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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 14854
Last updated: 16 October 2019
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Date:15-JUL-1940
Time:day
Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk I
Owner/operator:211 Squadron Royal Air Force (211 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L1491
C/n / msn: UQ-S
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Bir El Gobi, SE of Tobruk -   Libya
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF LG-105, El Daba, Eygpt
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Bristol Blenheim Mk.I L1491 (UQ-S) 211 Sqaudron, RAF: Written off (damaged beyond repair) when force landed and abandoned in the Libyan Desert 15 July 1940. All three crew survived, but were captured and taken as PoWs. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/1132): "Blenheim L1491 force landed in the vicinity of Bir El Gobi, Libya, 15 July 1940. Pilot Officer E Garrad-Cole, Leading Aircraftman W B Smith and Aircraftman 2nd Class E P Doolin: prisoners of war"

According to the history of 211 Squadron RAF:

"L1491 UQ-S - Lost after an early morning Squadron raid on Ain el Gazala 15 July 1940, forced-landing due to petrol shortage near El Adem. Pilot Officer Eric Garrad-Cole 39871 (Pilot) and his crew LAC Walter Braithwaite Smith 566173 (Observer) and AC2 Eric Pearce Doolin 640566 (Wireless Op/Air Gunner) were taken captive by the Italians. Garrad-Cole gave a very brief account of the action in 'Single to Rome', his book telling of his captivity and successful escape: 'Our short-nozed [sic] Blenheim hit the sand in a cloud of dust'"

Although Sgt Wright recorded in his Flying Log Book that Doolin was later killed in an escape attempt, he was in fact mistaken. An April 1939 RAF volunteer, Doolin was liberated in Italy in 1943 although no details were recorded. By 17 December 1943, he was back safe in the UK and returned to service: he was commissioned from Warrant Officer in 1944 and made Flying Officer by years end. He remained in the RAF until at least 1948.

His opposite number, LAC Smith, had enlisted in 1934 and was a Wireless & Electrical Mechanic by ground trade, when not flying as Observer. Walter Smith was liberated in Italy in November 1943 to reach Egypt on 22 November (likewise without details of the circumstances being recorded). By 11 December he was safe in the UK and returned to service.

While PoW, both men had been advanced to Sergeant, in accord with their aircrew status, and on return to service soon made temp Warrant Officer. Smith, too, was commissioned in July 1944 but sadly did not survive the war. He died with two others in the crash of Wellington LP665 of No.105 (Transport) OTU on 28 October 1944.

This raid was singularly unfortunate, as all eight participating 211 Squadron aircraft were forced to land short of petrol on the return leg, before reaching El Daba. Landing thus at Buq Buq, Squadron Leader Judge nosed over his aircraft, though without injury to self or crew.

The reported crash location of Bir-El-Gobi is a location in the Western Desert of Libya, south east of Tobruk, at approximate coordinates: 3132' 00"N, 2402'00"E

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/1132: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14502944
3. http://www.211squadron.org/bristol_blenheim_i.html
4. https://geographic.org/geographic_names/name.php?uni=-4469914&fid=3773&c=libya .
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_El_Daba


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
29-Feb-2008 04:26 JINX Added
15-Dec-2014 19:43 Paco Updated [Operator, Source]
26-Sep-2018 10:36 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
09-Oct-2019 21:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
16-Oct-2019 17:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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