Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Giovanni “Willy” Beduz

31 January 1915 – 18 April 1942

Giovanni Beduz was born in Fontanafredda (now in the province of Pordenone) on 31 January 1915.

His father was killed in 1917 during the First World War.
1920 his mother remarried and moved to Venice were he and his sister grew up.

He trained at a nautical school and thereafter worked as a navigator for some time.

He joined the Regia Accademia in Caserta in 1936 and attended the 'Rex' course at the Accademia Aeronautica. He graduated in July 1939.

The 13o Gruppo (77a, 78a and 82a Squadriglie) of the 2o Stormo C.T. was commanded by Maggiore Secondo Revetria and started the war based at Tripoli Castelbenito airfield with twenty-five CR.42s and eleven CR.32s on hand (the CR.32s, kept as a reserve, were later passed on to the 50o Stormo Assalto) to guard against a possible French attach from the west.
Pilots in the 78a Squadriglia were: Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio (CO), Tenente Ippolito Lalatta, Tenente Domenico Bevilacqua, Tenente Beduz, Sottotenente Natale Cima, Sottotenente Italo Santavacca, Sottotenente Dario Magnabosco, Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Frigo, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore Mechelli, Sergente Rovero Abbarchi, Sergente Cassio Poggi, Sergente Ernesto Taddia, Sergente Vito Rinaldi, Sergente Marcello Della Rovere and Sergente Aldo Loioli.

At 10:30 (11:20 in British documents) on 30 September, seven Blenheims from the 113 Squadron (it is possible that the formation also included two additional Blenheims from 45 Squadron) attacked Maraua, surprising some 15o Stormo aircraft, which were taxiing before take off. The AA defences mistook the Blenheims for Breda Ba.88s and didn’t open fire until it was too late. One S.79 took a direct hit and exploded, another aircraft was destroyed while two bombers were heavily damaged (RD) and four less seriously (RS). The airstrip remained out of service and many pilots died; Tenente D’Ignazio, Sottotenente Costanzo, Sergente Maggiore Marcantoni, Sergente Goggi together with two crewmembers were killed and six more were wounded. 113 Squadron’s crews accurately reported two buildings at the edge of the airport blown up, one Savoia S.79 in flames and two blown up with several believed damaged.
Tenente Beduz, Sergente Maggiore Ezio Masenti and Sergente Rovero Abbarchi of the 78a Squadriglia, 13o Gruppo scrambled at 11:05 from Gambut G following an air alarm and flew in north-westerly direction for 100 kilometres until they intercepted three Blenheims over the sea. Tenente Beduz was credited with an individual victory while another bomber was shared among the three pilots. They used 1700 rounds of ammunition and returned to base between 12:30 and 13:00.
In fact, a flight of three Blenheims from 113 Squadron, which had been detached from the other, was intercepted 50 miles north of Tobruk. Two of the Blenhiems were damaged and rendered unserviceable while T2171 was shot down into the sea; Sergeant Leslie Cater (RAF no. 741384), Sergeant Kenneth Herbert Meadowcroft (RAF no. 581019) and 18-year-old Sergeant Bernard James Shelton (RAF no. 642942) were all killed. The returning crews reported that they were attacked by 15 (!) CR.42s and the defending gunners claimed two of the attacking fighters shot down and one badly hit.

At 16:10 on 9 December, three CR.42s from the 77a Squadriglia (Tenente Giulio Torresi, Sottotenente Gianmario Zuccarini and Tenente Eduardo Sorvillo) together with six more from the 78a Squadriglia (Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio, Sottotenente Dario Magnabosco, Sergente Ernesto Taddia, Tenente Beduz, Sottotenente Natale Cima and Sottotenente Canneppele) took off to strafe enemy armoured vehicles on the road between Sidi El Barrani and Bir Enba. The attack was done under heavy AA fire and lasted 30 minutes. The attackers used 3000 rounds of ammunition and reportedly caused heavy damage.
Sorvillo was back at Gambut at 17:45 together with the 78a Squadriglia, while Torresi and Zuccarini landed at Menastir because of the growing darkness.

In December the 2o Stormo left their few surviving CR.42s to 4o Stormo and returned to Italy.

After North Africa, he served on the Albania front.

He was then posted to the 362a Squadriglia of the 22o Gruppo.
In August 1941 the 22o Gruppo was sent to Russia with four Squadriglias under the control of the CSIR.

On 28 February, a mixed formation from the 362a Squadriglia (Capitano Germano La Ferla, Tenente Beduz, Tenente Oberdan Militano, Tenente Giulio Torresi and Tenenente Frank Passerini), 369a Squadriglia (Capitano Giovanni Cervellin, Tenente Walter Benedetti, Sottotenente Giuseppe Biron and Maresciallo Romano Pesavento) and 359a Squadriglia (Capitano Vittorio Minguzzi) led by the 22o Gruppo’s CO, Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis (on his first mission over the Eastern front) flew a fighter sweep. At 15:00, they intercept ten Soviet fighters identified as "I-26s" (probably Yak-1s) and "I-27s" (probably Yak-7s at 4,500 meters over Alexandrowka. Two "I-26s" were claimed as shared by the pilots from 362a and 369a Squadriglie together with Maggiore D’Agostinis. Capitano Minguzzi claimed one and one probable "I-27". Two C.200s were damaged in the combat but managed to return to Stalino airfield.

On 9 March, six C.200s of the 362a Squadriglia (Capitano Germano La Ferla, Tenente Giulio Torresi, Sottotenente Edgardo Vaghi, Tenente Beduz, Sergente Maggiore Attilio Sanson and Tenente Gianfranco Montagnani) plus Sottotenente Giuseppe Biron of the 369a Squadriglia escorted Luftwaffe Stukas. Over Mikhailowka they met a formation of about twenty enemy aircraft composed of Soviet bombers escorted by fighters (the latter identified as "I-18s"). The returning Italian pilots clamed three shared fighters shot down and two more probables, for no losses.

On 15 March, five Macchi C.200s (Capitano Germano La Ferla, Tenente Beduz, Miazzo, Capitano Giovanni Cervellin and Bond) escorted six German Ju 87s. Over Laworoska-Mikhailowka they clashed with seven fighters, identified as I-80s. Two of the Soviet fighters were claimed shot down without losses.

While coming back from a mission on 18 April 1942, he crashed to his death in the Izyum area with his MC.200.
At this time the unit was based at Stalino and this was the last loss of the 22o Gruppo before returning back to Italy.

At the time of his death, Beduz was credited with 1 biplane victory.

During his career he had been decorated with three Medaglie d’argento al valor militare, one Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare, one Croce di guerra al valor militare, the German Iron Cross (2nd Class?) and an Rumanian decoration.

He was buried in a military cemetery in Russia but in December 2000 his remains was brought back to Italy and laid to rest in the family tomb in his birthplace Fontanafredda, near his father, who had died at the same age (26) during the First World War.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 30/09/40 11:05-13:00 1 Blenheim (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   100km NW Gambut G 78a Squadriglia
  30/09/40 11:05-13:00 1/3 Blenheim (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   100km NW Gambut G 78a Squadriglia
  28/02/42 15:00 1/10 I-26 (b) Shared destroyed MC.200   Alexandrowka 362a Squadriglia
  28/02/42 15:00 1/10 I-26 (b) Shared destroyed MC.200   Alexandrowka 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (c) Shared destroyed MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (c) Shared destroyed MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (c) Shared destroyed MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (c) Shared probable MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (c) Shared probable MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  15/03/42   1/5 Soviet fighter (d) Shared destroyed MC.200   Laworoska-Mikhailowka 362a Squadriglia
  15/03/42   1/5 Soviet fighter (d) Shared destroyed MC.200   Laworoska-Mikhailowka 362a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 and 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 and 8 shared destroyed, 2 shared probably destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Blenheims from 113 Squadron, which got two damaged aircraft and lost Blenheim T2171 with its crew KIA (Sergeant Leslie Cater, Sergeant Kenneth Herbert Meadowcroft and Sergeant Bernard James Shelton) while claiming two CR.42s. Italian fighters from the 78a Squadriglia claimed one and one shared destroyed without losses.
(b) I-26 = Yak-1.
(c) Identified as “I-18s”.
(c) Identified as “I-80s”.

2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Ali Sulla Steppa: La Regia Aeronautica nella campagna di Russia – Nicola Malizia, 2008 IBN Editore, Roma, ISBN 88-7565-049-7
Diario Storico 77a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Diario Storico 78a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
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
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
Ministero della Difesa - Banca Dati sulle sepolture dei Caduti in Guerra
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history – Graham Warner, 2002 Crécy Publishing Limited, Manchester, ISBN 0-947554-92-0
The Desert Air War 1939 – 1945 – Richard Townshend Bickers, 1991 Leo Cooper, London, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
The Gloster Gladiator - Francis K. Mason, 1964 Macdonald & Co. Ltd. London
Those Other Eagles – Christopher Shores, 2004 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904010-88-1
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro, Ondrej Repka, Ludovico Slongo and Antonio Sussi.

Last modified 15 August 2016