The saga of No.249 Squadron part 2 as seen through the eyes of Pat
Wells, continued to entertain us. He recountered the day when his
Hurricanes on convoy patrol spotted a swarm of aircraft. a surefire
sign of approaching enemy planes. They attacked, and the leader was
shot down. -in error, as they discovered. because it was a swarm
of Spitfires. Fortunately, the leader baled out, but a furious
Wing Commander Douglas Bader visited 249 and also other squadrons
to find and nail the culprits. He was not successful, of
course. After an enjoyable leave spent at the Coconut Grove in
Pat and a number of other pilots were told they would be sent to the USA for advanced training. However. as soon as they had to learn starts and landings on a very short runway they smelled a rat. and when ordered to join the aircraft carrier "Furious". flatly refused to board. Only the promise of ample supplies of gin at tuppence changed their minds. and the carrier was boarded in a rush.
They docked at Gibraltar. and the squadron transferred to the "Ark Royal", which took them towards Malta. and they flew off to the island that became their base. They had almost daily tangles with enemy fighters. and Pat was injured again. although not in a dogfight but on the ground during an attack by Hauptmann Joachim Muencheberg in his Me 109.
He was back in harness a few weeks later, was sent to Alex and Cairo. joined a train to Luxor, and a river boat to Khartoum, arriving at Gordon's Tree training base in the desert. Training on Mohawks followed, and eventually Pat became one of many ferry pilots. with Nairobi. where Pat met his future wife, and Takoradi on the W. African coast, their departure points.
Posted to 73 squadron in the North African desert in 1943. he took part in night strafing operations and daylight actions over Pantelleria, and was involved in the tricky and dangerous attacks on searchlights on Sicily, prior to the invasion of the island.
Here Pat had to end his reminiscences, although we all would have liked to hear more of his delightful stories of his exploits on and off duty. The applause was well deserved and Tony Gordon thanked him for a job well done.
BOOK CORNER: COPEY'S CASTLE.
The Story of (HM)SAS UNITIE. Written by the late Capt. C. J. Harris and Roger Williams. Semi hard-cover, more than 300 pages. Well illustrated. Comprehensive index.
Orders can be placed with:
WO 1 N. Simpson. SAS UNITIE. P.O. Box 2761. C.T.. 8000 (Tel. 021 21-2198, Fax 021 21-2185) for R85.- each. plus postage and packing R 12.- each.
The 406th Anniversary of the HONOURABLE ARTILLERY COMPANY (LONDON) will be celebrated in the near future. Ex-Members and interested parties can telephone Jim Cowan at 011 325 48 50.
OCTOBER MEETING, (9.10.):
ladies who served in the South African Women's Services during WW II, irrespective of rank, and who became prominent in their own spheres after the war. are invited to a talk and discussion chaired by Col. O.E.F. Baker. Records and old (group)-photographs are welcome.
For enquiries please telephone John Mahncke.
John Mahncke 797 51 67
THURSDAY 19TH JUNE(MEETING NO. 236)
(A WEEK LATER THAN USUAL)
Panel programme on the 2nd S.A. Anti-Aircraft Regiment (1940 to its capture at Tobruk in June 1942), chaired by Colonel 0. Baker.
NON-MEMBERS ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND
Thursday 10th July: Illustrated talk by Major Helmoed Romer Heitman. Topic to be announced later.
Thursday 14th August: Illustrated talk on "The Bhambatha Rebellion:1906" by Mr. Ken Gillings, Chairman of the Durban Branch.
Sternly ordered by a superior officer to resume fighting, a reluctant Henry Harford first took care to tuck his prized possession into a small box before finally carrying on with the battle.
PAUL LANGE (PRO) Telephone 617-441 after hours