F. Malcolm Benitz Page last modified:
Missing PDF
Missing PDF

Art on Malcolm’s plane
– Mobil Oil Logo (1940) –
(Per Malcolm. He never said which plane he considered his; he flew many. !!)

Frank Malcolm Benitz, DFC
104 Bomber Squadron
England, Malta, Egypt

During Malcolm's time with 104 Squadron (July, 1941 – November, 1942), he was based at:


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Malcolm, Flt/Sgt - 1941, England
(Source: Christopher Le Bas)


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Places in Malcolm's diaries & logs
1941 - 1943

Airfields & Cities - POW camp & escape
(Source: Modified Google Map - P. Benitz 2017)


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Beers in Tel Aviv, Palestine, 1942 (?)
(Source: F.M. Benitz)

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“Three Hangovers on Leave”
Tel Aviv, Palestine, 1942

(Source: Christopher Le Bas)

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YouTube Video (short, silent)
Vickers Wellingotn Mk.II
No. 104 Sqdn - Prep. & In Flight

No.104 Bomber Squadron was equiped with the Vickers Wellington Mark II (Mk.II's are identified by their Merlin X engines with a line of exhausts along each side).
The squadron letter code was "EP" & each aircraft was indentified by a single letter.  Letter codes were often removed in Malta & Egypt.

YouTube Video
"Wellingtons at War"
Propaganda (1939)
Shows crew at their tasks
Wellington Mk.I

(Brititsh Government photos, Imperial War Museum & RAF Museums.)


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Crew boarding
No.104 Sqdn, Driffield, England

August 1941
(Malcolm likely knew this crew.)


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Malcolm flew this aircraft (R)
on 25 April 1942

See notebook below, page 2.
(Photo taken over England, summer 1941.)


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Malcolm flew this aircraft (S)
on 24 November 1942

See notebook below, page 20-back.
(Photo taken over England, summer 1941.)


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Loading 500 lb. bombs
No.104 Sqdn. "U" s/n Z8524
Egypt, summer 1942


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Ready for take-off, Kabrit, Egypt
No.104 Squadron, s/n: Z8597
3 December 1942
(Malcolm was missing, not yet rescued.)


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No. 104 Squadron under attack
Luqa, Malta

Please help identify People & Places
Per hot weather attire, they were likely taken during the summer in Egypt, Malta, or Palestine.  The photos have faded to shades of ocre yellow – we enhanced their contrast & colored them dark brown.


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(Source: F.M. Benitz)


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Malcolm (2nd from left) & unknowns
date & place unknown

Malcolm has P/O sleeve stripes (Oct'41–Oct'42), no DFC ribbon (Apr'42).
(Source: F.M. Benitz)


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- Back (photo left) -
Retallack (RCAF) ?
Bill Sproule (Canada)
P. Dawson (Scottie from Aberdeen!)

( Not Malcolm's handwriting.
Retallack is in British Columbia, Canada


Driffield, Yorkshire (July-October, 1942)

(His log-books are currently misplaced, ahem... tups)

Malcolm’s Africa Note Book (April-December, 1942):

Missing PDF

Note Book
(PDF file, 2.4mb)
(Source: P. Benitz)

Malcolm's dated entries begin on April 25, 1942, and ends on December 20, 1942.  He made brief dated notes about his flights, probably for later inclusion in his official log-book.  His notes are undated while on medical leave (pages 3–16) – wounded night of April 29/30, he returned to duty in early November.  His dated entries resume on November 7 when he begins flying again and ends on December 20 with an account of his first days as a POW.  The notebook contains names and addresses of many people, some of whom he met as a POW – these entries were probably added at reunions (pub crawls?) in London after escaping.

The record of his flights immediately prior to ditching and the events immediately after his capture is more detailed than would be expected if written purely from memory a year later (i.e. after escaping).  Therefore, we believe the notebook most likely remained with his kit in Malta, and he transcribed these last entries from an unknown source after he escaped & returned to London.  If the notebook had been on his person when he ditched, it would have been soaked and the earlier dated entries in ink would have smudged or run.

Air Fields mentioned: Malcolm flew from or to airfields and landing grounds (LG) in north Africa, Egypt, and Palestine.   In this note-book, he refers to them by name or LG number (we show his term in bold):

RAF ranks mentioned: C/O: Commanding Officer (likely either a Gp/Capt or Wg/Cdr); Gp/Capt: Group Captain; Wg/Cdr: Wing Commander, Sqn/Ldr: Squadron Leader; Flt/Lt: Flight Lieutenant; Fg/Off: Flying Officer; Plt/Off: Pilot Officer; Flt/Sgt: Flight Sergeant.  Malcolm abbreviated the ranks to just two letters, e.g. F/O - Flying Officer.

Decorations mentioned: D.S.O.: Distinguished Service Order; D.F.C.: Distinguised Flying Cross; D.F.M.: Distinguished Flying Medal; "... and Bar": a second award of the same decoration

Page Image Transcription Notes
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  F. M. Benitz

Front Cover

Size of nobebook:
10.6 x 6.8 cm.

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Wellington House

Inside Front Cover

Today, likely the "The Wellington Hotel & Public House" near the Waterloo train station, at 81-83 Waterloo Road, London.
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John Sams.
Fred Haynes.
Fred Honey
Dick Sitcliffe
Sid Wilson.

John Harper.
Fred Balfour
Ricky’s Parents.
Ginger Hills.
John Morton.

W/co Beare
Jan. 637.90 line

Les Bradford
Tail Gunner
33 ops

Page 1

Missing image. Ray E. Hamilton
Dawsons Creek. B.C.

C.F. Dack
10 South View
  East Denton

G.R. Allen
20 King Street
 Swaffham. Norfolk

Page 1, back

The ink on this page differs from the front of Page 1 and 2 (pages above and below), which suggests these addresses were likely added at a later date.  Ray Hamilton and Malcolm were both in London during November, 1943.
Ray E. Hamilton: His daughter recognized his handwriting at left.  Per Malcolm's escape diary, on Sep. 22 Hamilton & 2 others left the group of escapees sheltering at the Grotta del Cavallone - he reached the Allied lines at Campobasso on Oct. 25.
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April 25  
  R.Self. Davies
Hills  McColl
flt. Test.   Wilson 
 X19 11. 23 414.30 
Helio08 42  0922..40 
 " 1400 1405.05.
Shot up by Helio
defences.–(Kabrit bombed)

 601 - 244 W.

Page 2

“R” & “X” - aircraft IDs within squadron

Flight times, e.g.:
 19.11 takeoff
 23:41 landing
 4.30 duration.

"Helio" = Heliopolis, a friendly RAF base !!
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Page 2, back

Missing image. April 28.
  Crew. P.
  19:50  02:15   6.25
P. Oil U.S. Press.

Page 3

“P” aircraft ID within squadron.

Flight times:
 19.50 takeoff
 02:15 landing
 6:25 duration
Missing image. WILL CONTINUE.

Page 3, back

Script of a telegram.  Telegrams were costly, charged by the word including ‘STOP’ for any period, i.e. this telegram has 6 words.
Missing image. F/LT. D.J. Brown, Donald James
   Clovely, 90 Oxstalls Road
   (had it)

F/Lt. Henry Neil Blundell
   Evening Post.
    Wellington N.Z.

David Kirker Bradley
   44 Maryville Park

Page 4

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Page 4, back

Missing image.      Ex Navigator.
P/O J. C. H. Blackburn
    306 N. Marks St.
    Fort William. Ontario.

F/O A. M. Beach  D.F.C.
    4474 W 4th
    Vancouver B.C.

W/Co. Phillip Robert Beare  DFC. DSO.
    National Provincial Bank Ltd
    Claphams Junctions Branch

Page 5

Missing image. Lt. Bob Weigand, U.S. Army
 1714 Northcutt Ave
 Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.

Page 5, back

Lt. - Lieutenant
Missing image. C/O. John Peter Bailey
  Mrs. L. Allington
  c/o 5c. Market Hill

F/Lt Beale. H.H.  DFC
  Papetete Station
  Se Puiâ Springs
  Gisborne . N.Z.

Page 6

Missing image.


Page 6, back

Missing image. Jack Norris Cockroft.
  65 Bayslate Moor Rd.
   Bamford . Rockdale

2nd Dicky.
Philip Dawson
  50 Forest Rd. Aberdeen

M. S. S. Dickinson
  10 Windmill Lane
   Ashbourne . Derbyshire

Page 7

2nd Dicky – term for a pilot flying with an operationally-seasoned crew to gain experience prior to taking his own assigned crew out on their first operation
Missing image. A. MacDonald Hogarth
 Merton Wells

Page 7, back

Missing image.     P.G. 78 !
Dick Ellis
 Mr Robert Ellis
  The Hill.
   Blackford . Carlisle

John George Grey.  D.F.C.
  Milburn Otago

W. D. W. Knight
2084620 ACW2 Knight J.
  Hut S.16.
  SHQ . R.A.F. Weston.

Page 8

P.G. 78 might apply to just Elllis or everyone on this page.
P.G. 78 - (Prigione di Guerra 78) POW camp at Fonte d'Amore, next to Sulmona, east of Rome, where FMB was a POW.
Missing image.   252 Turney Rd.
   Dulwich. London SE21

Art McKelvey,

Page 8, back

Missing image. J.C. Morton. X  2nd Dicky
  109 George St.
   Higher Broughton
    Salford 8. Lancs.

A.H. Palmer
  Eston House
   Eston, Middlesborough

C.S.W. Proctor
  248 Heath Strt. W. (Apt 5)

Page 9

2nd Dicky - see page 7.
Missing image. W.D. FINLASON

Page 9, back

Missing image.    Ricky
Ganet Graham Retallack.
  Mr N.M. Retallack
   336 Moffat Ave.
    Verdun, Quebec.
Killed on Ops. July ’42.

Stephen Storey. DFC.
  19 Oliver Rd.
   Loughborough. Leicest.

Tripoli |  Durban
Bari  |   Natal. S.A.

Page 10

The note next to Peter Campbell, Tripoli, Bari, suggests he may have been a fellow POW on the submarine that took FMB from Tripoli to Bari.
Missing image.
small arrow up, toggle, large arrow up
angled left arrow
"Landing Gear"
right arrow
right arrow
"Breaker Switches
behind Dead"

Page 10, back

Missing image. William C. Sproule.
  Mrs G H. Kaye
   Grand Bay

  1st & Best navigator.
John Hamilton Sams.
 Mrs. H. Sams.  D.F.C
  Nearcroft, near Christchurch

H.W. Shillings
 38 Wandle Court Gardens
   Beddington. Surrey

Page 11

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Page 11, back

Missing image. 1st2nd W/Op.
F/O Richard. L. G. Sutchiffe
  53 London Rd. Canterbury

H. J. Tait (owes me £7.!)
  9 Tapioi Strt.
   Hataitai. Wellington.

Neil Doougall Watkins
  21 Favell Strt.

Page 12

W/Op. - Wireless Operator
Missing image. R. G. Lleivellyne
316 Lincoln St.
Johnstown, Penna.


Page 12, back

Missing image.        DFC ?
Ralph. Stanley White
  75 Bluken Strt.
  Orilla. Ontario

Young. Henry Melvin
 Mrs. H. G. M. Young.
   117 Fore Strt.
Amesbury 28 !
     D.F.C. Bar.

Page 13

Young apparenty attended Amesbury grammar school the year before FMB.
Missing image.


Page 13, back

Missing image. 1st W/Op. 30 ops.
F/Sgt. F.W.G. Honey
  23 Church Street
   New Hinksey
Fred.   Oxon.

E. P. Haynes
  170 Kingston Road.
2nd Dickey 20 ops.

Page 14

W/Op. - Wireless Operator
Ops. - Operational flights
2nd Dicky - see page 7.
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83½ (12)

W/Co. Bragg10 -4-2
  Hodgson.20 +10+8
  Margolian20 +10+8
  Campbell10 -4-2
  Hogarth10 -2-2
  Llewellyn10 -2-2
  Benitz10 -2-2

   7  2

Page 14, back

See Page 15, back.
Missing image. Old friend at Driffield
J. P. Cooper (Rear Gunney)
  Folham House
  Brighton Road.
    Sutton. Surrey
X Jack Robertson’s Crew. Driff.

A. C. Burnett.  DFM.
  School House
   Nr. Fareham Hants

P.O.W. Bureau
  B.R. Cross
  9 Sharia Malika Farida

Page 15

Driffield was the airfield in England where FMB first joined 104 Squadron, July 1941.
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W/Co. Bragg. T.Brush Posit
  Hodgson T.Brush
  Margolian (20.)
Toilet Roll3  
T. Paste. 2. 12.  
    11 each.83½

Page 15, back

See Page 14, back.

Shopping list includes 8½ each for something (beer?).  Possibly based at a desert landing ground, the list could have been given to FMB when on a flight to a less desolate place (Cairo or Malta?).
Missing image. 4th Navigator. Killed on Ops. Malta.
G. R. C. Davis
  2469 Queen Strt. East

A. McColl (Killed at Malta)
  Mr R. McColl
   7 Kerr St.
    Paisley Lancs.

 P.O. Box. 222 S.W.D.O.
   Howick Place
    London. S.W.1.

Page 16

Margaret Douglas
(1918 - 2016; m: Cooper)
She and Malcolm were members of the same social group in Argentina before the war.  Her parents owned estancia “La Panchita” in Córdoba, west of estancia “La California”.  He was “sweet” on her and they wrote each other when he was a POW.  She joined the WRNS and, unknown to him, worked at Bletchly Park.  (See his letters to her when a POW & his escape diary, pages 11, 16, & 17).
Missing image.


Page 16, back

Missing image.  
X _Air Test
F/Sgt Morrison
  11.55 _ 12.15.

  12.25 – 1.45.

AQIR – Kabrit.
  Solo _ 8.30. 9.55.

9/11Kabrit to 224LG
  4 Pass.

Page 17

“X” aircraft ID within squadron

Pass. - probably "Passengers"

Solo - single aircraft, alone?
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13/11/ G 
104 to 2224
224 to 104 G
 Cpl –
 Scotty –

F/O K. P. W. Cope  5th New.
 Killed on ops. Malta
 Nov 26  42.
 Mother in London

Page 17, back

“G” aircraft ID within squadron.
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Page 18

Missing image.
16-11-42 G Self.  104 to Helio1.15
 Z8573 Sgt. Harborow
   & crew
16-11-42 H. 
 Z8659 Self. Helio
    to 104
  +30 crates beer.
17-11-42 G.  P/O Blogg115
   Sgt. Hawes to Helio
20.  S. 
 F/Sgt Wiggins
  4 Pass.
Kabrit – Bilbeis

Page 18, back

"G", "H", & "S” aircraft IDs within squadron

Z8573 & Z8659 - aircraft serial numbers

Harborow, Blogg, & Wiggins likely his navigators

Pass. - probably "Passengers"
Missing image. Cope – 6 Can –  48
    20 Players  .10


Page 19

Missing image.
21/11/42P/O Blogg. 
22/11/42 Self 
 Sgt Thrower  Crew
   104 to Malta
  4 Pass

Page 19, back

Blogg & Thrower were likely his navigators
Missing image. F/O HOLLISTER √
 officers mess
 Eastleigh Aerodrome

Sent log-book

Page 20

Missing image.
24/11/ Self Ops 
 "S."Crew  Bizerta
   Bombs back
24/11/42 "   "4.15
 Q 9000' Deck
 2 sticks.
26/11/42Air Test..40
Force Landed.

Page 20, back

"S" & "Q" aircraft IDs within squadron
Bizerta - port in Tunisia
Deck - cloud ceiling, at 9000 ft.
Stick - release of a string of bombs

The notes in blue ink were most likely added much later – see our discussion above.

Force Landed - Night of 26-27 Nov.  Took off at 00:10, bombed German Luftwaffe airfield at Gerbini, Sicily (23 km. inland from Catania).  Ditched near Malta.
Aircraft: "Q" - s/n: W5550.

Missing image. Anne Belcham
  Flat 17.
   173 Av. Fuad 1es
Tel. 46924.

R.A.F. Melfield.  Northd.

Page 21

At least 18 pages were torn out between pages 20 & 21.

Page 21, back
(shown below)

The writing in blue ink suggests it may have been added later, during or after his escape from Italy (see noes top re notebook).  We discuss the events on this page in more detail when describing his rescue & capture.

Missing image. 5/12/42 Picked up. Italian Hosp Ship
Bill Thrower. Parkinson. Haxton. Jones.

6/12/42 Tripoli. Taken to Surg Hosp. Hair
  Showed & Shave _ in Bed. Stooges in evening
7/12/42 In bed all day. Shower. Watch taken
  In evening to Med Hosp.
8/12/42 In bed all day. Given Ital.Uniform
9/12/42 Taken to Trig el Terhim in afternoon
  crew & 20 prisoners to Swanee
9-18/12/42 All 7 officers & 9 men to Terhuna.
  50 m.S.Tripoli. Lorry broke down on way
  Met Mather & Maloney. No food for supper
19/.  Shower – better food.
20/  To Comm Tappa to await sub. Met
Missing image.  

Back Cover, Inside

Game of battleships & submarines? )
Missing image.


Back Cover

Missing image.      15/10/43
Col. Simmonds. Termoli
Capt McKenna   “
Major Fellingham

 N Section
C/O TAU. HQ “A” Force
  HQ 15 Army Group
    near Bari

Insert, side 1

It is very likely he made these notes soon after reaching the Allied forces following his escape from POW camp, October 1943.
Missing image. Amesbury ‘29 – ‘32

Carroll Mather
  London S.W.15

Insert, side 2

See Insert, side 1

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)