The official Imperial War Museum caption of this photo is “crew of Douglas Boston Mark III, W8376 ‘C’, of No 24 Squadron, South African Air Force, walking away from their aircraft on an airfield in Libya after a sortie.” But there is so much more to this.
It’s assumed this photo was taken whilst 24 Squadron who were at Zuara airfield in Libya. (The “colourised” image of Boston seen here is incorrectly branded in RAF colours and not SAAF – the flash on the tail should be orange not red).
In August ’42 No.12 Squadron, SAAF, arrived from Kenya, and the two squadrons were formed in No.261 Wing. They were soon joined by No.14 Squadron, SAAF and in October the wing was renumbered as No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing. At about the same time No.24 Squadron withdrew to convert to the Douglas Boston.
But the story of this photograph does not end there, seen here are:
Air Sgt. Stakemore (Air Gnr) – SAAF
Lt. G.A. Marshall (Observer) – SAAF
Lt. C.W. Blake (pilot) – SAAF
Sgt. Atkinson (Air Gnr) – Royal Air Force
They were shot down in the aircraft behind them Boston Mk.III “C” W8376 on 23.11.1941 by Obfw Espenlaub of 1/JG.27 – a Luftwaffe Ace.
All were made Prisoners of War. Lt. Blake pulled two crew members out of the wreckage the fourth had baled out successfully.
After escaping the PoW camp, Lt. Blake went on to be awarded the Military Cross later for ground action with Partisans in Italy, he was the only SAAF pilot to be so awarded for WWII.
This was after his fifth escape attempt, he was recaptured in the first four.
Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum, colourised by “WW2 Colourised Photos”and additional information provided by Sandy Evan Hanes with great thanks.
Sgt Atkinson is my Grandad Joseph Atkinson. I can’t believe this photo is here! I have the original in my living room. I’d love to hear from someone about this!
Hi Jennifer, its available from the Imperial War Museum, it was Colourised by Richard James Molloy from the UK
Hi I colourised this image, more here http://www.facebook.com/ColourbyRJM
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Lt Cecil Blake was my uncle.
He was later chief pilot for the SAA
Hi John, my Gran who was Victoria Blake also advised that she was the niece of Lt Blake
She was left the Military cross as part of her inheritance and her uncle Horace actually sold it
Wow that’s amazing, I would love to know more. I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you, I didnt know this had been commented on until my mother informed me today! Where about in the world are you?