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Annells Harold P Stanfield

 

Service Number 408008 Death Date 5/11/1942 Place of Death Middle East Cause of Death Flying Battle Burial El Alamein War Cemetery

 

TASMANIANS AIR ADVENTURE

 Sgt. Annells In Cyrenaica

An exciting bombing raid In Cyrenaica, a landing on the sea, and consequent swim to safety were the recent experiences, of Sgt. Harold P. Annells, of Hobart, as observer in an R.A.F. bomber.

The bomber, piloted by a South African lieutenant, with Sgt. Annells and another Australian as observer and air gunner respectively, encountered a terrific storm near Trimi, and began to "ice up." The speed indicators failed because of the icing and refused to move from 70 miles an hour. There was dense cloud down to l,OOOft and underneath a tremendous fall of rain. Other aircraft had dropped flares and guided by their light, the bomber dropped its load.

Part of the bomber's rudder and tail fin were shot away, and the elevator was damaged slightly. As a result, the pilot began his homeward trip finding it impossible to steer an accurate course. The oil temperature gauges dropped to zero in the bitter early morning cold. Ultimately the crew recognised their position, and found they were many miles from their base. Turning back, the pilot flew for I5 minutes until his engines cut out, his petrol apparently exhausted. Then he made a perfect pancake landing 200yds from the shore.

The air gunner was thrown out of the turret and sprained an ankle, St. Annells suffered bruises, but all members of the crew swam ashore. They arrived without their flying boots and clad only in singlets and shorts at 1.30 a.m. They then had an uncomfortable tramp in bare feet along rough road for three hours in order to keep warm and unaware whether or not they were in enemy territory.

Finally the airmen were picked up on the road to Alexandria by a party of South Africans in a truck, taken to their quarters and  given clothes, breakfast, and brandy. The bomber crew's one comment on an adventurous night was that the Springboks gave them a "whale" of a time.

Sgt. Annells, who is the elder son of Mr C. C. Annells, of the Friends' School, Hobart, and Mrs. Annells, spent 30 days in hospital with a badly bruised leg, which became septic. He then had 10 days leave in Cairo, after which he rejoined his squadron to take part in coastal patrol and sea-sweeps against enemy ships.

He was to lose his life whilst a member of 223 Squadron RAF in November of the same year in a flying battle in the middle east.

The Mercury 10 Jan 1942

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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