© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons


459 RAAF Hudson Squadron


Middle East 1942-43




Flight Lieutenant James 'Jimmy' Thompson CRAIG DFC MID

RAF VR



Service No. 158665


Died --5th February 2000

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MID awarded whilst with 459 Squadron, in addition Jimmy Craig was awarded the DFC while later serving with 454 (RAAF) and 267 (RAF)


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Operational Tours



(1)   Number 459 RAAF Hudson Squadron RAF 201 Naval Co-operation, Middle East 1942-1943.

 

(2)   Numbers 267 271 and 46 RAF Douglas Dakota Squadrons RAF - spread 1943-1946.


L-R: R. Lee WAG RAF, Rostron Pilot RAF,

JT Craig WAG RAF, Collins NAV B RAAF



Jimmy Craig was Turret Gunner/Radar Operator in a 459 Hudson crew with Bryan ("Junior") Rostron RAF, Pilot, Collins RAAF Navigator/Bomb Aimer, and Lee, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.



In an earlier bulletin article entitled "Haggis" the story of our now "Absent Comrade" was summarised.  It is quoted below:


His very close 459 and 267 Squadron friend Sep Owen has written : A Personal Tribute to Jimmy (Haggis) Craig, DFC.



(Editor:  This necessarily very limited summary of some 4 years of operational flying duty has been gleaned from notes copied from Jimmy  Craig's Flying Log Book).

 



"Haggis" Craig, from Argyleshire near Glasgow , was mine host of a 5 star Boarding House frequently visited by ex-459 members, and staffed partly by full time and casual "Aussies", to whom he was known to "spin a yarn" about Squadron days.  He was WAG in Bryan (Junior) Rostron's Hudson crew which left Silloth OTU to fly via Gibraltar and Malta, as one of the originals to from 459, newly commissioned in Feb.1942.  The crew joined A Flight in 1942.  Flying in Fred Madsen's crew on 20th July, Haggis was quickly initiated into offensive night/first light strikes and patrols - 7 Hudson's tried in vain to attack heavily defended shipping in Tobruk Harbour.  The Squadron's brilliant contribution in helping close Rommel's coast-crawling reinforcement supply route proved costly for the Axis - 1 x Merchant Vessel (6000 tons); 1 x Destroyer; 17 x F Boats); it took a heavy toll but at a heavy cost.  Rostron's crew scored 1 x F Boat and 459 was very active in patrols after Alamein to cover West bound convoys to Malta.


Haggis, despite years of crippling bone disease as a child determinedly developed his fitness and was accepted for air crew, albeit radio and not pilot training.  He had learned dogged persistence, and "organised" his eventual acceptance - a handy RAAF attribute.


A tour with 459 and then 4 years with 267 RAF 271 RAF and 46 RAF Dakota Squadrons demonstrated his typical determination.  He had a spell instructing  at 75 OTU, Gianaclis and then served with 267 Squadron on Douglas Dakotas for the best part of 3 1/2 years - logging more than 230 entries on communications duty, casualty evacuation, night supply drops and landings behind enemy lines in Northern Italy, and to help Yugoslavian guerillas, and in 1945 on similar work in Burma, where Slim's Fourteenth Army's in their terrible battles of attrition with the Japanese found transport aircraft were the only quick supply solution to stopping the Japanese advance.  Incidentally Haggis was the "squeeze box", piano accordion master in the Sergeant's mess.  We salute Haggis' unstoppable spirit for more flying.  We know his Australian connection is as strong as ever, and we forgive him his willingness to yarn - after all he is an Honorary Aussie.

 


Jim Craig - A Personal Tribute by Sep Owen:


Jimmy (Haggis) Craig has had a special place in my esteem since my first night in the 459 Sergeants Mess at LGZ, or Gambut.  That night, as most nights, hour after hour, squeezebox in hands, a one-man orchestra, he accompanied us non-stop through our varied repertoire of songs such as "Road to Gundagai" and "Somewhere over Benghazi" (a parody of "Somewhere over the Rainbow") his only let up being an oft-repeated quick pause for a swig of beer (Jimmy, a fellow WAG flew with Bryan Rostron).  To my delight, a later posting, to 267 Squadron, saw us, now Officers, sharing quarters in a villa in Bari, Italy.  There I came to know Jim and to learn a lot from his views on a host of subjects - always thought-provoking.



We kept in touch as he was my host in Scotland at his and Jenny's home in Dunoon in the mid 50's, at Oban in '69.  (When I was accompanied by Janese) and again in '95.  Ever the entertaining, witty conversationalist, his self-made career showed his (unobtrusive) business acumen, culminating in his family's ownership of their lovely lakeside Knipoch Hotel, by Oban.  Since knowing Jimmy, I've never been able to hear melodies like Bonny Dundee or Lindy Lou without mentally (or aloud) singing along with our old, unforgettable mate.

 

DFC Citation:


158665 "F/Lt. James Thompson Craig RAF No  267 Squadron - after completing an operational tour in coastal command (with No 459 RAAF Squadron) immediately volunteered for another tour.  He has subsequently been involved on transport support operations over German Occupied Europe.  Throughout his time he has displayed a high degree of courage, skill and devotion to duty".


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Post War - Jimmy returned to Scotland and a business career that culminated in the ownership of the lakeside Knipoch Hotel near Oban.  There he was known to spin a yarn or two about the Squadron days.


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James Thompson CRAIG