Biplane fighter aces

The Commonwealth

Flight Lieutenant Arthur Adrian Percy Weller DFC, RAF no. 41507

Flight Lieutenant A. A. P. Weller while serving with 274 Squadron in the Western Desert in April 1941.
Image kindly via Peter Holloway.

'Sam' Weller was born on 21 December 1917 in Watford, Hertfordshire.

He was educated at Berkhamsted School, following which he worked briefly in his father’s estate agent business, also joining the Inns of Court Regiment of the TA.
On 3 September 1936, he enlisted in the 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars, but following an injury to his knee whilst halting a runaway horse, he bought himself out of the regiment when it began mechanisation, joining the RAF instead on a short service commission. He trained initially at 9 E & RFTS, Anssty, and then being despatched to Egypt at the end of December 1938 to attend No. 4 FTS Abu Sueir in the Nile Delta.
On graduation as pilot on 4 April 1939, he undertook advanced training, and then worked briefly at HQ, Middle East.

In September 1939, he was posted to 80 Squadron at Amriya near Alexandria. This unit was at the time equipped with Gloster Gladiators.

When the war started in North Africa on 10 June 1940, 80 Squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader R. C. Jonas and based at Amriya. It had 22 Gladiators (mainly Mk.Is) and one Hurricane Mk.I (L1669 – nicknamed Collie’s Battleship) on hand. Its main role was the defence of Alexandria. The pilots were divided into three Flights.
‘A’ Flight included Squadron Leader R. C. Jonas (CO), Flight Lieutenant Edward Jones, Flying Officer George Kettlewell, Pilot Officer Anthony Hugh Cholmeley,Pilot Officer Ernest Mason, Pilot Officer Weller, Pilot Officer Johnny Lancaster, Pilot Officer P. T. Dowding, Sergeant Donald Gregory, Flight Sergeant T. C. Morris and Sergeant J. C. Hulbert.

In the evening on 4 July 1940, 'B' Flight of 80 Squadron was scrambled and chased ten SM 79s north of Alexandria. The bombers quickly withdrew and only Pilot Officer Weller and Flying Officer Greg Graham managed to engage the right-hand aircraft of the formation. Their speed was insufficient to allow them to keep up but it was believed that the aircraft they attacked had been shot down and they were credited with a probable.
The Italian unit involved was the 34o Gruppo B.T. from Rhodes whose bombers were out in their first mission since their arrival in the theatre. They reported being attacked by enemy fighters, which heavily damaged two SM 79s, which however made it back to base. Capitano Ugo Pozza (CO of the 67a Squadriglia) was acting as bomb aimer in one of the SM 79s flown by the Gruppo Commander, Tenente Colonnello Vittorio Cannaviello. The fire from the attacking Gladiators, wounded almost all the crew of the Savoia; Sergente Maggiore Motorista Dante Zirioli, Primo Aviere Marconista Vincenzo Dragone and Sergente Maggiore Armiere Armando Di Tullio. Pozza, considering the situation changed place on one of the side guns with the wounded Di Tullio. While Pozza was trying to repel the assaults of the Gladiators, Di Tullio released the bombs on the target. Pozza was then killed manning the gun and the already wounded Di Tullio returned to his place on the side gun and claimed one of the British fighters shot down in flames until another bullet struck his head, killing him instantly. The bomber was nursed back to Rhodes by Cannaviello with the help of the second pilot Maresciallo Giuseppe Fugaroli. At base 150 holes of various dimensions were counted in the fuselage. For their bravery Pozza and Di Tullio received the Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare posthumously. Di Tullio was also credited with one enemy fighter shot down.

On 19 August 1940, Weller was transferred with 80 Squadron's Hurricane Flight to form the nucleus of the newly reformed 274 Squadron. In the months that followed the Squadron operated from various landing grounds in the Western Desert.

In the morning on 14 December, three SM 79s of the 41o Stormo from M2 led by Capitano Curto and Capitano Scagliarini, attacked from 300 metres altitude in the Bardia area with bombs and machine guns.
At this moment, a group of reportedly eight Hawker Hurricanes arrived over the scene, exactly when Curto’s SM 79s were departing and the following formation was arriving. This formation was composed of three SM 79s the 41o Stormo, which had taken off from M2 led by Tenente Aramis Amannato.
The SM 79 flown by Sottotenente Dario Caiani, (a pilot from the 234a Squadriglia on loan to the 233a Squadriglia) was shot down in flames with the loss of the crew (Sergente Maggiore Pasquale Spampinato, Primo Aviere Giuseppe Albrj, Primo Aviere Vincenzo Falzoni, Primo Aviere Adelchi Buttazzoni). Capitano Scagliarini’s SM 79 from the 234a Squadriglia was heavily damaged and forced to crash-land in Italian territory. The plane was written off while the pilots were slightly wounded and among the crew, the photographer Primo Aviere Silla Martini died and Primo Aviere Motorista Marsiglia, Primo Aviere Armiere Vecchiarelli, Aviere Allievo Radiotelegrafista Cabassi were seriously wounded. The other four SM 79s were heavily damaged but succeeded in returning to Tmini between 11:15-11:30.
Three S79s of 33o Gruppo, led by Tenente Pastorelli (who had taken command of the the 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo Autonomo B.T. after the death of Capitano Loris Bulgarelli the day before), arrived at the same moment, attacked armoured vehicles and claimed some hits. In a matter of minutes, the Hurricanes were over them. One SM 79 was shot down in flames and crashed 25 kilometres south-east of Tobruk. Three members of the crew were seen to bale out (one of them without parachute) but unfortunately only one survived; the pilot Tenente Pilota Gerardi. The other members of the crew (Sottotenente Pilota Giorgio Moccheggiani, Primo Aviere Motorista Ernani Lizza, Primo Aviere Radiotelegrafista Pasqualino Circelli, Primo Aviere Armiere Domenico Dari and Primo Aviere Fotografo Virgilio Materassi) were all killed. Once recovered Gerardi, seriously wounded, pointed out the courageous behaviour of Moccheggiani that had helped him to abandon the bomber and probably had lost his life in the process (the man seen jumping without parachute?). For this reason and for the previous activity over the front the 23-years-old Moccheggiani received a posthumous Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare (the second in just two days awarded to the 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo).
The Italian bombers had been intercepted by a formation of eight fighters from 274 Squadron, which had taken off at 15 minutes intervals starting from 08:00 intending to strafe Italian motorized troops west of Sollum. Once airborne the Hurricanes were ordered to carry out an offensive patrol west of Bardia where the 4th Armoured was desperately calling for help. Participating pilots were probably Pilot Officer Ernest Mason (Hurricane P3722) (08:15-10:30), Flying Officer Thomas Patterson (P3720) (08:15-09:30), Flying Officer Weller (V7300) (08:15-10:00), Pilot Officer Stanley Godden (V7293) (08:15-10:50), Flight Lieutenant J. D. ‘Smudger’ Smith (P5176) (from 73 Squadron on attachment to 274 Squadron), 2nd Lieutenant Robert Talbot (N2627) (SAAF), Flying Officer H. C. Down (P2652) and Sergeant John Clarke (P2627).
The British pilots returned claiming six confirmed SM 79s and three unconfirmed. Four SM 79s and two unconfimed were claimed at 10:30 over Bir Chleta by Flying Officer Patterson (one and one unconfirmed), Pilot Officer Mason, Flying Officer Weller (one and one unconfirmed) and Pilot Officer Godden.
Flying Officer Weller was flying at 19,000 feet when three SM 79s in a tight vic were seen 4000 feet below and he delivered a no. 3 attack:

[The enemy] dived slightly and accelerated, one (S79) shot down in flames, second damaged. F/O Patterson the second pilot was following me down and attacked as I broke away with no ammunition. I left him attacking the remaining 2. No escort.”
Flying Officer Patterson was flying at 19,000 feet and saw two groups of three SM 79s in vic formation 4000 feet below and started an astern chase:
[The enemy] dived to within 100 feet of ground 1 S79 shot down and burnt 1 S79 badly damaged and last seen force landing in desert. No escort.”
Pilot Officer Mason was flying at 16,000 feet when he saw three SM 79s in a close vic 5000 feet below and delivered an astern attack:
[The enemy] lost height and jettisoned bombs. Attacked no 2 which went down in flames. Broke away to flank. Attacked no 3 till ammo ran out. No result observed. When observed aircraft were bombing our forward troops who were replying with a.a. After breaking away I saw a second S79 in flames on the ground. This was P/O Weller’s S 79”.
Mason also described the combat in a letter:
“…I saw bombs burst. I dived down and finally saw three SM79s. When they saw us they turned and made for home but I dived on the right hand man and taking my time, sat behind him and gave him a burst. Two chaps jumped out and floated down, looking very miserable, and then it burnt up and hit the ground and exploded with a terrific flash and blaze.”
Pilot Officer Godden was flying at 16,000 feet when he saw three SM 79s in a close vic 4000 feet below and started a stern chase:
[The enemy] dived and dropped remainder of bombs. One (S79) shot down in flames by P/O Mason which burst on the ground (no 2 in formation) no3 went down with wheels out and fuselage in flames and tried to make a landing after 4 bursts from my guns. I saw a terrific explosion on my right while attacking and after I had completed my ammunition I saw 2 S79 away over on my right leaving the place where the explosion had taken place. I presume this was F/O Weller S 79 shot down. On returning from SIDI REZEGH I saw another S79 burning over on the left .I presume this was shot down by F/O Patterson.”
Flight Lieutenant Smith claimed one SM 79 over Gambut at 11:30 and Sergeant Clark claimed one and one unconfirmed SM 79 over Gambut at 11:30.
Sergeant Clarke was flying at 14,000 feet when he saw three SM 79s in a close vic in front and to port. He delivered a no. 1 attack from astern:
[The enemy didn’t take evasive action] 1 shot down by self (crash-landed), 1 shot down by F/Lt Smith in flames. 1 damaged by self.”
Flight Lieutenant Smith was flying at 14,000 feet and saw three SM 79s in close vic in front and to port. He delivered a no. 1 attack from astern:
[he enemy didn’t take evasive action] 1 shot down in flames by self , 1 shot down (didn’t burn) by other aircraft, 1 damaged by other aircraft.”
It seems that Patterson, Mason, Weller and Godden engaged the formations of 41o Stormo while Smith and Clark were responsible for the demise of Moccheggiani. The 33o Gruppo was immediately ordered back to Italy, its last five SM 79s were left to the 15o Stormo. On 12 December, when it first was decided to withdraw the 33o Gruppo to Italy it still had 12 SM 79s on hand. Since then three planes were either shot down or classified RD and when on this date it was finally retired it had only five planes on hand thus four SM 79s remain unaccounted for.

On 19 December, the 9o Gruppo flew its last mission before retirement from North Africa. Taking off from Ain El Gazala T4 at 15:00, Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni led ten other aircraft from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Giuseppe Oblach, Sergente Mario Guerci and Sergente Pasquale Rossi), 96a Squadriglia (Sergente Maggiore Dante Labanti, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gallerani and an unknown pilot) and 97a Squadriglia (Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli and Sergente Alcide Leoni) to an escort mission together with 14 CR.42s of the 10o Gruppo. These had taken off from the Z1 landing ground (ten kilometres south-east of T4 on the opposite side of the “litoranea” road) where they had transferred the same morning. The 10o Gruppo pilots were led by Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli and included five fighters from the 91a Squadriglia (Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sergente Maggiore Leonardo Ferrulli, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato, Sergente Maggiore Natale Fiorito and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Casero), six from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sergente Luigi Contarini, Sergente Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Alfredo Sclavo and Sergente Giovanni Battista Ceoletta) and two from the 84a Squadriglia (Sergente Domenico Santonocito and Sergente Piero Buttazzi).
They escorted twelve SM 79s of the 41o Stormo, which took off at 14:45 from Martuba M2 with Tenente Colonnello Draghelli and Tenente Colonnello d’Ippolito at their head. They were to attack Sollum harbour and then to proceed to attack vehicles 10 km off Ridotta Capuzzo aimed against the British supply system.
Some minutes after 15:45, above the Sollum area, they were surprised by a number of Hurricanes; Tenente Guiducci reported five of them, the 73a Squadriglia recorded the attack of about ten while some the 235a Squadriglia crews spoke of eight “Spitfires”. It seems that the Hurricanes were somewhat lately intercepted by the CR.42s from 73a and 96a Squadriglie and 10o Gruppo while the 97a Squadriglia stayed with the bombers. According to Guiducci, the reaction of the CR.42s saved the bombers, avoiding the interception but this was not the case.
In the following combat, the Italian claims were extremely confused. Sergente Maggiore Ferrulli was credited with a Hurricane destroyed (in one of the rare individual victories assigned by his unit) and another damaged, but his aircraft was hit in the engine and he had to make an emergency landing near Bardia (he was unhurt and returned to his unit on 22 December). The 90a Squadriglia claimed two shared victories and two Hurricanes forced to flee with the use of 1328 rounds of ammo. The 84a Squadriglia claimed one individual and one probable victory shared with the whole 10o Gruppo. The 97a Squadriglia also claimed one Hurricane confirmed and one probable shared with the 10o Gruppo. The 73a Squadriglia claimed two shared individual and two probables. Post-war studies stated that one of the shared victories of 73a Squadriglia was in fact an individual of Tenente Bonfatti while Sergente Rossi got a damaged and Sottotenente Oblach one probable and one damaged. In fact, the Italian Bulletin of 20 December claimed that in a savage battle two Hurricanes were shot down in exchange for an Italian fighter that failed to return This suggests that all the Squadriglia Commanders at the end claimed the same two victories, from the original documents we can see that in fact one was an individual achievement of Ferrulli while the other was most probably a shared or possibly an individual of Bonfatti. The CR.42 reported as lost was obviously Ferrulli’s.
Sergente Buttazzi had to land at T5 because of an engine breakdown, while a fighter from the 73a Squadriglia was heavily damaged. The Italian formation landed back at 17:05.
At least seven of the bombers were hit. Capitano Meille (CO of the 233a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Bresciani were wounded and the co-pilot Sergente Maggiore Musiani was forced to make an emergency landing at Tobruk T5. The SM 79 of Sottotenente Trolla force-landed (and was most probably lost) after being hit by 543 bullets; Primo Avieri Luigi Favale was killed while Primo Avieri De Pasquale and Primo Avieri Palmieri were wounded. Tenente Stancanelli’s (233a Squadriglia) aircraft received 162 hits and also made an emergency landing. Sergente Maggiore armiere Antonio Carta (part of Tenente Stancanelli’s crew), in the confusion of combat, erroneously believed that his aircraft was falling out of control, jumped with his parachute and became MIA. Tenente Colonnello Draghelli made an emergency landing at Tobruk T2bis with his co-pilot Tenente Premurù, Maresciallo motorista Scagliarini, Sergente Maggiore armiere Della Ciana and Sergente RT Maurelli injured. In addition, the SM 79 of Tenente Persico, which was the last to land at 16:45, was damaged. The bomber’s gunners spent about two thousand rounds of 7.7mm ammunition and five thousands of 12.7mm, claiming three British fighters and one probable.
They had been intercepted by Hurricanes from 274 and 33 Squadrons. The former unit was employed in patrols in the Sollum-Bardia-Gambut area. At 15:50, Flight Lieutenant John Lapsley (V7293) was alone but another Hurricane was in the vicinity when, at 11,000 feet over Sollum, he discovered a mixed formation of 18 SM 79s plus CR.42s 12 miles ahead and slightly to starboard. He attacked the escort that engaged him mainly head on. He reported:

“one CR 42 dived into the ground about 30 miles west of Sollum. Being a bit late arriving after the bombing I found it impossible to engage the S79 due to the attentions of the CR 42s, about 30 CR 42s in vics of three making vics of nine both sides of the bombers and 3000 feet above them. The main force carried on being attacked by Flying Officer Weller 274 Squadron.”
As a special comment, he remarked: “Enemy attacked in a most determined manner.”
Flying Officer Weller (V7300) reported being up with another Hurricane later engaged by CR.42s (obviously Lapsley) and possibly another behind him (33 Squadron aircraft?). He was flying at 18,000 feet over the Sollum – Bardia road at 15:45 when he discovered SM 79s with CR.42 escort. He saw the fighters wheeling towards him while the bombers didn’t take any action. He reported:
“7 S79s fired at and damaged at least one engine on fire, one or two undercarriages fell out. Only noticed one formation of fighters to starboard of bombers [obviously Lapsley had drawn the attention of the rest of the escort] so attacked from port to line astern with plenty of extra speed. Took each sub leader in turn then his no 2. 7 aircraft altogether when work finished. Part of formation I had attacked was disorganized and impossible to see any missing. Owing to approach of CR 42s and no ammunition, I had to leave the fight. I noticed part of formation I had attacked to be in difficulties. Two a/c pulled up practically vertically and probably collided, impossible to see if any went down.”
He didn’t reported suffering damage of any kind but back at base his machine was found riddled with bullets. Weller was subsequently credited with one damaged SM 79.
33 Squadron also flew an offensive patrol over the Sollum-Gambut area where they met SM 79s and CR.42s and there is little doubt that they engaged this Italian formation. The British pilots claimed three SM 79s and four CR.42s. Two of the fighters falling to Flying Officer Vernon Woodward, who attacked and shot them down apparently without the knowledge of the other Italians and two to Flying Officer Charles Dyson (P2499). It is not known who claimed the bombers. Considering the high level of accuracy of 151o Gruppo’s reports that recorded being attacked by six to seven British monoplanes earlier on the day it is possible that some of the claims of 33 Squadron (which also patrolled over the Gambut area) where in fact against them.

On 2 February 1941, 274 Squadron carried out offensive patrols between Mechili and Maraua. In the afternoon four Hurricanes of the unit (Flying Officer Weller, Flight Lieutenant Tulesne, Flying Officer H. C. Down and Flying Officer Lynch) ground strafed at least 20 large diesel lorries on the road Maraua – Slonta just east of the former town.
Ten Blenheims of the 55 Squadron bombed just before the attack of the Hurricanes but found the convoy well prepared. Although they were able to inflict heavy damage, they also suffered heavy damage to three of their bombers. Additionally CR.42s attacked, forcing Flight Lieutenant Smith to force-land at Gazala while Blenheim T2240 of Pilot Officer Peter Gerhard Blignaut (RAF no. 84988) was shot down with the loss of the crew; Sergeant Harold Redvers Rundle (RAF no. 529576) and the 21-year-old Australian wireless operator/air gunner Sergeant Ernest Robert William Currie (RAAF no. 207702) (from 3 RAAF Squadron on attachment to 55 Squadron). Two CR.42s were claimed damaged in return.
Two Blenheims (Pilot Officer Gibbs and Pilot Officer Dennis) of 45 Squadron took part in the same attack, taking off at 14:25. They reported that a long-nosed Blenheim, most likely Pilot Officer Blignaut’s machine, was seen shot down in flames by AA fire near Slonta.
In the meantime six SM 79s of the 235a Squadriglia, 60o Gruppo, led by Capitano Athos Ammannato carried out a bombing raid against the Australian troops along the Berta-Slonta road. They took off from Soluch at 14:10 and landed back at 16:40. The bombers were escorted by five CR.42s from the 366a Squadriglia led by Tenente Guglielmo Chiarini and Tenente Mario Ferrero (Maresciallo Giovanni Accorsi, Sergente Maggiore Fiorenzo Milella, Sergente Maggiore Dino Carta) and five from the 367a Squadriglia (Capitano Giuseppe Costantini, Tenente Ceccotti, Sergente Maggiore Renato Mingozzi, Sergente Maggiorino Soldati and Sergente Stefano Fiore ). After the bombing while returning, a lone Bristol Blenheim was discovered and attacked by the 367a formation with Tenente Ferrero and Sergente Milella while Chiarini remained to guard from superior height. The British bomber was hit and damaged by the fire of the whole formation but was not seen to fall being instead able to fly towards the ground at high speed, being claimed only as damaged. The formation landed back at 16:40 low on fuel. It seems highly likely that the Blenheim was Flight Lieutenant Smith’s.

On the 11 April, a Z.1007bis trimotor of the 172a Squadriglia on Rhodes, set off on a reconnaissance over Alexandria, carrying Sottotenente Alessandro Laurenzi of the Regia Marina as observer.
At 12:45, when 60 miles north of Alexandria, it was intercepted by two Hurricanes from 274 Squadron, which were on detachment at Ismailia, Flying Officer Weller (V7717) and Pilot Officer Douglas Spence (V7780) shooting the Cant down into the sea.
Two survivors of Tenente Giulio Gabella's crew were rescued by a Sunderland.

Early in the morning on 19 April 1941 he took off from Sidi Haneish and undertook a lone attack on enemy aircraft at Gazala airfield in Hurricane P3977. Here he managed to set an SM.79 on fire and shoot up six CR.42 fighters. He returned safely to his unit after a three-hours mission.

On 27 April, Flying Officer Weller carried out a further lone attack on enemy aircraft, this time at Benina near Benghazi, a mission, which required him to fly 880 miles in a special long-range Hurricane (P3977). Pressing home his attack with great skill he succeeded in setting one Ju 52/3m on fire, destroying it and damaging seven more causing heavy casualties to the troops embarking.
For this action and the one on 19 April, Weller was awarded an immediate DFC (gazetted on 13 May 1941).
Prior to this attack, the Ju 52/3ms had been spotted by the crew of a reconnaissance Maryland of 39 Squadron. The Canadian pilot, Flight Lieutenant W. M. ‘Butch’ Lewis recorded:

“We had completed our recce and were coming back over Benina when we were confronted by a sight of what looked like a hundred Ju 52s lined up wingtip to wingtip. It was to good to miss, but it was not our job to attack, so I called up the crew and asked them what they thought about it. ‘Let’s wreck them, sir’, they said. So from about two and a s half miles up in the air I pointed the nose down in a steep dive. It looked as if the Junkers had just landed, for there were groups of soldiers gathered about the landing ground. We dived right down to about 50 feet, and flashed along the line of German aircraft giving them all we had. One of the aircraft burst into flames immediately, and smoke poured from others. The soldiers were too startled to raise their rifles. They just closed up like penknives and toppled to the ground. As we mowed through them at the bottom of our dive, the belly of our aircraft must have almost been skimming the ground. My observer told me afterward that we had done a good job. My other gunner fired a burst into a CR.42 which was standing away from the line of German aircraft.”
It seems that four Ju 52/3ms of KGrzbV 104 (WNrs. 6163, 5582, 6848 and 6793) were destroyed on the ground at Benina.

In May he took part in the defence of Crete.

At 15:30 on 27 May, two Hurricanes of 274 Squadron flown by Flying Officer Weller (Z4250) and Sergeant Peter Nicolson (Z4536) rendezvoused with a Blenheim IVF of 45 Squadron flown by South African Lieutenant D. Thorne. The trio was directed to attempt further interception of the Ju 52 air convoy streaming into Maleme. As they headed towards the south coast of Crete however, six Ju 88s of II/LG1 were encountered and engaged. The Blenheim pilot made a port beam attack on one low-flying bomber, the crew claiming that considerable damage had been inflicted and that the Junkers had probably been destroyed although they did not see it crash. Both Hurricane pilots also engaged, each believing they had shot one down and, indeed, the Blenheim crew reported seeing one Ju 88 falling in flames and two others hit the sea; possibly the latter were bombs being jettisoned.
However only one bomber was lost, Leutnant George Freysoldt and his crew perishing when L1+EW crashed into the sea. Presumably all three fighters had attacked the same aircraft, each unaware of the others' involvement. Following the fight the Hurricanes became separated from the Blenheim and, after an uneventful patrol hunting for transport aircraft, both landed at Heraklion. Weller however damaged his Hurricane while landing and he was stranded on the island.
Nicolson returned at daybreak from Crete to Gerawla next day and Weller was later evacuated and returned to Egypt where he re-joined his squadron. The Blenheim returned direct to its base.

At dawn on 9 June, Flying Officer Weller (V7295) led four Hurricanes flown by Flight Lieutenant D. L. Gould, Sergeant Marsh, French pilots Flying Officer 'Tony' Péronne and Warrant Officer Coudray to attack aircraft on the ground at Derna. The pilots were only able to identify four Ju 87s among the aircraft assembled there, an accompanying Wellington crew reporting that eight fires were seen on the ground following the Hurricane attack.
All aircraft returned safely.

At the end of June, Weller was rested from operations and posted to 71 OTU, Ismailia as an instructor.
Due to constant bombing attacks, the unit was moved to Gordon’s Tree, near Khartoum, Sudan, towards the end of September.
He was accompanied there by his wife, who he had married in Alexandria during 1940.

On 3 September, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

On 13 December 1941, he was involved in a collision with a pupil pilot. The pupil, flying a Tomahawk, survived, but Weller lost control of the Mohawk (HK823), which he was flying, and he crashed to his death.
He was buried at the Khartoum War Cemetery, Sudan.

At the time of his death, Weller was credited with 1 shared probable biplane victory and a total of 2.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  04/07/40 evening 1 S.79 (a) Shared probable Gladiator   N Alexandria 80 Squadron
1 14/12/40   1 S.79 (b) Destroyed Hurricane V7300 Bardia-Sollum area 274 Squadron
  14/12/40   1 S.79 (b) Probable Hurricane V7300 Bardia-Sollum area 274 Squadron
  19/12/40 15:45 1 S.79 (c) Damaged Hurricane V7300 Sollum-Gambut area 274 Squadron
  11/04/41 12:45 1 Z.1007bis (d) Shared destroyed Hurricane V7717 60 miles N Alexandria 274 Squadron
  19/04/41   1 S.79 Destroyed on the ground Hurricane P3977 Gazala airfield 274 Squadron
  19/04/41   6 CR.42 Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Gazala airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   1 Ju 52/3m (e) Destroyed on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
  27/04/41   7 Ju 52/3m (e) Damaged on the ground Hurricane P3977 Benina airfield 274 Squadron
2 27/05/41 15:30 1 Ju 88 (f) Destroyed Hurricane Z4250 south coast of Crete 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
  09/06/41 a.m. 1/5 Ju 87 Shared damaged on the ground Hurricane V7295 Derna 274 Squadron
Biplane victories: 1 shared probable destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 and 1 shared destroyed, 1 and 1 shared probable, 1 damaged, 2 destroyed and 13 and 8 shared damaged on the ground.
(a) Claimed in combat with S.79s from the 34o Gruppo B.T., which didn’t suffer any losses but returned to base with two damaged S.79 and three members of their aircrews dead and three wounded.
(b) Probably claimed in combat with S.79s from the 41o Stormo, which lost two aircraft and got four damaged. 274 Squadron claimed six confirmed S.79s and three unconfirmed.
(c) Claimed in combat with S.79s of the 41o Stormo, which didn’t suffer any losses but at least seven S.79s were damaged.
(d) Z.1007bis of the 172a Squadriglia shot down. Two survivors of Tenente Giulio Gabella's crew were rescued by a Sunderland.
(e) Four Ju 52/3ms of KGrzbV 104 (WNrs. 6163, 5582, 6848 and 6793) were destroyed on the ground at Benina. RAF totally claimed 2 destroyed and several damaged.
(f) Three Ju 88 claimed. However only one bomber was lost, Leutnant George Freysoldt of II/LG1and his crew perishing when L1+EW crashed into the sea.

Aces High - Christopher Shores, 1994, Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
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
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring, 1969 Neville Spearman Limited, London
Gloster Gladiator Aces - Andrew Thomas, 2002 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-84176-289-X
Gobbi in battaglia, gli SM.79 Italiani in azione, Giugno 1940, Maggio 1945 – Marco Mattioli, 2004 West Ward Edizioni, Parma, ISSN 1591-1071 kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
L'Aeronautica Italiana nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale - Prima Parte - Giuseppe Santoro, 1950 Danesi, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Strike True - Christopher Shores kindly provided by Peter Holloway.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Those Other Eagles – Christopher Shores, 2004 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904010-88-1
Woody - A Fighter Pilot's Album - Hugh A. Halliday, 1987 Canav Books, Toronto, ISBN 0-9690703-8-1
Additional information kindly provided by Peter Holloway, Stefano Lazzaro and Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 21 September 2016