THOMPSON Maurice Basil 7170

LEST WE FORGET

Leading Aircraftman Maurice Basil THOMPSON

Service No: 7170
Born: Singapore, 6 February 1908
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 November 1939 (at RAAF Station Pearce WA)
Unit: No. 3 Squadron, operating from Marble Arch Airfield, Libya
Died: Ground Battle, Libya, 18 December 1942, Aged 34 Years
Buried: Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya
CWGC Additional Information: Husband of Margaret Thompson, of East St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 98, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Squadron maintenance parties went forward by road on 17th December but their progress was slow because there were many groups of German troops still active in the frontier area. Fortunately, Air Vice-Marshal Coningham (RAF, of Wellington NZ born Brisbane QLD) (Air Officer Commanding Desert Air Force 1941-3) had prepared for this emergency and sufficient transport aircraft were available to permit the transfer by air of essential petrol, oil, ammunition and a maintenance party. On 18th December No. 239 Wing (which included Nos. 3 and 450 Squadrons RAAF) was able to operate from the airfield at Marble Arch (airfield 60 km west of Aghelia, Libya).

The importance attached by the Germans to delaying the hard-hitting British fighters was shown by the thorough manner in which Marble Arch had been mined. Only one strip on the very edge of the airfield was safe, and it was some days before the whole area could be cleared. Three men were killed and four seriously wounded (two of whom later died) when one member of an Australian party stood on a mine. Mining of airfields was henceforth a constant feature of the enemy retreat, and Australian maintenance parties were also to find the airfields ploughed in most complicated patterns. In many instances it was necessary to clear completely new areas.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 383

The RAAF Members killed as a result of the mine detonation were:

Leading Aircraftman George Murray Bartsch (39549) Died, 19 December 1942.
Leading Aircraftman Brian Metcalfe Gates (14827)
Leading Aircraftman Leslie John Horne (40506)
Leading Aircraftman Maurice Basil Thompson (7170)
Aircraftman Class 1 Thomas Frederick Waugh (37197)

The RAAF members injured were:

Leading Aircraft Raymond Percival Gurney (64174) Discharged from the RAAF: 21 September 1945
Leading Aircraftman William Joseph Kelly (14875) Discharged from the RAAF: 13 May 1944
Leading Aircraftman Frank Mellow (39404) Discharged from the RAAF: 3 January 1946

References:

Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9301, 7170

Bibliography:

Brown, R. (Russell) Desert Warriors Australian P-40 Pilots at War in the Middle East and North Africa 1941-1943, Banner Books Maryborough QLD 4652, 2000