May 6th 1941


I go up at dawn to look for my gun, with James Fairweather in the back, and find it’s not there. How I take off I don’t know as it’s almost pitch dark. Sit about doing nothing until 3.30pm. The Kings Own attack and are held up at “Hell Fire Corner”, the ridge above Dhibban. Dan Cremin and his boys (minus me) go and shoot it up, and they all come back riddled with holes. I get up eventually with “Tiny” Irwin in the back and machine gun the fleeing troops. They stop and shoot me up, but it seems slaughter all the same. Three Iraqi armoured cars come up, my bombs miss but Dan opens them up like a tin opener with a stick right down the road. Tony warns me they “bite” so I don’t go too low.

Northrops come over while I am eating lunch in the tent at 3.30 and drop bombs right across the polo ground and get one of our “recco” Audaxes. The fire spreads to a Gladiator. Dicky Cleaver and Bob May wounded and some killed. Last night at 12.30 some 20lbers are dropped by Iraqi Audaxes and come very near my room. They also riddle our tent with bullet holes. Then a convoy approaches from Falluja and the boys go off, including Ian (Pringle), it being his turn. As he is buckling on his parachute I say to myself “He won’t come back”, and sure enough he doesn’t. He does several trips and then Alan (Haig) and I go up. Both sections of the convoy are in flames, between “Canal Turn” and Falluja, and I put some bombs on the road and a good burst with my front gun. Two trips I do, and on the second I bend one bombing quadrant and am unable to even use the other, it being so stiff. So I use the front gun and return home, during another raid at about 6.00pm. Some funny holes on the polo ground, like aerial torpedos, and they were obviously aiming for our line of tents. They must reckon 3 squadron the most dangerous one! Well, Stonhill sees a plane dive into the ground near the convoy at about 6.15, and it turns out to be Ian and Fairbrother in the back. But his bombs blew up, so he wouldn’d have known much! What’s the use, Hooray for the next man to die – Alan Haig or me.

(JDW: Of the four pupil pilot officers from the Indian Army – the ‘Four Musketeers’ – who had met at the medical in Delhi in October and who had started the course at Habbaniya together, two – Ian Pringle and Pete Gillespy – were now dead).

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This entry was posted in 1941/05, Habbaniya Campaign, Iraq 1941 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to May 6th 1941

  1. Pingback: February 22nd 1944 | A Story of War

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