© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons


459 RAAF Squadron


Dessert Air Force - Middle East



Reginald Calvert - Pilot

 



 Service Number:  402029


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“MY PILOT WAS A LEGEND”


Flying Officer Reginald Calvert


    A PROFILE


By Roy Mahoney


The term Legend is used rather loosely these days to describe such characters as Rock stars and Soccer Players.  Reg Calvert was not that kind of Legend.


But read on and judge for yourself:


Reginald W.D. Calvert was a licenced pilot at the outbreak of WW2.


He was attested in 1940 by the RAAF as a Wireless Air Gunner and completed his training as a WAG on No.1 Course at Ballarat and Evans Head.


In March 1941 he embarked on the HMT “Aquatania” for the Middle East.


He served as a WAG with No.223 Squadron RAF on Crete and in the Western Desert and also with No.69 Squadron on Malta.


He completed his first tour as a WAG on Martin Marylands.


In 1942 he remustered for Pilot Training in Rhodesia.


On the successful completion of his training, he married Win, and for a short time served as a Staff Pilot.  While awaiting a return to Operational Duty, Reg managed to fit in a Navigational  Course in South Africa.


Traveling overland to Egypt he arrived at No.75 OUT Gianaclis, where he crewed up with Ken Wiblin (NAV/B), Ross Smith (WAG) and Roy Mahoney (WAG) , training as a crew on Vega Venturas.


Reg and his crew joined 459 Squadron at St. Jeans, near Haifa on 24th May,1944, but were never to fly an op on Venturas.


Almost immediately 459 squadron made the conversion to Baltimores in a record nine days and moved “Office” to Berka 111, near Benghazi, replacing 454 squadron who had moved to Italy on Close Support Duty.


But there was plenty to keep 459 Squadron occupied as the German Forces still occupied Crete and most of the Dodecanese Islands, stubbornly resisting any attempts to remove them.


459 fulfilled a multi purpose role, engaging crews in Reconnaissance duty, Convoy Patrols, Bombing Raids and Nickelling sorties.


It was on one of these leaflet dropping sorties that Reg’s Baltimore aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire rounding Cape Spatha, at the western end of Crete, as he turned for home.


With the port engine disabled and the hydraulics all but useless, Reg had no option but to head back towards the eastern end of Crete, in the hope of finding a SAFE landing ground.  Intelligence briefing had indicated that the strip at Kastellion might be our best hope, if we found ourselves in trouble.


With the unfeathered props of the port engine windmilling uncontrollably, Reg nursed the Balt along and started manually winding the undercart down as he made the best of an approach into Kastellion.  Unfortunately the  Jerries had left their calling card as they retreated westward – a RUNWAY FULL OF CRATERS!  Not much was said as Reg wrestled with what controls he had, in his endeavours to bring the Balt down in a paddock parallel to the runway; and then, from the cockpit as the wheels gripped Mother Earth, “STAY DOWN YA BASTARD”!  Given the conditions, only Baltimore pilots would appreciate and understand the difficulty in achieving such an outcome, but hey,


                  “MY PILOT WAS A LEGEND!”



L-R : Back Row : Ross Smith & Reg Calvert

L-R: Front Row : Ray Mahoney & Ken Wiblin


Reginald CALVERT