14.04.1942 No. 22 Squadron Beaufort AW282 Fl/Sgt. Howroyd
Operation: Convoy attack
Date: 14th April 1942 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 22 Squadron
Base: Bu Amud LG-147 (Libya)
Location: RAF Luqa airfield, Malta
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Stanley Ernest Howroyd 935037 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Nav: W/O. Joseph Lee 581342 RAF Age ? Killed
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REASON FOR LOSS:
Weather over Malta this day: Wind cold, north easterly, 50% medium cloud.
Took off in the early hours from its base at Bu Amud LG-147 (Libya) to assist in attacking a convoy that was en route to Tripoli. It was decide that they would land at Luqu airbase to refuel. Then continue with attacks on the convoy.
Following this operation, 22 Squadron would relocate to Ratmalana airbase, Ceylon on the 1st May. Malta had been and was continued to be very heavily bombed and lacked the resources to mount any attacks direct.
The convoy were carrying vital supplies from various ports in Italy to Rommels forces in the Western desert. It was made up with 4 large cargo vessels and protected by five destroyers and two torpedo boats from the Italian Navy.
It was decided that 10 aircraft would attack this convoy and that would be made up from Beauforts from 39 and 22 Squadron. A further four Beaufighter`s from 272 Squadron were to accompany them to act as escort and take on a flak suppression role.
Photo above shows pilot and navigator position - right shows one of the Air Gunners, in this case he has also fitted an extra beam machine gun. (courtesy I.W.M)
AW282 left Bu Amud LG-147 at 07.00 hrs and as it was ASV (1) equipped was used to locate the convoy. The crew identified the target and relayed information to the others and flew on to Malta to refuel. During the landing at 15.35 hrs, Bf 109's strafed the Beaufort, killing the pilot instantly. The navigator was badly injured and taken to the hospital at Mtarfa Military Hospital where he died later that day.
The attacking aircraft never received the signal and missed the convoy totally as they were flying at sea level to avoid enemy radar. One of the 272 escorting Beaufighter`s spotted several Me-110's and Ju-88 which were providing air cover to the convoy. But, they were so low on fuel at this time they had to land.The Beauforts decided however that they should continue with the attack knowing it was vital that this convoy was stopped.
22 Squadron on patrol (courtesy I.W.M)
When they came in to attack they were horrified to see that the convoy was protected by over 25 Bf-109, Bf-110 and Ju-88 fighters circling. Without an escort there was little that the Beauforts could do but fling themselves at the convoy and then make for Malta, 70 miles away. Five of the Beaufort`s managed to get off good torpedo drops and three hits were claimed, although none of the ships were in fact damaged.
All eight of the Beaufort`s survived the heavy flak put up by the convoy but as they began heading for Malta the German fighters fell upon them and pursued them the entire way.
Five Beauforts were shot down:
N1100 flown by P/O. G. Belfield) of 22 Squadron,
N1169 flown by 25 year old Robert G.W. Beveridge, from Angus, Scotland,
N1186, flown by 21 year old F/O. Robert B. Seddon from Catforth, Lancashire,
N116, flown by 24 year old P/O. Bertram W. Way from Highgate, Middlesex,
X8923 flown by F/O. Derek A.R. Bee, no further details, all from 39 Squadron. Of the 20 aircrew aboard these aircraft only five (Belfield's crew and F/O. McGregor of Seddon's crew) were rescued.
Pictured right 25 year old pilot Fl/Sgt. Stanley Ernest Howroyd
Left to right Reichenfel - 7,744 tons, Vettor Pisani - 6,339 tons, Reginaldo Giulian - 6,837 tons and the Ravello - 6,142 tons
(1) A.S.V. - Air to surface vessel. For locating and homing on surface craft or coastal cities beyond visual range, and for navigating. Reliable maximum ranges: surfaced submarine (broadside), 10 miles; 4,000-8,000 ton ship, 35 miles; well-defined coastline, 60 miles. Minimum range is 350 yards.
Fl/Sgt. Stanley Ernest Howroyd. Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery. Prot Sec. Plot F. Coll. grave 98. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sydney Howard, of Little Horton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
W/O. Joseph Lee. Imtarfa Military Cemetery Coll. Grave. 3.2.14. No further details available as yet.
Researched for the relatives of the crew with thanks to George Egleton, Tony O'Toole, I.W.M, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Philip Vella - 'Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten'.