Tag Archives: Jackson

A.J. (Ashley Duke) Jackson

Saturday, 15 November 1941

Malta to England

F/Lt Jackson, P/O Austin and their crews return to the UK, flying the direct route over France rather than via Gibraltar. We have Austin’s detailed report on his flight. He takes off at 17.25 and sets course for Point Teulada, at the south-west corner of Sardinia. Almost immediately he runs into heavy thunderstorms, which clear just after 8 p.m.. A flashing light is spotted and identified as a Sardinian lighthouse, and a course is set for the shallow lakes on the French coast south of Narbonne. The navigator takes several star-sights, an unusual practice for Special Duties crews, and obtained several fixes. At 22.40 they see lights and a coastline on the port beam, but cannot obtain a firm pinpoint. An hour later they set course for Tours. On ETA Tours they still can not see through the 10/10ths cloud beneath, and set course for Caen. They rely on the Pole Star to check their latitude. Just after ETA the French coast the wireless operator is asked to get a D/F fix from Southampton, but because the signals officer in Malta has given him the incorrect verification charts, Southampton does not issue the fix until Austin’s Whitley is circling West Malling, about to land. They land at West Malling at 03.15

It’s not entirely clear whether the code is issued even then, or even how Austin’s crew have found their way to West Malling. They had flown on ETA in or above cloud since the pinpointing at the south-western tip of Sardinia, so they are fortunate to make it back. The refusal to issue D/F instructions could easily have led to the Whitley running out of fuel.

On the face of it Jackson appears to have had an easier time: his report states that the weather cleared when he reached the French coast; after which, he wrote, ‘conditions became most favourable’. I suspect some difference over the use of time-zones, for Jackson appears to have taken off half an hour before Austin, yet landed an hour after; he reported landing at Newmarket at 04.30.

Monday, 10 November 1941

RAF Luqa, Malta

F/Lt Jackson and P/O Austin receive orders to return to the UK. One Whitley is undergoing a 40-hour inspection, and poor weather over the UK prevents the other from leaving; on a direct route from Malta the two Whitleys will be near the limit of their endurance, with little margin for error given the navigation problems of flying across the Mediterranean before crossing a hostile France.


TNA AIR 20/8334. Encl. 103A

Sunday, 9 November 1941

RAF Luqa, Malta

The two agents due to be parachuted into Yugoslavia have arrived in the early morning by submarine. However, they have not been provided with parachutes, a rather essential item of equipment. (Aircrew parachutes, possibly the only types available on the island, are very different in construction from either the agents’ ‘A’-type or the paratroop ‘X’-type, and their canopies would be too small.) In any case the weather forecast for the next few days is not good, and the Station Commander cancels operations for the night; he does so again on the 10th.

Tuesday, 4 November 1941

RAF Luqa, Malta

Three Wellingtons arrive from Egypt. They have attempted, but failed, to find their pinpoint in Yugoslavia, where they were to have dropped an agent and several containers. Jackson’s report states:

Instructions arrived from HQ Middle East that the Wellington Captains were to transfer their loads to the Whitleys who were to attempt the operation.

My orders from D.D.I. (Deputy Director of Intelligence) before leaving England were that I was not to carry out operations other than those for which we had been sent toMalta to do without permission from Air Ministry. I ascertained from Army H.Q. at Malta that the Wellington operations had nothing to do with us, but that the equipment and personnel for our operations would arrive that night by flying boat and submarine. I informed the Station Commander and the S.A.S.O. of the above facts, and they decided that I was to await the arrival of the flying boat and submarine.

This gets Jackson, a junior officer up against some very independently-minded seniors, out of a tricky spot. In any case, as he points out, there is not enough time to transfer the loads from the Wellingtons and re-pack the containers. Not to mention that, if the Wellingtons’ loads were to be dropped in the Whitleys’ containers, Jackson’s own operation would have to be scrubbed.


TNA AIR 20 / 8334, encl. 103A