F. Malcolm Benitz Page last modified:

Frank Malcolm Benitz, DFC
RCAF 1940-1945

Missing imgage

Enlistee, Oct. 1940
(Source: P. Benitz)

Missing imgage

Commissioned Pilot Officer
29 November, 1941
R.C.A.F., Special Reserve

(Source: P. Benitz)

Missing imgage

Flight Lieutenant, 1945
(Source: P. Benitz)

Missing imgage

Click ribbons for their significance.

Event Timeline

Dates Event
1940, October 17 Ottawa — Enlisted “for the duration” in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Volunteer Reserve - RCAF (VR).
(Twenty-five years later, out riding on a fresh morning, I asked him why he had volunteered.  He thought about my question and eventually replied: “I didn’t like what they were doing to the Jews.”)
1940 - 1941 Ontario — Trained at No.1 ITS (Initial Training School) in Toronto, Ontario, No.10 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) at RCAF Station Hamilton, Mount Hope, Ontario, & No.5 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) at Brantford, Ontario.
1941, April 10 Brantford, Ontario (Toronto) — Graduated as Flight Sergeant (R74280); he wanted to be a fighter pilot but was assigned to bombers.
1941, April 26 Halifax — Sailed for England on the HMS Derbyshire.
1941, June-July 14 England Wellington OTU (22 Operational Training Unit, course #3), Wellesbourne, Warwichshire.
1941, July 23 England Posted to RAF 104 Bomber Squadron, Driffield, Yorkshire.  Night bombing ops.
No. 104 Squadron – received the Vickers Wellington Mk.II in April 1941.  In October 1941 Malcolm piloted one of the fifteen aircraft of that squadron that were flown to Malta, from where they attacked targets in Libya, Sicily and Italy.  In January, 1942, his detachment moved to Egypt & was reunited with its ground echelon.  Wimpy – the familiar name for Wellington bombers.
1941, October 17 Malta – One of 15 aircraft detached to Luqa (Malta).  Malcolm also flew from/to many airfields and landing grounds (LG) in northern Egypt.
1941, October 29 Malta – Commissioned Pilot Officer (J15035), see above.
1942, April 7 Malta – Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).  See D.F.C. award below.
1942, April 29 Egypt & Palestine – Wounded, hospitalized in Egypt, he recuperated in Palestine on the shores of the Dead Sea.
1942, October 29 Malta – Promoted to Flying Officer (J15035), effective Oct. 1.
1942, November 7? Malta – Returned to active duty.
1942, November 26 Mediterranean — Ditched within sight of Malta; engine seized up returning from night attack on German airfield at Gerbini, Sicily.
1942, December 5 Mediterranean — Rescued by an Italian hospital ship; taken prisoner (POW) to Tripoli (Libya).
1942, abt. Dec 30 Italy – Sent by submarine to Taranto (Italy); placed in transit camp P.G. 75, Torre Tresca, near Bari.
1943, March Italy – Transferred to P.G. 78, Fonte d'Amore, near Sulmona (Abruzzo).
1943, summer Italy – Helped dig escape tunnel; completed, but escape foiled by a honey wagon.
1943, September 8 – Italy capitulated.  Prisoners took over POW camp.
1943, September 12 Italy – Got away; took refuge in the Grotta del Cavallone, near Taranta Peligna (Abruzzo).
1943, Oct. 9 - 13 Italy Walked south-east 80+km. to Allied lines at Ripabottoni (Molise)
1943, November 6 England — Arrived back from Italy.
1943, November 16 England — Presented DFC at Buckingham Palace.
1943, November 25 Canada — Repatriated from UK, granted special leave.
1943, December 23 Argentina — Arrives in BA, on special leave (30 days clear).
1944 Canada — Promoted Flight Lieutenant.
1944, January 22 Canada — Y Depot (holding); Overseas posting cancelled (i.e. returned from Argentina).
1944, March 16 Canada No.16 SFTS (Service Flying Training School), Hagersville, Ontario; presumably trained on Avro Lancaster bombers.
1944, May 11 Canada — Posted to No.164 Transportation Squadron, stationed at Edmonton, Alberta.
1945, March 31 Canada — Y-Depot (holding)
1945, April 13 England — posted to RAF overseas, in England.
1945, May 9 – VE-Day, Victory in Europe (German surrender)
1945, August 2 Canada — Repatriated from UK.
1945, September 2 – VJ-Day, Victory in the Pacific (Japanese surrender)
1945, October 2 Canada — Demobilized, returned to Argentina.

Distinguished Flying Cross

Malcolm’s citation, as recorded by the Air Force Association of Canada:

BENITZ, P/O Frank Malcolm (J15035) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.104 Squadron - Award effective 7 April 1942 as per London Gazette dated 4 April 1942 and AFRO 611/42 dated 24 April 1942.  Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 26 April 1917; home in Entasia [sic] La California, La California, Argentina; enlisted in Ottawa, 17 October 1940.  Trained at No.1 ITS and No.10 EFTS.  Graduated from No.5 SFTS, 10 April 1941.  Commissioned October 1941.  Medal presented 16 November 1943.  Later prisoner of war.

One night in October 1941, this airman was the captain of an aircraft which carried out a raid on Naples.  After a successful attack during which he remained over the target area for an hour, the port engine of his aircraft began to fail.  Pilot Officer Benitz thereupon set course for his base but on making an inspection he discovered that several of his bombs still remained hung up.  Although the defective engine was giving little power causing the aircraft to lose height, Pilot Officer Benitz changed course for an alternative target and finally released his remaining bombs over the heavily defended area of Palermo.  By now the port engine had failed completely and the aircraft was flying at some 4,500 feet.  Nevertheless, Pilot Officer Benitz headed the aircraft towards the coast in order to avoid the mountains and displaying fine airman ship he finally succeeded in reaching his base and landing safely.  Throughout, this airman showed great courage and determination.

NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/4782 has message dated 26 February 1942, RAFHQ Middle East to Air Ministry, with original recommendation which is more detailed.  He was a Sergeant (R74280) and the award was to have been a Distinguished Flying Medal:

The above-named Non-Commissioned Officer was captain of an aircraft which attacked Naples on the night of October 31, 1941.  After remaining at the target for an hour successfully attacking, it [suffered] loss of revolutions and overheating developed in his port engine.  He set course for home but on making an inspection [he] discovered that several of his bombs had hung up.  Although by this time his engine was giving little power he changed course for the alternative target, Palermo, which was off his route for the last 30 minutes of his Estimated Time of Arrival.  He could not maintain height but he still carried on and dropped his bombs in the heavily defended target rather than jettison them into the sea.  By the time this attack was over his height was only 4,500 feet and the port engine had completely failed.  He fully feathered the airscrew and, turning to the coast to avoid the mountains in Sicily, brought his aircraft and crew home and made a successful landing at base.  During the whole operation Sergeant Benitz showed the highest courage.  His attack was pressed home with determination and his skill alone was responsible for the safe return of his aircraft.

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)