The Algerian Affair and On



The Algerian Affair and On


Ted Neale's account of his last operation on a Wellington Mk 10. They had to fly to Grotaglie to take soldiers to Athens. He describes how they fitted the 12 men into the aircraft. On reaching Kalamaki, the airfield was being besieged by ELAS troops. On the return flight, the weather was atrocious, they ran low on fuel and were posted as missing before they reached base.


Temporal Coverage



Seven handwritten sheets


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[underlined] The Algerian affair and on [/underlined]
I came to the end of my operational tour on Mark Ten Wimpeys in late December 1944, the end was a trip down South to GROTAGLI [sic] to pick up infantry, to take on to KALAMAKI airfield, just outside ATHENS. We arrived at [deleted] C [/deleted] GROTAGLI to be met by this bunch of very subdued soldiers, they became more aprehensive [sic] when they saw the aircraft, and much more [inserted] so [/inserted] when we climbed down the ladder and revealed ourself [sic], we had been living in old clapped out tents, knee deep in mud and muck, it rained daily for months and we wore wellington boots always. On command from those in charge, they formed up and filed up the ladder in the front of the aircraft, until we had our quota of 12. they landed [inserted] up [/inserted] in the bombing area, where the bomb aimer lay and sighted thru his bomb site, watching until the target
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[underlined] 2 [/underlined] run down his screen and met his cross wire, when he would press his release tit and the bombs would leave us, on their way to the target, they then stepped up to land beside the pilot, with all his controls, on his right, then on past the wireless operator, then past my navigation table with the maps spread out, and all my navigation devices all around, then on to the main spar, which joined the wings together in the middle of the plane, climbing over this to the long bed and the toilet, those that could bagged the bed, one sat on the toilet, the rest settled where they could, making sure not to step just on the fabric covering the aircraft as their foot would go thru. They sat quitly [sic] as we taxied out and took off, they watched, but not a peep during the several hou[inserted]r[/inserted]s[deleted]e[deleted] it took to Greece.
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[underlined] 3 [/underlined]. We had been told that the E.L.A.S rebels were firing on aircraft as they landed. In the event we landed safely, the soldiers disembark while the crew went off to find some food. The airfield was in a [inserted] state of [/inserted] siege, surrounded by the E.L.A.S. the job of our soldiers was to lift the siege, there must have been about 500. We were supposed to take off to return to Italy but one of the aircraft suffered a puncture, and it couldn’t be mended until the next day, unfortunately our pilot was the senior officer and was in charge of the operation, and therefore had to see all the planes off, so we were forced to stay the night. We were fed and watered and given a bed, and each was given a rifle with ammunition in case there had been a break thru, we went to bed. with firing going on outside. About 2 o’clock there
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[circled] 4 [/circled] was a commotion and we woke to find a couple of soldiers, bringing [inserted] in [/inserted] a terrorist that they had captured, he was covered by a couple of machine guns, and held in the corner of the room, we went back to bed and slept, feeling quite safe. Next day we eventually got away, down through the Corinth canal into the Adriatic, then heading North. The weather at this time was atrocious, with no visibility at all, we dropped down to try and get under it but with hills up to 4,500ft on a path to the airfield, we didn’t brake cloud almost to the deck, so we went up to get above the weather, this proved impossible, all this time our wireless operator was trying to contact base, but the signal was not good enough to read. When the time came to turn to the West
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5 to the airfield at Tortorella we were faced with the big hills, so we sent a message to base to say that we were making our way further north to Leghorn; hoping that this was clear, so we pressed on, the Pilot was [deleted] about [/deleted] a bit perturbed about our fuel situation, but I monitored the fuel panel which had several fuel gauges which responded when I ressed [sic] the relating button, the gauges showed that we had about a quarter of our load left and not to worry. The pilot then saw a field on our port side, the weather had cleared and he could see many aircrew slewn [sic] around, these proved to be American Fortres [sic] an [sic] Liberator bombers which had been bombing up north and had been badly damaged and could
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not make it home, and had hobled [sic] in once they had cleared the bomb line. I told the pilot that we were just a few minutes away, just the other side a hill in front of us, but to reassure him, I would turn on the nacelle tanks, these were petrol tanks on the top of the engines for emergency, I had the control beside me so I turned them on, and [deleted] th [/deleted] within a few minutes we cleared the hills and came to the airfield and landed. By this time it was late so by the time we refuelled [deleted] ate [/deleted] it would be too late to take off so we had to stay, the night, my only
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7. memory of this, was that we freezing [sic] cold and soking [sic] wet, we spent hours round a stove trying to get dry and warm. We took off the next morning and flew back to base, we were met by a crowd when we landed, including some of the Americans from the B17 side of the field, because none of our signals from the air or from the field at Leghorn were received, and until we landed we were posted as missing. The only consolation in this was that my operting [sic] time was completed, no more bombing runs, or low level mine drops or supply drops into Yugoslavia. The Wellinton [sic] had that day been withdrawn from service and replaced by Liberators.



Ted Neale, “The Algerian Affair and On,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 21, 2024,

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