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Lew Ranger recalls:
My first contact with this officer pilot was in mid-November 1944 at No 73 Operational Training Unit Fayid, Egypt where he was Officer Commanding 'E' Flight.
I had come from the U.K. to Fayid, where, after a refresher course on Harvard trainers in 'B' Flight under the watchful eyes of "tour-expired" 3 Squadron pilots Ron Matthews and Bob Rowe, I converted to Kittyhawks.
Picture of Lew Ranger flying low in a Harvard, over the Egyptian desert near Fayid.
(From Alan Clark's Memoir.)
After a short period at 5 R.F.U. Perugia, with Chas. Wannan as O.C. (and 'Natter' Forsstrom in attendance) converting to the newly-arrived Mustangs, I joined 3 Squadron at Fano for only a few days before moving to Cervia on February 25th, 1945.
It was here that I met up with and got to know 'Jungle Jim' (as he was affectionately known - from his having done a tour on fighter-bombers in Burma). He was a laconic, lanky, quietly-spoken English gentleman of sandy complexion who appeared at times to have a permanent crick in his neck ... the result of squeezing his frame into restricted fighter cockpits most likely ... and at all times was delightful company.
Jim was shot down and killed on April 11th, 1945, and was the last pilot flying with 3 Squadron to give his life. The tragedy involved here is that he opted to come to 3SQN because of his liking for Aussies, gained from his earlier jungle associations.
It is my belief that many pilots who were transferred from Asia and Pacific areas to the European theatre tended to underestimate the accuracy of the German flak as compared to that encountered in the East. Flying on one course or at one altitude for too long a time, so courting disaster as they identified targets.
I feel that Jim Edmonds most probably was hit in this manner, as were Hodgkinson and Davies - but they survived.
- Vale Jungle Jim -
[Editor's note: Lew's supposition that Jungle Jim was hit by flak whilst flying strait-and-level seems to be mistaken. The 3 Squadron Operations Record Book p672 makes it clear that F/Lt. Edmonds crashed at the bottom of his dive-bombing run, having probably blacked out during his dive.]
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