It has been a long time since the Air War Publications team has been able to catch up in person. In fact, the last time any of the team got together was when Andrew visited Adam at his home in February 2017. Since then, a lot has changed for Andrew, Morten and Adam. Becoming a parent, building a new house, renovations, moving across the country (for a second time!) and so much more, not least of all the global pandemic, have all conspired against the three enthusiasts finding time to relive the festivities of 2012, when Morten visited Australia, and he, Andrew and Adam were finally able to meet in one place.

While the three are in regular contact via email, Skype and text messages, a face-to-face meet-up is very rare. So, it was great that Andrew and Adam were able to catch up for a few hours at Doug Norrie’s home recently.

Andrew (left) and Adam (right) visiting Doug Norrie (centre) at his home in June.

Doug is the author of an Air War Publications title scheduled for release in 2024: a history of the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 450 Squadron during the Second World War. Planned as a two-volume release, the first part deals with the Squadron’s activation, training, and initial operations in the Middle East and North Africa up to October 1942.

As Andrew was taking a well-deserved break with his partner, Sarah, visiting the Hunter Valley wine region of New South Wales to stay with friends, the opportunity to meet up was too good to resist. As such, Andrew contacted Doug, who was more than happy to arrange a meeting. What’s more, Adam was just a mere three hours’ drive away (not far in Australian terms), so it was obvious a catch-up between the three should be arranged. 

A few emails later and one weekend in July, Adam, Andrew, and his wonderful partner found themselves in the kitchen of Doug’s house, glass of local red wine in hand, enjoying some cheese, cured meet and olives, chatting away as if they had all been neighbours for years. The topic of conversation ranged from Doug’s immense library of aviation history books to the tyranny of distance the Air War Publications team and its various contributors face.

Having decided it was far too long between drinks and conscious of Adam’s limited available time, Andrew, Doug and Adam soon got down to business. This included research into some anti-shipping claims made by No. 450 Squadron in 1943 and 1944, with several notable claims being linked to identifiable Axis losses, and captioning photographs that will appear in Volume Two of Doug’s forthcoming No. 450 Squadron history. However, the research and discussion was not all focused on Doug’s title; Andrew was able to avail himself of Doug’s immense library and cross-reference some information that he is preparing for his work on the air war over Courland in the closing stages of the Second World War, whilst Adam was able to dive into some out-of-print material for his current research title.

Kittyhawk Mk. IV FX745 ‘OK-Y’ of No. 450 Squadron RAAF in Italy. (IWM via Wikimedia Commons)

As nice and as productive as the meet-up was, it could not have been achieved without the kindness and hospitality of Doug Norrie for offering up his home as a collection point for the meeting, and Andrew and Adam’s respective partners for allowing them the time to indulge their interest in furthering the research into Allied and Luftwaffe operations during the Second World War.

Volume One of Doug’s No. 450 Squadron history is currently undergoing editing and a final read through, prior to moving to layout by Morten in 2024. Doug has crafted his manuscript from an extensive, painstakingly-compiled data file of personal diary entries, combat reports, newspaper clippings, interviews, official records and logbook entries. A real labour of love, the Air War Publications team look forward to providing you with future updates on Doug’s work as and when we can. In the meantime, here is just one snippet that Andrew, Doug and Adam discussed in their recent get-together:

Amongst the No. 450 Squadron successes against shipping was one notable vessel. On 22 January 1944 the Australian squadron sent its Kittyhawks across the Adriatic Sea to attack shipping targets at Zara (modern Zadar, Croatia). They were airborne between 12:00 and 14:00, and reported bombing and strafing of a 4,000 ton ship, resulting in an explosion of steam and black smoke. This same vessel had been strafed and damaged by South African Spitfires that morning. The German naval command for the region, the Seekommandant Dalmatien, provided a very good match for these Allied attacks in its war diaries, as follows:

The bow of the recovered Elettra, now located in Trieste, Italy. (Wikimedia Commons)

At 07:05 G-107 was attacked off Amica Point by five enemy fighters, boiler and steam pipe hit. During the second attack at 13:04 the boat received two direct hits, on the bow and amidships. Total loss. Captain and seven men wounded.

The G-107 was a requisitioned Italian steam yacht, which had previously belonged to none other than Italian inventor and electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi. The vessel had been known as the Elettra until the Germans confiscated it from the Italian government in September 1943. It was badly damaged by the No. 450 Squadron bombs, and the skipper decided to ground the vessel to prevent it sinking.

Sadly, the meeting came to a close far too soon, as Adam turned back onto the highway during the mid-afternoon to get home to his family, and bedtime for his two young children. Despite the brief visit, Andrew, Doug and Adam managed to accomplish a lot during their brief time together. They ate some fine local produce, shared some great jokes, chatted about their shared passion, but most importantly, worked hard to move Doug’s project closer to publication.