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#3839575 - 09/20/13 10:38 AM Fat Fred over Malta: (8 Oct update) episode 3  
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The mis-adventures of Pilot Officer 'Fat' Freddy Alemaster and Flight Lieutenant H Keel.

Somewhere over the Mediterranean, S-SE Malta, June 11 1940



"That was a ripper of a takeoff, eh Flt Lieutenant?"

I nearly choked, "You mean, the way you left the deck of the Illustrious with insufficient power, plummeted toward the sea, only recovering as the blades of your propeller churned up the tops of the waves and then spent fifteen minutes getting into formation?"

"...er, yeah."

"Spiffing Freddy."

"Um, just as an aside, my fuel tank is dry as a dingo's bum, are we getting close?"



"See the brown bit to our left?" I asked him.

"Yes."

"That is Sicily. There be Indians. Or in your case, Aboriginals."

"Righto."

"Malta is somewhere ahead."

"And how far, would you say, roughly...Sir?"



"Put it this way, I hope it is less than 9 gallons away, Freddy."

10 minutes later

"Land ho!"



"This is not the navy Freddy, but thankyou, yes, I see it." I keyed the R/T, "Malta ground control this is Yeoman flight off the Illustrious, requesting permission to land at Hal Far."

"...glad to see you Yeoman! You are clear to land. Keep your eyes open, we have some Gladiators and a Walrus buzzing around, but if you see anyone coming at you, it will probably be the Eyeties. They are always either on their way over, or on their way home."





"Very well, Malta, will contact you again when we have Hal Far in sight."

MEANWHILE OVER SICILY





"Lieutenant! I see a warship, ours or theirs?"

"Is he shooting at you?"



"Not yet."

"Then it doesn't matter, does it Freddy?"

"'Spose not."

"Malta control this is Yeoman flight, vector to the airfield please? And request permission to land..."





"Malta control here, vector 060. Sorry, permission denied, we are tracking an inbound raid. Are you chaps in a position to lend a hand?"

I checked my fuel level. 7 gallons. "We have a little fuel, but our guns aren't harmonised Malta. We're on our way to Alexandria, we weren't expecting a dust up."

"Then stay out of the way Yeoman," the ground controller replied curtly. "We'll get back to you shortly."

Rude blighter. Down below I saw a formation of a paltry 3 Gladiators rising up to meet the incoming raid. For wont of a better idea, I nosed down to follow them.





"Nice big landing field," Freddy observed as we crossed over Hal Far.



He wouldn't be much use to me with unharmonised guns and no fuel anyway. "Then why don't you put your machine down?" I suggested.

"But the controller..."

"Won't be our problem, Freddy, we are just here to refuel, have a cup of char and then head off to Egypt. Get down there."

"Sir."

He broke away to begin a landing circuit, but not for long, "Er, Sir? I'm seeing ack ack down there!"



I peered through my sights, and sure enough, about 1,000 yards below, a formation of bombers was boring in, and as I watched, they unloaded. Above them, a swarm of fighters was climbing to meet us.







It was Freddy's first operational flight. He had about 20 hours behind the stick of the Hurricane and no combat experience at all beyond a few sweeps over France which had been uneventful.

"Wait for those bombs to go off, then get your machine on the ground," I ordered him. "I'll see what I can do."

If I'd expected an argument, I didn't get it, "Right you are Sir!" He peeled off.

I closed on the Italian bombers, ignoring the fighters - with the advantage of height I would be in and out in a flash. As I closed to 300 yards, I opened up.



The tracer sprayed like a garden hose. Bullet streams criss crossed in front of me. It was like swatting a flying gnat with a cricket bat.

The bombs fell across the Hal Far airfield, shredding hangars and vehicles...and men.



I pulled around in a long circle and got in front of the Italian bombers again. This time I got even closer, counting on short range to at least give me some hits.





As I swept low and looped up behind the formation I noticed that unlike the German Heinkels I'd faced over Britain and the Channel, these blighters had a rear gunner in a low slung open gondola. And he was blazing away at me fearlessly, not a shred of metal or perspex between us.



I even hesitated as I closed on the belly of the bomber, knowing the man could not survive what was about to come.



But it was war.

I opened up...just as a huge flak round exploded in my left ear hole!



I ducked. I was so close to the bombers now, our own flak was as likely to kill me as the enemy gunners were!

I saw the brave Italian gunner slump over his gun. Kept my finger on the trigger, rounds sawing into the airframe of the bomber...



And suddenly it came apart!







The rear section flew past underneath me and I looped up and over to get out of range of the rest of the formation.



"Malta control this is Yeoman 2, I have a fuel emergency, coming in to land, orright?"

Below me, Fat Fred lowered his wheels.



"Oh cripes!" he yelled, "I've picked up a tick!"



An Italian fighter barrel rolled past him, guns hammering.

"I'm out of here," he yelled, and pulled up sharply.



"You'll stall Yeoman 2, get your wheels up, or get your machine down!" I ordered him.

I had problems of my own. Another fighter flashed over my canopy. I hadn't even seen him. As he zoomed past, I let fly with guns, just by reflex, not with intent.



Fat Freddy had chosen the safer route, and dropped toward the airfield.



"Yeoman flight this is the Hal Far Flight," I heard a calm voice on the radio, "Thanks for the help, we can take it from here."





The three biplanes had finally caught up, and zoomed down on the fleeing bombers.

I had the Italian fighter in my sights now, and with what ammo I had left, I gave him a few bursts.





But I couldn't hang in behind him too long, his amico was close behind me.



"Uh, think I've got a bit sideways on this one," I heard Freddy mutter.



I put a final burst into the G50, and pulled up and away.





"Repeat please, Yeoman 2," I asked.

"Err, literally, sideways Sir. All this dirt looks the same from down here!"

Sure enough, I could see he was coming in at right angles to the landing field.



"Pull up Freddy!" I yelled.

"Too late cobber," he said, quietly. His machine sailed crosswise over the landing strip,



Low on altitude and energy, flaps and wheels down, he made the beginners mistake of trying to pull around hard to align with the airfield...



The machine hit the dirt hard, nose and wingtip first, ripping the engine from its nacelle.





Miraculously, his machine spun laterally on its axis, once, twice and then stopped perfectly still in a small cloud of dust.



"Down safely Lieutenant," he reported. "That went better than I expected."



If I hadn't been otherwise occupied, I'd have given him my opinion about how well that had gone. But I was rather busy at the time.

The next few minutes were a blur. I was hit by the Italians, but without critical damage. I got hits of my own on one, then another, and grunted with surpise as he bellied over and went in.









But it had been my last burst. first my port guns stuttered, then the starboard... and I was guns dry.



Time for me to get down.

I took the Italians now over the airfield, which was a maelstrom of flak, and they backed up into the sky. I dropped my wheels. I was down to 5 gallons of fuel now as well.











The strip was a little hard to pick out down low, but not that hard...



Flak followed the Italian fighters as they pulled away, chasing after their bombers again.



About fifty yards away my number two was sitting on the wing of his cauterised machine, discussing his lucky escape with a group of erks. I threw open the canopy and yelled at the top of my lungs, "Mister Alemaster! Get your fat backside off that machine and over here so I can personally kick it!"

As he ambled over, he was actually smiling.

I searched my cockpit for my service pistol.





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#3840396 - 09/22/13 04:40 AM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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komemiute Offline
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I sooo Love your work...


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#3840460 - 09/22/13 11:35 AM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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Thanks for that Heinkill,I look forward to more of the same. That Fat Fredie character reminded me of someone,, Fat Frank? Fat Spitz? No its gone...... screwy


"Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand." - A calypso.

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#3840805 - 09/23/13 11:13 AM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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Comrade_Hedgehog Offline
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The Sticks, England.
LOL
Good write up.

thumbsup


Its not the bullet with your name on it you have to worry about.
But the one addressed:
"To Whom It May Concern"
#3840841 - 09/23/13 02:03 PM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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Heretic Offline
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Fred and Fritz should have a beer once the war is over. I bet they'd get along really great.

#3842227 - 09/26/13 06:56 PM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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HeinKill Offline
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HeinKill  Offline
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'Deed they should! Schnitzel and banger supper. With schnapps and pints of bitter.


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#3842540 - 09/27/13 10:53 AM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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Nice action! popcorn

#3842902 - 09/28/13 08:58 AM Re: Fat Fred over Malta [Re: HeinKill]  
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Diary of P/O Fred Alemaster 22 June 1940

That Lieutenant couldn't lie straight in bed, I tell you.

"We're transferring to Alexandria," he says. "Quick refuel in Malta, and we'll be luxuriating in an Arab bath house being fed grapes by belly dancers before you know it," he says.

A week later and I'm still on Malta, and now they're flying in more Hurricanes and I'm busier than a bricklayer in Beirut.

And the food is nothing but bully beef and biscuit and the whiskey is Spanish. Spanish! Lucky I still have the supply of fine Irish I had the boys pack into the tail space...most of which survived my crash landing.

Keel couldn't believe it when I turned up at the briefing this morning with a bacon sarnie.



"Where did you get that bacon this morning Alemaster?" he asked over the R/T as we started up.



"Traded some Irish whisky for a brace of silk stockings from a sailor, Sir," I told him.



"Silk stockings?"



"Yep. Traded those with a nurse for some horse meat," I said as we taxied out.



"Horse?"

"Yep, and traded that with a Maltie for a pig's leg."



"Finally, the bacon."

"Can't make bacon from a pig's leg, sir. Traded the pig's leg for some whiskey."



"Back to whiskey?"



"Scotch, Sir, not Irish. That's what I traded for the bacon, and some bread."



He grunted. Guess I'll have to slip him a slice. He took us up at a 20 degree climb, full power, toward Sicily and the incoming raid.



It was half a dozen bombers again. Maybe they'd have an escort, maybe not.





Maybe they'd turn around as soon as they saw us, probably not. It was so hot, even up high, I kept my canopy open. At about 15,000 feet I couldn't keep up the climb, and he raced ahead.





"Pitch and revolutions Mister Alemaster," he yelled, "Pitch and revolutions!" I fiddled a bit with the prop pitch and caught him up, just as the first wave of bombers appeared overhead.



And so did the escort.

"Fighters! Second flight, stay with me, we'll take the escort. First flight..." (that was me) "...you go after the bombers."





No easy chase, they were still well above.





Then there's a voice over the radio, "Keta flight this is Hal Far flight, we're right behind you. Going for the bombers now."





It was the string bags. How they kept them flying I don't know.

Couldn't catch the bombers before they unloaded on the harbour. It looked like a mad woman's breakfast down there.







Keel was all tied up with the fighters.



Then the bombers swung around for home and I could finally catch them up.



Closed on the leader.



Then I heard a voice over th R/T.

"Keta 2, you have one on your tail!"

I looked, but couldn't see anything...



So I got back to business...





Eyetie fighters...hah! Load of cobblers.



Then there was a sound like rain on a tin roof...



I broke hard left, the bomber was breaking right...





And I clipped his tail. It's like docking a lamb. Prop went straight through his left aileron, but I kept going.



I still had the Eyetie on my tail, and my kite wasn't handling too well.



Mind you the other bloke looked worse.



Suddenly there's two or three of the buggers on me and we're jumping around each other like roos in a boxing ring.







Then I got a punch in the back that knocked my wind out.



Things weren't going much better overhead either. I heard one of the stringbags call out that he's going down.





And I saw Keta 3 auger in.





That spray from the G50 must have hit my tank too. I was down to fumes.



"Bugger this for a lark," I decided. I put my nose down over the harbour and high tailed it for home.



The G50s couldn't keep up, and pretty quick smart they gave up the chase.



I'd gotten crash hot at the landing game after my first pea brain effort, and swung it nice and straight on the strip at Hal Far.



A little bumpsie daisy and I was down.





I pulled up right next the field mess. A bunch of blokes were gathered around a barbecue and a delicious smell filled the air.



I pulled at my straps, "That better not be my bloody bacon you're frying there!" I yelled.








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#3847835 - 10/08/13 09:07 PM Re: Fat Fred over Malta: (8 Oct update) episode 3 [Re: HeinKill]  
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23 June 1940, Diary of Flt Lieut. H Keel, 261 Squadron, Malta

Faith, Hope and Charity? They ought to call them Deathtrap, Flying Coffin and Doom, if you ask me.



Have no idea how Burges and the other 'originals' dare put themselves in harm's way in those crates. But it isn't like we have any Hurricanes to spare. Today we struggled to pull a full squadron together.

At least we have some blast pens now. A big improvement on piling sandbags and water barrels around the machines to protect them from the bombs and strafing.



I took off with a flight of six, and Fat Fred welded to my wing in machine FI-B. Or at least, that was the plan.



"Right you," I told him, "Stick to me like a fly on flypaper, you got that?"

"No worries, Sir," he replied. "Be right behind you. Like a White Pointer on a bleeding seal."

"Something like that, yes. Let's get some altitude chaps."





"Like a goanna on a newborn lamb," he continued.

"Quite."

"Like a croc up the tailpipe of a water buff."

"That's enough, pilot."

The Eyeties had been sending over fighter sweeps today mixed with the bombers, and the raid building up was moving fast, according to the controller. It looked like another sweep on the way.





"Like a dingo on a musky lady sheepdog," Fred continued.

Luckily, the enemy intervened about a mile off the coast. "Fighters, 1 o'clock, high! Turn into them and engage Keta flight!" I ordered. The Italian machines came down on us fast.





"Got your back Sir," Fred announced, "Firing."



"Never mind that!" I told him, "Get behind me and stay there! Breaking right!"



"Uh, no can do, Sir," he grunted. "Got a bit of company."





As I pulled back around, I saw that, sure enough, he was tangled up with a G50 on his tail.



"Taking fire!" he called.



It was tempting to leave him to his fate, really it was.

But he inverted away and the G50 made the mistake of pulling up right in front of me.





Gave him two longer range bursts as he stalled at the top of his climb, and then one up close.





He started streaming coolant and dropped away. I wanted to go after him, but I'd picked up a shadow.



"Where are you number two?!" I called, "Clear my six!"



"Just a mo', Sir!" he replied, "Just swatting some gnats."





As I pulled up and around, I saw what he was talking about. In addition to the G50s, a swarm of CR42s had arrived and the sky was a whirling maelstrom of Gladiators, Hurricanes, Italian biplanes and monoplanes.





My six was clear, but suddenly I saw the G50 I had clipped, and I pulled up and over toward him.



He had a target of his own in his sights. Fred.



He dived on the hapless antipodean.



"Keta two, break, break!" I yelled into the R/T.

He bunted toward the sea. The G50 followed him down.



At the last minute, he pulled up, but the Italian machine couldn't follow. It plunged into the sea behind him.



"One kill for me," he called happily.

"Kill!?" I sputtered. "I winged that blighter and he had you dead to rights!"

"He had me right where I wanted him," the man said, infuriatingly, "Led him right into the drink. Confirmed kill, I'd call that."

"Get on my tail," I barked at him. We were still in the middle of a melee.



There were targets everywhere, but the small Italian machines were nimble, and dashed hard to hit.





"Fighter on my six Keta One," Fred called, "Need some help here Sir."



I cursed, "Dammit Two, you really don't seem to have the hang of wingmanship do you!?"

"Sorry Sir."



"You are supposed to protect me! Not the other way around."



"Aye aye Sir."

As the Italian pulled across in front of me, I fired to scare him off.



He broke away, leaving Fat Fred in the clear. "Right, that is the last time, you hear me number two?"



I checked my fuel state. Less than 5 gallons. We were taking off on half a tank these days, the fuel shortage was really starting to bite. We were still engaged, but would have to break off.



"Check fuel Keta flight," I ordered. Two of the six reported in. Numbers 3 and 5 were missing or their radios dead.

"Red light Sir," reported Fred.

"Let's try and get down," I told him.



But as he began to swing up and onto my wing, I saw a small shape dart in behind me. It hardly seemed possible, but the blighter was in trouble, again!





"Pull high number Two! Fighter, fighter!" I dived down onto the biplane and opened fire.





But the Italian stayed on Fat Fred's tail, and I couldn't fire on it for fear of hitting Fred.

Then I realised, that didn't seem like such a problem.



I opened fire.



"Hey! Sir!" You're hitting me!" Fred called.





"Sorry Two," I replied. He dived away.



The Italian was smoking now. Unfortunately, Fred looked fine. Che Sera. I gave the Italian a final long burst.



The salvo shredded the CR42s wings, and it fell away.





The Italians decided they had had enough, and both the G50s and CR42s broke off.

"Return to base Keta Flight," I said over the R/T. Only Fred and two others replied. We dropped down toward Takali field, Fred shooting me disgruntled glances.



As I dropped my wheels and sideslipped in, a shadow passed overhead, and a biplane made one final run at me!









I pulled off the landing strip and ahead of my nose, I saw him banking around for another pass. There was nothing for it. I thumbed the guns.





The guns hammered for a moment then the port guns when silent. My starboard guns ripped a second longer, pushing my kite around with the force of their recoil, but I saw the tracer loop toward the Italian machine.



It was enough to give him the fright of his life. He banked sharply and sped away.



Dear Mother of Mercy, what a mission! As I sat sweating in the cockpit, choking on cordite, behind me I saw Fred, already out of his machine, trotting into the mess tent.



I climbed out of my machine, handed my flight helmet to an erk, and followed after him.

A short and violent lesson in the craft of flying wingman, was in order.


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#3847860 - 10/08/13 10:36 PM Re: Fat Fred over Malta: (8 Oct update) episode 3 [Re: HeinKill]  
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Secondo a nessuno, Maestro.


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#3848145 - 10/09/13 03:22 PM Re: Fat Fred over Malta: (8 Oct update) episode 3 [Re: HeinKill]  
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great AAR's HK. great read smile

SD


From the hills rebounding
Let this war cry sounding
Summon all at Cambria's call
The mighty force surrounding

Men of Harlech onto glory
This shall ever be your story
Keep these fighting words before ye
Welshmen never yield

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