Desmond had finished his second tour on ops having earned two gallantry medals and
promotion to Flight Lieutenant. He’d already held instructor postings and led sections,
so the next posting could have been command of a squadron but instead he was posted
to 5 RFU as an instructor, initially based at Loreto. Just a few weeks later on the
24th September, the unit moved west to Perugia, a well equipped airfield with tarmac-
The former Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe base (now St Egidio airport) was situated a 20 minute drive from Assisi where the officers had use of the Hotel Giotto (which also served as the officers mess for the staff of HQ 239 Wing) while the Warrant Officers, Sergeants and airmen all had their own clubs in town. In addition the local cinema laid on screenings every night.
For most of September Desmond flew Spitfire VB ‘C-
Flying was governed by the course schedules and also by the weather which turned
wet and windy during mid-
Sunday the 19th of November 1944 started out cold and fair but the early morning
mist cleared to reveal a clear sunny day. A Spitfire being delivered from 4 Air Delivery
Unit crashed on landing while another hit a vehicle on taxying. Not a good start.
Desmond decided to take Spitfire Mk IX LF ( c ) C-