Sam Saunders in Egypt



Sam Saunders in Egypt


These pages are mostly biography of Sam's time in Egypt and his time with transport aircraft in the Mediterranean region.
Photos 1, 2 and 3 are scenes from Cairo.
Photo 4 is a side head and shoulders profile of Sam.
Photo 5 is a Battle aircraft in flight.




Temporal Coverage



Two printed sheets with five photographs


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[three photographs]

Here are the shoe shine boys in Cairo, the local lido and The Nile.


The Second Battle of El Alamein took place over 13 days from 23rd October to 4th November 1942 and the Allies’ victory marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The Allied victory turned the tide in the North African Campaign and ended Axis hopes of occupying Egypt, tak-ing control of the Suez Canal, and gaining access to the Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields. By the end of October Daddy’s total flying hours were 283.45 by day and 283.40 by night.

In November and December 1942 he occasionally flew in Hudson bombers as well as the Halifaxes, Opera-tions 31 to 45. There were attacks on Daba on the Fuka Road, Tunis and Elmas aerodromes, docks and jetties in Tunisia and then on to to [sic] Malta. He was finally taken as a passenger from Malta to Benghasi, [sic] El Adem and on to Shallufa, north of Cairo.

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Between the 4th and the 24th of January 1942, Flight Lieutenant E J Saunders travelled with British Airways from Cairo to Poole in Dorset. This took 13 separate flights. An astonishing set of connections with him as a passenger, he went from Cairo to Wadi Halfa (Egypt) to Khartoum (Sudan) to Malakal to Laropi to Stanley-ville (Belgian Congo) to Coquihatville to Leopoldville to Libreville (French West Africa) to Lagos (Nigeria) to Bathurst (Gambia) to Lisbon (Portugal) to Foynes (Eire) to Poole. We have no idea why he went on this ex-traordinary journey; perhaps many airmen travelled this way in order to take up leave. One of the planes was RMA, BA Bangor (A flying boat) and the other RMA BA Carpentaria (RMA, Royal Mail Aircraft). These long range clippers were American Boeing 314s and servedBA then BOAC when BA joined Imperial Airways in 1939.

At this point he was awarded his DFC, The Distinguished Flying Cross for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy”.

In [sic] 25th January 1943 he completed a Decompression Test and after a brief time with 16 Operational Training Unit (OTU) carrying out special navigational training, he moved to24 Squadron where he stayed until the end of June.

Initially there were Special Navigational flights in Wellingtons and Hudsons, practising cross-country naviga-tion flying out of Hendon Approach, which is now the RAF museum at Hendon.

Then came daytime transport flights in Hudsons and Dakotas out to Maison Blanche (Algeria) and RAF Castel Benito (late RAF Idris) near Tripoli in Libya, and to Malta and Tunisia. Then in Dakotas and Hudsons, he was flying the same long North African routes across RAF bases and through the Mediterranean sometimes out of Portreath in Scotland. These were mainly transport flights but occasionally carried VIPs. The same destina-tions; Blida, Maison Blanche, Luqa, Casablanca, Oujda, La Senia, Gibraltar, Ain Oussera. There were frequent-ly several flights a day with flying time from 15 minutes to 3 hours.

Total Flying Hours to date were an astonishing 653.15 by day and 471.55 by night.


Penny Thicket, “Sam Saunders in Egypt,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024,

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