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North Africa

Malta should not be regarded as a sit tight & take it area of the War. She could also dish it out.........

Malta has been an island of special strategic significance since man put warships onto the sea & WW II was no different. Rommel knew that he could not win in Libya & take the oil fields in the east unless Malta was neutralised. Why?

Rommel depended on supplies of fuel ammunition & food from Europe. The Axis partner Italy was nearest but this meant passing within range of bases on Malta whose forces would sink supply vessels. Malta had to be taken to secure a safe supply route to enable Rommel to gain access to the vast oil fields of the Middle East.

I set this section up as Bill White sent me some photos taken on an airstrip near Tobruk. This was a key point to capture for both sides as it was a strategic harbour vital in the supply of troops/tanks. Control of this port was hotly fought over & control of it changed hands after desperate battles.
The British 8th Army (or Desert Rats) under the command of General (later Fieldmarshall) Montgomery finally gained the upper hand in an immense barrage to retake the port of Tobruk for the final time.

This is not intended as a history of this campaign. I put this section in as Malta played a great part in stopping materials getting to Rommels Africa Korps & also attacking his army in North Africa.

The following photos were sent by Bill White with this information:-

In the period 1941-43 there were practically no operational sorties from Malta to North Africa, Malta was being pounded non stop, night and day, by German bombers and fighters, so it was just about impossible to establish a bomber station there, here is a small example:- on the 20th of April 1941, along with 2 other Wellingtons and crews, we flew from Kasferit to advanced Base 106, which was about 10 miles south of Tobruk, then at dusk we set off for Luqa, Malta, the following night we bombed Comiso, in Sicily, we landed back at Malta as it was getting light, and as we were being driven to our accommodation, (which was in a hospital for lepers) we saw our aircraft being destroyed by bombs, we waited 5 days and then commandeered a Wellington which was being ferried from UK to Egypt .
The Maltese people hated the Germans so much that on a couple of occasions when aircraft were shot down and the crews bailed out, the Maltese got there first and physically tore them to pieces alive, they carried away arms and legs and displayed them triumphantly in the streets.
Here's the other nicer part of war and front line people, at this time the front in North Africa was very fluid, on one occasion on our way back from Bombing Benghazi, we received a Radio message that ALG 106 had been overrun, and to go straight back to the Canal Zone, which we did with scarcely any fuel left, and of course all our kit was lost at ALG 106, about six months later a German Army lorry, approached a British army unit flying a white flag, they apologised for the delay and handed over all of our kit bags, the Army gave them a meal and sent them on their way with a pat on the back, our kit bags hadn't even been opened, so it's not all bad.

Fantastic photo of starboard wing & engine over the Great Pyramids.
Photo courtesy of Bill White

Taken over the port wing of a Wellington (Wimpy) bomber on a mission over North Africa.
Photo courtesy of Bill White

Wimpey over North Africa.
Photo courtesy of Bill White

Bill White sent this photo in. The caption reads:-
'My crew & Wellington Mk II bomber at ALG 106 Libyan Desert, south of Tobruk 1942.
I came across your web site whilst surfing, I flew Wellingtons on 149 Squadron at Kabrit, in the Canal Zone of Egypt and thought the attached photo might be of interest, it was taken at advanced landing ground 106 just south of Tobruk,


Air Raid on Tymbaki, Crete 1942
Bill White

On the night of 23rd March 1942 the Wellington Bombers of 148 Squadron, stationed at Kabrit, on the shores of the great Bitter Lake, in the Canal Zone Egypt, were directed to bomb a German base on one of the Greek Islands.
Myself and crew were flying the only Wellington Mark 2 aircraft which had the more powerful Rolls Royce Merlin Engines to enable it to carry a single 4,000 Pound Bomb, however the bomb was so large that the bomb doors had to be removed, and the bomb stuck out into the airflow, this upset the aerodynamics of the aircraft, slowed us down, and reduced our range, we were therefore unable to reach the Greek Islands, and were ordered instead to go alone to Tymbaki, near the south coast of Crete, where the Germans were thought to be building a new airfield.
On reaching the target area, we were unable to make out anything which might be a large construction area, and were puzzled at the lack of any enemy anti aircraft fire. Not wishing to waste our bomb, we made several runs, and eventually we dropped the bomb on a cleared area with what looked like temporary buildings on it, then returned to our advanced landing ground in the desert about 15 miles south of Tobruk, as we were unable to reach Kabrit with the remaining fuel.
About a month later we were called to the briefing room, at our base, Kabrit, there an army Captain Intelligence Officer told us how on that night he had been keeping watch from a nearby hill top, at Tymbaki, to assess the progress the Germans were making with building an airfield, when he heard a lone aicraft come over, heard us make several runs across then drop a single bomb dead in the middle of the Germans accommodation camp, just about wiping out everything, and everybody, he was most impressed, what also impressed him was the fact that he had only conveyed the information about the building of the airfield 3 days before. It is very rare to get such first hand eyewitness accounts of individual bombing results.