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Thread: Air raid on Derna 12/12/1941 XI Squadron RAF

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    Default Air raid on Derna 12/12/1941 XI Squadron RAF

    My uncle Roy Inglis Burrage service number102345 a 2Lt in the SAAF seconded to XI Squadron RAF in 1941, as a pilot on Blenheim IV bombers.
    He was reported missing in action.
    He participated in a raid on Derna airfield on the 12/12/1941,and went missing during the raid.

    His logbook was signed by Wing Commander Kellet who was his OC at XI Squadron, during that period of the war. It appears that the raids on Derna were part of Operation Crusader.

    I and my family would appreciate any information about the raid and the circumstances that led to his aircraft going missing.
    He was in A flight and left LG 76 on the 06/12/1941 the details further are unknown.

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    All I can add is that the mission was to bomb Derna airfield 'if there was sufficent cloud cover'. This was a caveat that always caused aircrew problems. Should they abort, or go on in marginal conditions? If they aborted and others went on they might be accused of lack of determination. If they went on and returned they might be labelled as foolhardy. If they went on and didn't return, they might well be thought to have pushed their luck too far. No win, especially for the skipper.

    David

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    Hello,

    A little more on 2/Lt Burrage SAAF:

    28-11-1941
    No.11 Sqn
    Blenheim IV V5644*

    During ops, V5644 was damaged in the observer's compartment as a result of AA fire. The observer, F/O Degenhardt RAAF, was hit, and later died from his wounds.

    102345 2/Lt (Pilot) Roy Inglis BURRAGE SAAF - uninjured
    AUS400426 F/O (Obs.) Charles George DEGENHARDT RAAF +
    749446 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Leslie Joseph MACEY RAFVR** - uninjured

    F/O Degenhardt RAAF, is buried in Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery.

    * Blenheim V5644 was repaired and returned to service.

    ** F/Sgt Macey was killed on 11-12-1941, in No.11 Sqn Blenheim IV Z7797.

    See also, the A705 Casualty File of AUS402187 Sgt N. G. S. DRUMMOND RAAF, Observer aboard Blenheim Z7909:

    http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=1056629

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 17th June 2013 at 03:25.

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    Thank you, for your replies, there is an entry in his logbook regarding the death of FO Degenhardt, and this indicates the intensity of the battle during Operation Crusader.

    We were unaware that FO Degenhardt was Australian, and that the crews were made up of Commonwealth personnel in RAF Squadrons, especially XI Squadron.

    The decision to continue with missions or not, and the consequences when not carried out, are still the same today as it was back in 1941. This is the dilemma every Commander has in every war and is certainly is the case in my experience.

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    Normally RAF squadrons are written as numbers, use of roman numerals would be 'incorrect' one might say. From my nerdy days I recall only 13 sqn used roman numerals but not officially.

    You should refer to 11 Squadron rather than XI unless I'm very very wrong.
    Cheers, Dennis
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Hello Dennis,

    I'm not sure about XI / 11 Squadron, but I think it is correct to write IX and XV Squadrons, although I've frequently seen 9 rather than IX, but No. XV Squadron is much more common in print. It's written as such in Jones' volume on the unit.

    Similarly with No. 2, also frequently seen as II in roman numerals.

    Sorry for thread drift...

    Joss

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    A surprising (to me at least) number of RAF squadron badges had their squadron number represented by Roman numerals:

    No. 1 (I)
    No. 2 (II)
    No. 4 (IV)
    No. 5 (V)
    No. 8 (VIII)
    No. 9 (IX)
    No. 11 (XI)
    No. 13 (XIII)
    No. 15 (XV)
    No. 16 (XVI)
    No. 17 (XVII)
    No. 19 (XIX)
    No. 22 (XXII)
    No. 24 (XXIV)
    No. 25 (XXV)
    No. 28 (XXVIII)
    No. 32 (XXXII)
    No. 35 (XXXV)
    No. 41 (XLI)
    No. 54 (LIV)
    No. 61 (LXI)
    No. 65 (LXV)
    No. 70 (LXX)
    No. 90 (XC)
    No. 95 (XCV)
    No. 106 (CVI)
    No. 111 (CXI)
    No. 207 (CCVII)
    No. 215 (CCXV)

    Errol

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    Hello,

    Bruce Robertson, has this to say:

    " When war came, these letters (1[F] Sqn., 2 [AC] Sqn etc.), signifying roles were dropped for security reasons and have not been officially re-introduced. But some squadrons affect to use them now (1982), and, by being quoted in publications, it is evident that some journalists play along with them. Some, like No.70 Squadron, affect to use Roman numerals. Their authority, they claim, is the fact that it appears on their officially approved badge. That is so, but in the badges issued for the first 100 squadrons, a quarter have Roman numerals, and it would look silly in a listing to have a confusing mixture of Roman and Arabic. In such cases No.2 Squadron, which has the Roman II, might easily be confused with 11 (eleven). Forget the Roman - it is a fad, not official."

    See:
    Aviation Enthusiasts' Data Book.
    Robertson,Bruce.
    Cambridge:P.S.L.,1982.
    p.61.

    Wouldn't like to meet an ex-member of No.XV Squadron on a dark night - and tell him that !

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 18th June 2013 at 04:58.

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    Thank you Col!
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    The Italian airforce war diary on that day mentions a number of dogfights above Derna between BF 109's, 2002's and Tomahawks and Hurricanes of the SAAF and RAAF on the 12/12/41 at 15h00.

    No mention of bombing raids involving Blenheims, or reports that ack ack shot down any aircraft.
    Would this be normal that raids not reported by the airforce?

    The other question is, if an attack was made on Derna would the approach be for bombers seaward or landward?

    I would imagine the seaward side would have less anti-aircraft cover allowing the aircraft to fly lower when making bombing runs?

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