15 July 1941: All-Australian Maryland Crew Lost on Convoy Search

15 Jul

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Maryland in flightThe all-Australian crew of a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing today after the aircraft failed to return from a mission. The Maryland of 69 Squadron was one of several sent to patrol over the Tripoli area to locate an enemy convoy. 

The Maryland’s estimated time of return to base elapsed with no sign of the aircraft. It was later reported that no radio transmission had been heard from the aircraft from the moment of take-off onwards. 

The crew has now formally been reported missing. They have been named as pilot Sergeant Cyril Lee, air gunner Sergeant Jack Neill and observer Sergeant James Simpson.  All are members of the Royal Australian Air Force. 

In a separate incident the observer of a Blenheim sent to attack a Tripoli convoy was hit and killed by anti-aircraft guns over the target. The Blenheim was one of three of 110 Squadron sent to attack a convoy of four merchant vessels with a four-strong destroyer escort.  The observer is named as Sergeant John Broadway of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.


Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  A formation of about 20 aircraft, approaches Malta and circles to the north.  Malta fighters are scrambled but recede before they make contact with the raiders.

1738-1801 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy fighters which circle well to the north of the Island. Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders turn north before any interception.

0104-0155 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach from the north and cross the coast over St Paul’s Bay, drop bombs on Baida Ridge and retreat over Ghain Tuffieha, dropping bombs on the camp, injuring one driver and two personnel of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Bombs are also dropped in the sea nearby.  Hurricanes are scrambled and remain airborne for two hours; no engagement.

0205-0450 hrs Air raid alert for 11 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, crossing the coast at various points and dropping bombs apparently indiscriminately, including on Baida Ridge (and in the sea nearby), near Anchor Bay, west of Gudia (and in the sea nearby), in Kalafrana Bay, and on land near Madalena, between Nigret and Lapsi, near Pitkali searchlight station and near Rabat. Searchlights illuminate one raider for two minutes: heavy anti-aircraft fire a barrage; no claims.  Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.  Three unexploded bombs are reported by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 

Military casualties  Sergeant John A C Broadway, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 110 Squadron; Sergeant Cyril F Lee, Pilot, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), 69 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Carson Grayson Neill, Air Gunner, RAAF, 69 Squadron; Sergeant James M Simpson, Observer, RAAF, 69 Squadron.


ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to locate convoy off Kerkennah Bank.  Failed to sight due to poor visibility, but torpedoed a wreck off the Bank mistaking it for a ship of the convoy. 2 mines off Tigne and 1 off Viaduct and breakwater successfully countermined.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli and patrol to locate convoy (Sgt Lee failed to return).  Maryland patrol to navigate Blenheims to attack on convoy. 110 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked convoy of 4 merchant ships escorted by 4 destroyers; one merchant ship is destroyed and another badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns hit one Blenheim killing the Observer.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ patrolled Catania and released four 20lb bombs which started a fire.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.


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Posted by on July 15, 2021 in 1941, July 1941


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