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Help identifying WW2 RAF trucks


Cheshire Steve
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It just gets better and better. Thats a Wellington on the move. Battleships are great the Italians were very inovative with there Pouglise anti torpedo bulges and other things. Warspite still has the British record for hitting another battleship at sea on the move when it hit the Giuleo Cesare.

Edited by john1950
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I wonder if the censor has been at the british numbers. Those two are chancing there luck on the roof of the truck, I usually take one to many steps if I climb on anything. I feel I should know the truck but I cannot put a handle on it. A well used JU87 on its nose, three other different types in the other photo.

Edited by john1950
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I don't know if the censor got to see these, my father was using a camera recovered from a reconnaissance plane, and I have no idea where he got the film developed. I remember him telling me that he was breaking the rules by taking a photo of his air sea rescue boat. I think the issue is that the numbers are simply not very distinct in black and white photos. As you will see from these, which I think are K6143 (or maybe KC143) and FL897. If these numbers translate into anything then be very interested to know.

 

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K6143 is a Gloster Gladiator Mk1. Delivered from factory to 72 Sqn. at RAF Tangmere on 12/2/37, used by this unit until April 1939. Transferred on 11/5/39 to form 112 Sqn. Appears it travelled to the Middle East via HMS Argus. Written off at Khartoum on 20/6/41 when a tyre burst on landing.

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Very interesting photos again!

 

Post 24 - the old biplane transport is a Vickers Valentia, and not much more advanced that the Vickers Vimy and Victoria dating from those the cash strapped days after WW1. Essentially it was a bomber converted in to a transport with a new fuselage and used in Egypt, Iraq and India until 1944! This aircraft may have been with 216 Sqn based at Heliopolis in Egypt.

 

Post 25 - The aircraft with a 'glass-house' shows a crashed Douglas DB-7 Boston, with early type of RAF roundel used up to 1942. Possibly it is from 12 Sqn South Africa AF as they used these in the desert from March 1942.

 

Post 28 - The FW190 appears to be in delivery codes 'KM+EY' as apart from training units back in the Reich such codes don't match the tactical markings normally used a letter plus a number or vice versa. The aircraft behind is a rare Henschel Hs 129 armoured twin engine single seat ground attack aircraft some of which mounted a 7.5cm canon underneath, which was of greater calibre than may tanks used in the desert! Behind the Henschel is a Junkers Ju53/3m transport plane. I guess this photo was taken at a collection point for captured aircraft perhaps after the Axis surrender in Tunisia in 1943.

 

Post 30 - This shows a Curtis Kittyhawk Mk III and if the serial is FL897 then this is a fighter from 250 Sqn, that was on the move to new landing grounds in the desert almost every week! The Sqn typically had LD as its Sqn Code.

 

Post 32 - BN358 was a Hurricane Mk II and was used by 80 Sqn but was shot down by Messerschmitt Bf109s near El Alemein on 18th July 1942

Edited by LarryH57
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It is because people like your father took clandestine photographs and kept diaries recording events, that we have this historic record that is able to augment and stand alongside the official history. Sometimes it is the only true record of events as officialdom did not want cameras around.

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Fascinating stuff. I will have to look and see if I can spot some more numbers for you to decode. You mentioned Heliopolis, my father was there from Jul 1944 to Jan 45, and Apr 45 to Jan 46 (he was in Athens in the interim). The entries in his diary simply say 168MU 6 Flight, so no mention of a squadron.

 

The only actual squadrons mentioned in his notes are 74 squadron, Nicosia, June 43 to Nov 43, and 451 Squadron RAAF at El Gamill, March-May 1944, however the RSU may have wandered far and wide, and in Nov 42 to June 43, it just says 58RSU Det D.A.F., though I think that was mainly working from Mersa Matruh.

 

Here's a rather broken German plane, which could be the one my father described them finding in the desert and spending ages checking it for booby traps, eventually discovering (by virtue of it going off) that it had one in the fuselage triggered by the rudder controls. It certainly doesn't look crashed, and pretty unlikely its a direct shell strike.

 

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I am beginning to think that he may have had a friend who developed the photos and that way was able to get prints from some negatives he didn't create himself. So for example a shot of an interesting plane which was taken at some other time. He definitely was taking the RSU recovery photos, but I suspect the photos he has of the Italian fleet in Alexandria were taken by someone else, and may even be official photos and he was able to get a print off the negatives for his collection.

 

Steve

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My father never really spoke about the war until dementia robbed him of all his recent memories. Now its about all he can remember. He told me about one of the RSU sorties where they were accompanied by the LRDG. I wish I had recorded that conversation as he told me his view of how somebody (who's name escapes me) formed them from various rebellious people who were in the pokey for insubordination and other misdemeanors. If they hated the Germans and wanted to fight then that was their ticket out into the LRDG (this according to my father. I don't want to upset anyone, just relating what he told me). He said that as an escort for the RSU they left a lot to be desired, as the RSU tried to keep a very low profile. But the LRDG were prone to charging off into the night and attacking some target or other and coming back in the morning. I asked if they used Jeeps, and he said they favoured Chevrolet trucks.

 

He also said there was an Australian RSU unit, and they were notorious for taking beer in the containers that should have had water for the engines. The engines had to have recycled beer. Of course I don't know if he really knew that to be true, or whether it was one of the stories told back at camp and he believed it.

 

Steve

Edited by Cheshire Steve
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It is because people like your father took clandestine photographs and kept diaries recording events, that we have this historic record that is able to augment and stand alongside the official history. Sometimes it is the only true record of events as officialdom did not want cameras around.

 

The story of his trip out to the Middle East was also a fascinating one, and from his diary I was able to fill in some gaps on Wikipedia about the itinerary of the troop ship Aquitania.

 

I have some non-vehicle photos as well, including one of miles of Italian troops having surrendered and being marched along a road presumably in North Africa.

 

Steve

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Facinating stuff. I do not know how Dad got out to the Middle East but he came home via Durban and Cape Town, on I think the Strathallan. After leaving his ASR boat on the bitter lakes having motored through the Suez Cannal. He was in Port Said when they stripped a Spitfire of everything non essential and with minimal fuel sent it to intercept the daily Photo rece 109 that came at the same time every day. It crashed onto the breakwater. He was involved in making the I think Hall Scott boats because they were bigger that the BPB whalebacks, look and sound like Eboats. They changed there appearance with awnings and ply,and made the exhausts go down the transome into the water so that they made a burbaling sound. They then were sent running commandoes into the Dodecanes Islands he stayed in North Africa I think.

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That Bf109 is I'm fairly certain a Bf109F, which was fitted with rounded wing tips and used quite a lot in the desert from 1941, whereas the FW190 was a bit rarer and came later. As for this Bf109, it has a broken back which could have been bomb damage, as there is black on the rear fuselage. The tail wheel is facing backwards so it could be that the aircraft was unserviceable with engine cover off and pushed in to that position, only to be hit by a bomb or canon fire. Bf109s were often crashed by novice pilots but it more likely that the prop, undercarriage or wings would suffer the most! It has 9 as the tactical number and white wing tips and rudder. Interestingly the Swastika appears to be painted on a lighter colour.

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He also said there was an Australian RSU unit, and they were notorious for taking beer in the containers that should have had water for the engines. The engines had to have recycled beer. Of course I don't know if he really knew that to be true, or whether it was one of the stories told back at camp and he believed it.

 

Steve

 

Steve,

In your first post, the photo with the GMC six wheel truck, behind it is what I am sure is an Australian Chev 'ute', or to be correct, a Van, 15cwt, 4x2 GS(Aust.) Chevrolet. So this photo may be of the Aussie RSU unit?

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Steve,

In your first post, the photo with the GMC six wheel truck, behind it is what I am sure is an Australian Chev 'ute', or to be correct, a Van, 15cwt, 4x2 GS(Aust.) Chevrolet. So this photo may be of the Aussie RSU unit?

 

Thanks for that, it was the one vehicle left unidentified from my original post. I am a bit confused by the GMC truck description as it seems to have 10 wheels, but now I have looked up similar trucks it looks like a GMC CCKW or Jimmy, which is described as a 6x6. I didn't recognise the Chevy.

 

I don't know how the desert RSU teams were made up, but I think for recovery work in the desert the team came from a single outfit, though RSU members could be detached all over the Desert Air Force according to needs, and my father came back with RAAF and SAAF cap badges as well as his own. He also worked on a base with Polish pilots presumably in late 42 to early 43 when he was with the DAF. He said they were very popular with the ground crew because their training included a mechanical understanding of the aircraft, plus he said they really hated the Germans.

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They then were sent running commandoes into the Dodecanes Islands he stayed in North Africa I think.

 

I am curious to know when this was, as my father said they went on one mission to drop off some commandos at night, and they waited in darkness, and pretty soon the commandos came back with a captive and had to take off quick sharpish under fire. He said he thought it was somewhere near Yugoslavia. This was on ASR 2699 in late 1942. It doesn't seem to have been on normal ASR duties while he was on it. He said he thought it was under orders direct from Aden.

 

2699 was one of the Hants & Dorset type, with 3 Napier Lion engines. My father had trained on the Napier Lions at Blackpool when he joined the RAF. He said they were entertaining to start from cold as the choke was the engineer with two things like table tennis rackets, but he had to be a bit nimble as there were 3 inlets per engine. Apparently it was fairly warm and noisy in the engine compartment, with the only place to perch being the companion way ladder. I would love a chance to experience it - obviously without the downside of war.

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I am curious to know when this was, as my father said they went on one mission to drop off some commandos at night, and they waited in darkness, and pretty soon the commandos came back with a captive and had to take off quick sharpish under fire. He said he thought it was somewhere near Yugoslavia. This was on ASR 2699 in late 1942.

 

Sorry - meant late 1943, not late 1942.

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Sorry to hear your father isn't around anymore, there aren't many left. You have however given me a key-word 'Dodecanese' which has thrown up some useful information. The Special Boat Squadron was apparently based in Haifa from April 1943 and trained there, and is know to have been engaged in the Dodecanese campaign in spring 1944. My father's Air Sea Rescue boat was also based in Haifa and he was on it in Nov and Dec 1943. It seemed to have an unusual role transporting people around the med in complete secrecy, usually the crew didn't know who was on baord. So if my father was right and it was used to ferry some commandos to an island who nabbed someone and then had to make a quick exit, then prime candidates are the SBS using it to carry out some sort of kidnapping on the Dodecanese.

 

I will have to see if there are SBS records for late 1943.

 

Steve

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Thanks for that - many vehicles I have never heard of (and neither has Wikipedia), but now I have some names I can find threads on HMVF, and maybe track down some restored units for a closer look. The Leyland Retriever has a very old fashioned look about it.

 

Is the Commer tractor unit a Q2? I can find no information on the Commer military tractor units, just a photo of what claims to be a Q2 that look similar.

 

Steve

 

Think you need a copy of the military vehicle bible! Bart Vanderveens Fighting Vehicle Directory. Out of print now but full of info

I have a copy to sell if you are interested

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Hello. I have not written about him before and it caught me off guard. One thing I do remember is when he transfered to the RAF, they had very few spares. He knew where there were some buried crated aeroplane engines they were basicaly the same as the Sea Lion, and other stuff and they went and recovered them from the desert. He also wanted some new propellers and swaped something with the Navy to get them as they had what he wanted. I think that may have been Hiafa. When they were at sea he went to check the cooling water outlets at the stern put his hand on the Jackstaff and it broke off, the base was rotten. He went overboard, luckily some Egyptian fishermen saw him and picked him up with their Dhow. It was some time before the crew realised he was missing and reversed course to look for him. I am sorry I am not helping you in your quest.

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He was involved in making the I think Hall Scott boats because they were bigger that the BPB whalebacks, look and sound like Eboats. They changed there appearance with awnings and ply,and made the exhausts go down the transome into the water so that they made a burbaling sound. They then were sent running commandoes into the Dodecanes Islands he stayed in North Africa I think.

 

I have been looking up some info on SBS and there was a raid in Nov 1943 in Simi, which could have involved my fathers ASR as transport (2699) and explain his recollections. Though can't find much in the way of transport details, just info on the raid itself. I would have thought a high speed launch disguised as a German boat would be very sensible for their sort of raiding tactics. However I am not sure if there were many (or any) E-boats in the Med, but there must have been some equivalents. The Italian Navy had something very similar, and I think some of them went to German forces when Italy pulled out.

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