Africa Star : Squadron Leader F L Lomas, 680 (Photo Reconnaissance) Squadron, RAF

Place Africa: North Africa, Western Desert, Western Desert (Egypt)
Accession Number REL36901.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made c 1946
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Africa Star. impressed reverse with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Worn by Frederick Leslie Lomas, born 18 June 1914 at Port Macquarie, NSW. Lomas, a student of Nhill, Victoria, enlisted on 10 November 1940 at Melbourne. After training on DH82s (Mascot, NSW) and Wirraways at No 2 Service Flying Training School (Forest Hill, near Wagga), Lomas embarked for overseas service on 1 September 1941, arriving in Egypt on 25 September and was immediately posted to 208 Squadron (RAF), a tactical and reconnaissance squadron, flying both the Lysander and Hurricane. He received training in aerial photography, local and combat flying during October before being assigned to E Flight. The squadron was recovering from a hectic and expensive year of operations, having been decimated in Greece in early 1941 and had just returned from three months in Syria. When Lomas joined the squadron, it was in the process of completing a move from Ramleh (Palestine) to Gerawala (LG10) in the Egyptian Western Desert. On 18 November 1941 the Eighth Army launched Operation Crusader in Libyia, hoping to recapture Tobruk. In support, 208 Squadron provided advance reconnaissance, and Lomas’s logbook shows the squadron jumping from one temporary landing ground to another, almost on a daily basis. On 20 November, flying a tactical reconnaissance flight over Omar in Hurricane Z 9357, Lomas was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He notes in his logbook ‘crash landed – made member “late arrivals club” ’. Rommel launched a second offensive on January 21, 1942, regaining most of the ground lost to the allies. Lomas continued flying photo reconnaissance (PR) patrols until the middle of March 1942 when he transferred to 451 Squadron, RAAF. This exhausted squadron had been withdrawn from operations in late January and placed on garrison duty in Syria for the remainder of 1942. Like his fellow pilots, Lomas undertook patrols and training, with no action or intercepts. On 1 November 1942, Lomas was transferred to 74 Operational Training Unit (74 OTU) at Aquir in Palestine as an instructor on Harvards, Hurricanes and Spitfires and was mentioned in despatches on 11 March 1943; he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant soon after. At the start of August 1943 Lomas was transferred to 680 (Reconnaissance) Squadron, RAF, converting to Mk VC Spitfires and later the Mk VI; he remained with this squadron for a year, undertaking constant PR missions over targets in Greece, and the islands of Crete, Rhodes, Leros, Kos, Calino, Amorgos, Cyclades and Levinthos. On 3 February 1944, whilst flying a PR mission over Crete and Cyclades, Lomas recorded ‘bad petrol leak – 37 gallons at Malime – glided last 20 miles to base’. This incident is recorded in his DFC citation. Although details are unknown, Lomas commanded a number of detached flights over his period with 680 Squadron, with ‘considerable’ success. On 11 August 1944, Lomas was transferred to 2 Aircraft Delivery Unit (2 ADU), delivering all manner of single and twin engined aircraft around the Middle East (models listed are the Baltimore, Dakota, Spitfire, Hurricane, Lodestar, Anson, Wellington, Hudson and Corsair) until transferred to 2 FU in late October. During his stay in the Middle East, Lomas met and married a member of the WAAF - ACW1 M C Lomas, and they were married on 11 November. A month later, on 10 December 1944, Lomas crash landed his Spitfire (EF 275) at Idhra and was reported to be ‘seriously injured’. He appears never to have flown again. Lomas was notified of the award of a DFC on 11 January 1945; six days later he was removed from the ‘seriously injured’ list. A medical report of 18 April 1945 noted that he had suffered a head injury in the accident and resultant post traumatic personality disorder and recommended his repatriation to Australia on medical grounds with ‘full aircrew status’. He was discharged on 17 December 1945 and died at Mitcham, Victoria on 31 March 1972.