Aircraftman 1st Class Robert Quigley MM

By early 1943 the RAF Regt units which had landed in North West Africa, as part of Operation TORCH, were well established. They had been allotted to RAF fighter and light bomber Wings, defending advanced landing grounds.

One such unit was No 2744 Field Squadron which, together with No 4091 AA Flight was responsible for the airfields at Bône and Souk el Arba defending No 324 Fighter Wing.

Members of 2744 Squadron in North Africa circa 1942 with a captured Italian Light Armoured Vehicle.
Members of 2744 Squadron in N Africa circa 1942 with a captured Italian Light Armoured Vehicle.

By March 1943 some RAF Regiment units were in the line covering an Allied withdrawal. 2744 Field Squadron was the second such unit, they came under the Command of the 24th Guards Brigade, conducting a relief in place with the 5th Northamptonshire Regiment at a point known as Mortar Hill. By the 14th April they had advanced 3 miles with the Brigade, frequently under mortar fire and enemy dive bombers. Soon elements of 2744 and 2721 Sqns were joined together in the line relieving some Anti-Tank gun positions of the 81st Anti-Tank Regiment.

25 pound anti-tank gun manned by 2744 Squadron
25 pound anti-tank gun manned by 2744 on the perimeter defences of Medjez-el-Bab (Tunisia April 1943).

This Airman has been employed as a Gunner. On 28 Apr 43, during an attack on our position at Medjez-el-Bab, he came under heavy mortar and machine fire. With another member of his gun crew, he dismounted the gun and taking up a forward position, continued to engage the enemy. Having expended his ammunition and his comrade being wounded, he then evaded the enemy successfully for 24 hours, although they were now between him and our lines. Eventually he succeeded in gaining friendly ground and having handed over his wounded companion to a first aid post, he reported to his Unit. This Airman has displayed constant devotion to duty and accomplished good work during the advance on Bizerte.

London Gazette, 21 September 1943

Quigley served with 2744 Squadron throughout the Second World War, in North Africa and finally in Italy. He was released from the Service, a Leading Aircraftman, on 26 Nov 1946.