I Was There! - I Left My Pots and Pans and Downed a Bomber!

The War Illustrated, Volume 7, No. 170, Page 474, December 24, 1943.

Ship's cook, Petty Officer J. H. Hubbard, of the cruiser Aurora on service in the Mediterranean, had already been mentioned in dispatches when he achieved the further distinction of shooting down a German bomber. This feat, which surprised the rear-admiral, has won him the D.S.M.

The Aurora was on harbour guard duty at Bône, North Africa. Everything was quiet, and I was among my pots and pans in the galley. Suddenly the alarm “Repel enemy aircraft” was sounded. I left everything and dashed in my action station as No. 2 Oerlikon gunner. Almost immediately a Focke Wulf 119 appeared out of the clouds on the port bow. It was followed by a second and a third.

They were diving to attack shipping in the harbour. I got the second one in my sights, followed him round, waited until he got within range, and pressed the trigger. I saw a stream of tracer bullets enter the aircraft amidships. It swerved away, lost height and crashed on land.

The whole thing was witnessed by Rear-Admiral C. H. J. Harcourt, commanding our squadron, who expressed surprise when he learned that a ship's cook had been responsible for bringing down the bomber!

Actually a cook has as much change of success in an action like this as any other member of a ship's crew. We are all trained in gunnery, all have our action stations, and I've fired thousands of rounds at enemy aircraft, particularly during the hectic days of the 1941-42 Malta convoys.

I manned a gun during the Oran landing, and had many a showdown with enemy aircraft during the Malta blitzes. It was the experience I got then which helped me to bring down the Focke Wulf.

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