Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Tenente Flaminio Bossi

In the beginning of the East African campaign of 1940-41 Maresciallo Bossi served with the 411a Squadriglia, equipped with Fiat CR.32s.

At dawn on 19 June 1940 two Hurricanes of 1 SAAF Squadron escorted three Ju86s of 12 SAAF Squadron to attack Yavello on their first operational mission. A flight of CR.32 of the 411a Squadriglia had recently moved to the airfield, and two of these scrambled on the approach of the South African formation. Unaware of this, the South Africans made straight for the Ca.133s of the 66a Squadriglia, which were parked on the airfield, the Hurricanes diving down to strafe these at 09:00.
At this point the Italian fighters, flown by Tenente Aldo Meoli and Maresciallo Bossi, dived out of the sun to attack, hitting one Ju86 (they identified the bombers as Blenheims on this occasion, claiming one probably shot down) and damaged it badly, a fuel tank being holed and the gunner and observer both slightly wounded. Hurricane ‘271’ (ex. L1708) flown by Second Lieutenant Brian Llewellyn Griffiths (SAAF No. 102663) was then attacked and shot down in flames, the 23-year-old pilot from George, Cape Province, South Africa being killed. The second Hurricane, flown by Captain St. Elmo ‘Saint’ Truter (Hurricane ‘274’) became involved in a strenuous dogfight with one fighter, which Truter took to be a CR.42, and at last it reeled away, pouring smoke, landed and turned over on its back. The pilot, Tenente Meoli, was slightly wounded and the CR.32 was a complete write-off.
Throughout the combat Air Sergeant Charles Jeffries, the dorsal gunner in one of the Ju86s, had been firing at the CR.32, and he claimed that his bullets were still hitting the aircraft as it went down; his squadron subsequently maintained that he was responsible for its destruction, but the victory was credited to Truter. The two undamaged Ju86s and the remaining Hurricane returned to base, the damaged third bomber following somewhat later. Jeffries, the gunner, was later to be awarded a DFM, and was later commissioned; he would be killed in action over the Western Desert on 23 December 1941.

Bossi was later promoted to Tenente.

In the morning on 13 February 1941, five Hurricanes of 1 SAAF Squadron patrolled over Asmara, intercepting five fighters which they identified as CR.42s. Major Wilmot saw one evade a Hurricane and stall and he fired on this, causing the engine to stop and black smoke to issue forth. Captain Brian Boyle then attacked this aircraft and set it on fire, the pilot baling out and the fighter crashing east of Asmara. Lieutenant Andrew Duncan saw another Fiat in cloud and dived vertically on it. From this too the pilot baled out, the aircraft crashing in flames 12 miles south-east of the town. Captain Driver attacked another, but lost it in cloud, while a fourth was attacked by other pilots but escaped.
One of the fighters shot down was indeed a CR.42 of the 412a Squadriglia, the pilot being badly wounded; he is believed to have been Tenente Luigi De Pol, who later died in hospital. The second aircraft lost was a CR.32 (the last available in Eritrea) from which the pilot, Tenente Bossi, baled out. However, it was reported that he was machine gunned in his parachute by a Hurricane, and on landing was rushed to hospital where an arm and a leg was amputated, but he died shortly afterwards (it is also very possible that he was seriously wounded before baling out). Three more CR.42 were damaged in this combat, and one had to force-land, the pilot having been slightly wounded.

At the time of his death Bossi was credited with 1 shared biplane victory.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940              
  19/06/40 ½ Ju86 (a) Shared probable Fiat CR.32   Yavello 411a Squadriglia
  19/06/40 ½ Hurricane (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.32   Yavello 411a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared probable.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared probable.
(a) Ju86 of 12 SAAF Squadron damaged with the gunner and observer both slightly wounded.
(b) Hurricane ‘271’ (ex. L1708) from 1 SAAF Squadron shot down. The pilot Second Lieutenant Brian Llewellyn Griffiths was killed.

Sources:
Dust Clouds in the Middle East - Christopher Shores, 1996 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-37-X
Regia Aeronautica 1935-1943 - M.Wawrzynski and Z. Lalak, 1998 kindly provided by Ondrej Repka
Springbok Fighter Victory: East Africa Volume 1 1940 – 1941 – Michael Shoeman, 2002 African Aviation Series No. 11, Freeworld Publications CC, ISBN 0-958-4388-5-4
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Additional information kindly provided by Giovanni Massimello.




Last modified 05 April 2010