Woody Woodhall autobiography (Soldier Sailor and Airman Too) Battle of Malta

"March 20, 2009

Malta Piliot's Diary

Hello Mac,

I've just come across your page while looking for background on Jumbo Gracie. I have a photo with him in his Airacobra at Duxford, 1940.

I  recently had my father's autobiography (Soldier Sailor and Airman Too) published and think that the 47-page pilot's account of the air battle of Malta could only be written by "Mac"McLeod of 126 Squadron.

McLeod was born in Boston, went to 121 (Eagle) in the UK before transferring to Malta 21/3/1942. He later joined the USAF and as a Major in the 78th Fighter Group. He was shot down 10/6/1944 but evaded capture, awarded US DFC. Sadly he is recorded as dying in Connecticut, 10/46 (Appendix VI in Spitfires over Malta (Brian Cull))

Quote from Dad's book: : /"There were two inseparable Americans, little Jimmy Peck and big "Mac"McLeod who been trained together in American and stuck together ever since.."/

Their first kills on Malta are interesting from a controller's point of view!

 /" In their first flight on Malta, I vectored them on to two ME109 fighters carrying bombs approaching the island and they intercepted them just off the island and 'bounced' the Huns  beautifully.They were very excited, Mac said' You take the left, I'll take the right, Jimmy oh boy ain't this grand!" and Mac shot down his. Jimmy's was a bit more difficult to finish off so Mac Shouted ' I got mine, Jimmy, have you shot down yours or do yu want me to come and show you how?' Jimmy replied 'You big ...!' followd by a lot of unprintable things and shot down his Hun..'" (Soldier Sailor and Airman Too,by AB Woody Woodhall  pp192-193).

Where and how did Paul come across such a gem? Please pass my email and address on to him if you are able.


Martin Woodhall
Christchurch NZ


Thank you for your interesting mail about Jumbo, a quite fascinating WW2 pilot.

Where is your father's autobiography available please?

I would be interested in chasing up a copy.

Regret that I do not still have Paul'e e-mail address.

Best wishes.


Hi Mac,

Thanks for your prompt response

/Soldier Sailor and Airman Too/ is availalble from http://www.willsonscott.biz/  <http://www.willsonscott.biz/>
and I believe it is also available though the Australian War Memorial Museum (who also have a tape of one of Dad's reminiscences.) But if you send me your address I'll post one of my few copies - I love your website and all it represents.

As a Flying Marine, Dad had a  lot of naval background too and he was a great friend and fan of Aussies.

Hopefully if you put my email to you up on your page, we'll get a reply from "Paul'. I'd love to see if he can glean any more info about Jimmy Perck and Mac McLeod. I know Jumbo Gracie was a friend and comrade of my dad and he spoke fondly of him while also admitting he was quite a 'hard' man.

Attached is photo of Jumbo in a lendlease Airacobra at Duxford (601 Squadron  c. 1940) - if you Google Airacobra you should get more background - I'll seek out my info and send that soon..

All the best and keep up that excellent blog!

Martin Woodhall

PS. Incidentally, James Holland who wrote "/Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege/" has also written a very interesting novel (/A Pair of Silver Wings) / about a fictional pilot based on Rauol Daddo-Langlois.

Another fistional character is obviously based on either or both of the American pilots, Jimmy and Mac. Among the real characters in the novel are Jumbo Gracie, Woody Woodhall and Hugh Pughe Lloyd. James Holland has a webpage http://www.secondworldwarforum.com/. <http://www.secondworldwarforum.com/>

PPS . After the Battle of Britain, Duxford also became the home of several specialist units, among them the Air Fighting Development Unit.

The AFDU's equipment included captured German aircraft, restored to flying condition for evaluation. The sight of a Messerschmitt Bf109, Junkers 88 or Heinkel III around Duxford at that time did not necessarily have the local people running for cover!

Squadrons with RAF American Bell Airacobra of 601 Sqdn, Duxford
RAF American Bell Airacobra of 601 Sqdn, Duxford

newly acquired aircraft were posted to Duxford for trials. One of these was No.601 Squadron, the only RAF squadron to be equipped with the unusual American Bell Airacobra. Duxford also played a major part in
developing the Hawker Typhoon into a formidable low-level and ground attack fighter and in 1942 the first Typhoon Wing was formed here. The first Wing operation - an offensive sweep over Northern France - took
place on 20 June 1942.


Thank you for your generous offer.

Your kind comments about AHOY are also much appreciated, my web master Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia, is the engine behind our site, he takes my scribblings and sets them up for the world to see, without his expertise we would not exist.

I must say I really do enjoy my contact with many people across our globe.

Best wishes.

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