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WW2 RAF Secret Western Desert Intelligence Report (1942)

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1941 - 1942


Air Staff (Operations Records),
Headquarters, Royal Air Force, Middle East

Produced by OPERATIONS RECORDS, H.Q, R.A.F., M.E. 1942
An extremely rare, original WW2 RAF top secret intelligence report, marked ‘Most Secret’, produced by the Air Staff, H.Q., Middle East Forces, in 1942. This was a restricted document with a very limited circulation, each copy being individually numbered. This is copy number 41. The introduction states that 'This report, with its appendices, covers the operations by the R.A.F. in the Western Desert and the Eastern Mediterranean area from 18th November 1941, when the “Crusader” Campaign opened, to 19th May 1942, the eve of the Battle for Egypt . . . the report is purely factual. Its object is to record operations carried out. No attempt has, therefore, been made to comment on the strategical significance of these operations or on lessons learned from the campaigns.’

The report includes a great deal of fascinating information relating to RAF operations from 1941-1942 in the Western Desert, Crete, and Malta, as well as anti-submarine actions, airfield attacks, and special operations. There are accounts of individual actions, bombing raids, attacks on enemy airfields, casualties, fighter operations, dogfights, crashes, ‘friendly fire’ incidents, convoy escort work, attacks on U-boats, as well as reports on the progress of the campaigns. This is just one example of the many extraordinary exploits that are included within the report:

‘One pilot had an alarming experience. After shooting down a G.50, he was chased by several other G.50s and ME. 109s. At only 500 feet he was hit in the port wing by cannon shells which turned him upside down. He had barely righted his aircraft when it struck the ground on its belly, but bounced into the air again. The pilot regained control, but was finally forced to crash-land, which he did safely.’

For anyone interested in the role of the RAF during the Western Desert and Mediterranean campaigns of 1941-42 this book is an invaluable and unique reference work.

Operation “Crusader" was a military operation carried out by the British 8th Army against the Axis forces in North Africa between 18 November and 30 December 1941. It was intended to relieve the Siege of Tobruk; with the Eighth Army attempting to destroy the Axis armoured force before advancing on its infantry. The plan failed when, after a number of inconclusive engagements, the 7th Armoured Division was defeated by the Afrika Korps at Sidi Rezegh. The German commander, Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, then ordered his armoured divisions to the Axis fortress positions on the Egyptian border, but failed to find the main body of the Allied infantry, which had bypassed the fortresses and headed for Tobruk. Rommel then had to withdraw from the frontier to Tobruk and achieved some tactical success in costly fighting. The need to preserve his remaining forces from destruction prompted Rommel to withdraw his army to the defensive line at Gazala, west of Tobruk, and then all the way back to El Agheila. This was the first British victory of the war.


In very good condition. The boards are in very good condition. There are Imperial War Museum ‘Withdrawn’ ink stamps to the endpapers, and two IWM bookplates. The original card covers are in very good condition, with some signs of use and a few marks. The binding is very good and secure. The text is in very good condition, with a couple of small Imperial war Museum stamps.

Published: 1942
Orange IWM Boards with gilt titling & IWM crest
(with original front and rear card covers inside)
Dimensions: 200mm x 330mm
Pages: 136