Badge Number: S49693 , Sub Branch: Unley

WIGGINS, Albert Lloyd

Service Number: 407541
Enlisted: 9 November 1940, Adelaide
Last Rank: Wing Commander
Last Unit: No. 455 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Middleton, SA, 24 September 1916
Home Town: Middleton, Alexandrina, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Auctioneer and Valuer - Evans and Clarke
Died: Natural Causes, Adelaide, South Australia , 27 December 2015, aged 99 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

9 Nov 1940: Enlisted Aircraftman, SN 407541, Aircrew Training Units, Adelaide
9 Nov 1940: Involvement Leading Aircraftman, SN 407541, Aircrew Training Units, Enlistment/Embarkation WW2
1 Nov 1941: Involvement Pilot Officer, SN 407541, Aircrew Training Units, Empire Air Training Scheme
26 Oct 1942: Involvement Flight Lieutenant, SN 407541, No. 38 Squadron (RAF), Middle East / Mediterranean Theatre
10 Nov 1942: Honoured Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, Middle East / Mediterranean Theatre, "Bombing attack on enemy supply convoy, Tobruk"
26 Sep 1944: Honoured Distinguished Flying Cross, Air War NW Europe 1939-45, Gallant leadership on numerous sorties against the enemy.
9 May 1945: Involvement Squadron Leader, SN 407541, No. 455 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
26 Jan 1946: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, Air War NW Europe 1939-45
13 Sep 1946: Discharged Wing Commander, SN 407541

The raid that helped turn the tide against The Desert Fox

IT was October 26, 1942 and 25-year-old RAAF Flight Lieutenant Lloyd Wiggins led a flight of three Wellington bombers on a mission that would change the course of the North Africa campaign and cripple Germany’s notorious “desert fox” Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

As the Tobruk campaign reached its climax and Rommel prepared his depleted army for a last stand against General Montgomery’s vastly superior force, there was one vital ingredient missing from his battle plan — fuel.

The German tanks were running dry as the Battle of El Alamein began and just a few kilometres off the port of Tobruk the Italian supply ship Tergestea prepared to land and unload its cargo of precious fuel and ammunition.

After hugging the coast from their base near the Suez Canal at just 100 feet above the water to maintain the element of surprise, Wiggins and his comrades from the RAF’s Number 38 Squadron spotted the ship and climbed out to sea to attack into the setting sun.

As they sped towards their target Destroyer escorts detected the low flying torpedo bombers and unleashed a withering shield of anti-aircraft fire as Wiggins and his crewmates launched six torpedos from about 500 metres from the doomed vessel.

Three struck home and the Tergestea was left a smouldering, sinking wreck. This was the last straw for Rommel whose final retreat began soon after.

After launching his weapons Flight Lieutenant Wiggins, from Adelaide, took his Wellington aircraft straight over the top of the enemy supply ship attracting the majority of anti-aircraft fire as the two other bombers completed their runs.

He sustained numerous hits but was able to maintain his climb out of range of the enemy guns. The second aircraft also escaped but the third was badly damaged and was not seen again.

The Wellington bombers had been equipped with the latest radar technology making them lethal night raiders.
“We had the element of surprise on our side,” Mr Wiggins told News Corp Australia. “They didn’t spot us until the last minute.”

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 Albert Lloyd WIGGINS, DSO DFC (1916-2015)

Lloyd Wiggins was born in the coastal community of Middleton, south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, on 24 September 1916, to Thomas Herbert and Beatrice Mary (nee Thomas) Wiggins.

Lloyd enlisted into the RAAF on 9 November 1940 at the height of a massive recruiting campaign to find and train the aircrews that would be needed to win the war then raging in Europe.  Britain had just triumphed in the Battle of Britain but was being subjected to 'the Blitz' and its scattered Dominions and colonies answered the call for trained manpower.

After undergoing training through the Empire Air Training Scheme, Lloyd found himself in the Mediterranean rather than in the UK, posted to No 38 Squadron RAF, part of the so-called 'Desert Air Force' and flying the Vickers Wellington medium twin engined bomber, nicknamed 'the Wimpy' by its crews. 

Their job was variously Maritime Patrol and tactical strike.  The Wellingtons were armed with two torpedoes and augmented by radar equipped aircraft to enable them to locate and attac targets at night from very low level.  Not for the faint-hearted.  Lloyd and his crew were to distinguish themselves and play a critical role in the Allied victory in North Africa. See attached 'Personal Story'.  For the Tergestea raid he was awarded the DSO.  This attack is credited by many commentators as having a critical role in the defeat of Rommel's Afrika Corps becasue it denied  the Axis forces crtical fuel supplies at a crucial time.

Lloyd was later assigned to 455 Squadron in England, flying the fast and heavily armed Bristol Beaufighter twin engined strike aircraft. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service with 455 Squadron.

While serving in the UK he met and later married Thelma Wigfield, a flight officer with the Women's Auxillary Airforce.  They married in 1944.

He finished the war on the Headquarters of the 'Dallachy Wing' of three Commonwealth (404 RCAF, 455 RAAF and 489 RNZAF)  Beaufighter Squadrons operating over the North Sea and Norway.

After the war, Lloyd returned to Adelaide and resumed his vocation as an auctioneer and valuer.  He and Thelma raised four children.

He established and ran his own Auction house, Lloyd Wiggins and Co.  He was also engaged in rural valuation. After flying to an auction on one occasion, in a light aircraft, he obtained his private pilot's license and took great pleasure in flying his own twin engined aircraft to all parts of Australia.  He served on Stirling Council for years.  He was a lifelong member of the RSL, and a memberand one-time President of Legacy.  He was a stalwart of the Naval Military & Airforce Club of SA.  Although slowed down somewhat by a mild stroke, the effects of which frustrated him for a time, he attended a regular Thursday lunch with his colleagues right up until the time of his death.

Lloyd exemplified that most notable generation of men and women who at a very young age had put their lives on the line in the service of their country, demonstrating resolve tenacity and compassion to a degree that in contemporary times can only be described as awe inspiring.


'Advertiser' Article       extract......

Mr Wiggins, who returned to Adelaide and raised a large family, regards himself as a lucky man and with 80 wartime sorties under his belt he has good reason for such a view.

He spent most of the rest of the war war flying from England with the RAAF’s 455 Squadron in Coastal Command, culminating in the role of Wing Commander (Flying) of the RAF Group that included 455 Squadron.  

With typical modesty he regards the attack on Tergestea with the RAF’s 38 Squadron as the highlight of his war.

“There was nothing to it really, we just attacked the ship and it blew up, that was about it really,” he said.

“It was just another mission.”


Compiled by Steve Larkins May 2016