Above and Beyond: RAF observer Jack Strain

Graham Pitchfork reflects on the valour of RAF observer Jack Strain who flew in the Mediterranean theatre during World War Two


Nineteen-yearold Jack Strain enlisted in the RAFVR in 1941 and trained as an observer in Canada. In January 1942, he converted to the Vickers Wellington and, on June 6, 1942, he and his crew set off from Portreath in Cornwall to take a Wellington to the Middle East. Flying via Gibraltar, they arrived in Egypt three days later.

Strain joined 70 Squadron and attacked targets in the Western Desert as Rommel’s Panzers advanced towards El Alamein. Tobruk became a regular target, but on the night of October 23/24, Strain and his fellow crew members bombed Rommel’s guns, armour, advanced landing grounds and supply routes as the Battle of El Alamein commenced. Rommel retreated, persistently harried by the Wellingtons.

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