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1939 - 1945

World War Two

Douglas Jones and Thomas Steggles - lifelong best friends to the end

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Posted by Philippa Dear on

Douglas Jones (Sergeant 'Jinny' Jones) 1114199.  RAF postings 1939-45, RAF Cranwell, Coastal Command Oban, Daklin Fighter Command - 8028 A.M.E.S., 244 Fighter Wing. Thomas Ronald Steggles (Corporal Steggie) 744768.  RAF postings 1937-45, RAF Volunteer Reserve Coastal Command Oban, Mombasa, 8028 A.M.E.S. 8028 Air Ministry Experimental Station.  Top secret mobile radar unit, sailed from Grenoch on the Sorbieski to Freetown, South Africa.  The unit was posted to Suez.  Steggie joined from Mombasa. The 8028's call sign was 'Black Beer'.  The Squadron was composed of Mosquito fighter bombers and Beau fighters, its call sign was 'Top Hat'.  The Squadron was based on Scicily.  The mobile radar unit was comprised of a signals unit truck and further trucks carrying sections of radar masts, to be erected at each camp.  The 8028 was tracking the 8th Army. The 8028 moved onward to Syracuse, Catania, Messina crossing the Gustav line, Anzio crossing the Hitler line and the Gothic line, to eventually reach Trieste. At Anzio the ship embedded in a sand bank.  The 8028 had to get its convoy off the ship in landing ship tanks onto the beach head under fire.  Once the Allies had secured the beach, the 8028 had a game of cricket. They liberated a bus to join their convoy, to travel in comfort, long before Cliff Richard thought of it.  As they advanced through Italy they took with them stray animals and bought postcards from the Italian cities, as the Allies liberated them. Once Italy was liberated, Douglas joined 244 Fighter Wing.  Steggie returned home to marry his childhood sweetheart Winifred Moon.  After WWII the two friends found each other and remained lifelong best friends, sharing lives until the end. The attached photos are: 1) In a fox hole - Steggie at the front with a pipe, Douglas second right. 2) 8028 with 'liberated' bus. 3) Douglas, Marian (Douglas' wife) and Steggie (nearest the camera) on holiday in Italy.

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