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Thread: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

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    Default Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Looking for details of several Blenheim Delivery Flights (BDFs) in late 1940 UK to Middle East.
    Ideally I should like to see some record of
    Aircraft x serial, aircrew, and date for BDFs UK to Egypt in Sep 1940 and Nov 1940

    Detail to hand, from aircrew Log Book, diary and later narrative sources.

    About 24 Sep 1940
    Three Blenheim IV aircraft
    Wyton-Thorney Island-Malta-Egypt overflying France by night
    Inc Mk IV T2174 (Herbert, Dunnet, Young)

    From 29 Nov 1940
    Individual Blenheim IV aircraft successive flights
    Watton-Thorney Island-Malta-Egypt overflying France by night
    Inc Mk IV T2179 (Sgts Baker, Hay, Checketts)
    and others incl Sgts Bennett, Tunstall and France
    and at least one other (Sgt Martin as Obs)

    The two known a/craft are both recorded as on Wyton charge before departure, while Martin (a/c not known) reported dep Bodney.
    Not unexpectedly, AM Form 78 detail is sparse, just broadly confirming dating.

    Apart from the few aircrew accounts (above), after searching other later accounts (Warner Bristol Blenheim eg, and AHB Middle East Campaigns Vol I Annex: Aircraft reinforcements ), I've so far been unable to find deep details of Blenheim Delivery Flights to the Middle East.

    I'm thinking that perhaps the following Operations Record Books for Sep-Dec 1940 may assist with a/craft, crew and date details
    AIR 28/844 THORNEY ISLAND
    AIR 28/902 Watton
    AIR 28/905 Watton Appendices
    AIR 28/961 WYTON

    Possibly RAF Middle East records might help - though BDF mentions at Squadron level eg 211 Squadron AIR 27/1302 (or 1304) are v sparse and nil for the dates in question.

    Before I go ordering TNA copies blind, I'd be grateful for members advice as follows:
    Would the Thorney Is & Watton or Wyton ORBs assist?
    Might there be another RAF Middle East ORB or other UK source?
    Does anyone have copies of any of the above for the dates or periods noted, please?

    Don Clark
    Last edited by Don Clark; 2nd November 2022 at 08:31. Reason: Added corrected Stn error/omission
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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Hi Don

    I have the Watton ORB but there is no mention of the flight you quote in it. I don't have the appendices for November, so can't confirm whether it's in there or not.

    Malcolm

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    Don Clark (2nd November 2022)

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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Thank you, Malcolm, even a negative result is of help here.

    There may be some other Blenheim Delivery Flight/BDF source than Stn ORBs, but a fair amount of searching at TNA found nothing of relevance.

    Most grateful for any help at all on possible/known sources for BDF flight details Sep-Dec 1940 (dates, aircraft ids, crews), please...
    Last edited by Don Clark; 2nd November 2022 at 18:54.
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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Don,

    I have looked at the Thorney Island ORB (AIR 28/838) for September to December 1940, but no joy. No references at all to Blenheims leaving for Malta or the Middle East.
    Oddly, there are two mentions of Marylands ('Glenn Martin aircraft') leaving for Malta. One each on October 30th and November 9th. No Blenheims or other types.

    Regards,

    Martin Gleeson.

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    Don Clark (2nd November 2022)

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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Thank you, Martin, again helpful: as Thorney Is was the o/s departure point of the time, that's saved a lot of pointless copying.

    The period in question covers a period of increasing despatch of Blenheim IVs to re-inforce Middle East, before Talkoradi etc.

    My end interest is in aircrews who arr ME per BDF, then posted in to 211 Squadron from late 1940 (Desert then Greece).
    The crews involved delivered Mark IVs to Egypt. While some Mark IVs went on to Greece, none came to 211 Sqn with Mark Is to the bitter end.
    It was Palestine in May 41 before they finally got their hands on Mark IVs.

    Re-thinking the TNA search on
    Blenheim Delivery Flight/BDF
    (which had found only the poignant AIR 81 individual loss files) suggested at least winnowing around
    Overseas Aircraft Delivery
    which with some fiddling found
    AIR 23/7569 Greece: delivery of aircraft etc. to British Air Force units
    though seemingly nothing else in RAF Middle East files - my search technique may be too poor.

    Anyway, I'll look into AIR 23/7569 - unless someone else has already looked?
    Request to RAF Museum DoRIS kindly produced Form 78s as above, but no addnl info.
    Possibly enquiry to AHB might uncover either some accessible source or actual details*.

    Any other advice on possible/known sources for BDF flight details to Middle East Sep-Dec 1940 (dates, aircraft ids, crews), very welcome.

    Again my thanks for replies to date.

    *Footnote: AHB request lodged.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 2nd November 2022 at 22:29. Reason: AHB added
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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Out of the Edit window - Further notes for completeness, re Sources consulted:

    Warner Bristol Blenheim includes a brief list of losses "En route Middle East" at Ch 22 Appendix 3. As losses compiled from A/craft loss cards, interesting to note that these are listed by, apparently, originating Squadron. No help for the present topic, aiming to account all aircraft and crews of particular BDFs. However, did prompt the following re-check

    AIR 27/681 & 685, 82 Sqn
    As both Sgts Checketts (and crewmates) and Martin (and crewmates) were posted on ops with 82 Sqn prior to dep ME per BDF, checked Forms 540, 541 and Appendices for Sep and Nov 1940.
    Confirmed again: NIL result on BDFs.
    Interesting side note: by 1941, 82 Sqn was filing Personnel Occurrence Reports (PORs) in Appendices. These *might* have helped in late 1940 - none filed.
    Also in 1941, Appendices include at least one complete list of Sqn aircraft by serial and individual call-letter!

    AHB Middle East Campaigns Vol I Ops Libya, Western Desert Sep 39 to Jun 41
    One of the many invaluable compilations by AHB soon post-war, these narratives aim at a slightly broader level of summary, with sources.
    Not expected, then, to show the BDF details sought (checked and confirmed).

    For the record, the Annex on Aircraft Reinforcements For The Middle East shows just what level of difficulty Longmore was dealing in 1940-41 between multiple volatile operational fronts, high u/s and loss rates, low replacement levels by air, plus an irascible PM who had lost sight of the difference between actual serviceable IE aircraft with frontline ops Sqns vs overall stock count of aircraft (incl non-ops units, reserves, u/s repairs and deeper maintenance off Sqn). Also, while the slow start and later success of the Takoradi route across Africa to Egypt is covered at some length, the difficulties of the earlier routes (overflying France by night, later doglegging across Bay of Biscay to Gibraltar) are accorded less detail - eg the date of ceasing the France route remains unclear ("after fall of France", vs the above late 1940 dates, Post #1 above).

    Likely to be some time for reply from AHB, so to repeat, I'd greatly appreciate any other advice on possible/known sources for BDF flight details to Middle East Sep-Dec 1940 (dates, aircraft ids, crews).
    Last edited by Don Clark; 4th November 2022 at 20:16.
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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Hello Don,
    The following list of Blenheim's that were lost in the Middle East area during August to December 1940. It may give a lead to the serial number blocks that were available around the time you are searching . Of course there may have been more :)
    All the very best.
    Alex

    BLENHEIM Middle East Losses August to December 1940.

    AUGUST 1940
    1st - L8406 - 8 Sqn - Eritrea.
    4th - L8532 - 211 Sqn - Egypt.
    5th - L8375 - 8 Sqn - Egypt.
    6th - L4911 - 11 Sqn - Aden.
    10th - L8503 - 8 Sqn - Aden/Sea.
    10th - L8506 - 8 Sqn - Aden/Sea.
    12th - L8387 - 39 Sqn - Aden.
    12th - L8402 - 39 Sqn -Somalia.
    17th - L8434 - 39 Sqn - Middle East/Sea.
    18th - L1479 - 8 Sqn - British Somaliland.
    20th - L8474- 39 Sqn - Middle East.
    26th - T2058 - 114 Sqn - Italy/Sea.
    26th - L9218 - 203 Sqn - Eritrea.
    27th - T2062 - Tunisia/Sea.
    31st - L8397 - 55 Sqn - Egypt.

    SEPTEMBER 1940
    4th - L8376 - 211 Sqn - Libya.
    6th - L8543 - 39 Sqn - Aden.
    6th - L8453 - 84 Sqn - Iraq.
    6th - T2075 - 203 Sqn - Aden.
    13th - N3589 - 40 Sqn - Pantelleria/Mediterranean.
    16th - T2052 - 113 Sqn - Egypt.
    17th - L6660 - 211 Sqn - Egypt.
    18th - T2048 - 113 Sqn - Libya.
    21st - T2061 - 14 Sqn - Eritrea.
    25th - L8523 - 211 Sqn - Middle East.
    26/27th - T2176 - 57 Sqn - Lampedusa/Mediterranean.
    27th - L8394 - 55 Sqn - Egypt.
    30th - L6665 - 45 Sqn - Eritrea.
    30th - T2171 - 113 Sqn - Mediterranean.

    OCTOBER 1940
    2nd - L8452 - 45 Sqn - Eritrea.
    4th - L4903 - 8 Sqn - Aden.
    5th - K7106 - 30 Sqn - Palestine.
    11th - T2074 - ME - Middle East.
    11th - T2172 - 14 Sqn - Sudan.
    12th - L8530 - 55 Sqn - Egypt.
    13th - L8463 - 45 Sqn - Eritrea.
    13th - L8502 - 45 Sqn - Eritrea.
    18th - L1538 - 55 Sqn - Egypt.
    20th - T2112 - 203 Sqn - Persia.
    26th - T2057 - 14 Sqn - Sudan.
    27th - T2068 - 113 Sqn - Egypt.

    NOVEMBER 1940
    9th - FFAF - N3623 - Africa.
    14th - L1378 - 84 Sqn - Middle East.
    14th - L1389 - 84 Sqn - Middle East.
    15th - L1120 - 30 Sqn - Albania.
    19th - L8475 - 45 Sqn - Sudan.
    19th - L9458 - 203 Sqn - Aden/Sea.
    21st - L1166 - 30 Sqn - Greece.
    24th - L8511 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    26th - R3593 - 14 Sqn - Yemen.
    26th - T2067 - 113 Sqn - Middle East.
    28th - L1385 - 84 Sqn - Albania.
    29th - T2080 - OADU/107 Sqn - Tunisia.
    30th - T2114 - OADF - Spain.

    DECEMBER 1940
    1st - K7103 - 30 Sqn - Greece.
    2nd - T2187 - 101 Sqn - Mediterranean.
    4th - R2770 - 14 Sqn - Middle East.
    6th - K7100 - 30 Sqn - Greece/Corfu.
    7th - L1381 - 84 Sqn - Albania.
    7th - L8455 - 84 Sqn - Albania.
    7th - L8457 - 84 Sqn - Albania.
    7th - L1535 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    7th - L4926 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    9th - T2073 - 113 Sqn - Egypt.
    12th - R2790 - RAF Takoradi - Ghana.
    12th - L8465 - 45 Sqn - Egypt.
    14th - L8395 - 11 Sqn - Egypt.
    14th - T2167 - 14 Sqn - Middle East.
    14th - L8790 - 55 Sqn - Middle East/Sea.
    14th - T1872 - 55 Sqn - Egypt.
    14th - L8514 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    15th - L1484 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    18th - L8462 - 30 Sqn - Albania.
    22nd - L4814 - 84 Sqn - Greece.
    22nd - L8374 - 84 Sqn - Albania.
    22nd - L8471 - 84 Sqn - Middle East.
    26th - L1482 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    28th - T2178 - 55 Sqn - Egypt.
    29th - K7104 - 30 Sqn - Greece/Sea.
    31st - L1540 - 211 Sqn - Greece.
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 5th November 2022 at 12:49.

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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Thanks for that Blenheim losses compilation, Alex, appreciated. The Mark IVs among them may be of assistance at some point.

    From the orig sources #1 above, the known Mk IVs are T2174 (c24 Sep 40 BDF) and T2179 (c29 Nov 40 BDF) - both arr in Egypt.
    Neither a/craft accorded a Sqn alloc on Form 78

    So for T serial Mk IVs in the above list

    26 Aug T2058
    AB: crashed in Med on transit flight
    27 Aug T2062
    AB: crashed in sea on ferry flight

    27 Sep T2176
    AB: ran out of fuel and crashed on ferry flight to Middle East

    29 Nov T2080
    AB: Missing on ferry flight, believed shot down nr Tunisia
    30 Nov T2114
    AB: Missing on ferry flight to Middle East, believed shot down nr Pantellaria
    2 Dec T2187
    AB: Missing on ferry flight to Middle East

    Taken together, these indicate the considerable danger of the long BDF transit flights being undertaken.
    This at a time when the rate of aircraft despatch was being increased.

    It is possible the four Sep and Nov BDF losses were associated with the Flights I'm looking into, though there is no apparent assn with the 2 known 82 Sqn crews.
    Whether BDF aircraft were readied for dispatch in related serial blocks, can't say.
    Whether BDFs of say 3 aircraft in company had some prior crew/Sqn association, can't say.
    Or the link may be just that they were all suitably experienced Blenheim crews.

    Problem is, despite Alex's much appreciated effort and the tantalising hints arising, in effect we're looking here from the wrong end of the events - really need to be looking at any despatch records, I feel.
    Looking fwd to an AHB reply on BDFs as such but again, I'd greatly appreciate any other advice on possible/known sources for BDF flight details:
    dates, aircraft ids, crews, to Middle East, late Sep and late Nov/early Dec 1940.

    AB: RAF Aircraft T1000-V999 Halley, Air Britain 1997
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th November 2022 at 08:21.
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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    For general information re AHB:
    AHB Enquiry service (ahb.raf@btconnect.com) were able to reply 11 days after request lodged. Appreciated.

    For possible future reference re Blenheim Delivery Flights generally:
    Prior work (above, eg) found no UK BDFs (aircraft id, crew, date) dep for Middle East mentioned in any related Sqn or Stn ORB or Appendices.
    Plus AHB reply declared
    "Unfortunately, we do not have any information on the Blenheim Delivery Flights".
    Last edited by Don Clark; 17th November 2022 at 21:04.
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    Default Re: Blenheim Delivery Flights to Egypt late 1940

    Hello Don,
    Can only suggest that for a start you look at the Mk.IV's in my list and check the last date they are mentioned in their UK based Squadron's and then the first date in the Squadron's after arrival in the Middle East. That may narrow down the numbers. Then again you may have done that already.
    Good hunting
    Alex

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