May 19th 1941


Another ME110 damaged at Rachid. A new AOC arrives, Air Vice Marshal D’Albiac, who evacuated from Greece and so knows his stuff. Old Smart had a slight car crash and packed it in with shock. (JDW: the original AOC, AVM Smart, had had a ‘road accident’ on 3rd May – some maintained a nervous breakdown – and had been evacuated out to India by air. For the last two weeks the battle had been fought without an AOC in charge).

Yesterday a proper operation order came out, for the investment of Falluja by Levies and the Kings Own on the Plain (going there at dawn in Valencias). The RAF are then to bomb the hell out of it, the bombing being interspersed with pamphlets, until the troops there surrender. I have two salvoes, miss the cemetary and brick kiln, and nearly get taken off the show, as they all land in the desert. Then I put four through the bazaar roof, and four bounce off its walls, so I get a bullseye. 4000′ – 2-1000′ seemed to do the trick. But the town hasn’t surrendered, and no one thought of what to do if they didn’t, at least the army didn’t, so the AOC has now ordered them to capture Falluja. The “Phantom Column” has arrived, and is dispersed about the Rest House with its M.T. (JDW: Called the “Phantom Column” as they had been so long promised and expected to relieve them from Palestine, but never materialised, until now. The story of this force is very well told in Somerset de Chair’s “The Golden Carpet”.)

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