AIR VICE MARSHAL Ian D. McLACHLAN. DFC, MiD.
As Commanding Officer of 3 Squadron when it sailed to the Middle
East in July 1940, through until February 1941, McLachlan played a significant
part in forming it into a very effective Fighter Squadron in the face of
many formidable problems. McLachlan was awarded the DFC in 1941
for determined leadership and outstanding military achievements.
He was the first RAAF fighter pilot to be decorated in WW2.
Peter Jeffrey said that Ian McLachlan's period of command was very
successful; much of the positive work he did and the difficulties he
met and overcame were not generally understood and appreciated by the
Squadron members. In order to put the record straight, Peter made
the following comments:
"3 Squadron left Australia as an Army Co-op Squadron and just prior to
sailing, a number of permanent airmen were posted away and replaced by
new personnel. Both Squadron Leaders McLachlan and Peter Heath, who lost
his life early in the war, were trained as Army Co-op pilots and not as
"fighter pilots" and as Senior Permanent Air Force Officers. Neither did a lot of flying (in fact not too many Permanent Officers did
a lot of flying). Consequently, neither was fully trained for the
Squadron's active Desert Air Force role (i.e. that of a Fighter
When 3 Squadron was transhipped at Colombo, from the Orontes to the Dilwarra, the accommodation on the Dilwarra for the other ranks was
unsatisfactory. After much representation and argument, McLachlan was
able to have the O.R.s moved to the next deck, which was Sergeants' accommodation
and the Sergeants etc. shared the Officers' Deck.
On reaching the Middle East the Squadron was without aircraft and the
ground staff were posted to many R.A.F. units. McLachlan quickly
realised this could be disastrous and brought all members back under his
command and obtained aircraft. Firstly, there were
Gauntlets and when these proved
unsatisfactory, he pressed for and obtained
Gladiators. He then set
about reorganising the Squadron by having 2E and 2A Fitters transferred
into workshops for maintenance duties and Flight Mechanics and Flight
Riggers posted to the Flights to service the aircraft. This
allowed much greater flexibility in movement and the basis of the
Squadron's considerable mobility.
He found out, from the R.A.F., the cost of running a Gladiator Squadron
and after deductions for rations (obtained from the A.I.F.) and the pay
for the personnel, he notified Headquarters the cost of operating 3
Squadron. It was soon realised that Gladiators were not front-line
fighters and he pushed to have them replaced by Hurricanes - and had 3
Squadron refitted with them, ahead of a number of R.A.F. Squadrons.
McLachlan was a splendid administrator, a strong negotiator with a
positive attitude, who would not ask, but would advise Headquarters
and Air Board that he had done such and such because... And
he invariably got away with it! As well as having to contend
with Air Board and R.A.F. Middle East, he had tussles with 6th Div.
A.I.F. who wanted to control 3 Squadron.
Despite many difficulties, 3 Squadron performed notably in the 1st
Libyan Campaign and ably supported 6th Div. A.I.F., not as an Army Co-op
but as a Fighter Squadron."
By 14 February 1941, Peter Jeffrey said: "all the establishment hard-work had been done,"
when he took command of a very efficient and mobile
Fighter Squadron, with all sections capably led by officers who knew
exactly what to do:- viz. Harry King, Adjudant; Bert Boddison,
Engineering Officer; Bill Maclnnes, Equipment Officer.
At this time, Hurricane aircraft were arriving to
replace the Gladiators. Peter Jeffrey claimed that: "because of this organising,
3 Squadron was able to carry out the successful retreat from Benghazi to
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT John Rowley
The second pilot in 3 Squadron to be decorated was
Flight Lieutenant John (Jock) Rowley PERRIN. Perrin was the leader of a
formation of three fighters on patrol near Mersa el Berga when he
noticed bombs bursting on the ground, and saw nine Stukas dive-bombing
and strafing our troops. He called up the others in
his formation, but was apparently misunderstood. At all events, after a
careful look round for possible escorting fighters, Perrin dived on the
Stukas, accompanied by only one of his companions.
As the pair dived, they were attacked by 15 Messerschmitt
which Perrin had not seen, and Perrin's companion was shot down. Perrin
bagged one of the Stukas and a Messerschmitt before a cannon-burst in
his petrol tank set his aircraft on fire and slightly wounded Perrin.
In spite of fire and wound, Perrin continued to
attack the enemy until he had exhausted his ammunition. He then
crash-landed in the desert. As he staggered from his burning aircraft,
half blinded with oil and blood, he was machine-gunned by the pilots of
the Messerschmitts which continually dived at him as he made a desperate
dash for the shelter of a tree.
"It was the fastest 100 yards I have ever
run," he said jokingly later, "and when I barged into that
tree in my haste, I saw stars by the thousand."
The citation to the immediate award of the D.F.C.
granted Perrin for this incident stated that his determined leadership
and bravery in the face of vastly superior enemy forces, and his bearing
after the combat had had a very beneficial effect on the morale of the
remainder of the squadron.
Perrin was picked up by a patrol car and taken to
Benina aerodrome and a hospital. A little later, during the withdrawal
of the British forces across Cyrenaica he was again in action.
Perrin made three applications for a short
service commission in the R.A.F. between 1935 and 1938 before he was
accepted by the R.A.A.F. He entered Point Cook in July
1938, and upon graduation a year later, was posted to 3 Squadron.
He was 24 years old when he gained his D.F.C.
Twenty-two year old Peter Jeffrey
joined the RAAF in 1935, well before the outbreak of war. He
was posted (ranked Flight Lieutenant) to the desert in 1940 with 3
Squadron RAAF as Signals Officer. In February 1941, as a Squadron
Leader, he became Commanding Officer of 3 Squadron.
GROUP CAPTAIN Peter JEFFREY. DSO,
On 15 April 1941, he shot
down one of four JU52s that were landing and then destroyed three more
on the ground.
At this time, he was flying Hurricane
QS-J. For energetic and capable leadership, he received the DFC in 1941. In June 1941 he shot down a JU88 bearing Italian markings, and two days
later a Martin 167 bomber of the Vichy Air Force.
He was later promoted to a Wing Leader
uniting 112 Squadron RAF and 3 Squadron into a Wing; he handed over 3
Squadron to Squadron Leader Alan Rawlinson on 10 November 1941. On 22
November 1941, he was shot down but managed to return to base. On the 25
November he shot down a Bf 110 with three other pilots. On 30
November, he landed his Tomahawk in the desert, discarded his parachute
to make more space for Sergeant Tiny Cameron, a downed 3 Squadron pilot
(and the largest man in the Squadron!) and flew safely back to base
sitting on Cameron's lap. This happened just a few days before he was
awarded the DSO.
In March 1942, he was appointed
Commanding Officer of 75 Squadron RAAF, later handing the Squadron over
to J. F. Jackson. He spent time as an
Instructor in Townsville and Mildura with No.2 OTU and
at one stage, replaced Clive Caldwell as Wing Leader of 1 RAAF Wing at
Peter Jeffrey left the RAAF as a Wing
Commander in 1946 and became a farmer and grazier until he re-joined the
RAAF in 1951. In 1954, he was involved in the Woomera rocket trials. He
then became CO of Edinburgh Airfield until he left the RAAF in April
1956. He passed away 6 April 1997, aged 83.
also Peter's Australian War Memorial
LEADER John Francis
JACKSON. DFC. MiD.
John Francis ("Old John") Jackson, of St
George, Queensland, enlisted in the R.A.A.F. in 1939 and was awarded the D.F.C. in 1942
as a Flight Lieutenant , for his combat success with 3 Squadron. He had been a
member of 3 Squadron since December 1940, and had been in
operations in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and for a short period in Cyprus. He had
always shown marked keenness and determination and was an outstanding
Flight Leader. In April 1941, he attacked a force of enemy
bombers which was harassing Australian troops and shot down three of the
attackers. He destroyed eight enemy aircraft during his time
with 3 Squadron.
After serving a full tour of duty in the Middle East with 3 Squadron,
Jackson returned to Australia and then assigned to lead the
hurriedly-formed 75 Squadron with their Kittyhawk fighters to Port
Moresby, Papua. There they successfully challenged the might of
the Japanese air fleets that were attacking this vital Allied frontline
Over Port Moresby, John Jackson led his squadron in
furious aerial battles to defend the town and he also led successful
pre-emptive raids on the Japanese airstrip at Lae on the north coast of
New Guinea. On 10 April 1942, he was shot down and ditched in the
ocean near Lae, but evaded capture after swimming ashore and recruiting
the help of two friendly natives. His native saviours guided him
over the towering jungle-clad mountain ranges to the Australian outpost
at Wau. Jackson was then flown back to Port Moresby, where he
resumed leadership of his Squadron.
He died in tragic circumstances soon after, on 28
April 1942. 75 Squadron was down to their last few aircraft and
Jackson tutored his pilots to use the speed of their Kittyhawks to dive
through the Japanese formations in 'hit and run' attacks, and not to try
to dogfight with the superlative Japanese Zero fighters. Senior
RAAF officers (Garing and Gibson) visiting Moresby criticised this
tactic and incensed Jackson's pilots by calling them 'dingoes' [meaning
cowards]. The next day, John Jackson, an ace pilot and a genuine
hero, was shot down while attempting to show just how difficult it was
to dogfight the Zeroes in a Kittyhawk. He was one of 12 Australian
pilots from 75 Squadron who lost their lives during their 44 days
defending Port Moresby.
[Also see our
about "Old John" Jackson.]
WING COMMANDER Andrew ("Nicky")
BARR. OBE, MC, DFC and Bar.
Barr, a star International Rugby
player, arrived in England when World War II broke out. He returned to
Australia, joined the RAAF and graduated as a Pilot Officer in September
1940. In October 1941, he was posted to 3 Squadron in the Middle East
and soon displayed his skill in the Tomahawk and Kittyhawk fighters. In
his first 35 operational hours, Barr flew 22 missions, engaged in 16
combats and destroyed eight enemy aircraft. He quickly rose
through the ranks to become Squadron Leader.
On 11 January 1942, during an attempt
to rescue a fellow pilot he was shot down, which resulted in a 25-mile
walk back to base. On 26 June 1942, he was shot down for the third
time, but this
time captured. As a consequence, he spent a long period in Italian P.O.W.
camps as well as enemy hospitals. He made three unsuccessful
escape attempts and then on the fourth occasion, enroute to Germany by train, he
escaped and joined an Allied Special Airborne Services unit in which he
operated for eight months and helped fellow POWs to escape.
For services behind the lines in
Italy he was
awarded the Military Cross.
In October 1945, after five years of service, Nicky Barr
left the RAAF with a final tally of 12½
enemy aircraft destroyed.
Nicky Barr earned a reputation amongst allies and
enemies alike for his acts of bravery, his selflessness, his dogged
determination and his infectious sense of humour. Considered by all to be a great pilot and a true legend.
[See also our story "Nicky
Barr Shot Down".]
AIR COMMODORE Gordon Henry
DSO, DFC, MiD.
Beginning his flying training at Point Cook at the age of 19 years,
Steege graduated in 1938 as a Pilot Officer, and had been on service in
the Middle East for nine months when he was first decorated.
Squadron Leader Gordon Steege, of North Sydney,
gained his D.F.C. in recognition of his daring and fierce determination
in leading his flight against enemy formations. At the time of the
award, April 1941, Steege had destroyed at least seven enemy aircraft.
He had taken a notable part in the Libyan air operations, and his flight
had had some outstanding successes. On several occasions he had launched
attacks on hostile formations, breaking them up and inflicting serious
Steege remained in the RAAF after the war, rising to
the rank of Air Commodore.
Gordon was guest of
honour in 2010 at the 70th anniversary of the Squadron's
"Marching off to War"
from Richmond RAAF Base in 1940.
Sadly, Gordon died in September 2013. The
of his life is is now detailed in our 'Lifetimes' section.
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT Cecil ("Tiny") CAMERON
DFM and Bar
Posted to 3 Squadron R.A.A.F. in May 1941, Sergeant "Tiny"
(Cec) Cameron's natural popularity was quickly enhanced by his beloved
mascot, a cute monkey called "Buzz" who often flew as an
unofficial co-pilot with Tiny.
Shortly after he joined the Squadron, the Syrian campaign developed. Tiny along with other members of the squadron took an active part. In
fact, Tiny and his close mate, Derek Scott (Scotty) - another pilot with
whom he shared eventual incarceration in Lamsdorf - on the signing of
the Armistice in Syria, were sent in to occupy Bierut Aerodrome on
behalf of the Squadron.
After completion of hostilities in Syria, the Squadron was
transferred to the Libyan Campaign and took an active part in opposing
the Luftwaffe, and it was not long before Tiny accounted for his first
victim. Shortly after, he became a victim himself and was shot down, but
became part of Air Force history when he was picked up by Squadron
Leader Peter Jeffrey, who landed beside the crash site, squeezed Tiny
into his cockpit and brought him back to the Squadron. This was quite an
achievement as Tiny was 6ft 4in (193cm) and it was a single
About a month later, after scoring two more victories, Tiny was again
shot down and according to all reports, had crashed with his aircraft
and had not survived. Five days later, he returned with an Army unit to
his squadron, much to everyone's surprise and delight. Tiny went on to
claim four more victories before he was again shot down on 10 January 1942. He became a prisoner of war. Coincidentally, on this date, he was
awarded the D.F.M. for outstanding devotion to duty and for his score of
5 enemy aircraft shot down. He was subsequently transported to Italy
where he remained in a P.O.W. camp until the Italians surrendered in
1943 when he was transported to Germany.
He and others were force-marched across Germany and half way back
again before being released at Halle on 8 May 1945, when he was told of
his retrospective commission as a Flight Lieutenant.
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT Wilfred S. ("Woof")
ARTHUR, DSO, DFC, MiD.
Flight Lieutenant Wilfred
Stanley ARTHUR started 1942 well for 3 Squadron by adding his
D.F.C. to its mounting tally. A Queenslander, Arthur was 22 when
he gained the award. He joined the Permanent Air Force a day after war
was declared, and was posted to the Squadron in March 1940 as a
Pilot Officer, becoming Flying Officer in the following September, and
Flight Lieutenant in October 1941.
His D.F.C. was awarded for great gallantry in operations. On one
occasion under difficult weather conditions, he was leading a flight
over Bir el Gobi when a large formation of enemy aircraft was
encountered. Arthur immediately shot down two Stukas, and was then
attacked by enemy fighters. His own engine was hit, but before this had
happened, he had shot down one of the enemy fighters. Turning away his
damaged aircraft from the fight, Arthur shot down an Italian Macchi 200,
making his day's total four.
He went on to finish the war with 10 victories, 6+ he scored in No.3
[See also our article on Woof's
"No Ammo" DSO in the Pacific, and his interview about the "Morotai Mutini" on
our AWM page.]
SERGEANT Rex Kerslake
[Killed in action 9 December 1941.]
Already considered to be an 'ace' after destroying
aircraft, Rex Wilson was one of the nine Squadron pilots who took
off at 1035 hours in their Tomahawks on that fateful day to sweep the
Tobruk-El Gobi area.
They were surprised by six Bf 109s who bounced them
out of the sun. Three Tomahawks went down and two more were damaged but
stayed on to fight. Both Rex and Flying Officer David Rutter were in two
of those which went down and both were killed. The third was piloted by
"Tiny" Cameron who eventually crash-landed and managed to return to the
Squadron three days later.
Rex had already been recommended for the DFM. In
January 1945, it was awarded to him posthumously.
SQUADRON LEADER Frank FISCHER,
Frank Fisher spent his early flying
years under the guidance of Charlie Pitt, a World War 1 pilot who taught
Frank how to handle an aircraft in all situations.
Frank joined the RAAF in 1939, and was
posted to 3 Squadron serving in the Western Desert flying Tomahawks.
In June 1941 Frank was shot down near
the French air base of Hama. Crash landing his aircraft, he was faced
with a 140 mile walk back to base. During this trek he was befriended by
a tribe of nomadic Arabs who took him under their protection. Dressed in
Arab clothing they guided him back to his base.
After the war Frank resumed civil
flying with ANA and later TAA.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS CITATION:
In November 1941 Flying Officer FISCHER was returning
alone from a patrol, a mechanical defect having arisen which caused
the windscreen of his aircraft to be completely covered with oil, when
he saw a force of nine Messerschmitt 109s about to machine-gun aircraft on
one of our forward landing grounds.
Despite the handicap imposed by his lack of vision,
Flying Officer Fischer engaged and destroyed one of the hostile aircraft
and attacked three of the others before he was compelled to abandon his
By his skill and initiative, Flying Officer Fischer
completely broke up the enemy attack thereby saving the aircraft based
on the landing ground.
SQUADRON LEADER Walter Kenneth WATTS DFC
Ken Watts enlisted with the RAAF on 9 November 1940.
He trained as a pilot at Essendon in Victoria and Wagga Wagga in NSW. He
embarked from Sydney on 1st September, 1941 bound for the Western
Desert. Between 7 February 1941 and until he was shot down on 6 April
1944, his log book shows 877 hours of flying Tiger Moths, DH82s, Wirraways, Hurricanes, Spitfires, Kittyhawks and Warhawks.
He was posted from 3 Squadron to become C.O. of the famous
"shark-teeth" 112 Sqd. (29/3/1944) where he was shot down and
taken Prisoner-of-War on 6 April 1944 near Todi, Italy. His Kittyhawk FR-811 was hit by ground fire and he was
forced to bail out. He was later captured by German troops. Ken Watts
suffered brutal beatings at the hands of the Gestapo and the head
injuries he received at that time eventually resulted in him being wheelchair-bound for the latter part of his life. Ken was held at Stalag Luft
No.1 until his release by Russian Troops in 1945.
AIR VICE MARSHAL Brian
Alexander EATON. CB, CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC, AMERICAN SILVER
Brian Eaton served with 3 Squadron RAAF in
the Middle East and Sicily. He had an illustrious career in the RAAF
spanning some 38 years from a Fighter pilot to Air Vice Marshal. He served with the following Squadrons:
No.3 RAAF ~
Sqd.RAF ~ No.5 Sqd. SAAF ~
Sqd. RAF No.260
Sqd. RAF ~ No.450 Sqd. RAAF
He flew Hurricanes, Kittyhawks, Mustangs and Meteor
Jets. On the 6th October, 1943 he was awarded an immediate
DFC for his attack on a German tank and support column.
In October 1992, during the Memorial Service for our
former Commanding Officer Air Vice Marshal Brian Alexander Eaton
C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O. and Bar, D.F.C., U.S. Silver Star, held at Duntroon
Anzac Memorial Chapel, the eulogy given by Air Marshal Jake Newham
included the following tribute by
Padres Fred McKay and Bob
"As the two surviving
Padres from the
Middle East and Italy days, we wish to express our special gratitude
for the experience we had of working beside Brian Eaton - not only in
his magnificent leadership of 3 Squadron but in his later command of
239 Fighter Wing.
We were at his side the day he got the gold braid of
Group Captain on his cap - and we were around when he was adorned with
his D.F.C. and D.S.O. ribbons.
But Brian was a man who had a greatness beyond his
gold braid, for he possessed a youthful wizardry which made him a
Commander who won devoted loyalty through his human friendliness, his
scrupulous efficiency, and his practical understanding ... even of the
Our affection for him was deep and real and we
remember the letters we wrote to and received from his mother whose
prayers followed him whatever he did every day of his adventuring
His famous Log Book is now closed and
we thank God for the unforgettable memories of the man himself. He
stood with us through difficult and dangerous days - and we express
our loving sympathy to Jo and the family commending them to the
sustaining grace of God in the days which are ahead."
[See also Brian's Australian War
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT Arthur DAWKINS
Arthur Dawkins served with 3 Squadron for a period of
5 years and flew operations in the desert and Northern Italy. On the
March 1943, with other pilots, he strafed an enemy motor column. As
Arthur passed over a motor transport that he hit, it exploded with such
force that the canvas tarp from the vehicle flew up and wrapped around
his wing; he flew back with the tarp draped over his wing tip. On
landing the mechanics found that the air intake of his Kittyhawk CV-B
No. FL-288 was full of packets of razor blades.
Arthur later served with Desert Air Force
Communications Unit and had the pleasure of flying King George VI, known
as "Colonel Kent", on an inspection (26/7/44).
[Some spectacular pictures of Arthur in a captured Macchi fighter
are featured in our article:
3 Squadron's (Captured!) Italian Air
SQUADRON LEADER Reginald N. B. STEVENS,
An exceptional man, respected by all, Reg Stevens rose from Sergeant Pilot to become one
of the Commanding Officers of 3 Squadron during his distinguished career.
Bobby Gibbes once described Reg Stevens as
skilful pilot with bags of guts." Even as a Flight Sergeant, he
befriended all the sprog pilots and earned his reputation for
operational reliability with his outstanding eyesight. His rapid rise
through the ranks from Warrant Officer to Squadron Leader in just two
weeks, to take command of the Squadron, was unparalleled in the
On 3 August 1943, Sergeant Johnny Howell-Price was
shot down into
the sea off the Sicilian coast near Catania. Reg saw his plight and
pin-point dropped his dingy to Johnny, and
whilst circling above him, alerted Air Sea Rescue. He stayed above
until the rescue-Walrus arrived, but during the rescue pick-up, an
battery began shelling the Walrus. Reg went straight in and put the battery out
of action, but suffered serious aircraft damage in doing so. He crash-landed, but stepped out unhurt and rejoined the Squadron that same day. For this action,
he was awarded an immediate DFC.
Reg Stevens's tribute to Brian Eaton is
"There are many of our members who knew Brian for much longer than I
did. However, I must say, perhaps no one had a greater respect or
affection for the little bloke than I did.
He was a superb pilot and did not think it infra-dig to fly as a
number two to an N.C.O. pilot. All the time he was gaining experience;
and I was delighted on 19 April 1943 when Brian was appointed C.O. of 3.
I served under Brian for only two months from 19 April to 19 June
1943 when he went off non-effective sick and I assumed command of the
Squadron; however the two months under his command were very happy ones
and the respect I had for him became a real affection."
Brett Stevens, Reg
Stevens's very proud grandson, has provided us with
a few memories of Reg's service during WW2.
SQUADRON LEADER Murray Percival
DFC and Bar.
"Gasher" Nash was Commanding Officer of the
Squadron at three different occasions during the Italian Campaign. His first
hand-over, to Rex Bayly, was because his tour of duty had expired. Yet he
still came back for another tour.
His flying ability was exceptional. On 8 January 1945,
his "tree-pruning" during a very low level attack on enemy
transport vehicles, resulted in the tip of one of his Mustang's wings
being torn off by the tree and, as well, the mainframe was badly dented.
Only his superb flying skills kept the aircraft under control and
he limped home on a wing and a prayer.
It is a mark of his outstanding leadership, daring
and ability as a fighter pilot that he was required to attend and
contribute to a special training course in the U.K. on air fighting
tactics. He had just left the U.K. when the war ended but returned to
take over the Squadron for the third time and to wind up the Squadron's
participation in the war.
Please also see our
tribute page to Murray.
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT Kenneth Albert
On 2 March 1944, when a Flying Officer, Ken Richards
received an immediate DFC for his accurate bombing attack in the
previous January, on shipping off the Yugoslavian coast ... in fact, he
dropped a bomb clean down the funnel of a 3,000 ton enemy vessel with
Near the end of February, he attacked a 5,000
ton merchant ship and his direct hit split the vessel in two.
His citation included these words: "This
officer has invariably displayed commendable courage and determination,
and his accurate bombing has been a noteworthy feature of his efforts
On 8 March 1945, Ken took over the command of the
Squadron from Murray Nash for several months until Murray returned to
the Squadron shortly after the war in Europe had ended.
SQUADRON LEADER Rex Howard BAYLY DFC
Bayly had already completed a North African desert stint with 3
Squadron (famously being
Bobby Gibbes), and had already earned his DFC in March 1943, by the time he
was appointed C.O. of the Squadron - in April 1944 during the Italian
This was a particularly difficult time for flying activities, as the
focus of operations was on precision-bombing of enemy supply routes.
He led the Squadron in one of their most spectacular
missions... participating in the 239 Wing
bombing attack on the
hydro-electric dam on the Pescara River near Chieti. Each
of the Squadron's 12 Kittyhawks were loaded with two 500-pounders and
one 1,000-pounder. The sluice gates and the adjoining powerhouse were
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT Ian Howard ROEDIGER DFC
Whilst on his second operational tour with the Squadron, he was on
patrol on 13 May 1944, when ack-ack hit his engine's oil system. Knowing
he only had a few minutes before he went down, he still continued on his
bombing dive, dropped his load and got back to 6,000 feet when his
engine faltered badly. The aircraft lost height rapidly.
He was at 2,500 feet when he spotted a tiny 200ft (60 metre) strip,
so he belly-landed and was able to walk away from the wreck.
SQUADRON LEADER John Carlisle
DSO, DFC and Bar.
Jack Doyle's enthusiastic contributions to the Squadron were
considerable. Whilst dive-bombing a vital railway bridge in Italy in
April 1944, he dropped his 1,000-pounder so low and accurately that
shrapnel from the explosion ripped holes in the tail of his Kittyhawk.
Also, that same April, he, then a Flight Commander, was given
temporary command of the Squadron before later being appointed as a
liaison Squadron Leader to the Mobile Operations Radio Unit. Whilst in
that capacity he was lucky to escape with his life when a time-bomb went
off under twenty observers, spotting operational activity from the
upstairs of an Italian chateau. Doyle and two others fell three
stories through the collapsed floors. He lived but 14 others were
In October 1944, he became Commanding Officer of 450 Squadron and
remained their C.O. until the war ended.
See also our Tribute to Jack.
The Church of England Grammar School in East Brisbane educated two
Squadron pilots who were both killed at
El Alamein in
(killed in flying accident 18/8/42) and Garth Neill
DFM (killed by flak 22/10/42).
Mactaggart attended from 1931 to
1939 representing the school at Swimming and Rugby, leaving at Senior level. Neill
attended from 1935 to 1937, leaving at Junior level. Their sacrifice is commemorated on a
memorial in the