Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings


One of the last Hawker Hurricane aces to die on Malta was Gordon Russell Tweedale (18 April 1918-May 1942) who was lost while flying an unfamiliar new Spitfire on 9 May 1942. Born in Brisbane, Tweedale had joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1940. He was posted to Malta on 22 February 1942. His arrival on the island was telling. The Sunderland flying-boat which had flown him in was strafed by German fighters soon after Tweedale had exited and it sank that evening. Far from discouraged, Tweedale, eager to get into the mix of things, was assigned to 185 Squadron. In the air, combat had a steep learning curve and Tweedale had several narrow escapes. His fighter was badly shot up on March 9. Wounded in the heel, Tweedale managed to crash-land and spent three weeks in a hospital, fortuitously missing much of the carnage which decimated his squadron. He returned to operations afterwards and by May 8, his tally stood at seven confirmed kills. On the following day, when the squadron took on a consignment of Spitfires, Tweedale was one of those granted permission to take one up. He had never flown a Spitfire before, and was shot down. His aircraft came down on Lija, falling on an ack-ack battery, and killing a Maltese gunner, the 29-year old Seraphim Cauchi. Tweedale was awarded a posthumous DFM for his cumulative feats, but for Cauchi who was just as dead, there was no medal.

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