Ship's cook, Petty Officer J. H. Hubbard, of the cruiser Aurora on service in the Mediterranean, had already been mentioned in dispatches when he achieved the further distinction of shooting down a German bomber. This feat, which surprised the rear-admiral, has won him the D.S.M.
The Aurora was on harbour guard duty at Bône, North Africa. Everything was quiet, and I was among my pots and pans in the galley. Suddenly the alarm “Repel enemy aircraft” was sounded. I left everything and dashed in my action station as No. 2 Oerlikon gunner. Almost immediately a Focke Wulf 119 appeared out of the clouds on the port bow. It was followed by a second and a third.
They were diving to attack shipping in the harbour. I got the second one in my sights, followed him round, waited until he got within range, and pressed the trigger. I saw a stream of tracer bullets enter the aircraft amidships. It swerved away, lost height and crashed on land.
The whole thing was witnessed by Rear-Admiral C. H. J. Harcourt, commanding our squadron, who expressed surprise when he learned that a ship's cook had been responsible for bringing down the bomber!
Actually a cook has as much change of success in an action like this as any other member of a ship's crew. We are all trained in gunnery, all have our action stations, and I've fired thousands of rounds at enemy aircraft, particularly during the hectic days of the 1941-42 Malta convoys.
I manned a gun during the Oran landing, and had many a showdown with enemy aircraft during the Malta blitzes. It was the experience I got then which helped me to bring down the Focke Wulf.