North Africa 1942

In June 1941 John was transferred to the  newly founded No. 5 squadron , led by the famous SA ace Jack Frost.  John was promoted to Captain and was made one of the flight leaders. The squadron was eventually moved to the North Africa operational area in early 1942.

The squadron was equipped with Curtiss Tomahawk fighters. These aircraft were inferior to the fast and lethal German Messerscmitt Bf-109's.

No. 5 squadron's home airfield was for most of the time at LG 121 Sidi Barrani in Egypt when John was with them. They flew mainly bomb line patrols and bomber escorts. The base was regularly bombed and ground strafed by the enemy.

In mid 1942 the squadron became very much involved with fighting and it is within a very short succession that Andrew Duncan, Robin Pare and Jack Frost got killed. 

No. 5 Squadron suffered horrendous casualties but was also the top scoring Allied squadron during the Gazala campaigns of 1942.  

On the first of June 1942 John was promoted to Major and transferred to take the lead of No. 4 squadron. He was with the squadron for one month only to be shot down and wounded on 26 June. John parachuted to safety but into captivity

As a POW  John  spent  three years in Italian and German camps. He participated in the "Great Escape" of Luft Stalag III in 1944 and worked as a soil dispenser but was not chosen for the actual escape attempt. 

With his operational tour of 1942 John shot down four German aircraft.


Robin Pare, Jack Frost and Andrew "Andy" Duncan, all three killed in May-June 1942. 

Robin Pare in his Tomahawk.



5 Squadron orderly room. See the submarine strafed by Robin Pare also indicated as a "damaged" enemy!



Morrison's aircraft shot down over LG 121.


Bren air defence


Take-off accident 3 June 1942.  GL-S  Lt  Grobler 



Same accident: GL-O  Lt. R. C. Hirst 




GL-X   Lt.  Whyte?








Major Lacey: 5 Squadron's follow-up OC after Frost's death only to be killed in action during August 1942.













Tomahawk of SAAF No. 4 Squadron.




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