!
Not much shelling after this morning’s effort and the Savoias don’t do much damage. Dicky Cleaver in a Gladiator is seen to make one dive steeply with smoke pouring out of it. We are lucky operating from the polo ground, and the operations tent is a sight to see. The C.O. came up and said would we remove the empty bottles. None of my work as I wait until we finish, at dusk, for mine.
Yesterday the Iraqis apparently listened in on their R/T and as soon as they heard the fighter patrols going home, in they came. But today the “Wimpys” blow up Rachid (Hinaidi) and nothing comes over after that. Poor old Pete! I hope he was able to jump out. Water restrictions reduced and we can now use the showers. The baths are kept filled with spare drinking water, but of course the Greeks have to go and jump in with their soap – if they use any.
Leave a Reply