Once the OTU was complete Stocky was given leave and he travelled to London, where his mother’s sister and her family lived. Soon he and some of the other pilots were immediately ordered to get injections for cholera and other diseases. Then they were sent to pick up a new uniform, which included a tan-coloured tunic, shorts and knee socks. Obviously they were going somewhere tropical. The North African Campaign was a desperate struggle, one which the Allies could not afford to lose. At stake was control of the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal. It was November 1941 and Stocky was on board a ship in a convoy, this time heading for Africa.
The ship put in at the port of Freetown, Sierra Leone, where Britain had a naval base. Stocky and some other pilots were put on a Sunderland Flying Boat and flew headed 800 miles south to Takoradi, on the Gold Coast (now Ghana). The port at Takoradi received shiploads of brand-new Hurricane IIb fighter planes from Britain, in pieces. Local crews assembled them into planes, and then air force pilots ferried them, in groups of five or six, across Africa to Cairo. By the flight route they used, this was a distance of about 3,000 miles. Stocky was sent by truck to the Kasfereet air base, about 120 miles south of Cairo, to wait for a squadron assignment.
Stocky was ordered to report to 94 Squadron, at a remote desert base called Antelat, 650 miles west of Cairo. And there, at last, were the German planes he had waited so long to see—bombing the airfield as he arrived.
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.