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Thread: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

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    Default "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    Hi everyone,
    Thanks for letting me join, and happy Boxing Day to all.

    I've found this forum's archive to be an invaluable source of information over the years, but I wanted to pose a question to the group that I can't find a ready answer for.

    I am researching an SAAF pilot, Anthony CROAD and am trying to figure out how he could have become injured/wounded while serving with an aircraft delivery unit.

    CROAD enlisted in May 1941. He joined 16 Sqn SAAF, flying Marylands and Beaforts in East Africa, in Oct. 1942. He left the squadron in Jan. 1943 and moved back to South Africa. CROAD then moved to Egypt, where in Mar. 1943 he joined 73 OTU, a fighter-bomber training unit. In July he joined 4 Aircraft Delivery Unit (ADU). He was with the ADU until Sept. 1943, when he joined 322 Wing Training Squadron. He spent the period Sept.-Nov. 1943 with this unit, then moved to 152 Squadron RAF (Spitfires) in Italy. In Dec. 1943 the squadron relocated to the Far East; CROAD flew in India and Burma until Feb. 1945 when he was wounded by ground fire near Meiktila.

    CROAD's personnel record records the following for July 27, 1943, while he was with 4 ADU: "Flying Battle. Slightly Injured. Bruised back, rt. arm and slight Rectum injury. 27/7/43 (Cable ad. 29/7/43)". His record shows a hospital stay that doesn't quite line up with this incident -- admitted 2/7/43 (should maybe be 27/7/43?) and discharged 7/8/43.

    I would have guessed that injuries suffered while serving with an ADU would be more likely the result of an accident, but CROAD's record specifies "flying battle". I am really not sure what to make of it. Could he have in fact been flying a Fairey Battle? Any thoughts?

    Kindest regards,
    Wilhar
    Last edited by Wilhar1980; 26th December 2020 at 19:25.

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    4 ADU was at that date based at Sorman in Libya, some 20+ miles W of Tripoli and less than 300nm S of Sicily.
    After prior wide-spread heavy air attack around the theatre, the invasion of Sicily began 10 July 1943, ending late Aug when the Axis force withdrew.
    There are numerous accounts of HUSKY.

    Conceivably (others may know better), Tripoli etc may have come under air attack from Sicily, and/or 4 ADU may have been assisting with aircraft movements for Sicily making interceptions a possibility.

    From Sturtivant RAF Flying Training and Support Units Since 1912 (AB 2007):
    No.4 AIRCRAFT DELIVERY UNIT (MIDDLE EAST)
    Formed 25.5.43 in No.216 Group at AZIZIA; 19.7.43 SORMAN; 5.11.43 TRIPOLI; 29.11.43 BONE; 14.11.43 BARI; by 21.1.44 CATANIA (dett Bari) (dett Sinello 15.7.44 - 9.9.44) ('B' dett Loreto 27.8.44 - 23.9.44); 21.9.44 JESI ('A' Dett Capodochino, 'C Dett Catania);
    Redesignated No.4 Ferry Unit 23.9.44.
    Aircraft: Anson I (LS995); Argus II (HB588); Expediter II (HB202)"

    The term Flying battle was common enough at the time in referring to combat in the air.
    As to the Fairey Battle someone else may know better, but I don't recall the aircraft being used in the Middle East though my interest is strictly in the period mid-1938 to Jan 1942.

    Certainly Sturtivant's summaries of all the numerous Middle East OTUs record no mention of the Fairey Battle on their rosters, not even as support aircraft.
    Besides, July 1943 would be very late for the poor old Battle.
    I'd have thought, again open to correction, that mention of an aircraft by type on a service record was unlikely in this context.

    On the face of it the Operations Record Book for 4 Aircraft Delivery Unit might help, given the hospitalisation.
    TNA access at present is quite restricted but at some point it may be worth arranging to get a copy (not digitised so not on line).
    Though the level of detail in such units is apt to be sparse, in this case Appendices are incl and may also prove fruitful. See
    AIR 29/454/3
    "4 Aircraft Delivery Unit (ADU), North Africa; moved to Sicily in December 1943, to Jesi (Italy) in September 1944, and became 4 Ferry Unit in October. With appendices."
    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C7160408

    Good luck with the project...

    Sources
    Sturtivant as noted
    Jefford RAF Squadrons (Airlife 2001)
    Richards and Saunders RAF 1939-1945 Vol II The fight Avails HMSO 1954
    Last edited by Don Clark; 26th December 2020 at 21:37. Reason: Addnl corrn
    Toujours à propos

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    Thank you Don for that very comprehensive reply. Given your observations, it seems some lucky Axis pilot got a piece of CROAD at a most unexpected moment. Looks like the ORB for 4 ADU will be my next stop, whenever such things become accessible again.

    While we're on the subject, does anyone here have a copy of the 16 Squadron SAAF history, Path of Duty by Graeme GIBSON? If so, would a quick lookup for CROAD be possible?

    Thanks again,
    Wilhar

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    Hello,

    From Michael Schoeman's, Springbok Fighter Victory Vol.4 (p.203) Appendix IV - SAAF losses during fighter training, ferrying, transit flights or testing in the Mediterranean/Middle East. May 1943 to May 1944 (p.203).

    27 July 1943 - 4 ADU: Beaufighter IF X7546 - port engine failed on landing, Sorman West LG, 12h25:Passengers Lt AD Croad & 2/Lt DC Wearne both slightly injured. Pilots to 152 & 601 Sqdns respectively.

    And from Schoeman's Springbok Fighter Victory Vol.5 (pp.164 & 242-4):

    (p.164).
    On the day following Lt M B ("Joe") Hall's death (10/02/1945}, 152 Sqdn's Mk.VIIIs were strafing targets in the area of Meiktila when Lt St Leger Potgieter struck a tree. He was presumed to have force-landed, though no trace of this was found. Lt Croad was wounded in the head and arm by cannon fire but managed to nurse his Spitfire back to base. Hospitalised, he returned to the Squadron on 20th March.

    (pp.242-4)
    Appendix IV - Seconded SAAF fighter claims and losses in the Far East and Burma-India theatres of war 1942-45.

    Appendix IVB -India/Burma.

    11th February, 1945. 152 Sqdn, RAF: Spitfire LF.VIII MT960: UM-M - t/o 08h39:

    Lt Croad WiA (head and arm) badly damaged by cannon fire from ground, Meiktila area. To hospital on RTB. Returned to Sqdn on 20.3.45.

    Brief biographical details of Croad and Wearne; from Schoeman's Vol.1 (pp.153 & 183):

    CROAD, Capt. Anthony Douglas 206581V. Dbn. 4 ADU inj 27.7.43. 73 OTU. 152 Sqdn RAF ... - 11.2.45 WiA & 20.3.45-1945.

    WEARNE, Lt Desmond Charles 206978V. (74 OTU c.3.43?) 73 OTU. 4 ADU (passenger in Beaufighter which crashed, 27.7.43). 601 Sqdn RAF 27.10.43-21.3.44.

    Col
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 29th December 2020 at 00:45.

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    That is interesting. Each Jul 43 record in discord to some degree!

    No previous db entry here (RAF DB Global Search box, page header above) nor TNA Discovery (Croad or X7546).

    Halley RAF Aircraft X1000 to X9999, Z1000 to Z9999 confirms
    Beaufighter IF batch of 239 deld Feb 41 - Feb 42 By Bristols.
    "X7546 25 Sqn [UK] then 4AD [no dates]
    Crashed on landing Sorman West 27 Jul 43"

    The Aircraft Accidents in Yorkshire site mentions X7546 re 25 Sqn and goes on to its subsequent history and 4 ADU fate:
    "On 27th July 1943 it crashed with Cat.E2/FA recorded when it bounced on landing at Sormon West and the undercarriage collapsed.
    It was deemed beyond repair following this incident."
    http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/...k41/x7546.html
    A plain but admirable site with considerable detail and comprehensive acknowledgement of sources. Clearly Forms 78 and 1180 in use here!

    The a/c serial plus these published details means the accident card Form 1180 should still be available from RAF Museum, to check any other info incl any "flying battle" notation.
    Possibly the Form 78 Movements record too?

    See RAF Museum advice
    Aircraft Records
    https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/researc...t-records.aspx
    and
    Research Enquiries
    https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/researc...enquiries.aspx
    Note service levels in present circs.

    Or, you could try the Aircraft Accidents in Yorkshire site but he too is busy: see Home page contact note

    Sources: as noted
    Afterthought: not giving lesson in eggs, sucking of, I hope!
    Last edited by Don Clark; 28th December 2020 at 06:14.
    Toujours à propos

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    Thank you gentlemen for these extremely informative posts. Given the "flying battle" notation in CROAD's record I have to wonder whether the Beaufighter suffered damage as a result of enemy action, then crashed on landing. I will be pursuing the research resources you have suggested.

    Re: CROAD and POTGIETER's rhubarb on Feb. 11, 1945, I have compiled the following from the 152 Squadron ORB.

    On Feb. 11, 1945, CROAD and fellow South African Lt. St. Leger Graham POTGIETER took off on a rhubarb on the road from Chauk to Thazi.

    "3 M.T. with stores under trees were strafed at KYAUKPADAUNG. 1 M.T. was seen to explode with black smoke rising to 500 ft. Over MEIKTILA 2 explosives on the ground were noticed which were thought to be land mines. L.M.G. fire from one gun position was seen and [Croad’s aircraft] was then hit by flak of unknown calibre and also by .5 half a mile S.E. of MEIKTILA. The two aircraft then became separated and [Croad] instructed [Potgieter] to return to base immediately. [Potgieter] replied that he was at a junction, probably THAZI, but after this no further R/T was received from him."

    Wounded, and with his Spitfire shot up, CROAD made his way back to Sinthe alone:

    "The MO was hastily summoned to the strip and the ambulance stood by. Lt Croad after going round again once made an excellent landing but pulled off the strip at the far end. On arriving at the aircraft, he was found to have been badly hit by ground fire from the Meiktila area. Lt Croad had a badly cut head which was bleeding profusely and some shrapnel in his arm. The aircraft had many .5 + shrapnel holes in it. It was a miracle that it made base and Lt Croad is to be highly congratulated for an excellent piece of flying as well as a very fortunate escape. After being treated at the squadron sick quarters he was flown to 60 MFH at Imphal in a D.C."

    Lt. POTGIETER, however, remained unaccounted for.

    "Meanwhile… Lt Potgieter had called up saying that he had hit a tree whilst strafing. He was given a course to steer for friendly territory but nothing more was heard from him, and it is feared that he had to force land behind Japanese lines. It is sincerely hoped that he manages to evade capture although this area is abounding in Japs."

    The following is reported in POTGIETER's record on this website:

    "Potty never returned from a 4 Section rhubarb…He just vanished and Gary Kerr was very annoyed when Group vetoed his plan to send up a section to try and find out what had happened."

    The CWGC records that POTGIETER died on Feb. 11, 1945. He is memorialized at the Taukkyan War Cemetery in Myanmar.

    CROAD did not return to active flying. After his convalescence he appears to have been posted to RAF Station Poona and BHQ Colombo before being demobbed,

    Thanks again,
    Bill

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    Hello,

    Some additional information on Lt St Leger Graham POTGIETER SAAF, from Schoeman's, Springbok Fighter Victory, Vol.1 (p.173):

    POTGIETER, St Leger Graham 207356V. 73 OTU. 152 Sqdn RAF 1944-11.2.45 KIA. Meiktila 1-H-1.

    From Schoeman's, Springbok Fighter Victory, Vol.V (pp.159, 164, 242-244):

    (p.159).
    Operations continued at other parts of the Indian front at this time. 152 Sqdn, the other Spitfire VIII unit which had come from the Middle East, had not seen much air action during this period, but on 1st May (1944), the day the Squadron moved to Comilla, one of its seconded SAAF pilots got his chance. Lt Potgeiter and another pilot intercepted a Dinah which they shot down.

    (p.164).
    On the day following Hall's death (10.02.1945), 152 Sqdn's Mk.VIIIs were strafing targets in the area of Meiktila when Lt St Leger Potgieter struck a tree. He was presumed to have force-landed, though no trace of this was found.

    (p.243).
    Seconded SAAF fighter claims and losses in the Far East and Burma-India theatres of war, 1942-45.

    Appendix IVB: India/Burma:

    1st May, 1944 - 152 Sqdn, RAF Spitfire VIII Serial ?
    Lt St L G Potgieter shared a Ki.46 s/d with F/O R E MacDonald RAF*. (see: Air War For Burma/Shores/London:Grub Street,2005/p.218)

    (pp.242 & 244)
    11th February, 1945 - 152 Sqdn, RAF Spitfire LF.VIII LV748: UM-D.
    Lt St L G Potgieter KIA hit tree while strafing, Meiktila area. Possibly force landed.

    * Actually, AUS411667 F/O (Pilot) Robert Edward John MACDONALD RAAF (later F/Lt. DFC, LG: 19/10/45 - 152 Sqdn)

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 29th December 2020 at 03:47.

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    Thank you Col. for that information. Here is an account of POTGIETER's shared victory over the Dinah on May 1, 1944, from the squadron ORB. The engagement took place as 152 Squadron was in the process of moving from Rumkhapalong to Comilla:

    "A splendid day, F/O Macdonald and Lt. Potgieter bagged a Dinah [off] Oyster Island having been scrambled just as they were waiting to take off with the rest of the Squadron for Comilla. In fact so "unoperational" were they at this time - the Squadron having been released for the move that they had their beds and blankets stowed away in their gun panels, whilst Macdonald carried an empty 90 gallon tank, and Lt. Potgieter an empty 30 gallon overload. The whole thing happened quite unexpectedly. The aircraft were lined up ready to take off for Comilla when the phone rang, it was Ops asking if it were possible for us to scramble a section as a hostile was coming South from the Imphal area and 136 Squadron at Chittagong could get only one aircraft airborne. It was possible and off went F/O Macdonald and Lt. Potgieter beds and all. After several vectors they sighted the Dinah about 15 miles North West of Akyab. It was apparently intending to land at Akyab to refuel. However, that was soon cancelled, Lt. Potgieter gave it a short burst which set the Port engine on fire. Then F/O Macdonald came in and sprayed the propeller and cockpit. Finally Lt. Potgieter pranged the other engine and the next thing they saw was the Dinah falling to pieces before their eyes at 5000 feet. The burning fragments fell into the sea near Oyster Island. The rest of the Squadron had left for Comilla by the time the "KILLERS" returned to Rumkha, but by the time the "KILLERS" reached Comilla the news had got there before them."

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    Default Re: "Flying Battle" - 4 ADU

    POTGIETER was flying Spitfire XIII serial JG261 when he shared the victory over the Dinah; MACDONALD was in JF329.

    POTGIETER was in LV748 when he went missing. As was previously noted, CROAD was in MT960.

    Wilhar

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