Biplane fighter aces

The Commonwealth

Pilot Officer Cecil Hugh Livingstone Tulloch, RAF no. 85007

- 24 November 1941

Pre-war, Tulloch lived in Egypt.

He received aviators' certificate no. 18083 when he graduated from Misr Airwork, Egypt, on 4 May 1939.

Leading Aircraftman Tulloch was promoted to Pilot Officer on probation on 24 August 1940 (gazetted on 8 October 1940).

Pilot Officer Tulloch served in 80 Squadron during the Greek campaign.

At 10:30 on 9 February 1941, Squadron Leader "Tap" Jones led off 14 of 80 Squadron's Gladiators on an offensive patrol over the Tepelene area. They took off in four sub-flights led by Jones, Flight Lieutenant "Pat" Pattle, Flying Officer 'Shorty' Graham and Flight Lieutenant "Timber" Woods. During the take-off Flying Officer W. B. Price-Owen, in the last section, experienced engine stoppage as his Gladiator became airborne and he was forced to glide back to the airfield.
Near Tepelene a trio of S.79s were seen, but lost in cloud. It is however possible that Pilot Officer William Vale claimed that he damaged one of these since he did claim one damaged during the day.
Jones took the Squadron round in a wide arc just north of Kelcyre and led them back towards Tepelene. His engine had been running rough for the last fifteen minutes and now it was beginning to vibrate. He called Pattle over the radiotelephone and told him to take over the lead. Then he throttled right back to ease the shuddering. Within a few seconds he was joined by Flying Officer Wanklyn Flower, who was also having trouble with his engine and together they flew back to Yanina.
Meanwhile, the Squadron continued their patrol and just before midday five CR.42s were seen far away off the port beam by Pattle, followed by many more, 30-40 being reported. In fact there were just 16 fighters of the 150o Gruppo, led by Capitano Edmondo Travaglini, commander of the 365a Squadriglia. The Italian pilots also overestimated the opposition, identifying the eleven Gladiators as 20 strong.
Many individual dogfights developed between Tepelene and Argyrokastron. Pattle shot down one Fiat CR.42, which crashed into the ground at speed on the outskirts of Tepelene, while Flying Officer Nigel Cullen put four bursts into another and reported seeing it crash into the hillside and burst into flames. The Squadron returned to claim four definitely shot down and three probables, but the Greek authorities provided confirmation next day that all seven had crashed, and victories were credited to Flight Lieutenant George Kettlewell, Pilot Officer Vale, Pilot Officer Tulloch, Sergeant Donald Gregory and Sergeant Charles Casbolt, as well as Pattle and Cullen.
Pilot Officer Vale reported:

"I was slightly behind the main formation … I observed about six or more formations of five CR42s [each] above us and so I gave ‘Tally-ho!’ and I immediately climbed. A dogfight started and from my position the policy of the e/a seemed to be diving attacks and gaining height straight away. One CR42 dived on me from above but I managed to evade his fire by pulling round and up towards him. I fired a short burst, which seemed to scare him away. I then saw a CR42 diving down on another Gladiator and so carried out a diving quarter attack and he pulled away, which left me in an astern position close in. I carried on firing until the e/a turned over on its back and the pilot left the machine. I saw his parachute open and so gained height and fired a long burst at a CR42, which dived down on me from above. I then broke away from the combat and owing to shortage of ammunition and fuel returned to base with F/O Cullen, who came up and formatted with me. We landed at 1240 and on inspecting aircraft found no damage.
The initial claims had been nearer the truth, for four CR.42s were in fact hit. Sergente Romano Maionica (365a Squadriglia) and Sergente Danilo Birolo (364a Squadriglia) both failed to return, the latter being believed to have baled out (Maionica was KIA and Birolo landed in Yugoslavian territory), while Tenente Enzo Rovetta (364a Squadriglia) was wounded and crashed while attempting to land at base, and Capitano Travaglini force-landed near Tirana. In return, the Italians claimed four Gladiators destroyed and nine damaged. 364a Squadriglia pilots Tenente Alberto Spigaglia, Sottotenente Pasquale Faltoni and Maresciallo Ugo Guidi were each credited with a victory.
Flying Officer F. W. Hosken baled out of Gladiator N5811, wounded in one leg, when his controls were shot away and he came down near Tepelene. Flight Lieutenant Kettlewell force-landed Gladiator N5858 some 50 miles north of Yanina due to lack of oil pressure, but with his aircraft undamaged. Both returned to Yanina aided by the Greek army.

He was promoted to Flying Officer on 24 August 1941 (gazetted on 30 September 1941).

During the afternoon on 24 November 1941, nine Hurricanes from 80 Squadron (take off at 15:30 and landing 17:10) covered by P-40 Tomahawks of 4 SAAF Squadron, were ordered off to attack tanks which had broken through at Sidi Rezegh and were threatening Fort Maddalena. While on this mission, they saw below them twelve Bf 110s of III/ZG 26 travelling in the same direction as the Hurricanes, in high speed. Both formations were taken by surprise, the British diving and the Germans climbing to give battle, but at this moment more Hurricanes from 1 SAAF Squadron appeared on the scene and in a swift action five Bf 110s were claimed shot down with three more damaged north-west of Maddalena. Lieutenant V. A. "Viv" Greenberg and Lieutenant Y. Visser from 4 SAAF Squadron claimed one shared at 16:15, Captain ‘Snowy’ Moody (AN376) and 2nd Lieuteant R. A. B. Thorpe (AN369) (Both of 4 SAAF Squadron a second shared Bf 110 at 16:15 while Lieutenant Roy Edwin Chadwick (4 SAAF Squadron) claimed one shared with Sergeant Alexander Comfort (80 Squadron/Hurricane Z4764) at 16:15. Lieutenant Melville Duff-Richardson (4 SAAF Squadron) shared a third with an unknown pilot (possibly Flying Officer Tulloch of 80 Squadron) at 16:20. Sergeant Russell Foskett (Z4744) of 80 Squadron shot down a fifth, which crash-landed, no less than four people getting out of it. Foskett also reported that most of the Bf 110s appeared to be in European camouflage and he thought they were just flying in from Crete. Flight Sergeant P. W. Wintersdorff (Z4426), Flight Lieutenant Peter Townley Dowding (Z4931) and Flight Lieutenant David Coke (Z4833), all from 80 Squadron, each claimed one of the three damaged Bf 110s. 80 Squadron initially reported the loss of four Hurricanes when Flying Officer Tulloch was seen being shot down in flames and killed. Sergeant N. Crouch made a forced landing at Tobruk while Sergeant Foskett and Flight Sergeant Ekiel (Z4801) landed away at Sidi Barrani but both returned the next day.
4 SAAF Squadron lost one Tomahawks when Lieutenant Thorpe failed to return. Thorpe was picked up by armoured cars and saw action with them before returning on 26 November. A second Tomahawk (AK518) was damaged when Lieutenant “Doug” Rogan was hard hit, having his leg almost severed. Loosing blood heavily, he managed to apply a form of tourniquet and got back to base. Despite his efforts, he subsequently lost the leg by amputation but he later returned to operational flying with an artificial limb.
III./ZG 26 claimed four P-40s and three Hurricanes between 16:00 and 16:18. The P-40s were claimed by three pilots from 7 Staffel; Unteroffizier Karl Emsbach (south of Bir el Hacheim at 16.12), Oberfeldwebel Helmut Haugk (two at Trigh el Abd at 16.13 and 16:16) and Unteroffizier Heinz Golisch (Trigh el Abd at 16.18). The Hurricanes were claimed by Oberleutnant Dieter Bidlingmaier of 8./ZG 26 (El Gubi at 16:00), Leutnant Alfred Wehmeyer of 9./ZG 26 (Bu Malitza at 16:08) and Oberfeldwebel Richard Heller of 8./ZG 26 (20 miles south of Gobi at 16:09). Losses were Leutnant Herbert Gassner and gunner Gefreiter Reddig of 8 Staffel (Bf 110 WNr 3410) and Oberleutnant Hans Kolle, with gunner Obergefreiter Jürgen Luckmann of 9 Staffel (Bf 110 WNr 3326), which were all taken prisoner. Oberfeldwebel Richard Heller of 8 Staffel was attacked by twelve Tomahawks, and wounded, carrying out a belly-landing. His gunner, Unteroffizier Mühlbrodt, has given the following colourful report of the combat:

"The sun was just rising but already the Bf 110s were hovering over the British columns. Our Rotte has discovered a new column on the march. Suddenly I see one, two, three, four black dots to the right. They are approaching. I shout: "Fighters!" My pilot curves in and at the same moment the fighters zoom over us and we can see the blue ring of their cockades. They turn in again. The sky above is full of black specks and I count twelve or more fighters. It seems as if we have fallen right into the midst of a strong formation.
We try to escape in a frantic dive, because it is hopeless to fight such an overwhelming crowd, but we cannot escape. The Curtiss are too high and over-take us in the dive. Our engines scream and I shout to the pilot: "First attack!" Exactly behind us appears the snout of a Curtiss; a right turn is useless because to left and right of the attacking fighter two more Curtiss are flying. Out of the wings of the Curtiss come flashes of all colors. Then it rattles in our aircraft as if someone were knocking a milk churn. The next Curtiss is attacking, while the first is hovering over us like a satisfied bird. Second attack, so quickly, that I can scarcely warn the pilot. The hail of bullets comes down like a shower. There is no escape. We are in the trap. The fighters relieve each other as if on a shooting range. Both engines stutter, the right one is smoking. We have only one chance: belly-landing in the Desert! I see the ground approaching. At the same moment a Curtiss is closing in for an attack. The Bf 110 glides towards the ground very softly, but the Curtiss is diving like a meteor. The cannon and gun burst are whistling around us, splinters whizz through the cabin. Heller holds the stick with the left, and with the right hand holds the gun sight. I myself seize the machinegun, because we will touch down at any moment. While gliding, the Bf 110 hits a heap of stones, there is a mighty jerk, and I land between the drum magazines. For a moment I sit benumbed in the cockpit, but then I jump up. It is high time, as from both sides flames are blazing into the cabin. I jump out and run for cover. The Curtiss disappear. Heller's left hand is bleeding, it was hit between thumb and forefinger. I tie up his arm and make a sling. After a short march we are found by German soldiers who take us to the next airfield. We ask about our wingman, but he had more luck and has landed safely at home despite some damage."

At the time of his death, Tulloch was credited with 1 biplane victory, this one being claimed while flying Gloster Gladiators.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 09/02/41 10:30-12:40 1 CR.42 (a) Destroyed Gladiator   Tepelene-Argyrokastron 80 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with the 150o Gruppo, which claimed 4 Gladiators destroyed and 9 damaged while losing 4 CR.42s. 80 Squadron claimed 7 CR.42s while losing 2 Gladiators.

53o Stormo - Marco Mattioli, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-977-5
Ace of Aces: M T StJ Pattle - E C R Baker, 1992 Crécy Books, Somerton, ISBN 0-947554-36-X
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-07-0
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring, 1969 Neville Spearman Limited, London
Flight Global
Strike True - The Story of No. 80 Squadron Royal Air Force - Christopher Shores, 1986 Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, Tonbridge, ISBN 0-85130-126-6
The London Gazette

Last modified 08 September 2014