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Foggia, Italy. 1943. Informal portrait of Flying Officer Murray Knox of Maxwelton, Qld,
of No. 3 (Kittyhawk) Squadron RAAF, operating from an advanced airfield. [AWM MEA0838]
Murray Knox passed away on Sunday June 26th, 2011, on the Gold Coast, aged 90. Murray was a Kittyhawk Pilot, flying intensive ground-attack and fighter-escort missions during the period of the Squadron’s victorious advances in Libya, Tunisia Sicily and Southern Italy. His air combat record lists claims for an Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM79 bomber damaged on 21 Jan 43, an Italian Macchi Mc202 fighter confirmed on 22 Jan 43 (both during the bitter battles over the Mareth Line, on the Tunisian frontier) and a Messerschmitt Bf109 damaged on 7 Mar 43.
Murray is also well-remembered for his performance in the spectacular “car rally”, staged by 239 Wing, across the desert sands at Kairouan, Tunisia after the final victory in Africa in May 1943. Murray placed 2nd, driving a tiny, under-powered Fiat that had formerly been the property of some recently-defeated Italian functionary.
Given this year’s controversy over live animal exports, the photo below also allows us to reflect on the Squadron’s desert life, as well as how times have changed…
Quote from Jack Doyle’s Video in the “Australians at War Film Archive”:
“There's a lovely photograph in existence - it's in my house, it's an official photograph. There's two people each killing and dressing sheep. We bought the sheep and people gathered round. The caption is "Cooks and butchers of an all-Australian squadron in the desert killing a sheep". The point is, it's me and Murray Knox. Murray came from Maxwell and we were country people. We are killing a sheep each. And the cooks and butchers are gathered around watching how you do it. It's an official photograph with that caption.”