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Thread: 431213 - Kittyhawks 3 (RAAF) Squadron - 13-12-1943

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    Default 431213 - Kittyhawks 3 (RAAF) Squadron - 13-12-1943

    3 (RAAF) Squadron lost 5 Kittyhawks II.A 13-12-1943; 4 reported shot down by Bf 109s near Bir Dufan, 1 reported destroyed by enemy action. One of the airmen involved may have been AUS411726 F/O Arthur N. AUSTIN commemorated Column 272 of the Alamein Memorial.
    Serials found: FL 323 - FL 330 - FL 345 - FL 346 and FL 363 (FL 346 the one reported destroyed by enemy action).
    Looking for more info on the pilots of these aircraft.
    Regards and thanks for your help.
    Henk.

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    Henk,

    I think you mean 14-1-1943!

    On 14-1-1943 at 1125 twelve Kittyhawks from 3 Squadron with twelve Kittyhawks from each of 250, 260 and 450 Squadrons escorted eighteen Bostons to attack Bir Dufan airfields. The formation flew out over the sea then back over the coast at grid S.40 line and were then attacked continuously to Bir Dufan and back by twenty 109s of I./JG 77 with some Macchi 202s. Reg Stevens and Sergeant Hooke probably shot down a 109, but the Kittyhawk IIAs of Bobby Gibbes (FL323 crash-landed at 300 m.p.h.), Les Weatherburn (FL330, baled out), Norm Caldwell (FL363, crash-landed)., Bill Diehm (FL346) and Allan Tonkin (FL345) were all shot down. Two parachutes were seen to open at R 9359 and two fired were seen at R 7645 and R 9535. Les Weatherburn was taken prisoner and ended up in Stalag Luft III, and Bobby Gibbes and Norm Caldwell later returned to the squadron, but Bill Diehm and Allan Tonkin were both killed. Allan Tonkin had only joined 3 Squadron the day before from an O.T.U.

    AUS411726 F/O Arthur Neville AUSTIN RAAF, was on a later op, on the same day.

    On 14-1-1943 at 1640 eight 3 Squadron Kittyhawks flew an armed reconnaissance over the Gheddahia area. Flight Lieutenant Garth Clabburn had to return at 1700 with a faulty prop motor so Pilot Officer Rex Bayly took over. At X 3080 there was medium flak, Bostons bombed at X 2095. Several 109s intercepted, in the resulting combat Sergeant Alan Righetti saw Kittyhawk 'Q' heading towards the coast near Sirte. Nev Austin failed to return.

    See: http://www.3squadron.org.au/subpages/roll.htm

    The participants (have dispensed with decorations):

    AUS411726 F/O Arthur Neville AUSTIN RAAF + 14-1-43 - Kittyhawk 'Q'
    AUS407416 P/O Rex Howard BAYLY RAAF
    AUS407781 Sgt Norman Royce CALDWELL RAAF - Kittyhawk FL363
    AUS205745 F/Lt Garth Edward CLABBURN RAAF
    AUS412049 F/O William George DIEHM RAAF + 14-1-43 - Kittyhawk FL346
    AUS260714 S/L Robert Henry Maxwell GIBBES RAAF (OC. 3 Sqn RAAF) - Kittyhawk FL323
    AUS401216 Sgt John Hobson HOOKE RAAF
    AUS401151 Sgt Alan RIGHETTI RAAF
    AUS404672 F/Sgt Reginald Noel Basil STEVENS RAAF
    AUS401200 F/O Allan Edward Henry TONKIN RAAF + 14-1-43 - Kityhawk FL345
    AUS405892 P/O Leslie Joseph WEATHERBURN RAAF POW (L3/176) Kittyhawk FL330

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 28th March 2011 at 18:45.

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    Default 431213 - Kittyhawks 3 (RAAF) Squadron - 13-12-1943

    Henk and Col

    Some extra info here and a correction.

    Aircraft lost were as shown in the list from Col

    FL363 - Caldwell - coded CV-C
    FL346 - Diehm - Coded CV-Z
    FL323 - Gibbes - Coded CV-V
    FL330 - Weatherburn - Coded CV-S


    For the correction, it is ref the passage from the 3Sqdn website which is slightly misleading (because on face value Austin was flying "Q").

    The whole ORB passage reads -

    "At 1640, eight a/c took off on an armed recce of the GHEDDANIA area. Weather was good. F/LT G.E.CLABBURN returned at 1700 with a faulty prop motor. P/O R.H. BAYLY took over. At X.3080 medium AA was encountered. Boston bomb bursts were seen at X2095. Several ME109s appeared and a dogfight ensued. Our a/c became separated and P/O R.H BAYLY lost the formation, returning 15 minutes before the other pilots. SGT RIGHETTI A. reported seeing a/c "Q" heading towards the coast near SIRTE. P/O AUSTIN and F/SGT HANKEY failed to return from this operation. All other aircraft landed safely at 1805. Advice was received later from Wing that F/SGT HANKEY had landed safely at CHELL. P/O R.H.BAYLY, F/SGT HANKEY, and SGT RIGHETTI A. all saw a ME109 F or G attack a Kittyhawk from the rear. P/O BAYLY destroyed a ME109 F or G.".

    The problem is that the sortie is actually missing from the Form 541, so no aircraft serials or which pilot was flying what is available....

    So was Austin or Hankey flying Q??

    So resorting to violence, I visit a little known but highly useful source and come up with the missing sortie information. Not much in the way of details but does contain the most important info, which states -

    "14th Jan 1943 - Thursday

    3rd Operation

    8 aircraft - 1 rtd early all up at 1640 down at time after details below. (also mentions AA and E/A 5/6 109's as well as ammo fired by Y .285 and that Hankey and Austin failed to return with P/O Bayly 1 ME109 destroyed)

    T FL292 - Clabburn F/L 17.00 (.20)
    Q FL324 - Hankey F/S 18.40 (2.00)
    Y FL270 - Bayly P/O 17.50 (1.10)
    3 FL289 - Righetti SGT 18.05 (1.25)
    L FL334 - Watt F/L 18.05 (1.25)
    4 (K) FL296 - Russell F/O 18.05 (1.25)
    2 FL233 - Ritchie F/O 18.05 (1.25)
    I FL277 - Austin P/O (1.00)
    (10.10)

    Weather Good"

    So as above Austin was in FL277 CV-I.

    Hope this helps

    Buz
    Last edited by Buz; 29th March 2011 at 07:17. Reason: wasn't quick enough writting answer...lol

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    G'Day Buz,

    Corrections/additions always welcome. The 3 Squadron web site does not imply that Austin was piloting "Q". The error was on my part, by not placing a question mark after Kittyhawk "Q", in the participants listing.

    Thanks mate,

    Col.

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    Thanks Buz & Col for this excellent info on the loss of the Kittyhawks on - indeed Col - 14-1-1943. I typed the wrong date as I was working at the same time on the loss of Baltimore FW315 of 454 Sqn lost on 13-12-1943 (had too many irons in the fire).
    Regards,
    Henk..

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    Hi Henk

    You probably know already but Mark Lax's excellent "Alamein To The Alps" is available as a pdf on the 454/459 website - http://www.454-459squadrons.org.au/downloads.html - as the book is sold out. It will have information about the lost Baltimore and her crew.

    Cheers

    Andy

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    Thanks Andy for the link; I heard about it but forgot to bookmark. Link now stored with what we call "Favorieten".
    Regards,
    Henk.

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