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Thread: No.113 Squadron June 1940 (Mersa Matruh)

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    Default No.113 Squadron June 1940 (Mersa Matruh)

    My grandfather was F/Sgt Ralph Harry Knott, (RAF no. 590277). Ralph was killed on 29/6/40 in a raid on the Italian airbase at El Gubbi (Tobruk T2, I think).

    I've been researching some photo's my grandfather took at Mersa Matruh of Mk I Blenheim's that have apparently crash landed. As their first combat op was on 11th June and my grandfather was killed on 29th June, I assume the photos were taken in that 18 day period.

    One is particularly interesting as the serial number is of a plane that my research turns up as a Mk IV Blenhiem that was apparently shot down on 11th June in flames at El Adem. However, the plane in the photo is clearly a Mk I that has one wheel down and surrounded by a recovery crew.

    No.113 squadron have an excellent website but all the contact links are down. Would anyone be able to put me in contact with anyone who was ever a contributor to that site? Anyone know anything about 113 at that time? Any suggestions?

    Thanks in adavance.

    John

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    John.

    Have you the serial of the Belnheim you are researching?

    David

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    Hi David,

    It's L4823.

    Listed here as a Mk IV that was shot down in flames near Tobruk on 11/6/40; the sqaudron's first loss due to enemy action: http://113squadron.com/id21.htm

    Bit of a mystery as it's clearly a Mk I. I have two photos of it from different angles. It's also surrounded by some kind of recovery crew and has managed to get it's left wheel down. I suppose it's possible it got pranged and then repaired some time earlier (the photo isn't dated) before they started combat ops but its still the wrong variant.

    John

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    According to my 1987 edition of Roberetson's British Military Aircraft Serials this was part of a mixed batch of Mk. I and Mk. IV. He reports L4823 as a Mk. IV, as you said, but it is interesting that L4822 is listed as a Mk. I. I suspect Robertson worked from available RAF records, and there may have been a typo or oversight back in the day.

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    Yes Bill, as the photo can't be wrong, it's safe to assume that the records showing it as a Mk IV are incorrect.

    But the plot thickens a bit as I notice that here http://113squadron.com/id21.htm L4823 is also listed as a plane that was tranferred to 203 squadron. On the assumption that the records are unlikely to be wrong about the squadron's first loss, I think I'll assume that this transfer information is also incorrect.

    That site does also indicates that they lost two Mk I's on the runway in 1939. One had a collapsed undercarraige after landing. That could be what this photo is of but it is listed as L1527.

    The other they list is L8442 but that caught fire and they have a picture of it. Clearly not one on the ones I have photos of as they have no such damage.

    In fact the other photo I have is of a Mk I with no undercarraige down at all and prop damage that seems to indicate an actual crash landing (all the props are uniformly bent). Unfrortunately the serial number is not visible.

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    Actually Bill, does Roberton's indicate the date of production and delivery of L4823? That would help date the picture. I know it must be before 29/6/40 but I'm only assuming it's no earlier than 11/6/40 due to the date their combat ops started. If I knew when they got it that would give an absolute earliest date.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Not much help I'm afraid. This batch is only noted as early in the war.

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    Hallo John,
    .
    Thank you for posting. As you probably know early wartime records for 113 Squadron are sparse or non-existant, so any photos or information such as you have are of great interest to many of us who are particularly keen on the Blenheim or North African air war. Without seeing the photos one has to assume all show incidents that happened before 10 June 1940.
    .
    The batch of 118 Blenheims which includes L4823 is a little odd by way of composition. Very good published works such as Robertson's note it comprised 34 Mark Is (L4817-L4822 and L4907-L4934) and 84 Mark IVs (L4823-L4906). However it is clear more were built as Mk.Is than previously recorded. I am fairly sure L4817-L4834 were all Mk.Is. L4835 I don't know, but I suspect was a Mk.IV based on unit allocation. L4836 was a Mk.IV because it served with 53 Squadron, which only used the Mk.IV.
    .
    Furthermore looking at the Air-Britain 'RAF AIRCRAFT L1000-N9999' it appears the units using L4817 to L4834 were all only Mark I formations around this time (June 1940). I stand to be corrected in the following but as far as I know Turkey only received the Mark I before June 1940. Perhaps 40 in total. The last batch for Turkey included L4821, L4824, L4826 and L4828. I also believe the last batch of ten Mk.Is Turkey received came from RAF stocks in the Middle East and there may have been no Mk.IVs in the region at that time (late 1939 ?).
    .
    There is also at least one photo of L4833 after its crash on 5 February 1941 in Greece which shows it to be a Mk.I. Several years ago while researching the tangled fates of four Blenheims I obtained a copy of the Form 78 Aircraft Record Card for L4833. It clearly shows it to have been a Mk.I. I also have a similar Form for L4825 again showing it to be a Mk.I. I should note that while working on the above I relied heavily on the excellent 'RAF BOMBER LOSSES in the MEDITERRANEAN and MIDDLE EAST', Volume 1 by David Gunby and Pel Temple. They - and to a lesser extent Graham Warner in the mammoth 'THE BRISTOL BLENHEIM' (2nd edition) - are the only authors I know of to correctly identify L4823-L4834 as Mark Is.
    .
    Between June 11th and June 29th 113 Squadron also had three Blenheims damaged by Italian fighters on June 16th. Nothing else is known about this action from the RAF viewpoint due to lack of records. (ref. 'A HISTORY OF THE MEDITERRANEAN AIR WAR, Vol.1' by Christopher Shores, Giovanni Massimello and Russell Guest).
    .
    Do you have access to the flying logbook of your relative ? This could be a mine of information.
    .
    Regards,
    .
    Martin Gleeson.

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    Default 113 Squadron

    Hello,

    More info on the Italian part in these combats is available in mine and Ludovico Slongo’s “Desert Prelude – Early clashes” (http://mmpbooks.biz/mmp/books.php?book_id=119).

    To my knowledge the 113 Squadron had around 12 Blenheim Mk.IVs when the war started (the conversion from Mk.I was not complete).

    Some additional info on the Italian part of the combats against 113 Squadron during this period on:

    11 June at http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_bissoli.htm
    12 June at http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_piccolomini.htm
    16 June at http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_martissa.htm


    Best wishes/Håkan
    WWII Biplane Fighter Aces
    http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se

    WWII Biplane Fighter Aces Blog
    http://ww2biplanefighteraces.blogspot.com/

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