Tags

, ,

This blog is not only about paying homage to Buck McNair.

This is another pilot who fought alongside him. I found this story here while looking for more information on F/O Daddo-Langlois.

This is a 12 page PDF document paying homage to this pilot.

George Buchanan

George Buchanan

George Buchanan’s name does not appear in Buck McNair’s logbook pages his son sent me.

Log March 1942

March 1942
Click on the image to zoom in

Log April 1942

April 1942
Click on the image to zoom in

But Buck McNair’s name appears in the PDF document!

This is an excerpt of the PDF document proving Buck McNair and George Buchanan knew each other very well.

9. Transferred to 249 Squadron Malta:

To Malta via Gibraltar on Sunderland Flying Boat: 8 February to 20 February 1942

10. 249 Squadron – Malta: 21 February to 22 May 1942.
Based at Takali Airfield.
Without doubt this period was the toughest, hardest fought and most critical phase of the long siege of Malta. Daily attacks by the superior number of Axis Aircraft based in Sicily were taking an unsustainable toll on RAF Aircraft on Malta, particularly Spitfires.

Statistics speak for themselves:-

Number of Serviceable Fighters on Malta on 14 April 1942:
Zero (4 Fighter Squadrons)

Number of Serviceable Fighters on Malta on five separate days in April 1942: 1

Number of newly arrived Spitfires on Malta on 20 April 1942: 47

Number of Spitfires available on Malta five days later on 25 April 1942: 7

Average daily number of enemy aircraft over Malta between Dec ‘41 and April ’42: 170

296 Tons of Bombs dropped on Takali Airfield in 24 Hours on 20-21 March 1942,
making it the most bombed Allied Airfield ever.

During March-April 1942 more bombs were dropped on Malta (an island a fraction of the size of London) than were dropped on London during the entire Blitz.

Relief came with the delivery of 47 Spitfires flown off the US Carrier SS Wasp on 20 April – making up two additional Fighter Squadrons, 601 and 603, but this was short lived and Luftwaffe Reconnaissance Aircraft spotted their arrival and no sooner were they on the ground than the Ju88s and Bf109s arrived to attack. After 48 hours of Axis bombing, only 7 serviceable Spitfires remained.

But a second batch of 64 Spitfires was flown off the SS Wasp and HMS Eagle more successfully on 9 May (the date is May 18 according to Buck McNair’s logbook). This moment marked a turning point from which the strength of the defending squadrons was well defended and maintained, allowing each of the six Spitfire Squadrons to maintain an average of six aircraft on standby each day. The intensity of aerial battles increased dramatically but at least on equal terms.

Another 30 additional Spitfires were flown off the Carrier HMS Eagle on 9 June. One of these was flown in by Sgt “Screwball” Beurling, who was also posted to 249 Squadron. Beurling entered the fray on 12th June 1942 and by October had disposed of 26 enemy aircraft – no other allied pilot shot down more planes in such a short period of time.

No 249 Squadron emerged as the top-scoring RAF Fighter Squadron of World War II, with 328 Aircraft shot down in aerial combat, of which 244 aircraft were shot down over Malta.

The following awards were gazetted during operations in Malta:
DSO: 1
DFC: 21
Bar to DFC: 5
DFM: 4
Bar to DFM: 3

On the debit side, 44 Pilots were killed in Malta.

Details of 249 Squadron Posting: 21 February to 22 May 1942.

Fourth Posting/First Operational Tour.
CO: S/Ldr Turner DFC
S/Ldr Grant DFC

Flight Commanders:

A Flight: F/Lt P.B. Lucas DFC
B Flight: F/Lt R.W.McNair RCAF DFC

Aircraft Type:
Hurricane IIs to 6 March 1942
Spitfire VBs from 7 March 1942.

The new CO of the Squadron, S/Ldr P.S.Turner arrived aboard the same Sunderland as George Buchanan on 20 February, together with F/Lt Lucas, F/O Daddo-Langlois, F/Lt R.W. McNair RCAF, and P/O J.G. West DFM RNZAF – famous names.

On joining the Squadron George found himself in the company of two other Rhodesian Pilots, P/O J.A. Plagis – who was to make a name for himself over Malta – and P/O Douglas Leggo.

The squadron was in a desperate situation, round-the-clock bombing continued, the Hurricanes were no match against Me109s and the number of serviceable Hurricanes was dwindling rapidly – and the situation made worse by the fact that Rommel’s Afrika Corps was on the rampage in Libya. Steps were even taken to disband the Squadron, but in the nick of time the first Spitfires arrived in Malta on 7 March.

In the early morning 15 Spitfire Mk VBs lifted off the deck of HMS Eagle at position 700 miles west of Malta, flown by 249 Squadron Pilots. So began a new chapter in the history of 249 Squadron.

Due to recent incoming postings, numbers had become inflated and the squadron now comprised 29 pilots with Spitfire experience, including five experienced Flight Lieutenants.

George’s posting coincided with the final few days of the Hurricane era, and during this time he was only involved on two uneventful flights amounting to 1.35 Flying Hours. With the arrival of the Spitfires the scene changed dramatically and the sky over Malta became a daily swarm of hostile aircraft involved in aerial combat and dog fights interspersed with heavy losses on the ground from bombing.

The following are copies of entries from George’s Log Book:

10.3.1942

Scramble 45 Mins Attacked Ju 88 head-on – no result. Attacked another Ju 88 quarter astern – hits along fuselage:
1 damaged
Credited ¼ German

10.3.1942

Scramble 40 Mins Escorting Motor Launch- Attacked by 3 Me 109Fs. Received hits in fuselage & starboard wing. Crash landed on drome – 28 shrapnel wounds in legs – 4 days in hospital. Returned to duty 24 March –

26.3.1942

Scramble 25 Mins Reflector Site u/s. Squirted at Ju 88 and Me 109F –

01.4.1942

Escort 35 Mins Escorting PRU Spitfire returning from Sicily. Met Me109s – Plagis got one. –

01.4.1942

Interception 35 Mins Float Plane + Me109 Escort. One each shot down by Plagis/Hesselyn. S/L Grant/Self one each damaged. Trapped between 3 Me109s– Managed to evade them.
Credited ¼ German

01.4.1942

Interception 40 Mins Ju87 Raid. Destroyed Ju87. Rear Gunner fired right to the end. Kept down to 6000 ft by 109s so took out Ju87s after they had bombed. 5 Spits got 5 Ju87s.
Credited 1 German

10.4.1942

Scramble 60 Mins To investigate force of 74+ Incoming Bombers. Met Me109s before bombers. Squirted 15 second burst at Me109F – confirmed later by ground personnel – Pilot baled out, now in hospital. Log Book signed by Lt.Herman Neuhoff – leading Ace of JG53 – 40 Victories and recently promoted to lead 6 Staffel
Credited 1 German

19.4.1942

Scramble 70 Mins To intercept Raid. Damaged Ju88. Disabled Gunner
Credited ¼ German

21.4.1942

Scramble 80 Mins Incoming Raid – Attacked two Ju87s – one confirmed
Credited 1 German

02.5.1942

Scramble 60 Mins Incoming Raid – Me109 Damaged
Credited ¼ German

05.5.1942

Escort 30 Mins Came across two Me109s – had a good squirt at one
in climbing turn and Hesselyn squirted at same. Later discovered it was damaged.

09.5.1942

Scramble 45 Mins Providing cover for new Spitfires flown off Carriers
Attacked Me109F – Later confirmed as destroyed
Credited 1 German

10.5.1942

Scramble 40 Mins Badly damaged Ju87. Squirted at 2 Me109s ¼ German
Spits smash Ju87 Force completely. Battle reaches climax.

10.5.1942

Scramble 40 Mins Collected 5 Spits from Luqa. Mixed it with 5 Me109s
Two squirts – no obvious results.

14.5.1942

Scramble 75 Mins Intercepted Ju88 over Luqa. Attacked Me109 Escort, rolled over on my back & squirted at Me109 coming towards me but below. Confirmed by ground personnel as going down streaming glycol. Disappeared over Dingli Cliffs. 3 Spits attacked.
Credited 1¼ German

15.5.1942

Scramble 85 Mins Intercepted Italian Bombers and MACCHI 202s. Attacked by 8 MACCHIs but managed to evade them

16.5.1942

Scramble 55 Mins Self and F/Sgt Verral intercepted 12 MACCHI 202s. Waded into them. 4 sec squirt at one. It spun down. Last seen at 2000’ in flat spin. Closed to 50 yds of another. Guns packed up. One confirmed.
Credited 1 Italian

17.5.1942

Scramble 50 Mins Incoming raid – Went looking for 109s. Then the Recco Job turned up with 2 Me109s. The 109s hopped it so shot down Ju88. 3 sec burst of cannon Went down in flames – crashed into sea.
Credited 1 German

Total Credits
– Credited in Malta: 8½
Plus Credits with 41 Squadron: ½
Total credited: 9

During the above period of 3+ months 249 Squadron was credited with the destruction of 81 Enemy Aircraft, plus many more ‘probables’ and ‘damaged’.

Relating this to the total of 240 Enemy Aircraft destroyed over Malta in a period of 26 months, provides convincing evidence ‘that the period February to May 1942 was an exceptionally fierce and critical phase of the long siege of Malta’.

George Buchanan

This Officer has displayed great determination in his encounters with raiding aircraft. One day, in April 1942, he shot down a Junkers 87 and damaged another in a single combat. Having expended all his ammunition, he carried out a series of feint attacks on Messerschmitt 109s and drove them away from some of his comrades who were coming in to land their aircraft.