KITS 03/2023

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

March 2023

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.

INFO Eduard