1942 is a year in
Reg's life where detailed information is quite difficult to find.
The following has
been pieced together from his service record and personal letters.
31 May 1942
Reg is transferred to 240 Squadron.
In March 1942, the squadron had left
for India and spent the rest of the war flying anti-submarine and
anti-shipping patrols over the Bay of Bengal.
Crash in Malta
It would appear that Reg planned to
join the squadron in India.
He set off for India, piloting a flying boat (probably a Catalina).
Unfortunately? he crashed badly on
landing en-route in Malta.
29 July 1942
As you can see by
the above address a slight error has crept in. In fact I shall
be here for about a month or six weeks before carrying on.
On 4 August he was declared unfit to
fly, with a review recommended after 8 months. He was to be sent
home as soon as possible.
There are no records of his injuries
but on the 4 August he was given 6 weeks sick leave. An entry of 'Operational Stress (Flying)' appears in his Medical Board
records. However, it would appear that the situation in Malta in
1942 meant that injury (or stress) was no excuse.
on Malta, particularly at periods when Axis convoy were being sent
across with supplies for the Africa Korps, were extremely heavy,
by April 7th 1942, the islands had 2,000 alerts and, by October
4th 1942, this number was raised to 3,000 through as much as 2,000
tons of bombs were dropped during a single month.
Reg's skills as a specialist navigator
were discovered and it was decided that he 'could not be spared'. He
was appointed Chief Navigation Officer at AHQ Malta.
The following letter details his
change of plans
15 . 8 . 42
again the whole picture has changed. As no doubt you
gathered from my last cable there was a very strong
possibility of my returning to England almost at once, but
that I am afraid is out now. I had better start right
now from the beginning and tell you the whole wretched
arrived here I crashed and broke the boat pretty badly.
Fortunately no one was injured but I was pretty badly shaken
up. I was sent into hospital for observation and
finally they decided that I must come off flying for eight
months and then be re-examined. It was then decided to send
me home as soon as possible. Then things began to
happen, they discovered that I was a specialist "N" and said
I could not be spared as Malta badly needed one. And so here
I am and likely to be here for some time, Chief Navigation
Officer at Headquarters. The only good thing about it
is that it is nearer England than India. Incidentally
I have now been promoted to the exalted rank of Squadron
There is no record of the promotion in
his service record, perhaps because the appointment was not to
last very long.
A further letter a week later...
22 August 1942
Once again the
whole picture has changed completely and I am being sent
home. The medical people here have decided that the only
thing to do is to get me back to England. I don't know
when I shall arrive, but it may take as long as a month or even
a little longer. Still I shall roll up as usual like a bad
You must be
pretty dazed about all these changes of plans, but this is the
last one definitely.
have made up their minds and once they do that nothing can stop
'em. Don't worry about me, physically I am perfectly fit,
it is just that I am completely worn out mentally. As soon as I
get back to England I shall be medically examined, almost
certainly given a long sick leave and then given a ground job.
here says that if everything goes well I shall probably be fit
to fly again in about nine months or a years time.
Back to the UK
Reggie was transferred to personnel list on 2 September
1942 at No 1 Depot UK pending repatriation.
This photograph is a bit of a mystery
in that Reg is seated (centre) in a picture with 263 Squadron, when his
service record shows that he did not join this squadron until 1943.
The board in the picture is dated 8 September 1942.
A clue to why it
was taken and the reason for his presence and the prominence of the
name 'Whirlibomber' on the board could be explained from this text:
In the latter part of 1942 the Whirlwind was adapted as a bomber and
subsequently joined the Hurribomber in attacking the enemy in occupied territory
with cannon and bombs by both day and night. One 250 or 500 lb. bomb was carried
beneath each wing, and thus modified the Whirlwinds were unofficially known as "Whirlibombers".
Bomb racks on the Whirlwind
The fitting of bomb racks to the Whirlwind was advocated in September, 1941, by
Squadron Leader T. Pugh, D.F.C., the C.O. of No. 263 Squadron, but it was not
until 21st July, 1942, that the first of the squadron's Whirlwinds was modified
to carry bombs. The first "Whirlibomber" operation-by No. 263 Squadron and only
intended as a trial run-took place on 9th September, 1942, when two sections,
escorted by Spitfires, attacked four armed trawlers steaming from Cap de la
Hague, near Cherbourg, towards Alderney.
by Philip J. R. Moyes
Reg had somehow found
his way back to the UK much quicker than expected. Despite his illness, did
he take part
in this operation in a non-flying navigational role?
Reg is posted to HQ No 9 Group in a navigation role. No. 9 Group
covered north-west England and Northern Ireland.
It's a girl!
3rd November 1942
Reg and Norma`s daughter Helen Ann was
born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
5 November 1942
Reg transferred to HQ Fighter Command
Reg is in Barton Hall, Nr Preston 'ill
with a hefty bout of malaria'.
Back to flying duties
His medical classification of 'A4BT'
which precluded him from flying was changed to 'A1BT - fit to fly'.
Attended 59 OTU (Operational
Training Unit) at Millfield, Northumberland for a refresher course
After nearly 5 months 'grounded', the nature of
Reg's operational flying was now to change markedly.
page last updated:Thursday 01 October 2009
Table of contents detailing updates added
RAF Lasham 1942-48 - a project by
Trinny. Please click
here to view
Victory Fighters: The
Veterans' Story - Winning the Battle for Supremacy in the Skies
Over Western Europe, 1941-1945
By Stephen Darlow
Fighters is largely a collection of eye-witness accounts of the
struggle that raged in the skies over occupied Europe after the
Battle of Britain. Reg Baker is one of the six featured pilots.
Stephen Darlow has been a major
support and contributor to this website do please visit the
website of this excellent Military Aviation author.