Intermission – David’s Desert War

About RAF 203 Squadron and a contribution from a new reader

RAF 203 Squadron

David-George-John in 1946

AC2 David Greenlees

David (25) on the left, with his two brothers George (21), and on the right John (19), my father. Photograph taken in 1946.

David Greenlees was my uncle. Born in Glasgow in 1921, he volunteered for the RAF in 1940 and was posted to 203 Squadron at Borg El Arab airfield in Egypt. Borg El Arab was a desert airfield west of Alexandria and approximately eight miles from the coast. He served as part of the support staff for the squadron.

238 maintenance section

Conditions at the base were rudimentary. There were no buildings or hangars, only tents. Aircraft were serviced where they stood, while the runway was a strip of concrete covered in sand. David was issued with a .303 rifle, an entrenching tool, two blankets and 15 empty four gallon petrol cans. These were to be filled with sand and covered with a great coat to serve as…

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Remembering Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert E Laub

This one was easy with the filename tbdlaub.

This is what I found about Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert E Laub. He was flying T-4 on John Greaves’ painting.


The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Robert Edward Laub, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron SIX (VT-6), attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), during the “Air Battle of Midway,” against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942.

Participating in a vigorous and intensive assault against the Japanese invasion fleet, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Laub pressed home his attack with relentless determination in the face of a terrific barrage of anti-aircraft fire. The unprecedented conditions under which his squadron launched its offensive were so exceptional that it is highly improbably the occasion may ever recur where other pilots of the service will be called upon to demonstrate an equal degree of gallantry and fortitude. His extreme disregard of personal safety contributed materially to the success of our forces and his loyal conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Later on…

Mogami took two bomb hits in this first attack, Mikuma several more. As Hornet recovered her strike at 035, Enterprise prepared to launch her own: 31 Dauntless dive bombers, accompanied by the last three Torpedo Six Devastators, and an escort of 12 VF-6 Wildcats.

Spruance, while convinced the torpedo planes could inflict critical damage on the enemy ships, could not accept further losses. Accordingly he instructed LT(jg) Robert Laub, who was to command VT-6, “if there is one single gun firing out there, under no circumstances are you to attack.” Enterprise’s attack got underway at 1045. Led by LT Wallace Short of Yorktown’s Scouting Five, the group passed over what appeared to be two cruisers and two destroyers at noon.

After flying on another 30 miles in search of the non-existent battleships, Short turned back and commenced attack on the cruisers – Mogami and Mikuma – at 1215. Again Mogami absorbed two hits, but Mikuma took at least five, leaving her dead in the water, her topside utterly wrecked. Fighting Six got in the action as well, making repeated strafing runs on the destroyers, expending 4000 rounds of ammunition and “knocking off huge pieces of metal”.

Laub’s three torpedo planes hung back and never attacked. All three returned safely to the Big E.