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


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 LAC John George Walker  535122 (3)     

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Contributed by his son,  John Walker

Click on pictures for larger view  



In September,1940, the squadron transferred to Kabrit, Egypt, at the bottom of the Little Bitter Lake, where they were re-equipped with Wellington bombers. It would have taken the ground crews and Flight crews alike a while to get used to them. Here is Jack getting a close up view of the underside of its fuselage whilst parked up in the hangar. He said the food there was poor.

On the night of the 18/19th September, their first Wellington operation was flown inaugurating the famed ‘Mail Run’ by all Wellington units to Benghazi harbour, Libya.






On 13th December,1940, Jack was sent on temporary transfer to Elephsus/Tatoi, Greece. He was flown there in a Bristol Bombay, piloted by his old Flight Commander Squadron Leader Simmonds (Habbaniya) who had now been transferred. 

Three aircraft were sent over there and he remained for about seven weeks, spending Christmas,1940 there. They were based about 20 miles outside Athens; the first opportunity he had he visited there to view the Accropolis. 

He recalls that prior to visiting Greece they had lived off  herrings in tomato sauce for about three months. Upon arriving at Athens, two sergeants who had accompanied him, decided to buy a meal at a Greek restaurant. Not knowing what they had ordered they were rather upset to be served herrings in tomato sauce!




It was winter and it was cold especially for those camping out under canvas. Jack is in front and possibly Matthew Loughlin in the overcoat, the other is unknown.

Attached also are two photographs of men who accompanied him to Greece. The first one is of a Welsh man from Pontypool, and the other is of name not known alongside ‘Shorty’ Martin from West Wales.





Jack departed Greece at 10 pm. on 29th January,1941, in a Sunderland flying boat, flown yet again by his old Squadron Leader Simmonds. They landed at Alexandria, Egypt, at 3.40 am. on 30th January. Half an hour later they suffered an air raid. He thought this was probably because there were two aircraft carriers in port that night. He slept the remainder of the night at No 201 Maintenance Unit, Alexandria. Later that day at 4.15 pm. he caught the train to Kabrit and back to 70 Squadron.

It was at Kabrit he met F.O. Dick, a Rhodesian, who flew the Wellington he serviced. Dick is seen here wearing a cap, with possibly F/Sgt Shaw 1st left, then possibly F/Sgt Clements; the fourth person is not known. 

Also at Kabrit he met Corporal Yacob Aptekman, who would later be Mentioned in Despatches. He is seen here standing in the centre of the group during the billet evening brew-up; Jack is seated next to him holding a dog.

He was to remain here for just three days before departing on 3rd February,1941, for ALG 75 at El Adem, near Tobruk, Libya, which had been Italy’s main air base in Cyrenaica. 

His diary entries are as follows:-

4.2.1941. Cut insignis from fuselage of crashed aircraft at El Adem.
6.2.1941. Unable to work due to dust storm, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th.
9.2.1941. Went to Tobruk (see postcard and pamphlet which he found there) It rained most of the day.

10.2.1941. Duty Flight.
11.2.1941. Duty Flight.
12.2.1941. Duty Flight. Fire in the hangar. One Blenheim burnt out: two Gladiators damaged. 



13.2.1941. Duty Flight. Fuelled up 4 Blenheims, 1 Anson, 1 Lysander, 1 Hudson. Went to Tobruk for drinks.
14.2.1941. Started work on Q. 2 clocks missing from XS. Guards to start one and a half hour duties.
15.2.1941. Finished work early. Dust storm started blowing.
16.2.1941. Took lorry. Went to beaches beside the prison(POW) camp. Found heliograph abandoned by Italian army. Took the telescope and magnifying glass. Left remainder as had no room for it. ( Jack had found a 16 gear Lancia lorry abandoned by the Italian army and had ample fuel for it from the Italian fuel depot - hundreds of thousands of gallons – his words – which the RAF could not use in their aircraft in case it had been tampered with, but okay for use in land vehicles.)
18.2.1941. Came off guard. Took lorry, went to trenches and then to Tobruk. Had swim in the harbour.
15.3.1941. Due to air raids slept the night in the hills where we found accommodation in caves – probably the same caves referred to by Sgt.John W.Walker 634047.
23.3.1941. Departed El Adem in a convoy (photo) for Kabrit. (He left behind his lorry and an Italian Gillera motorcycle he had just finished rebuilding after they had abandoned it with a load of sand in the engine.) Slept in lorry at Mersa Matruh.
24.3.1941. Departed Mersa Matruh at 0730 hrs. Stopped for tiffins at Alexandria and saw Bill Bailey and Paddy Rankin there. Left at Arrived Heliopolis at Had a bath – the first good wash for two months.

F.O. Dick had a Springbok motif painted on his aircraft. The identity of the posing figure below it is not known. 
Jack is posing here with a banjo abandoned by the Italians. He couldn’t play it ! Wellington F is in the background  – the one flown by F.O. Dick. Wellington Z is also visible beyond it. 
O SJ  T2891 which Jack also worked on

This aircraft had been sent with Wellington T2816 to Luqa, Malta on 20/2/41 and failed to return from a sortie 24/25-2-41, being off course on return and running out of fuel around 375km NW of Malta.


P/O G.H.Green - buried in Naples War Cemetary

F.Lt A.F. Paine  - buried in Naples War Cemetary

Sgt R.Mead, Sgt E. Green, Sgt A.E.Limbrick RNZAF and LAC G.Norker  - pow


T2816 was destroyed on the ground on 26/2/41 during a 50 minute raid by JU87s and 88s on Luqa.



After returning to Kabrit Jack took leave at Cairo and upon returning to base found he had time on his hands so he made a canoe which he used on the Little Bitter Lake.



Jack had access to F.O. Dick’s Ford Model ‘Y’ and he together with Sutton (rigger) repaired the car for him. Afterwards they posed for a group photo – Jack is rear right, Matthew Loughlin centre rear, Whinney has his arms akimbo, Jim Baldwin is wearing ’A’ Flight overalls and the man in the car maybe Ted Wallace. Jack used to drive this car into Port Suez to buy fresh fruit and cakes which he then sold to his friends to make a little extra money


On 1st May,1941, Jack was part of a three plane detachment sent to Shaibah, Iraq, to assist in the defence of RAF Habbaniya which was under siege by the Iraqi rebel Rashid Ali. Whilst at Shaibah he photographed a French plane which landed rather heavily.
Habbaniya was being defended by its own Flying Training School pilots which used Audaxes and Oxfords. Here is an Audax Jack photographed earlier.

Pilots of the Communication Flight at Habbaniya at this time were F.L. Maurice ‘Roy’ Skeet, Flight Sergeant W(Wally) Thornley 565030, Sgt. C.L. Clements 565489, and possibly Sgt. Harvey. F.Sgt. Thornley is seen here on the right, with Corporal ‘Yosser’ Hughes on the left. The centre figure maybe F.L. Skeet.


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