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Thread: Sgt. Roberts captured 24 October 1942

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    Default Sgt. Roberts captured 24 October 1942

    Hi,

    Could anyone please identify an airmen by the name of Sgt. Roberts, captured by the Germans near El Alamein on 24 October 1942? I checked Shores & Ring, Fighters Over the Desert, and the records of the various British and Commonwealth fighter squadrons, with no luck. It is quite possible that Sgt. Roberts was a bomber crewmember, and unfortunately I have no sources for those units.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Arthy

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    Hello,

    AUS407513 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Rhys ROBERTS RAAF.

    23/24 October 1942
    No.223 Sqn
    Baltimore III AG854 'Q'
    Op: Army Co-Operation

    Took off LG 86, to attack army vehicles and tanks W of the Sidi Abd el Rahman Road, El Alamein. Hit by heavy flak and crashed in flames S of the target.

    AUS406506 P/O (Pilot) David George Walpole LEAKE RAAF +
    1165206 Sgt (Obs.) Joseph Henry CAMPBELL RAFVR +
    AUS407513 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Rhys ROBERTS RAAF - PoW (St. Lt. III, VIIA, VI. PoW No. 5977)
    1294996 Sgt (Air Gnr.) John Rutledge BERTRAM RAFVR +

    The dead are buried in El Alamein Cemetery.

    Roberts was wounded on 23 May, 1942, when No.223 Sqn Baltimore I AG703 was attacked by fighters and had to crash-land

    See:
    Royal Air Force Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean Vol.1: 1939-1942
    Gunby,David & Pelham Temple.
    Hinckley:Midland Publishing,2006.
    pp.144 & 192

    Roberts baled out with his clothes alight and suffered from severe burns which required three months hospital treatment, and eventually resulted in his repatriation. In the interim he was involved in camp drama and comedy productions* and played in a camp cricket team. A planned tunnel breakout, prior to his transfer, was aborted.

    He was repatriated on the"Arundel Castle" on 15-9-1944. He required further plastic surgery (at East Grinstead, thus a "Guinea Pig"), in the United Kingdom.

    See:
    Wingless:A Biographical Index of Australian Airmen Detained in Wartime.
    Roberts,Thomas V. (Dr.)
    Ballarat:Author,2011.
    p.405.

    * http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collect...&submit=Search

    The following publication is well worth seeking out:

    Did Not Close His Eyes For Two Years.
    Wright, S T F/Lt. (as told to).
    Wings (The RAAF Wartime publication)
    May 1, 1945. Vol.5 no.2. pp.6-7 & 28.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th October 2013 at 14:56.

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    Hi Col,

    Thank you very much for your detailed response - that was just what I was looking for! There are some good leads to follow up, and knowing his nationality and first name makes the search rather easier. Looks like he became a stock inspector at Loxton, SA, after the war.

    Rhys Roberts will feature in an article (and possibly a book at some stage) I'm writing about the German desert rescue squadron, which was the unit that captured him.

    Cheers,
    Andrew A.

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    Andrew, Hi,
    I'm sure that the Allies had Desert Rescue teams in N Africa in WW2. There were certainly Desert Rescue Teams at RAFs El Adem, Benina, and Idris, when I was in Cyrenaica in the early 50's. I qualified (as a NSA Airman Meteorologist) as 2nd Nav on the El Adem Desert Rescue by virtue of the fact that the Team Commander (Flt Lt 'Zeke' Zeleney) observed that I had the Met plotting chart the right way up!!! He would teach me the rest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Hi Peter,

    That's an interesting issue you raise, about the existence of Allied desert rescue teams during the Second World War. I'll certainly have to investigate that in the near future. A quick check of the 11 November 1941 Order of Battle in the new Mediterranean Air War volume by Chris Shores shows an RAAF Air Ambulance Unit at Fuka, and a Communications Flight with various types at Maaten Bagush, but seemingly no flying units equivalent to the German desert rescue squadron with its Fieseler Storch liaison aircraft.

    Cheers,
    Andrew A.

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