In Memory of my Father - Joseph Albert Willis
26th November 1916 - 28th February 2007
The following pages recount his experiences in Africa and Italy and were written in 1991.
Joined RAF 12.12.39 at Reading, on to Uxbridge same day. Dorian Block. Service No. 909308. Kitted out next morning at 8 am with RAF uniform etc.
Next morning 8 am in shorts and vest, PT training in large shed, frost outside. Each morning PT and drill on the square. Every day until the middle of January, 1940.
Posted to Yatesbury in Wiltshire (White Horse). September posted to Wimslow, kitted out in tropical kit, one week there, then on to Liverpool – the ship Strathnaver, G Dock, J Section Table 8. Sailed out about 8 pm.
After a few days was very seasick, was put into hospital for two weeks. On past British West Africa, weather was warm. Arrived in Durban, South Africa, stayed one week. Weather warm, went swimming in pool in Durban. One day very heavy rain.
On the sea again, spent Christmas Day on board ship, three month sea journey. Arrived Port of Suez, had tea and cakes, then on by train to Abbysia. Walked into Cairo next day, only ten minutes walk. After a few days, on to Palestine, by train, crossed River Nile at Al Kantara by boat.
On train again to Palestine, arrived Jaffa Station, got some oranges, on to Ramleigh RAF Station, No. 6 Squadron – Lysander Aircraft – Army Corporation. After a couple of days went to Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Church of All Nations.
February 1941 – 6 Squadron on to Egypt, Western Desert, Amyriyah, slept on ground beside lorry – one ground sheet and blanket, gas-mask for pillow. First sight of sandstorm, very warm, strong wind, could see nothing. (Very hot).
On to Daba, Fuka, Sidi Haneish, Mersa-Matruh, Sidi Barrani, Sidi Azeiz, Gambut, El Adem Tobruk, Gazxala, Bomba. Drove lorry up Sollum Pass and into Sollum. Frontier of Egypt and Libya, like a corkscrew. Bardia on to Barce, only in Barce a couple of weeks, then we had to move away in a hurry, that was the first retreat (1941) as fast as we could go.