Clobbered was a word Dad used often, usually referring to some rugby match where the team he didn’t support lost. But during June 1943, we find clobbered has a much darker meaning – because another squadron clobbered an enemy aircraft and a New Zealand pilot was injured. I initially thought this pilot had died but some research proves otherwise.
June 1943 was Dad’s third month with the 127 Squadron, having joined on April 7, and we find him buzzing around in a Hurricane IIB, as the sole pilot. Logbook entries for June 1-16, 1943 show him undertaking more convoy patrols. I have to admit I don’t know what these convoys were all about but I guess they were Allied ships coming to the North African theatre of war with fresh troops and supplies. And so the 127 Squadron was providing air defense and I think night defence of Egypt. I know my dedicated readers will help me out here.
On June 6, during a scramble, Dad’s Hurricane IIB was overheating. Thanks to blog reader, John, I now know that fighter pilots in the 127 Squadron predominately flew Hurricanes during this period of WWII, so it’s the law of averages - Hurricane aircraft problems were bound to occur. On June 10, Dad encountered wheel trouble and could not land at Gaza (due to fog) so had to fly on to Lydda.
The sad thing is to read about another pilot – Owen Hooker. The logbook entry for June 6 says:
Overheating. 46 Sqd.Det clobbered a “Cant 1007″. Owen Hooker got it! NZer.
I’d love Dad to be sitting next to me right now because I’d be complaining: couldn’t you write more clearly in your logbook! I have no idea about the Cant 1007 reference, so a spot of research was needed and I think he is referring to the Italian bomber aircraft known as the CANT Z.1007 Alcione. If this is correct, then the pilots of No 46 Squadron beat up (as Dad would also say) the enemy aircraft – it was either destroyed or limped back to its base.
No 46 Squadron RAF I know was operating in St Jean, Palestine where the 127 Squadron was based. And I presume the Squadron also provided air defense for convoys. I’m not confident about 46 Sqd. Det – not sure what the Det stands for. Could it be Detachment or Detached? Help please!
Dad records that Owen Hooker got it and I initially thought this meant the chap had died. More research reveals nope, he returned to New Zealand on December 4, 1944. I found an entry for Cecil Owen Hooker (NZ41) in Wings Over Cambridge and it shows he was known as Owen Hooker.
Because Dad remarked that Owen Hooker was injured it had me intrigued. Did they know each other or serve together? Interestingly, Owen Hooker trained in Christchurch and later completed his operational training in the UK. Dad started his pilot training at No. 3 E.F.T.S. Harewood (May 1941), which I now know was located where Christchurch airport is now. So I wonder if this is how they met. Hooker departed New Zealand in 1941 – I think around mid-July according to the entry on Hooker and an article published in the Waikato Independent. So they were both in Christchurch at the same time.
Because both squadrons were also based in St Jean, Palestine or operated in the area, perhaps they met during flying missions or socially at the base of either squadron. Another mystery.
For June 13, Dad notes that he landed at Beirut on detachment. I’m not sure if this refers to him being detached temporarily to another squadron. For June 15, there is an interesting comment. Dad was once more involved in a scramble – he refers to Max. Angels and then makes the comment: Wouldn’t it????
I guess the scramble happened at a very early hour and so Dad wasn’t too impressed. But what on earth does Max. Angels mean?
Click on photos below to enlarge.