Many thanks to Michael Goold for providing us with this account of the delivery of a Beaufighter from Egypt to Rome. Michael served with 216 group No 4 ADU (part of Transport Command) and flew eighteen types of aircraft during his service.
I was dropped off at LG 224 ( later Cairo West) to collect a Night Fighter Beaufighter and deliver it to the US 417 Sqd said to be based at Rome.
So off we set to Castel Beneto and on to Rome, upon arrival we were informed the they had moved to the South Of France to cover that invasion. So we flews to Istres, only to find they had yet again moved to central France. So from Istries we went to Lyons. There were no RAF ground staff. We discover that the 417 had moved to Ochez a hundred mile north of Lyons. So getting ready for this last leg, during our last engine run up we had a larger drop of revs so needed a new magneto. No service being available we still took off into dense cloud heading to wards Ochez. We were at about eight thousand feet, so called Ochez Tower. A reply came right back, we explained we had a replacement aircraft for them, but because of weather conditions we were returning to Lyons. The radio operator said he could talk us down if we wished. This was a first for me as a QDM was the only aid in the med. So I agreed and resited 'The boy stood on the burning deck his luggage was labeled France, etc. A voice came back saying steer 260 magnetic and descend to four thousand feet , this we did. and were then told to steer 350 degrees and descent to two thousand feet.
Still in thick cloud, he told us we should break cloud and their runway would be staight ahead, and so it was. This being my first GCA.
We landed and were given bunks in tents and a fine meal. The tents were heated with an up turned 45 gal drumwith petrol/gas from a drop tank outside the fuel being deliver to the drum by a metal pipe coiled under the drum. Going full chat the barrel was red hot at the top and a six inched metal pipe poked through the tent roof..
Our arrival was the just before the weather closed in for a week. When I refer to we, I had a Canadiam wireless operater along with me who did nothing as he could not work the radio.
The Aircraft was an MU rebuild painter all black with US markings. The 417 normally used Black Widow aircraft but these were with drawn for mods to be carried out.
And the RAF supplied the Beaus so the Sqd could still operate.
After about a week two other aircraft arrived so six of us piled into a time expired Beau and flew non stop to Jesi, Ancona. Where our engineering officed scraped the aircraft as it was write off. This journey took place during the winter.