BR301, Sgt. George F. Beurling, No. 249 Squadron,
RAF Hal Far, Malta, July 1942
Spitfire Mk.Vc serial number BR301 was one of the most
successful Spitfires fighting on Malta. The aircraft came
from the batch of Spitfires flying off the aircraft carrier USS
Wasp (CV-7) on May 9, 1942, during the operation Bowery.
Like a majority of Spitfires delivered for the operation
Bowery, BR301 had the blue shade of Dark Mediterranean
Blue applied already on board of the carrier having the
original desert scheme (Dark Earth and Middle Stone)
shown slightly through. The lower surfaces were repainted in Sky Blue including the national markings. The
original armament consisting of four cannons was reduced
to two in the wing inner gun bays and two machine guns
were installed outwards. BR301 coded UF-S first served
with No. 601 Squadron however its greatest glory awaited
it at No. 249 Squadron where it was transferred. Here it
became an “aircraft of the Aces”. Between July 7 and July
13 P/O John McElroy claimed four aerial victories flying
it and on July 27, a rising star, Sgt. George Beurling shot
down four enemy aircraft in one mission and two days
later he claimed another kill with BR301. During the month
of July S/Ldr Richard Mitchell and F/Sgt John Rae claimed
further kills. On July 29, BR301 was damaged beyond
repair and struck of charge having flown 54 hours.
BR476, S/Ldr Jefferson H. Wedgwood, No. 92 Squadron,
RAF LG. 173, Egypt, August–October 1942
Jefferson Heywood Wedgwood was born on May 28, 1917,
in London. He was educated at Holyrood School, Bognor
and Lancing Colleges. In March 1936 he joined the RAF
and a year later he became a staff pilot at No. 2 Air
Armament School in North Coates. After a brief stint at
No. 65 Squadron, he was transferred as an instructor to
No. 12 Group Pool in Aston Down. On July 18, 1940, Wedgwood
was assigned to No. 253 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey
with which he took part in the famous Battle of Britain.
During the month of September, he destroyed a Bf 110 and
cooperated in destroying five Ju 88s and three Do 17s.
At the end of September, he was ordered to Vickers
Supermarine where he flew as a Production Test Pilot but
on October 10 he was transferred to the RAF Czechoslovak
Depot in Cosford as a flight instructor. In January 1942
he assumed command of the No. 92 Squadron in Digby.
In February the unit was transferred to the Near East
and in April it arrived in Egyptian Fayid. For several
month the unit was without any airplanes and as of
July 2 the pilots were attached to the No. 80 Squadron
in the Western Desert to gain the operational experience.
Finally, in the end of August 1942, the tropicalized Spitfires
arrived. Between August 14 and October 29 Wedgwood
destroyed eight Bf 109s and damaged another eight. For
his accomplishments he was awarded DFC. On December
17, 1942 he was on board of a Halifax Mk.II from No. 138
Squadron as a passenger flying back to the Great Britain
but the aircraft crashed near Żejtun on Malta. It is highly
probable that it was shot down by a friendly AA fire and
all on board perished. Jefferson Wedgwood is buried in the
Navy cemetery in Capuccini on Malta.
JG959, Lt. McClellan E. S. Robinson, No. 1 Squadron SAAF,
Ben Gardane, Tunis, April 1943
Pilot’s full name was McClellan Eric Sutton Robinson, and
his usual nickname was “Robbie”. He was born on February
26, 1919, in Johannesburg. His first operational unit was No.
1 Squadron SAAF flying Hurricanes. He was assigned to the
unit in August 1942 and remained flying with it for a year. On
November 2, 1942, he achieved his first combat success when
he shared victory over a Ju 87. After he converted to Spitfire
Mk.V, between January and April 1943, he added another five
victories to his score. After that he had bad luck for the first
time when on July 14, 1943, he was shot down by a friendly fire
of a USAAF P-38 and had to bail out over the Mediterranean sea.
He got lucky though as he was fished out by the crew of a Greek
destroyer. In September 1943, at the end of his tour of duty,
Robinson was awarded DFC and sent back to the Great Britain
where he assumed the post of a flight instructor at No. 11 OTU.
On November 14, 1944, the bad luck struck again as he collided
mid-air with one of his students flying Kittyhawk, crashed and
was killed. All his personal Spitfires carried the inscription
CireCooks on the port side which was the combination of his
first name and last name of his fiancé. Number VI indicated
it was the sixth airplane christened with this name. On April
22, 1943, flying this aircraft, Robinson shot down two Bf 109Fs.
During his combat career he shot down in total five enemy
aircraft plus one probable and one aircraft damaged.