Sunday, 20 February 2011
Having found the Fort, but been unable to photograph it without permission from ‘the top’ our next goal was to find the hanger that had been attacked so successfully on January 11th 1941. Pat Clayton and his party headed east towards the Airfield - little more that a cleared stretch of sand. They found the hanger with three Ghibli aircraft inside, but encountered some opposition from the Italians guarding the area, losing two of their own men. The French Colonel, d'Ornano and a member of T Patrol. We hoped to be more lucky! I am again grateful to Dr Martin Sterry for spending time searching both the 1958 Aerial Photograph and the contemporary Google Earth images to locate, what he thought, looked like 50m x 20m structure ‘with well defined edges’. Martin supplied a waypoint and we headed for it, turning south off the tarmac and out into open farmland. The hanger was soon visible, but surrounded by high hedges and looked harder to access than it had been in 1941. We stopped and asked a farmer how to get into it and he replied ‘Ahhh The old Italian Airfield?’. We had found it and here are a selection of pictures, the new ones showing it as it is today and the old B&W from Bill Kennedy-Shaw’s excellent 1945 book, ‘LRDG’. Just visible on the B&W are the two windows set high in the west facing (towards the town) wall.
It was an emotive experience to stand on the very spot, exactly 70 years on - to the hour! We hope to have many similar high points on the Easter trip to Egypt. One place still available!