Kabrit to Malta
Since his return to Egypt on 8 January 8th Austin has had to wait for the new moon-period. In the meantime he travelled to Cairo and initially made arrangements to fly the Yugoslav operation from Derna, on the Libyan coast, but on the 21st he learned that the target had been changed for one further north, near Sarajevo. At more than 1,600 miles, this took the target outside the Whitley’s range from Derna. Austin therefore plans to fly the operation from Malta, then to return to either Derna or Martuba.
On the 21st Rommel put a spanner in the works by launching a probing counter-attack that met with poor resistance, the Allies disorganised. Rommel has advanced almost to the the Gazala Line, his old defensive position east of Derna and Partuba, which the Allies now defend. Austin flies to Malta on the night of 27th in order to carry out the operation. but he will need to return to Malta afterwards.
On the 25th Austin takes Z9159 up for a 20 minute Night Flying Training flight with his three crew, and an air test on the 26th. They set off for Malta a 22.25, and land at Luqa at 10.35 the following morning, presumably timed to evade the early morning raids.