Desert War Diary: 213 Squadron

ISBN 1-873203-59-4
RAF memoir
  • softback
  • 140 x 205mm
  • 146 pages
  • monochrome photographs

by John Walton


A former armourer recalls life on a Hurricane squadron in North Africa and Cyprus in WW2

Jack Walton was an armourer with 213 Squadron, a fighter squadron equipped with Hawker Hurricane aircraft, operational in Cyprus and the Western Desert as part of the DAF (Desert Air Force) during World War II.

Jack was one of the ‘men on the ground’ who kept the squadron’s aircraft combat-ready. Such men were an indispensable part of the squadron team, and his book is a fitting reminder of the long hours of hard and unglamorous work put in by so many unsung heroes among the ground crews of the RAF.

Jack’s reminiscences, written in diary form, give a highly informative day-by-day account of squadron life during the wartime years 1941-43. The diary entries convey the thoughts and feelings of a young man, far from the comforts of home, thrown into the confusion of war. His experiences must echo those of thousands of young men who took part in the Desert Campaign and elsewhere, describing as they do, the traumas and triumphs experienced at war.

For Jack, these included bouts of frantic round-the-clock activity when operations were under way and many uncomfortable hours spent in foxholes whilst being pounded by enemy bombs. These contrasted with periods of boredom and homesickness, when doubts crept in that the sufferings of war might not justify the results.

Nevertheless, 213 Squadron soldiered on, and Jack takes a personal pride in their achievements – particularly wishing to remember the many young pilots whose aircraft failed to return. The book also includes many excellent and hitherto unpublished photos of 213 Squadron at war.