May 3rd 1941


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.


Published by

10 responses to “May 3rd 1941”

  1. “Peggy” Audaxes == presumably Hawker Nisrs, Audax with a radial engine.

  2. Simon Broughton Avatar

    Jimmy Broughton was my father so I’m fascinated to read this. He told us very little about the war but he did tell us about being shot. He glided the ‘plane 30 miles back to Habbaniya before landing. I had no idea there was someone else in the ‘plane with him until now so it’s amazing to get more detail about it after all this time. He went on a hospital ship to India and spent some time there before returing to the European campaign.

  3. Simon Broughton Avatar

    According to my father’s log book this was May 2nd but, in view of his misfortune in being shot up he may have written the wrong date. Earlier on the same day he had to fly his Audax through telephone wires on Fallujah plain and cut them with his propeller in order to cut off Rashid Ali’s communications with the Germans. Needless to say this was a solo flight! I believe he was acting Squadron Leader at the time. The entry for the action descibed above states “Bombing and front gunning gun positions in sector “A” (got shot up)”

    1. James Dunford Wood Avatar
      James Dunford Wood

      Hi Simon – fascinating! Yes, that exploit of cutting the telephone wires is a legendary one which is mentioned in a number of histories. I am midway about writing a book about the seige of Habbaniya, so would love to know more about your father’s time there. Are you able to scan/photocopy the relevant pages from his log book? It would be very interesting to see them.
      best wishes

      1. Hi James,

        Thank you very much for your replies. This is an unexpexted and pleasant surprise. Are you Colin Durnford Wood’s grandson?

        This is the page for the day of the action. My father had been there since January 1940 so there are a lot of pages but I would be happy to scan and send all of them to you if you would like that. There were two other occasions, that I could see at a glance that they flew together.

        Please keep me informed of your book because I will be interested in buying a copy when it’s published.

        My father told us very little about his part in the war and the only stories he did tell us were of the cutting of the wires and being shot and one other of when he was in India and got lost over Afganistan and had to crash land and was fortunate to be rescued by friendly tribesmen. His RAF career was from 1938 – 1963.

        I also have a silver tankard made of Iraqi silver inscibed with my father’s initials, JHSB, and the date of his 21st birthday, 25/03/1941. My mother told me long ago that this was given to him by his fellow officers.

        Best wishes,


        Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2013 11:27:09 +0000 To:

    2. James Dunford Wood Avatar
      James Dunford Wood

      Also, I do believe this was May 2nd. I am simply following the entry dates of my father’s diary, which tend to be a day or more after the actual events. May 2nd was the first day of the action, which this entry refers to.

    3. James Dunford Wood Avatar
      James Dunford Wood

      Also, you might like to see the other entries about your father –
      In particular April 4th, where he is described as ‘F/O J. Broughton (21 and a gentleman)’ !

  4. Simon Broughton Avatar
    Simon Broughton

    Hello James, I have to ask if you finished your book and, if so, please may I buy a copy?
    Kind regards,
    Simon Broughton

    1. CDC Dunford Wood Avatar

      Hi Simon – I can’t remember if I replied to this – if not, many apologies. The first volume of these diaries (1939-41) will be out in the next few weeks, and I will send you a link! I hope to get volumes 2 (Burma) and 3 (Europe) out over the course of the next year. James

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: