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Montevideo, April 23rd 2019 - 02:17 UTC

“Thunder wings”, the story of Argentine RAF pilots

Monday, March 8th 2004 - 21:00 UTC
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The story of the mostly 554 Anglo-Argentine pilots that joined the Royal Air Force in World War II, of which 122 died in combat, will be published in a book to be launched next August titled “Thunder Wings” (Alas de Trueno).

Written by two Argentine researchers and air industry experts, Oscar Rimondi and Claudio Meunier, the book reveals that not only manpower was the voluntary collaboration to the war effort but also two full squadrons of Spitfires and Mosquitoes financed by Anglo-Argentines. Several baptized with Buenos Aires neighbourhood names such as Hurlingham, Olivos, and even Pampero I, II, III, IV, and illustrated with Argentine popular sketches of the time depicting "gauchos" and comics characters.

According to the book the voluntary call to service left the main rugby teams of Rosario and Buenos Aires without players.

Sir Stafford Cripps a cabinet minister of Winston Churchill sent a personal letter to the Bridger family, one of the first to establish in Tierra del Fuego, thanking them for the Spitfire donation that was named "Fire Land".

Of the 554 registered so far, 122 died in combat, 300 returned to Argentina and the others remained in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.

Among some of the amazing recollections are those of Eduardo Morley, 83 and living in Monte Grande. Born in Rio Gallegos he flew (survived) 35 sorties in a Halifax bomber with an Australian crew, Squadron 466, "the best", operating over the B 1 launching pads in France and Germany.

Angel Garcia Bollini, (90) was learning to fly fighter bombers in Pearl Harbour when the Japanese attack. He survived, became an instructor and was part of the famous team under Captain Jimmy Doolittle who organized and commanded the first air raid over Japan. He was offered US citizenship but said he preferred to return to Argentina.

Pilot Ronald Deaintree returned after the war to fly with Aerolíneas Argentina becoming head of the 747 Jumbo. He was also presidential pilot with President Arturo Frondizi.

Maureen Dunlop from Rio Negro volunteered as a nurse but ended flying transport aircrafts. She returned to Argentina as an instructor of the Lancaster bombers purchased by Argentina after the war. Maureen lives in Surrey where she breeds horses in her farm, "Milla Lauquen" which in mapuche means "Golden lagoon".

Of four boys of the Watt family two died in combat, Percy and James, twice honoured by King George VI, and Alpin and Frank who returned to Argentina. James Stanley Watt was downed in Holland when returning from Germany in his 47th sortie.

Their grandmother, teacher Clara Allyn, arrived in Argentina in the second half of the 1800, contracted by President Domingo Sarmiento who is remembered as the man who extended primary education to the whole of Argentina.

""Thunder Wings" will be launched next October in the Argentine national Air Museum of Moron when a gathering of former RAF pilots and navigators born in Argentina is scheduled.

Mr. Meunier is Honour Secretary and official historian of the Association of RAF Argentine veterans.

Categories: Mercosur.

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