On Saturday the 7th November 1942 six Spitfires of B Flight led by Flt. Lt. Bruce
Ingram took off at 08:45am and headed west to patrol the Matruh-
Desmond got two Stukas, the first of which went down in flames. The second Stuka
meant he was now officially a Spitfire ace. Unfortunately he allowed another 109
to get in unseen behind him and open fire. His opponent’s bullets hit the petrol
tank just behind the engine. Below him was LG no.8 near Mersa Matruh. His engine
faltering, Desmond crash landed and had now been shot down for the second time. What
he had been briefed was an allied airfield was actually in German hands. Considerably
outnumbered and outgunned, he was taken prisoner by the approaching Germans. His
captors were good humoured and strikingly different from the German soldier of repute.
They took him to a well-
Could he have met Rommel? I’ve reviewed 5 accounts of similar meetings from 1940
When darkness fell, he broke from the camp and after running two hundred yards threw
himself into a deep tank rut. A column of German half-
(8th Nov.) No.129238 P/O. D. Ibbotson, who was reported missing the previous day, made good his escape from the enemy and crossed over into friendly hands with the aid of natives, returning to the unit in the afternoon fit and well at E.L.G. 13 which had been occupied by “B” Force a few moments before. (601 Sqn ORB).
Intriguingly Desmond’s own account differs from these. He had to walk through German lines before he found the Arabs who helped him return to base. He’d had a lucky and daring escape from right under the noses of the Germans and Desmond could have “dined out” on this own story for many years to come.
8 /Nov/42. Taken just after Desmond returned to his base near Mersa Matruh in Libya after his escape the night before from Rommel’s soldiers.