On 9 July 1941, seven Bristol Blenheims from RAF 110 (Hyderabad) Squadron took off from RAF Luga in Malta to attack Axis shipping in the harbour of Tripoli, Libya. The Blenheims claimed several direct hits on four merchant vessels. One vessel was estimated at 12,000 tons, two at 10,000 tons and one at 7,000 tons. During the raid, the Blenheims were attacked by Reggia Aeronautica Fiat G.50 bis and Fiat Cr.42 fighter aircraft. The Italians of 366 squadron, 151 Gruppe CT, claimed to have intercepted five British aircraft, scrambling at 1600 hours (Axis Time). Four of the Bristol Blenheims failed to return to Malta.
According to the Italian record book:
Pilot Sergente Maggiore Aldo Buvoli (Fiat G.50) shot down the Blenheim formation leader (Z6449) and another Blenheim. Pilot M.llo (Maresciallo) Paolo Montanari (Fiat Cr.42) claimed one enemy aircraft and Sergente Ottorino Ambrosi (Fiat CR.42) claimed a Blenheim shot down.
A bulletin issued by the Italian Armed Forces Head Quarters stated that two British aircraft were shot down by fighters and two others by anti-aircraft (flak).
The four aircraft that failed to return:
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV Z6449
Squadron Leader Douglas Holland Seale RAF (45689) pilot, age 24
Sgt Frederick Bertie Mulford RAF (580522) observer, age unknown
Flight Sergeant William Henderson McDougall RAF (625871) wireless operator, age 25
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV Z9533
Sergeant W. H. Twist pilot. POW
Sergeant D. W. Allen 0bserver. POW
Sergeant S. W. Taylor wireless operator/air gunner. POW
Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV Z9537
Flight Lieutenant Michael Ernest Potier pilot, age 20, KIA
Flight Lieutenant T. Griffith-Jones observer, POW
Sergeant D. H. Wythe, Wireless operator/air gunner, POW
Z9578 Blenheim Mk. IV
Pilot Officer Walter Hugh Lowe pilot, age 25, KIA
Sergeant Ronald Ernest Baird observer, age 20, KIA
Sergeant Harold Lummus wireless operator/air gunner, age unknown, KIA
Blenheim Z6449 was seen to have force-landed into the sea north of Tripoli after a long chase. The other aircraft were shot down a few miles north of Tripoli. Later a Martin Model 167 (Maryland) light bomber from RAF 69 Squadron seeking to ascertain the result of the attack was damaged but managed to escape. The Maryland’s gunner claimed to have shot down a Macchi Mc.200 Saetta (Lightning) fighter.
McDougall, 11 Arklay Street, Dundee, was the eldest son of William Menzies McDougall and Jean McDougall, Pitheavlis Farm, Perth; and husband of Edna McDougall, 20 James Street, Perth.
McDougall was home on leave towards the end of June 1941 and later wrote to his wife informing her that his Blenheim squadron was leaving for the East. No news was heard of him after that.
All who died in are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.
The rank, M.llo (Maresciallo) is a Marshall, the equivalent of Corporal, a lower grade officer.
Flight Sergeant William Henderson McDougall, Perthshire Advertiser 18 March 1942