LAC. Wallace Jackson in North Africa and Italy with 70 Squadron, RAF, 1941-1944

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Warrant Officer Percival Charles Cottle

photograph and information sent by his son, Geoffrey Cottle

click on image for larger view



Full name: Percival Charles Cottle (known as Percy)

Rank: Warrant Officer

Crew position: wireless operator / front gunner.

After completing training with No. 15 OTU (RAF Harwell) Percy was posted to No.2 Middle East Training School at Kabrit in Egypt and assigned to 70 squadron on 26th June 1942 at Abu Sueir.

Percy often mentioned the bombing of the Tobruk road.   He remembered that when they ran out of bombs they used to throw out empty beer bottles because of the whistling noise they made on the way down.   Concerning 37 Squadron, he mentioned that a senior officer (possibly Winston Churchill who visited from Cairo on the 22nd of August) came to hold a review and only looked at 37 Squadron because they had recently arrived and were better equipped while 70 had fewer serviceable aircraft and were not so smart (!).

Another anecdote my father recounted concerned a Wellington that had a banging noise coming from an engine. When the mechanics opened the engine cowl, a cylinder fell out!

On the night of 12th October during a mission to bomb Tobruk the aircraft suffered engine trouble and was forced to land south east of 'Es Sollum'.  He and the other members of the crew attempted to walk back to allied lines.  On the 17th October he was captured about 30 miles south of 'Marsa Matruh'.  After being interrogated by somebody who was dressed in the uniform of an officer of the Fleet Air Arm he was taken to a POW camp in Benghazi.

He was held in a POW camp in poor conditions in Benghazi from 25th October till 11th November and then transferred to a POW camp No.85 in Tuturano, Italy, where he was held from 1st December 1942 till 1st May 1943.

He was then transferred to POW camp No.70 in Monturano, Italy, where he was held till 19th September.

He was then moved to Stalag IV B in Muhlberg, Germany, where he was imprisoned from October 1943 till the camp's liberation by Soviet troops on 23rd April, 1945.


From "Royal Air Force Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean,  Vol.1" by Gunby and Temple, p191, it looks as though the ill-fated raid against Tobruk took place from Abu Sueir, 12-13 October, 1942.   

"The crew sent a signal that the aircraft was having engine trouble and might have to force land."  

Crew: Sgt S. Fitton, Sgt C.W.R. MacFarquar RNZAF, Sgt H.C. Barnard, Sgt S.R.Lowe, Sgt G.H. Cross, Sgt P.F.(sic) Cottle

The aircraft involved was Wellington 1C DV570M, the same as had been air-tested by Clive Stanbury  earlier on Sept 13.


Portrait of Percy Cottle by a Russian POW


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