Word came down from headquarters that 94 Squadron would no longer be a Hurricane squadron. Instead, the pilots would learn to fly new American fighter planes called the Kittyhawk. Stocky was determined to master the tricky plane. On March 23, 1942, Stocky was finally going on his first operational sortie (combat mission). Once again, the target was the German and Italian airfield at Martuba. Twelve planes each from two fighter squadrons—94 and 260—would escort twelve Boston light bombers from a South African bomber squadron. Stocky would be number two man, flying behind a more experienced pilot.
Most fighter pilots, despite their training and bravery, never succeeded in destroying enemy aircraft in the air. To shoot one down on your first operational sortie was a rare feat. Within days, word of the young pilot’s achievement had spread to other squadrons. A senior officer dubbed him “the Hawk of Martuba.” Not every Messerschmitt was going to be such easy prey.
Adapted from: Hehner, Barbara. Desert Hawk: The True Story of Stocky Edwards, World War II Flying Ace (Kindle Locations 59-61). HarperCollins Canada. Kindle Edition.