© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons


454 RAAF Squadron Desert Air Force in the Middle East

Corporal JH (Jack) Stainton -  RAF


GROUND CREW

Died 20/07/2012

A recent photo of Jack Stainton



(The following notation has been supplied from a former RAF member)



J.H.Stainton was a typical RAF Ground Crew Tour of Duty in the Middle East.


A Foundation Member of 454 RAAF Squadron from “Go to Whoa”, 1942-1945.


Jack's story [from the 2003 Bulletin]:


"I served in the RAAF from 2nd April 1942, to help form 76/454 Squadrons at Aqir, Palestine.  First I was posted to help maintain 159 Squadron, RAF then 160 Squadron RAF (Liberator) at Shallufa, or LG224, then Fayed in September,1942 and finally joined 454 Squadron RAAF which was formed in Aqir, Palestine in 1942.


My new Squadron moved to northern Iraq (or Mesopotamia) where it was equipped with fighter-bomber Blenheim Vs.  In January 1943 moved to LG227 in Libya with Baltimore's 111's, thence to LG91 in February 1943 to the Western Desert Air Force in support of British 8th Army, then to Gambut 111 between Tobruk  and Derna equipped with Baltimores for photo reconnaissance flights over the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas and over Crete. 


In August 1943 it was back to LG91 T Lakatia, and November 4th 1943 to Berka 111 with a detachment at Gambut. July 1944 to Pescara in Italy, then to Falconara flying against the retreating Germans still on Baltimores.  There was a detachment at Forli(early 1945) and a final move from Cesenatico in May (after the surrender) to Villa Orba, northern Italy where 454 was on peace keeping duties to stop Marshall Tito taking over Trieste.


On 20th August 1945, 454 I was disbanded and the Aussies went back home, RAF members rejoined the RAF in Greece to make contact with our Aussie mates."



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454 Squadron RAAF Desert Air Force, Benghazi. Berka 111 Libya 1943.  AC G.Mann UK and AC Bill Faunt UK, ground crew -- checking the gun turrets on Baltimore MK 1V and V fighter bomber. 


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The following email information is from Jack Stainton

dated Feb 2006:


454 Squadron RAF.  D.A. Force C.M.F. Jack H. Stainton UK





"Our Squadron was 454 RAAF, Desert Air Force, Central Mediterranean Force, that was 43 years ago, how time flies, does it not?


The map attached (see Multimedia section) and other maps are copies from my RAF Squadrons Book since 1912 written by Wing Commander C.G. Jeffrey, MBE. RAF.  It took him over 20 years to collate, quite a man.


Midnight on V.E Day a detachment was sent, including aircraft to Villa Orba, near Udine, not far from the Austrian border, (See map in Multimedia no.27 - in green above arrow).  Marshall Tito was trying to take Trieste into his country, we stopped him so we remember V.E. day very well.  While talking about Villa Orba, we met an Italian family in the village, he was a blacksmith, he hid his wine down a well while the Germans were there. They were very hungry so we supplied them with food, cooking oil and tinned food and Carnation milk, we fed the village, they in turn did our laundry and cooked our food, and along with Aldo's wine we had a nice time.

 

The Germans had taken their horses back into Austria, (Map 32, No.34) so the farmers had no horses to work on the land so we took three trucks across the border into Austria.  The Russians were in command and the soldiers wanted beer, cigarettes and tins of corn beef so we did a swap and bought back ten horses to Villa Orba for the farmers and they were overjoyed.

 

When we left Villa Orba we left Aldo sheet metal, nuts and bolts, rivets, etc. which he was glad of as he had no materials in his blacksmith's shop.

 

The Australians had then gone back home so 45 of us were left in Villa Orba until the RAF found us two months later, they just left us there with our paperwork to draw supplies from Udine so  we were fine.

 

Being a coppersmith, sheet metal worker and welder all sorts of things were made for our Italian friends.  Three who were engineers worked with us and we made cooking equipment, small heating stoves fed with high octane fuel through 8mm copper tub laid in a trench, tiny holes in the tubes fed from an aircraft petrol tank.  This enabled us to cook and heat, the winter was very cold and lots of snow. (see following diagrams drawn up by Jack).


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Jack's Desert Kettle - very ingenious!


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We also made showers with 50 gallon drums on a platform with land pumps so you could pump water up into the drums and feed back down to the showers, with a petrol heater to heat the water through a cock in the large drum.  This was at Cesenatico. and everybody could have a shower.

 

We also put a steel staircase in a small hotel in Cesenatico and turned it into a Forces, Club.  The steel was from a blown up bridge on the River Po, we were helped by our Italian friends. The staircase is still there , but now covered with wood, our Club is still there to this day as a Hotel, some of my mates and I have been back there.


The sons, now have the Hotel and their father told them all about us, so they have fond memories of 454 Squadron."

454 Bar - Cesanatico, Italy, 1944, 454 RAAF Kookaburra emblem

Hank Hayes, my mate , bottom right.


1942 Truck Convoy - Gambut to Iraq


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Jack at Santaigo 3 Complex, 2004



Jack carol singing, Christmas 2003


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Jack and his son-in-law Carl Oberg at the

London Dedication Ceremony 26.03.2009

Jack STAINTON