14 April 1941. Hurricanes over Libya

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by maisiefosse, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. maisiefosse

    maisiefosse Member

    This section follows the diary entry above for 1 April 1942 in my father's diary. He was Frank Wallbank, a fitter with 3rd King's Own Hussars (7899116) and was 23 at that time. They were in Libya, between Benghazi and Tobruk.
    "14 April 1941
    Today we had a grandstand view of the biggest air battle out here yet. At 7am two 109's dropped from the clouds and had a Hurricane in flames in about 10 seconds. The pilot safely baled out and the plane crashed 70 yards away. Then the Battle Royal started. There were about 55 Jerries and our Hurricanes were going up in 2's and 3's for about 20 minutes. It lasted for over an hour, the sky being full of planes and AA fire. We could see the bombs dropping. What a fight it was, with plane after plane coming down on targets. One plane came down in two pieces. At the count up we lost 3 planes and got 18 of theirs. A new squadron of fighters arrived and are now cruising around. This afternoon over 70,000 Aussie Infantry and Artillery are said to be arriving at the harbour. At 4pm 5 more Jerries came over and 2 more were brought down. One was brought down by one of our fighters and the other was damaged and crashed about a mile away. He came over us at about 30 feet, machine gunning all the way but as he landed among the Aussies I don't suppose he now takes any interest in life. The first raid was after 10 when 4 bombers raided the harbour, losing one. In the last 48 hours 53 Jerries have fallen to our lads
    The next afternoon we moved across the road to a new position – and soon regretted it as covering artillery got our range and gave us a lively 10 minutes- it was marvellous that nothing was hit but we didn't stay longer than necessary. Our new camp is half a mile nearer the sea between the aerodrome and a new landing ground. On our left is the ordnance arsenal so we should see some fun. Each night artillery from both sides carry on with the fireworks. At 8 pm eight dive-bombers came down practically right over us- we found afterwards that the arsenal had been their objective. Loads of shrapnel shells all round us from bombs sixty yards away and from AA.
    One bomb fell on an 8 ton stack of gelignite and burned everyone in this dump. Later we went to inspect the damage and found plenty of craters, including one which was about 40 feet deep and 20 feet across. There were also 2 aeroplanes with bombs still on board and Aussie RE's were removing the fuses.
    During the night, several planes were over the harbour. The following day was fairly quiet except at 4pm when 8 109's came out of the low cloud and bombed the harbour, Ack-Acks bringing one down."

    Frank Wallbank's war

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