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The Battle Of Britain Weather Diary


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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    11th August 1940


    Fine and clear during the morning, but high cirrus cloud moving in by midday thickening during the afternoon. Dry all day. Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft that were daily flying on meteorological flights out into the Atlantic Ocean, reported back on August 11th that the barometric pressure was building up in the mid-Atlantic south-west off the Spanish coast and with the wind speed and direction, were very confident that fine weather would prevail over the next few days in the Channel area, and in particular over the designated target areas.

    RAF Bomber Command

    2 Group: 2 Blenheims of 604 Squadron escorted by 3 Spitfires of 152 Squadron attempted to set fire to waterborne He59s off France. 4 Group (Whitley). Bombing - oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen and Frankfurt - 'Razzling'.

    10 Sqn. Eight aircraft to Gelsenkirchen. All bombed primary and 'Razzled'. Four damaged by Flak, six damaged by burning 'Razzles'. 51 Sqn. Eight aircraft. One returned early, six bombed primary and 'Razzled'. One fighter seen, but no attack. One FTR. 102 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Frankfurt. One returned early, seven bombed primary.

    'RAZZLE' was an incendiary device; pills of phosphorus covered with gauze and inserted between square pieces of celluloid. The were carried in sealed cans containing water which kept them from drying out and becoming combustible and the idea was to scatter these incendiary 'leaves' over areas of the Black Forest where, it was believed, arms and other military stores were being concealed. After fluttering to earth they would dry out, instantaneous combustion would take place and 'Puff' up would go the arms dumps.

    During the first use of RAZZLE the aircraft, after first bombing their primary target, proceeded to the Black Forest area where the first WOP/AG opened the cans and poured the contents down the flare chute. However, not all the leaves fluttered to earth. Some of them, caught in the aircraft's slipstream, were blown onto the tailplane, elevators and even the tailwheel. Consequently when they dried out they burnt whichever surface they had stuck to. the safety device supplied for use in such an emergency was a garden water syringe

    RAF Fighter Command – Sunday, the busiest day so far.

    0830hrs Fighter Command had been warned of the small build up that was moving in towards the coast at Dover, radar had supplied the position and direction of the enemy formation, and the Observer Corps reported the type and strength. Park was informed that the formation consisted of 30+ Bf110 and an equal number of Bf109s. So the 110s from EprGr 210 and a couple of Bf109 fighter sweeps had Dover all to themselves. Well, for a while anyway. A number of Luftwaffe Squadrons can over in quick succession and it looked as though something could be building and Park had no alternative but to allow some of his fighters from Hawkinge and Manston to "scramble". 74 Sqn (Hornchurch) operating out of Manston and 64 Sqn (Kenley) were the squadrons released to cover Dover. Official records state that only a few skirmishes took place and that Dover Harbour was the prime target of the German attack. But the Luftwaffe plan was to attract as many of the British fighters into the air as possible at Dover while the main strike of the day was to be concentrated much further west near Portland, this operation being laid on in place of the mass Adler Tag assault which had been postponed

    0945hrs Yet again, Keith Park was proved to be absolutely correct in his judgment, because soon after the attack at Dover had ceased, Ventnor radar detected an excessive build up across the Channel just outside of Cherbourg. Park immediately put all of his squadrons in stand-by mode. The AOC of 10 Group AVM Quintin Brand was notified and he too placed all his squadrons at standby. As time went on, it appeared that the build-up was getting bigger and bigger but it now looked as if was the biggest armada of air power yet sent across the Channel. But fortunately the only build-up was coming in from the direction of Cherbourg. This now, was not an assortment of Ju87s or 110s, but 56 Ju88 heavy bombers from I and III /KG 54, 20 Heinkel He 111s of KG27, 67 Bf110s from II and III/ZG2 and about 30 Bf109s of III/JG2. In total, about 170 German aircraft.

    1030hrs Now the plots that had been tracked by Dover radar were now being picked up by Ventnor CH and detected a large formation heading towards Portland. The radar and the work of the Observation Corps informed Fighter Command that the formation consisted of He 111 and Ju 88 bombers escorted by Bf109s and Bf110s, in total there were 150+ enemy aircraft. Fighter Command relayed the information to the Operations Room at 10 Group and 145 Sqn (Westhampnett), 152 Sqn (Warmwell), 213 Sqn (Exeter), 238 Sqn (Middle Wallop), 601 Sqn (Tangmere) and 609 Sqn (Middle Wallop) were scrambled to intercept. Off the coast, and out over the Channel, the dogfights were fierce and numerous. Spitfires in high speed chases weaving over or under other dogfights that were in progress, were either chasing Bf109's or being chased by them, sometimes a pilot would abort an intended attack because once within identification range he found it to be a British fighter.


    213 Sqn attacking Bf110’s on the 11th August

    The attack on the formation that was heading towards the Portland Naval base and Weymouth was the biggest of the day, with destruction of a number of factories, the gasworks and oil storage tanks, all others being fairly minor and were really of nuisance value more than anything else, the days losses were high. The Luftwaffe lost a total of 38 aircraft made up of 2 Heinkel He 59s, 2 Ju 87s, 6 Ju 88s, 3 Dornier 17Zs, 10 Bf110s and 15 Bf109s. Further to that some 15 aircraft either made forced landings or managed to make it back to their bases with considerable sustained damage. The RAF fared no better with six Spitfires and twenty-one Hurricanes shot down, one Spitfire and five Hurricanes making forced landings and one Spitfire and nine Hurricanes damaged. This did not please Fighter Command especially Keith Park, and when they were informed that 26 RAF pilots were missing Park was ready for a confrontation.

    For the squadrons too, it had been a hard day. No sooner had they landed to refuel and rearm, they were up again repeating the performance all over again. Operations Rooms had been stretched to the limit, as the casualties mounted, fresh squadrons were brought to readiness. They didn't know it then, but with Adler Tag yet two days away, that this was only the beginning.

    During the early afternoon the Dorniers of 9/KG2 were sent to attack a merchant convoy off Harwich on the Essex coast and again escorted by the Bf110s from EprGr 210. Another battle ensued as fighters from 17 Sqn (Debden), 74 Sqn and 85 Squadron (Debden) fought in heavy combat. The convoy code named "Booty" suffered no damage but the RAF lost three aircraft just off of the East Coast while there is no record of German casualties.

    Meanwhile, another build up of enemy aircraft was forming in the Thames Estuary, this was picked up by radar, and again the Luftwaffe was heading towards another convoy. This time a medium convoy that had just left the docks in London. The formation consisted of 45 Dorniers of II and III/KG2, 10 Ju 87 Stukas, and about 15 Bf109s. 74 Sqn were redirected south to make an interception along with 54 Sqn and 111 Sqn (Croydon). But by all accounts, the weather started to deteriorate rapidly and the mission was aborted

    There were two main raids on the north-east during the night: York area at 2220hrs and Newcastle, Tynemouth area at 0100-0128hrs IBs fell on Heaton between Tosson Terrace and the Coast Road causing only light damage. HEs at Framwellgate Moor and near Westerhope, Ponteland, Tynemouth, Belsay, Felton, Stannington, Bedlington, Morpeth and Boulmer. Little damage and no casualties apart from 7 lambs killed near Felton.

    Newcastle. Heaton. Thirty IBs on Heaton between Tosson Terrace and Coast Road, twenty-seven of these exploded. Fifteen fires were started and fifteen fell on open ground. Nine bombs were extinguished by AFS and thirteen by civilians, wardens etc with stirrup pumps. Damage light. 2345hrs. Northumberland.. Two HEs ½ a mile NE of Boulmer Hall Farm. 0030hrs Northumberland.. Westerhope.. One HE Low Newbiggin Farm, Westerhope. 0045hrs Northumberland.. East Thirston, Felton.. Three HEs Wintrick Farm, East Thirston, Felton, seven lambs killed.

    0047hrs Northumberland. Three HEs fell ½ mile NE of Coquet Island. 0100hrs Northumberland. Four HEs, one UX, in fields N of Whalton/Belsay Road. 0107hrs Northumberland. Eight HEs fell in various locations, including - Make Me Rich Farm, Ponteland, Catraw Farm, Stannington, Hirst Head Farm and pit heap between Bedlington and Bedlington Station. Co Durham.. Eight HEs dropped at High Carr House Farm and Low Carr House Farm, Framwellgate Moor in fields. Damage negligible. No casualties. A Junkers Ju 88 shot down during a reconnaissance sortie, crashed at Newton Moor near Whitby at 19.08. Three of the crew were taken prisoner, one was killed (Lt H. Meyer), he was interred at Acklam Road Cemetery, Thornaby. 1(F)/121 Junkers Ju 88A-1. Shot down by Green Section of No 41 Sqn (F/Of J.G. Boyle, Sergeant E.V. Darling and P/Of R.W. Wallens) during reconnaissance sortie and crash-landed on Newton Moor, Whitby at 1908hrs. Fw O. Höfft, Oberlt H. Marzusch and Fw K-H. Hacker captured unhurt. Lt H. Meyer killed. Aircraft 7A+KH a write-off. The Bordmechaniker, Heinrich Meyer, was buried at Acklam Road Cemetery, Thornaby and has not been reinterred in the Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase.


    Luftwaffe – 38 including:


    Mission: Photo-reconnaissance aerodromes, Dishforth and Linton-on-Ouse. Yorkshire.

    Date: 11th August 1940 Unit: 1./Fernaufklaerungsgruppe 121

    Type: Junkers Ju 88A-1Werke/Nr. 2086 Code: 7A + KH

    Location: Newton Moor, near to Calais House Farm, Scaling, Yorkshire.

    Base: Stavanger, Norway

    Pilot: Feldwebel Otto Hoefft POW Observer: Oberleutnant Hans Marzusch POW Radio/Op: Feldwebel Karl Hacker POW Leutnant Heinrich Meier Killed

    RAF - Of the 28 crew involved 25 were killed, 3 were safe of whom 1 was slightly injured

    1 Sqn Hurricane P3172 J.A.J.Davey

    17 Sqn Hurricane P3760 K.Manger

    56 Sqn Hurricane N2667 R.D.Baker

    74 Sqn Spitfire P9393 P.C.F.Stevenson bailed out + rescued by MTB after combat near Dover at 0810hrs

    74 Sqn Spitfire R6757 D.G.Cobden

    74 Sqn Spitfire R6962 D.N.E.Smith

    87 Sqn Hurricane V7231 R.Voase Jeff

    87 Sqn Hurricane V7233 J.R.Cock bailed out injured + swam ashore after being shot down off Portland Bill at 1050hrs

    111 Sqn Hurricane P3105 J.H.H.Copeman

    111 Sqn Hurricane P3922 J.W.McKenzie

    111 Sqn Hurricane Unknown R.R.Wilson

    111 Sqn Hurricane P3548 H.S.Newton

    111 Sqn Hurricane P3942 R.B.Simm

    145 Sqn Hurricane P2951 G.R.Branch

    145 Sqn Hurricane V7294 A.Ostowicz

    152 Sqn Spitfire R6614 J.S.B.Jones

    213 Sqn Hurricane P3789 S.L.Butterfield

    213 Sqn Hurricane N2659 R.D.G.(Widge)Wight




    Dear Mr Wight

    I think I have some idea how terrible you and Mrs Wight must be feeling. The blow you should have received yesterday when you heard your son was missing and I feel I must write to you and give you the very scanty information we have here. I don’t like having to do it because I'm afraid It isn't assuming and may even be another blow in itself but I must tell you the absolute truth as you are not in as good a position to judge the chances of his getting back safely and presumably rely on what we tell you. Twelve of us took off yesterday morning at about 10 O'clock to intercept a raid heading for Portland. The position was changed a couple of times by radio telephony but we were finally over Portland where we met approx. 60 JU 88 escorted by 30 40 ME1O9's Widge, with his section of two others besides himself must have been trying to intercept them before us as he was off to the South of us over the Channel.

    In actual fact the raid came in practically parallel with the coast - which was rather unusual - but Widge was obviously hoping they would be coming from the direction of Cherbourg as usual and hoped to steal a march on us. With him was sergeant Butterfield who also a very good pilot and there was Sergeant Snowden. Sergeant Snowden says they saw a bunch of about 60 MEI1O's, there twin engine fighter types, he was badly shot about but eventually was shot down and managed to get back to the coast and force landed at Lulworth. Owing to the number of aircraft attacked however, once the usual dogfight started he did not see anything of the oter two, all his attention being on his own fight. It certainly does not look any too hopeful at the moment but there's quite a possibility that he may have been brought down in the Channel and have been picked up. One report we heard- How reliable it is I do not know- stated there were a number of German E Boats their small fast launches- in the Channel at the time so that even if he does not turn up in a day or two there is just that very small possibility that he may have been picked up and taken prisoner. I must confess however that I do not feel the chances are very great. I only wish they were. Anyway, even if he doesn't turn up you at least have the consolation that he went just as I know he would have liked it, if it had to be. In the middle of a real fight not through any fault of anybody else against colossal odds. Quite apart from my own sorrow at losing my senior flight commander and the person -above all others on who I could rely and placed implicit trust much more so than anyone else in the Squadron I feel I have lost a personal friend.

    I do hope you will believe that even though it sounds so hackneyed when put on paper but I am not very good at putting things like that on paper so I do hope you will value exactly how I feel I think if you knew what the rest of the Squadron feel in this matter it would be some comfort to you. All of us would do anything we possibly could to help but there is nothing that we can do. At least you can feellOJU88's were accounted for, for the two that were missing besides any more they got, which they were bound to do, before they went down. Will you please express the sentiments of the whole Squadron, Officers and Airmen to Mrs Wight and our hopes that he will be with us again shortly.

    Yours very sincerely

    S/Ldr McGregor of 213

    Acknowledgement to 213squadronassociation.homestead.com for the archive material

    238 Sqn Hurricane P3222 F.N.Cawse

    238 Sqn Hurricane P3819 M.L.Steborowski

    238 Sqn Hurricane R4097 S.C.Walch

    238 Sqn Hurricane P2978 G.Gledhill

    601 Sqn Hurricane P3885 J.L.Smithers

    601 Sqn Hurricane R4092 R.S.Demetriadi

    601 Sqn Hurricane P3783 J.Gillan

    601 Sqn Hurricane L2057 W.G.Dickie

    601 Sqn Hurricane R6918 J.H.Tanner

    601 Sqn Hurricane R6630 W.J.Neville

    Goering lamented that provided the weather was in their favour, that the Luftwaffe would destroy the RAF within fourteen days. He had nearly 2,000 serviceable aircraft at his disposal, which consisted of some 800 medium range bombers, 700 Bf109s, 250 Ju 87 dive bombers, and 160 Bf110 twin engine fighters plus a number of reconnaissance aircraft. His pilots were well trained with even the newer pilots going through a strenuous training program, but the events of the previous month during Kanalkamph the battle over the Channel, but the battle had taken its toll. In comparison, the RAF had just 650 fighter aircraft, and approximately 1,250 pilots and many of these lacked the proper training, in fact many of them had to complete their training on an operational airfield due to the fact that the RAF drastically needed more pilots. But the pilots, it didn’t matter whether they were experienced or not, displayed great courage and determination in the July dogfights over the Channel, but in the next phase of the Battle of Britain this determination would be very much put to the test.

    After France, the Luftwaffe thought that the RAF with its morale at an all time low, the aircraft which many they thought were antiquated and the pilots that flew them even though many may have been experienced pilots, lacked the knowledge needed for fighting in combat. But they were caught by surprise at the skill of the RAF fighter pilots and the performance of the machines that they flew. In contrast, many of the Luftwaffe pilots were not only tired, but many of them were near to exhaustion.

    During August, our squadron was suffering casualties at a rapid rate. At one stage our Squadron strength was down to nine pilots. We were sent replacement pilots, young and straight from Operational Training Units and most had had very limited training on Hurricanes or Spitfires. It was normal for us to give new pilots a form of simulated combat training, something they really should have got at OTU, but all they got there was how to fly the aircraft, combat training was left to us fellows at the operational squadron that they had been posted to. In most cases, especially when operations were at their height there was no time for this, and many a time new pilots would arrive in the morning only to be thrown into combat at midday. Needless to say, quite a few of them did not return from that first combat experience. It was sickening and disheartening and sometimes you get to wonder what chance do these young recruits have of survival.

    Squadron Leader John Thompson 111 Sqn

    Keith Park complained to "Stuffy" Dowding that the new pilots were lacking the proper training required that would prepare them for combat. They were taking too many chances, unnecessary chances that not only put their own lives in danger but the lives of all those in the Squadron. He told Lord Dowding, "that if we can lose this many pilots in unimportant minor skirmishes, how many are we expected to lose in a major battle.and that battle is yet to come" he started to raise his voice, "at the moment they are only picking off convoys, soon they will be attacking our cities, what are they going to do then".

    What had been Kanalkampf (Warfare over the Channel) during the month of July was really just a prelude as to what was to happen and was planned for August. Goering had masterminded the operation named Adlerangriff (Eagle Attack) this was to be an all out assault on the Royal Air Force. In reality, the Luftwaffe had failed to draw Fighter Command into the air on previous attacks over the Channel. Something now had to be done to destroy the RAF both in the air, and on the ground.

    But was the RAF ready and prepared, in just a short space of time, Dowding had built Fighter Command into an impressive fighting machine. He insisted that concrete all weather runways be built, and he got this wish granted to six of his airfields. He insisted that for added protection for his pilots, bulletproof windscreens be incorporated into the canopies of all fighter aircraft, and with his very close friend Lord Beaverbrook, he had fighter aircraft production increased to nearly 500 per month. But Dowding was far from satisfied, was he requesting more assistance from the Air Ministry, or was he the hard to please negative thinker that many thought him to be:

    "the enemy are getting closer each and every day, to succeed in our task we must be there to confront them before they are in a position to inflict any damage. My pilots and my planes are our front line of defence along with our normal defence system, which we must agree, must be improved and updated. In recent weeks, my pilots have proved that they can stop the advancement of the Luftwaffe, our radar defence although doing the best they can and must do better. You have to understand, that German aircraft formations are approaching at 200 miles an hour, my fighters need twenty minutes, yes twenty minutes to reach operational height and to make an interception. With the time that we have, we are intercepting the enemy too late and too low because operational height is not being gained. The way things are, the Germans could lay large areas of our big towns in ruins at any time they wish to do so".

    Lord Dowding to an Air Ministry official at Fighter Command HQ

    Since returning from France, most of the Spitfires and Hurricane underwent a number of modifications that increased the manoeuvrability and their overall performance. It was also thought that unbeknown to the pilots the British Air Ministry instructed that Hurricanes and Spitfires use 100 high octane fuel instead of the 87 octane that both the RAF and the Luftwaffe were using at the outbreak of the war.

    100 octane fuel allowed very high boost pressures to be used without detonation. Typically up to +25 psi for war emergency ratings. It was almost entirely due to this that the later Merlins with two stage two speed superchargers were producing 2000 hp by the end of the war with no increase in cubic capacity compared to the 990 ofthe early versions.

    RAF Fighter Command had rearranged its squadron allocations so as to strengthen its defences of the southern coast. Biggin Hill had its Defiant 141 Sqn transferred to Turnhouse in Scotland and was reinforced by 501 Squn from Kenley, Kenley was allocated a Canadian Squadron in place of 501, 266 Sqn at Wittering in the Midlands was transferred to Hornchurch, Debden received 85 Squadron from nearby North Weald and the Blenheim 604 Sqn at Northolt was transferred to Middle Wallop and 303 Sqn was allocated to Northolt.

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    12th August 1940


    Fine and clear during the morning, after early morning mist. Light cloud in the rth giving way to lengthy sunny periods. Dry all day.

    RAF Bomber Command

    4 Group Whitley. Bombing - industrial targets at Heringen and the Ruhr. 77 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Heringen. Bad weather, only five bombed. 78 Sqn. Five aircraft to the Ruhr. Bad weather, only two bombed. Two damaged by Flak. Germany. Flt-Lt Roderick Alastair Brook Learoyd bombed his target from just 150 feet amid heavy flak, and returned his badly damaged aircraft to England. He was awarded the Victoria Cross.

    RAF Fighter Command - The Luftwaffe has its most successful day so far

    0840hrs The day before the official Adlertag was due to commence, radar detected enemy aircraft approaching from the direction of Calais, it was unusual for German bomber formations to fly directly overhead en route to their target area. But this time it was different, this was a highly skilled Bf110 operation that w attacked the high towers of the British radar stations. Each of the Bf110 carried a single 500kg bomb, and this elite Sqn commanded by Hauptmann Walter Rubensdoerffer who split his gruppe into four groups of four Bf110s. At first, he led the section on a westerly course, flying low in an effort to avoid detection, then just south-east of Beachy Head swung Northwards and headed towards Eastbourne and the white cliffs of Dover that were w becoming more visible as the warmth of the morning burnt off the haze that was enveloping the British coast. At a pre-determined point, the raiders started to gain height so as to effectively dive bomb their targets, the British radar suddenly picked up the German formation but became bewildered as to where they had suddenly appeared.

    The Bf109 and 110 formation was flying directly for Dover, then, as soon as they flew over the coast they suddenly turned and immediately attacked the tall towers of the radar installations. In a swift and precise move Dover CH was damaged and put off the air. The formation continued on to Pevensey, then Rye and then Dunkirk. Then Rye radar station also reported the sighting and reported it to Fighter Command. Immediately it was given an "X" code, a code that was used if a sighting was of doubtful origin or could t be properly ascertained. Later, when Fighter Command wanted to know what was happening down there, the radio operator radioed Pevensey and asked the question, to which a gentlemanly voice said "...your bloody unknown origin is kicking the s**t out of us, that's what". The same question was put to Rye, where the WAAF telephone operator in a rather pleasant tone of voice simply said "actually, your "X" code is bombing us "All these radar stations suffered considerable damage and were put out of action. (Dunkirk suffered minor damage but the other three were back on the air after just a few hours).

    1145hrs: Rubensdoerffer reported that the mission was seventy-five percent successful, and Kesselring, to make sure that the RAF radar network was in chaos, sent out Ju87 Stukas to attack several small convoy's in the Thames Estuary. Although Fighter Command communications were stretched to the limit, Foreland CHL for some reason escaped the early morning attack by Rubensdoerffer and reported back to HQ that 50+ enemy aircraft had been picked up, with another force of 12+ that although separate from the main force were possibly intending to link up and attack the convoys of "Agent" and Arena" that were cruising in the Estuary. Hornchurch dispatched their 65 Spitfire Sqn and Biggin Hill sent out the Hurricanes of 501 Sqn to intercept. It was not a good day for Fighter Command. Convoy "Agent" was attacked by the Ju87s, and the Hurricanes that were trying to stave them off paid a high price. Four of them were shot down and two RAF pilots were killed.

    Poling radar detected a large force of raiders over the Channel south of Brighton. This turned out to be a bomber force of Ju88s of KG 51, escorted by Bf110s of ZG 2 and ZG 76. Cover for the formation was provided by twenty-four Bf109s of JG 53. In all, a total of 200+ aircraft. They kept to their westerly course following the coastline of Sussex until they were south of the triangular shape of the Isle of Wight, then the Kommodore of KG51 Oberst Dr Fisser kept his formation on a heading for Portland giving the RAF the impression that he was going to repeat the bombing of the Dorset town as he had done the previous day. But as the balloon defences of Portsmouth came into view on his starboard side, he turned his formation Northwards.

    But there was still other radar stations operating, notably the important one at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, and this was to become the next target for the Luftwaffe, and at the same time, because of the major towns of Portsmouth and Southampton were nearby, attacks could be made on these at the same time.

    1325hrs: The airfield at Manston was the first to be hit. Rubensdoerffer's Erpro210 of KG2 was back again after the earlier damage it had done to Dover and Dunkirk radar stations. This time dropping 150 bombs and machine gunning the satellite airfield just as 65 Sqn were taking off on a routine patrol.


    No. 3 hangar Manston following the attack by Erprobungsgruppe 210, on 12th August 1940

    ‘We had just settled down to the inevitable game of cards in our dispersal hut at Manston (pontoon was the normal relaxation between operations) when the telephone shrilled warningly. How we hated the dispersal telephone; its very tone was abnormal and the unexpectedness with which it rang had the immediate effect of producing an awful sick feeling in the pit of one’s tummy. A pin could have been heard to drop as, with cards poised and eyes turned expectantly towards the orderly as he reached for the receiver, we strained to hear the message from the now faintly urgent voice, which came over the wire. “Hornet Sqn scrambleâ€. Table, cards and money shot into the air as the pilots dived headlong for the door.’

    Al Deere, 54 Sqn, 12th August 1940.

    Manston, or 'Charlie 3' as this airfield was known, was the real prime target, it was the most easterly of all the airfields in the south, and another of the all grass airfields which allowed entire Sqn’s to take off together thus they were in the air and reaching the enemy quicker than if they had to take off in single file on any of the concrete runways.


    "We were just formed up on the ground and waiting Sam's signal to start rolling. I was therefore looking out to my left towards the leading section when I became aware of, rather than actually hearing, a sort of reverberating "crump" behind and to my right. I looked quickly over my right shoulder to see one of the hangar roofs close behind us ascending heavenwards. I caught a glimpse through smoke of what looked like a Bf110 pulling sharply out of a dive and immediately concluded that it was high time for Quill to be airborne"

    F/O Jeffery Quill 65 Sqn (Hornchurch) Operating from Manston 12th August. Quill was also a Vickers test pilot and the second man to fly the Supermarine Spitfire after Vickers' chief test pilot, Joseph "Mutt" Summers. After succeeding Summers as Vickers' chief test pilot, Quill test-flew every mark of Spitfire, originally designed by R. J. Mitchell


    54 Sqn (Hornchurch) witnessed the whole of the attack from the air. The telephone rang outside dispersal at Hornchurch. "Okay fellas 'scramble'.angels one-five Manston". The same was to happen at Rochford, a satellite station of Hornchurch. A flight from 54 Sqn were lazily sleeping, reading or chatting outside dispersal when the telephone rang. 'Jumbo' Gracie turned and made a grab for the receiver, there was a silence as he listened, then at the same time as he banged the handset down he yelled "Scamble seventy plus bandits approaching Manston...angels one five." In those few short words of pilots jargon, it painted a vivid picture to the scrambling pilots as to what to do and what to expect. Angels, in pilots language was thousands of feet, bandits was enemy aircraft and scramble was 'drop everything and get to your waiting aircraft'. So the message was clear, get to your aircraft as quickly as possible, start engines, take off, and head in the direction of Manston in Kent where anything between seventy and eighty German aircraft were approaching at fifteen thousand feet.


    "A" Flight of 54 Sqn at Hornchurch in between sorties

    Flight Lieutenant Al Deere, who had been leading a flight out of Manston, was flying at about 20,000 feet when he spotted the attack. He immediately broke radio silence and called Pilot Officer Colin Gray, another New Zealander who was Blue Section leader, 'Do you see them', Gray was looking earthwards 'Too bloody right,' they were preparing to go in. Then, just as 54 Sqn was within striking distance of the mixture of Bf109s and 110s, Deere saw that Blue leader was no longer with them. Gray had sighted a second formation that was approaching Dover and had already engaged them. Deere yelled over his radio, '...where the hell are you?' Then he saw plumes of white smoke that was spiralling upwards from the aerodrome, he thought that the whole airfield was on fire, where instead it was only the white chalk dust from the many craters that were appearing all over the Manston airfield.


    Alan Deere with fellow New Zealander Johnny Checketts at Biggin Hill

    54 Sqn had managed to get off safely before the Erpro210 Bf110s and Bf 109's arrived and began an interception of the German formation, but 65 Sqn had an hair raising experience taking off as bombs exploded around them. Only P/O K.G.Hart in Spitfire R6712 was injured and his aircraft damaged in the attack. No sooner had 54 and 65 Sqn’s pushed the Bf110s and Bf 109's back over the Channel, a formation of Dorniers from KG2 led by Oberst Fink came in over the Straits of Dover and headed for Manston. The airfield was a shambles. It is estimated that 150 high explosive bombs fell, destroying hangars, workshops and damaging two Blenheims and the airfield finished up with more holes in the ground than an eighteen hole golf course. Hawkinge suffered a similar fate with hangars and huts destroyed and twenty-five large, and numerous small craters appearing all over the airfield, enough to put Hawkinge out of action for three days. Lympne also suffered in the attack.


    Dowding and Keith Park again were in the operations room at Fighter Command HQ watching with great concern as the battle unfolded, they saw the WAAFs move the 'enemy indicators' from the Channel and in the Estuary across the coast and towards the airfields. Park complained that 501 Sqn that had just been 'scrambled' and that 64 Sqn who had already taken off were t yet in a position to attack them 'they're t getting up quick enough, they'll have to do better than that' he said, 'at least we know now what he's after - my bloody airfields'. Dowding took the news on a more serious note, 'Gentlemen, I think the battle has begun'.

    1350hrs: What happened next in the life of a pilot, was typical of a scramble that could have taken place at any of Fighter Commands airfields, this is how P/O Geoffrey Page of 56 Sqn attacked the situation: 56 Sqn started to close in on the departing bombers, as Geoffrey Page later put it, like "an express train overtaking a freight train" and they started to attack. Unfortunately, Page's Hurricane was hit and his aircraft exploded in a ball of flame. He managed to bale out, but badly burned was rescued by the Margate lifeboat. Geoffrey Page was one of Fighter Command's experienced pilots that were to be out of the battle for a long time, like many others who had suffered burns, he was to have a long, long road to recovery.


    It had been a busy day for both the Luftwaffe and the RAF, and maybe it was a sign of things to come. After the bombing of Manston, the Luftwaffe diverted their attacks on the airfield of Lympne and Hawkinge where Ju88s of II/KG76 bombed them. All the airfields bombed that day were classed as heavy, but was t recorded as officially being critical. The days events were finalized with some heavy bombing raids on a few coastal towns of Kent. It w seemed that the stage had been set. The Luftwaffe knew of the importance of the British radar, but they knew little about the basic fundamentals of how it was working for Fighter Command. They knew that the radar was the 'eyes' of the RAF, and that before making any attempt at engineering raids on RAF installations and facilities this radar had to be kicked out. They had tried, but only to find out that within hours, the radar stations were back in operational status once more. Even Ventor, where they thought had been totally destroyed, it was much to their surprise that Britain had it back in operation within four weeks.

    So, the plan was, that on August 12th they would kick out the radar installations at the key points of Dover, Pevensey, Rye, Dunkirk and Ventor so that the RAF would t be able to see that the next move was to destroy the RAF on the ground by bombing the airfields. With no radar to detect their approach, the way was clear for them send formations across the Channel, and the only way that they could be detected was by visual sightings, which by the time that this was made, it would be too late for the RAF to muster the aircraft needed to stop them before they had reached their targets.






    Bf 109E1 II.JG52 flown by Uffz Leo Zaunbrecher 'Red 14', the Bf 109E-1. Zaunbrecher was forced to land in a field at Mays Farm, near Selmeston, Sussex after being damaged in combat by P/O J. McLintock of 615Sqn. during the early afternoon of 12th August. I pass right by this location most working days!


    Luftwaffe – 31


    32 Sqn Hurricane N2596 A.R.H.Barton

    56 Sqn Hurricane P2970 A.G.Page

    64 Sqn Spitfire X4018 A.G.Donahue in Spitfire X4018 Shot down by Bf109 over south coast, crashed at Sellindge, wounded

    145 Sqn Hurricane R4180 J.H.Harrison

    145 Sqn Hurricane P3391 J.Kweicinski

    145 Sqn Hurricane R4176 W.Pankratz

    151 Sqn Hurricane P3302 A.B.Tucker

    151 Sqn Hurricane P3304 R.W.G.Beley

    152 Sqn Spitfire P9456 L.C.Withall

    152 Sqn Spitfire K9999 D.C.Sheply

    213 Sqn Hurricane P2854 G.N.Wilkes

    213 Sqn Hurricane P2802 S.G.Stuckey

    257 Sqn Hurricane P3662 J.A.G.Chomley

    257 Sqn Hurricane P3776 D.A.Coke

    266 Sqn Spitfire N3175 W.S.Williams

    266 Sqn Spitfire P9333 D.G.Ashton

    501 Sqn HurricaneP3803 K.Lukaszewicz

    610 Sqn Spitfire L1044 Unknown pilot

    610 Sqn Spitfire K9818 E.E.B.Smith

    610 Sqn Spitfire P9495 Unknown pilot


    56 Sqn P/O A Geoffrey Page Shot down attacking Do 17s North of Margate at 1750hrs, rescued by tender and the Margate lifeboat at 1750hrs badly burned [founder member of Guinea Pig Club]

    There was also a terrific loss of RAF personnel in a barrage balloon site raid at H.M.S. St. Vincent. St. Vincent Sports Ground had a barrage balloon site situated within its boundary, this was positioned next to the railway lines which ran from Gosport to Fareham and formed part of the Anti-aircraft defences of the town. On the 12th of August a heavy German air-raid commenced over the area, what happened next, caused the largest number of R.A.F. casualties for a single incident, to occur in Gosport.


    Those that were killed in the air raid were: BARRELL, Arthur Reginald Owen, 864073 Corporal, 933 B.B. Sqn CHILCOTT, Charles Henry , 654152 Leading Aircraftsman, 930 B.B. Sqn CROKER, Sidney Albert Edward, 864272 Corporal, 930 B.B. Sqn GRANT, Albert Edward, 861990 Aircraftsman 1st class, 930 B.B. Sqn HALE Horace William, 954410 Aircraftsman 2nd class, 930 B.B. Sqn HILL, Ronald Fergus, 956396 Aircraftsman 2nd class, all of 930 B.B. Sqn HOLLISTER, Reginald Walter, 511553 Corporal, 912 B.B. Sqn McELREA, Gerald, 548268 Leading Aircraftman, 930 B.B. Sqn REED, Harry, 630523 Aircraftsman 1st class, 930 B.B. Sqn SMITH, Alex James, 743463 Aircraftsman 1st class, 930 B.B. Sqn All except A/C1 A.J. Smith (originally buried there but exhumed and re-interred at his home town) are buried at Ann's Hill Cemetery, Gosport in the War Graves Section at positions: Cpl Hollister 189 grave 2; LAC Chilcott plot 188 grave 27; LAC McElrea plot188 grave 43; A/C1 Reed plot 188 grave 59; A/C1 Grant plot 188 grave 28; A/C2 Hale plot 188 grave 30; A/C2 Hill plot 188 grave 30; Cpl Barrell plot 189 grave 34; Cpl Croker plot 189 grave 18, all are commemorated by Commonwealth War Grave headstone's.

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    13th August 1940 - Eagle Day


    Early morning low cloud base, rain easing during morning but clearing to a fine day with lengthy sunny periods by afternoon

    When Göring first made his announcement to Luftflotte 2, 3 and 5 that Unternehmen Adlerangriff (Operation Eagle Attack) would commence and that they would wipe the British Air Force from the sky in early August, the message was quickly deciphered and was in the hands of the British Chiefs of Staff, the Prime Minister and Hugh Dowding within an hour indicating that Adlerangriff would commence on August 10th, but because of the unfavourable weather conditions this was delayed until August 13th However it seemed that the weather had not heard of the Göring plan of attack. Instead of the fair to good weather conditions that were predicted, the morning of the 13th loomed very overcast with low cloud over the French coast and Channel.

    Phase two - Adlertag Begins

    To the Germans, the Battle of Britain began on 13th August - Adlertag or "Eagle Day" as they called it. Time was running out before the autumn weather set in and this was to be the start of their large raids over land to neutralise the Royal Air Force and its aerodromes. As it was, they got their weather forecasts quite wrong


    On this day, waves of strong attacks at different times over a ten-hour period came in against Essex and Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. These attacks were seen as the initial strike of the Adlerangriff which was to become a series of Luftwaffe assaults as part of preparations for Operation Sealion, (Unternehmen Seelöwe) the amphibious assault of Britain.

    RAF Bomber Command 4 Group. Bombing - 20 Whitleys to attack the Fiat Works at Turin and another 17 Whitleys against the Caproni Works at Taliedo, Milan. The aircraft were drawn from Nos.10, 51, 58, and 102 Squadrons. One returned early due to undercarriage trouble and another landed in the sea off Lympne on return. The attacks took place between 0005 – 0125 hours (BST) when 57 x 500 lb, 129 x 250 lb bombs, and 1,680 x 4 lb incendiaries were dropped from heights between 15,000 and 1,000 feet.

    10 Sqn Whitley P4965 ZA*H was badly damaged by fighter attack over Turin that disabled one engine and badly damaged the starboard aileron. It struggled back but while attempting a forced-landing on a beach near Dymchurch Redoubt, the aileron detached and the aircraft crashed in the sea 0530 hrs. Both pilots, P/O E.I. ‘Pip’ Parsons DFC and Sgt A.N. Campion, died and their bodies were later washed ashore near Boulogne. The rest of the crew were rescued unhurt; Sgt Chamberlain and Sgt Sharpe both picked up by fishermen and landed at Hythe, Sgt Marshall being rescued by a Miss Peggy Prince in her canoe for which action she was later awarded the BEM. 51 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Turin. One damaged by Flak and returned early, nine bombed primary. 58 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Milan. Three returned early, four bombed primary, three bombed alternative targets.

    RAF Fighter Command

    "We were ordered to get a good nights sleep and wake early. This was the day that all Germany had been waiting for. Up until now most of the Luftwaffe pilots were a little frustrated because each time that we went out we thought that it was the start of the planned attack on England, and all we accomplished was the sinking of merchantmen that were plying the Channel. But we were now assured that at last that we will not be attacking channel convoys but we would be going over England itself. Our orders on this day was to make way clear for the main attack that was planned for the following day.

    Luftwaffe pilot based at Luftflotte 2

    0510hrs: The German bombers began to take off from various airfields and the first major assault on Britain was about to begin. Most of them were airborne and were beginning to form their respective formations, when a last minute message was sent to all units that this first assault had been postponed, and that all aircraft were to return to their bases. The message was not received by the 74 Dornier bombers of KG 2 led by Oberst Johannes Fink, and he was to be escorted by 60 Bf110's of ZG 26 commanded by Oberstleutnant Joachim Huth. The weather started to deteriorate further, the forecast had been for clear and fine conditions but the blanket of low cloud that covered both the French and the English coasts so the order went out for Angriff beschrankin (Attack Cancelled) owing to the weather, with the possibility of a resumption in the afternoon should the weather clear. This message was received by Huth, who relayed the message to the rest of his 60 fighter-bombers. However, Fink's Dornier had a malfunction in its long-range radio that he did not know about and was therefore unaware that the operation had been cancelled. To compact the situation, there was no radio communication between the Bf110's and the Dorniers, and as the bombers were flying in heavy cloud Fink's Dorniers did not realize that the Bf110's had returned to base. Approaching the English coast, the Dorniers broke up into two separate formations. One headed for Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppy, while the other headed towards the Coastal Command station at Eastchurch.

    0557hrs: It does appear that the radar stations at Dover and Rye that were now back in action, had detected and followed the progress of the Dornier formation, but as to the final destination of the Dorniers no one knew or could estimate their target. The formation had taken a wide berth around the Kent coast then entered the Thames Estuary where a number of targets would be available to them. The Observer Corps at Bromley asked of Fighter Commands liaison officer, "Have we a large number of aircraft forming near Rochford?" The immediate reply from HQ was a definite 'No'. 0630hrs: Radar had also picked up an enemy formation coming in from the Channel between Hastings and Bognor and Fighter Command dispatched 43 Sqn (Tangmere), 64 Squadron (Kenley), 87 Sqn (Exeter) and 601 Sqn (Tangmere). 601 Sqn head east towards their vectored position gaining height when a formation of Ju88s whose mission was to bomb the aerodromes at Odiham and Farnborough (Hants) are spotted on their port side.

    0640hrs: P/O H.C.Mayer's who is leading "A" Flight of 601 Squadron reports a tiered formation of Bf109s and Bf110s at high altitude, and orders his flight to gain position and attack the bombers.



    Combat reports of 601 Sqn, first and second sorties of 13th August 1940

    The Ju88 that P/O Mayer's shot down could possibly have been attacked by Sgt. Hallowes of 43 Sqn. The Ju88, from 1/KG54 crashed and exploded at Treyford with the pilot's body never being found and the other two crew members being captured after baling out of the aircraft. Another Ju88 was shot down by both 601 and 43 Sqns and crashed near Arundel (Sussex) while another Ju88 which came under fire from the Hurricanes of 601 Sqn aborted the mission early after its engines began giving trouble. Two Hurricanes of 43 Sqn were shot down with F/Lt T.P.Dalton-Morgan baling out of his aircraft and being wounded and P/O C.A.Woods- Scawen escaping from his burning Hurricane after it crash landed.



    Oberleutnant Paul Temme of Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" belly-lands his Messerschmitt Bf109E on the 13th August

    One of the aircrew baled out of thinking the worst was going to happen and landed in a field in the region of Tangmere. He was captured and taken to the aerodrome. 87 Sqn (Exeter) was also dispatched to intercept the formation but being scrambled late arrived after the Ju88s had decided to return to France, but they did intercept a lone Ju88 about 0800hrs south of Chichester and in the ensuing combat, one Hurricane was hit by gunfire from the enemy bomber and crashed south of Selsey Bill. Other Hurricanes of 87 Sqn continued the combat with the Ju88 receiving damage and crashing into the Channel.


    A downed 109 just by the airfield at Shoreham on 13th August

    0645hrs: 74 Sqn under the command of "Sailor" Malan, were ordered to patrol the Thames Estuary as a precautionary measure. A Do17P was shot down by Malan partnered by F/O J.C. Mungo-Park. The radar stations at Dover and Pevensey, not being at 100% strength because of the previous days bombing could not give a definite fix only to say 'that we are definitely picking up a signal' and any fix could only be estimated. As the Dorniers were using the low cloud as cover, the Observer Corps had difficulty in locating any formation. At 0655hrs, enough enemy aircraft could be seen coming out of the cloud to confirm that an enemy formation was coming in from the Thames Estuary and flying in a westerly direction. 0702hrs: The call went out again from Bromley, this time with a definite report "Raid 45 is bombing the Eastchurch drome." Park released 111 Sqn and vectored them towards Sheppey.


    This DO17Z was shot down in combat by a Hurricane of.111 Sqn over the Thames Estuary during the attack on Eastchurch aerodrome. The aircraft forced landed at 0830hrs and ended up laying across the Canterbury - Folkestone railway line at Pherbec Bridge, Barham, Kent. Pilot: Oberleutnant Heinz Schlegel (Staffel Fuehrer of Stab/KG2) Observer: Oberleutnant Gerhard Osswald, Radio/Op: Oberfeldwebel Ernst Holtz, Gunner : Oberfeldwebel Gustav Babbe and Oblt Osswald were all captured and taken POW.

    On returning to Arras, Oberst Fink circled the airfield then made a slow and gentle touchdown. But on alighting from his plane, he stormed towards the operations room and immediately grappled for a telephone and demanded a priority link to Kesselring's Cap Blanc Nez HQ. It was only a few days earlier that Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring had given them a lecture on Channel crossings, combat and safety. Fink felt that what had happened that day was sheer criminal negligence on the part of High Command. It was this negligence that had cost him five valuable crews, a total of twenty experienced and highly trained men, either killed or possibly taken prisoner. He spoke to Kesselring personally, and constantly raised his voice in a manner that did not worry him that he was talking to a person of higher authority. "Where the hell were those dammed fighters then, just tell me that." Kesselring done his best to calm down the irate Fink, but all that happened was that Fink grew even angrier.

    "I do not understand this anymore, and the other thing - a major attack can just be cancelled then, can it, it can be cancelled at just one moments notice. Has anybody down there taken the trouble to estimate just how long it takes my Kampfgeschwader to get across the Channel, and all that time my bombers are under the threat of British fighter attack, and you, you cancel our operation" Kesselring later came over personally to apologize to Fink. He humbly told him, that the whole of the commencement of Adlerangriff had started rather badly. The low cloud base was not expected, the British radar was supposed to be out of action, but it wasn't and they detected us with the usual speed and accuracy, and the co-ordination of vast aerial missions is something that the Luftwaffe must seriously plan with greater planning.


    This was just another case of errors in German intelligence. As in the raid in the Thames Estuary, Sheerness and Eastchurch were not Fighter Command airfields, neither were Odiham and Farnborough. Farnborough being an airfield of the Royal Aircraft Establishment. These errors came about because of the fact that German Intelligence relied on older ordinance survey maps of England and were trying to bring them up to date with information brought back by reconnaissance aircraft. Bad analysis of the situation and poor interpretation meant that they did not have a complete picture of the overall situation.

    1140hrs: A build up of a small formation was picked up by radar off the French coast off Cherbourg. It turns out to be 20+ Bf110s who were to escort Ju88s of KG54 on a raid on Portland Harbour. KG54 had received the message that the raid had been canceled and they returned to their base, but the message was not conveyed to 1/ZG2 and the Bf110s continued their path across the Channel. 1230hrs: 238 Sqn and 601 Sqn engaged the Bf110s and a one sided air battle commenced. 1/ZG2 lost five Bf110s in quick succession and what was left aborted any raid on Portland and headed for the safety of the French coast. 43 Squadron had one Hurricane damaged, while 601 Sqn lost one Hurricane, that of P/O H.C.Mayers who baled out of his damaged aircraft with injuries to his legs. While dangling from his parachute, a Bf110 fires a short burst at him but misses and P/O Mayer's lands in the Channel. Two other Hurricanes of 601 Squadron are damaged, but manage to return to base.

    Word had got around to the Luftwaffe airfields that Adlerangriff had been postponed until the weather became more favourable. But this was quickly thwarted when the order went out at 1300hrs that Eagle Day was definitely "on" and that because of a weather improvement there would be considerable bomber and dive bomber attacks on a large scale on the British airfields across the southern portion of England. It appeared that the German plan was to make simultaneous attacks from Weymouth to Portland, Southampton and Portsmouth, and targets in north Kent.

    1500hrs: A number of formations were detected off of the French coast near Cherbourg and from the direction of the Channel Islands. The information was conveyed to Fighter Command HQ. They watched the WAAFs push and pull the enemy markers across the board with their long rakes. The command HQ at 10 Group was informed and from here a number of squadrons were brought to readiness. Park at 11 Group was also informed of the situation as his squadrons at Tangmere and Westhampnett may be called in to provide assistance should the enemy formation turn and head towards Southampton.

    1510hrs: 10 Group headquarters brings the following squadrons to readiness. 152 Sqn, 213 Sqn 238 Sqn and 609 Sqn. 11 Group brought 601 Sqn to readiness. The large formation is detected heading in a straight line towards Portland, but they were still far enough out over the Channel to alter course and head for various selected targets. The squadrons of Fighter Command lie in wait. 1530hrs: The large formation is now on radar just out from the Dorset coast and was approaching to the west of the Isle of Wight. It seemed as if this was to be a massive attack, and the German formations were heading in the direction of Portsmouth and Southampton. As predicted, the formations were now broken into groups, and consisted of 120 plus Ju88s from KG 54 and LG 1, these were escorted by 40 plus Bf109s from V/LG 1 that were coming in from the western end of the Channel. To the east came 77 Ju 87s from II/StG 2 and StG 77 and were escorted by 50 plus Bf109s from JG 27. Flying slightly ahead of the bomber formations were 35 Bf109s of II/JG 53. This was a total of about 450 German aircraft that was approaching the English coast.

    First to be released were 152 Sqn and 213 Sqn who were vectored to a position west of the Isle of Wight over the Solent. Soon after, one by one the other squadrons are "scrambled". 152 Sqn are first on the scene and engage a formation of Bf109s and within a few minutes are joined by 213 Sqn. Between them, they engage the full force of the Bf109s and Bf110s and in the ensuing combat draw the German escorts away from the Ju88 bombers. But the Bf109s are in that critical stage of fuel shortage, the long haul across the Channel and now in combat situation they had to conserve fuel for the return journey home.


    A Bf110C-4 that crashed after combat on 13th August in a field at Flexford, nr Southampton

    1600hrs: With the weather improving the first of the Ju88 bombers crossed the coast and set course for Southampton. 609 Sqn engaged the bombers but were swooped on by the Bf109s who could engage combat for only a few minutes before turning back because of their fuel situation. It appears that Fighter Command were getting to realize that coming across this wider part of the Channel, the Bf109s had restricted time to engage combat because they would only have enough fuel for the return journey back to base. This now allowed 609 Squadron to attack the bombers. They found the Ju88s and some Ju87s below them and an escort of Bf109s just above the Stukas. To the west, another group of Bf109s were involved in a dogfight with 238 Sqn.


    In this photo taken on 13th August 1940, 609 Sqn pilots are – Standing: P/O E.Q.'Red' Tobin, P/O'Osti' Ostazewski, P/O Geoff Gaunt, P/O Paul Edge, P/O Stephen Beaumont,F/Lt. Frank Howell, S/L George Darley, F/Lt J.H.G 'Butch' McArthur, Sgt A.N.Feary, P/O T.'Novo' Nowierski,P/O Teeny Overton. Front: P/O Mike Staples,F/Lt David Crook,P/O Mick Miller.

    1605hrs: The Ju88s that continued managed to do considerable damage to Southampton docks and to the city itself before continuing on to Andover airfield which they mistook for Middle Wallop, where again they done a fair amount of damage. The formation was allowed to continue to Andover free of RAF fighter attacks because 609 Sqn had to return to Middle Wallop because they were low on fuel and ammunition. But, nearing base, they made contact with a formation of Ju87s that were in fact heading for Middle Wallop as well, but with different intentions to that of 609 Sqn. (Some reports state that the aircraft that attacked Andover and Middle Wallop were Ju88s that had just prior bombed Southampton) Being close to the airfield, it was possible for 609 to engage combat. The Ju87s who had lost its Bf 109 escort were vulnerable to the Spitfires and they too aborted their attack and Middle Wallop escaped unscathed.


    609 Sqn Operations board at Warmwell on 13th August

    1630hrs: The Ju88s of KG 54 that were coming in from the west made their attack on Portland, but as they were making their approach they were intercepted by 152 Sqn, 213 Sqn and 601 Sqn, many of the bombers were damaged but some got through and dropped bombs on Portland causing minor damage. The bombers seemed to make for Southampton after the attack on Portland, but the RAF fighters were swarming in front of them and forced them to abandon any further attack and they headed out to the open Channel and home to base.

    1700hrs: another sighting was made of a formation of enemy aircraft coming in across the Channel. This seemed to be made up of two separate formations. The larger coming across the coast near Dungeness that were identified as Ju87s from II/StG I, while a smaller group came in over Dover, these were identified as Ju87s of IV(St) LGI with both groups escorted by Me 109s. 56 Sqn were dispatched to intercept. No sooner had they started to disperse the Stukas, when they were suddenly attacked by the Bf109s. The Hurricanes then started to mix it with the German fighters allowing the Ju87s to continue veering north towards the Thames Estuary. One Hurricane from 56 Sqn received damage and although managing to stay airborne, was losing height and trailing smoke. He eventually made a pancake landing at Hawkinge. The Ju 87s were making for Rochester in north Kent. The target here was the Short Brothers aircraft factory but had difficulty in finding the target so decided to return to their base. In their plans of attack, it was the Luftwaffe intention now to hit the RAF on the ground as well as in the air, and the Ju 87s of IV/LG 1 were instructed to bomb Detling airfield just outside Rochester. Here some of the Bf109 fighter escort broke away from combat with 56 Sqn to provide cover for the Ju87s. 56 Sqn was instructed to follow the 109s and some of the Hurricanes made attacks on Ju 87s as well as the Me 109s over the target airfield. 1716hrs: Coming in from the Thames Estuary, following the Kent coastline past the seaside towns of Margate and Whitstable, past the Isle of Sheppey then an immediate turn to port into the River Medway and once past the unmistakable city of Rochester and Detling lies just beyond. Although not belonging to Fighter Command, Detling would present itself as an impressive target. A large expanse of open airfield.


    A document regarding the bombing of the Detling airfield on 13th August

    Detling was badly damaged in the attack. The operations block was totally destroyed, most of the hangars were completely flattened and all the contents destroyed. A total of 68 airmen in the station mess hall were killed as it scored a direct hit, the fuel dump exploded in flames, the Commanding Officer of the station was killed instantly by the entrance of the HQ building, and a number of Blenheims that had been bombed up and ready for the evenings mission exploded destroying them completely. But again, this was another blunder by Luftwaffe Intelligence who had reported Detling as a major British airfield. But Detling was only a Coastal Command airfield that was used for look-out and observation patrols for German naval vessels and the occasional air-sea rescue and was not a Fighter Command airfield. This was really a wasted effort by the Luftwaffe the only bright side to their mission was that they did not lose any aircraft in the Detling attack, but 56 Sqn although three pilots escaped injury and one baled out with severe burns, they lost four Hurricanes. 2200hrs: August 13th was not finished yet. major towns, cities, factories and the rail network became the target of the German night bombers. The Short Brothers aircraft factory in Belfast in Ireland, and at Castle Bromwich where the new Spitfire Mk II was being produced and other targets were: Aberdeen in Scotland, Liverpool in north west England and Swansea in Wales all became targets, but only reports of 'damage sustained, but only minor' were conveyed to the War Office


    The commencement of Adlertag was, not for the Luftwaffe a successful one. A combination of poor weather conditions and a number of 'bungles' on their part did not even put the RAF to the test. First, the airfields that the Luftwaffe were targeting, Eastchurch, Detling, Odiham and Farnborough were not Fighter Command airfields, during the morning the German bombers lost their fighter escort and during the afternoon a fighter escort had left their French base without the bombers that they were supposed to escort. Now, Göring was under the impression that all fighter squadrons in 10, 12 and 13 Groups had been sent south to 11 Group and informed Luftflotte 5 in Norway to prepare for attacks on the English north and Scotland as the time was now right.

    Dowding said of this day 'it's a miracle'. He had been looking back on the days events and considered that it had been very busy all round, and that the fifteen planes that had been lost would be very easily replaced. Adlerangriff was to be an all out attack on the RAF and its fighter bases, but as yet all the wrong targets had been hit, causing no immediate concern to Fighter Command.

    Keith Parks view was 'No one could be foolish enough to think that we can send in any amount of fighters against the large formations that the Luftwaffe were sending across the Channel and not receive any casualties'. 'But with careful placement of my squadrons it is hoped that we can keep this to a minimum.' He had told his squadron commanders on many an occasion, that no-one is going to win a game of chess without losing any of his pieces, it's just that with some games, you lose more than you do with others. Park too was satisfied with the outcome of August 13th, he kept the German fighters at bay over the Channel and close to the English coast and by comparison with the previous day, his casualties were light with only three killed or missing, two that sustained injuries that were to put them out of action for a while and six returning to their squadrons after being shot down.


    Luftwaffe – 34


    43 Sqn T.P.Dalton-Morgan in Hurricane P3972 near to Cocking Down Nr Midhurst at 0650hrs, was only slightly wounded after he bailed out

    43 Sqn C.A. 'Tony' 'Wombat’ Woods-Scawen in Hurricane R4102 at 07:30 while on patrol, crash-landed near Midhurst, Sussex after combat with a He 111

    56 Sqn C.C.O.Joubert in Hurricane P3479 was in combat with a BF110 when the radiator on exploded He baled out near Rochford, Essex at 1615hrs slightly injured.

    56 Sqn P.F.M.Davies in Hurricane N2429was shot down by Bf 109's at 16:15hrs He baled out over Sheppey with burns on his hands, arms, legs and face. These injuries rendered him medically unfit for operational flying, but he continued to serve first as a ferry pilot and then as a test pilot.


    56 Sqn P.Hillwood in Hurricane R4093 was shot down over the Channel at 1620 hrs. He baled out safely over Sheppey and swam two miles to shore. Hillwood was awarded the D.F.C. on the 24th of November 1944.

    56 Sqn R.E.P.Brooker in Hurricane P3587

    74 Sqn Stanislaw 'Breezy' Brzezina from Poland in Spitfire N3091 bailed out over the Thames Estuary at 0705, he landed safely. His aircraft had been hit by return fire from a Do17

    87 Sqn R.L.Glyde in Hurricane P3387. Glyde, an Australian, was shot down and killed by a Ju 88 off Selsey Bill Sussex, at 0800hrs

    213 Sqn P.P.Norris in Hurricane P3348 was shot down and killed off Portland at 1650hrs and is buried at Etaples, France. He was 22 years old.

    238 Sqn E.W.Seabourne in Hurricane P3764 was shot down in flames a Bf 109 at 07:30hrs. His body was rescued from the sea.

    238 Sqn H.J.Marsh in Hurricane P3177 shot down and killed off Portland at 16:30hrs.

    238 Sqn R.Little in Hurricane P3805 crashed at Burton Bradstock Dorset at 16:30hrs, he had been in combat over Portland. He escaped injury.

    601 Sqn H.C.Mayers in Hurricane P2690 was shot down over Portland at 1215hrs. He baled out with slight shrapnel wounds and was rescued by an M.T.B.

    Also reported on this day were unknown German aircraft dropping a miscellany of objects at various places in the English Midlands and the Lowlands of Scotland. The objects included a parachutes, wireless transmitters, small quantities of high explosive, maps, photographs, lists of addresses of prominent people and instructions to imaginary agents defining their role when the invaders came.

    An experimental British radar, using the cavity magnetron which was developed only six months earlier, tracks a man on a bicycle for the first time -- though his radar cross-section is enhanced by the tin lid from a box of biscuits.

    The London Evening News reported: ‘one of the greatest aerial battles ever to take place, happened this afternoon off the southeast and southern coasts. However, well informed experts doubt that the present raids represent the beginning of a blitzkrieg against England, and instead believe their true purpose is to reconnoitre the strength of the RAF before the Germans mount even more vigorous air attacks.’

    post-6667-058252400 1281683061_thumb.jpg

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    14th August 1940


    Early morning low cloud with drizzle patches. Clearing later with sunny periods. Some cloud returning during evening but clearing overnight. The English summer continued with what could only be termed as poor weather conditions. A cloud base of only 2,000 feet meant that it would be highly improbable that the Luftwaffe would attempt any attack in huge numbers. The morning proved the forecast correct, it was quiet and most of the fighter pilots just lazed around waiting for the scramble call that never came.

    What Göring and the German Luftwaffe wanted to do on the opening day of Adlertag was seriously disrupted by the weather. Hoping that the weather would clear enough for his bomber formations to commence operations on the 14th, was again doomed to failure, the weather was almost a carbon copy of the day previous but with this uncertainty prevailing, it was impossible to launch any full scale operation with the magnitude that Göring hoped for.

    RAF Bomber Command

    4 Group. Bombing -oil targets at Bordeaux and St. Nazaire - Caproni aircraft factory at Milan. 51 Sqn. Four aircraft to Bordeaux. One returned early, three bombed primary. One hit by balloon barrage on return, crew killed. 77 Sqn. Twelve aircraft to St. Nazaire. Two returned early, ten bombed primary. One hit balloon barrage on return, crew killed. 78 Sqn. Six aircraft to Bordeaux. All bombed primary. 102 Sqn. Nine aircraft to Milan. All bombed primary.

    RAF Fighter Command

    0645hrs: Radar picked up a contact off the Kent coast which was later identified as a Do17 possibly on reccon mission. A flight from 151 Sqn (North Weald) was dispatched to intercept. One Hurricane was hit by gunfire from the Do17 at 0700hrs with the pilot Sgt G.Atkinson baling out and being rescued from the sea. At 1130hrs the low cloud started to disperse and looked like clearing conditions. A large build up of enemy aircraft was forming over Calais and was detected by Dover and Pevensey radar at 1140hrs. Park brought to readiness four squadrons. 32 Sqn, 65 Sqn, 610 Sqn and 615 Sqn. The enemy build up seemed to change direction a number of times while over the Channel in an effort to confuse the RAF, but the plotters were kept constantly informed of the situation by the radar stations.1150hrs: Eventually, the enemy formation straightened up and took a course that would take them just to the north of Dover. 11 Group Fighter Command HQ at Uxbridge gave the command to the sector operation rooms of Biggin Hill, Kenley and Hornchurch to scramble the squadrons and vectored them towards what was known as "Hellfire Corner". meanwhile, as the enemy formation neared the coast, the Observer Corps reported that the formation consisted of 80+ Ju87 Stuka dive bombers from Luftflotte 2 with a heavy concentration of Bf109 escorts in the cloud cover. At the same time, two Staffeln of Bf110s of Rubensdorffer's Epr. G1 210 had taken off from their base at Calais-Marck and were headed towards Dover. It was 65 Sqn that intercepted them first and as they tried to break up the Ju87s the Bf109s came down from the clouds. A twisting network of vapour trails started to develop as the other squadrons started to arrive with aircraft twisting and turning this way and that.


    1200hrs: Most of the action is centred over the town of Dover and just out to sea. 65 Sqn that had taken off from Manston ten minutes earlier and were attracted to the Dover area by burning barrage balloons that had been shot up by the Bf109s, were already heavily engaged in a serious dogfight. On the ground at Manston airfield, the ground crews are still barricaded in their below ground shelters refusing to come out since two days previous. Many aircrew had to refuel and rearm the fighters as a result of this.

    1300hrs: While the mêlée is taking place over Dover, Rubensdorffer's crack Erpr 210 comes in low and almost unnoticed arriving over the Manston airfield with split second timing. They have no opposition from the air, and are greeted only by the station Bofors 40mm gun manned by the Royal Artillery, and the machine guns that were manned by crew members of 600 Sqn. Manston takes a battering for the second time. Accurate bombing destroys another four hangars, three Blenheims of 600 Sqn, the dispersal huts are smashed to pieces and again numerous craters appear over the airfield.


    One of the Bf110s, piloted by Uffz.H.Steding sustains a hit by a 40mm shell from the Bofors and has its tailplane dismembered from the fuselage. Gefr. E.Schank manages to bale out, but because of the planes low altitude sustains injuries on landing. Uffz. H.Steding stays at the controls of the Bf110 and is killed as it crashes and cartwheels across the airfield. Gefr. E.Schank lands right in front of trenches that some RAF personnel were seeking safety. He was dragged back to the trench bleeding and concussed from his impact with the ground. On interrogation, it is said, that he informed that the all out attack was about to come. Another Bf110 is hit by gunfire from the Manston ground defences and on its way down, it clips another aircraft and spirals earthwards exploding before it reaches the ground. Both its crew are killed.

    A mid-afternoon raid by Do17’s on Pevensey was thwarted and the attackers forced to jettison their load, but a later raid on Pevensey put four bombs in the radar station. 1630hrs: In the west, a few small blips were picked up coming in from over the Channel and heading close to Southampton. Many thought it to be recon aircraft, or maybe just a few scouts. Small blips were often seen on the radar on the screens in the west, usually by single aircraft used to inflict confusion to the defences of Fighter Command. 1700hrs: As the suspected formations cross the south-western coast, 10 Group sends up a number of squadrons. At Middle Wallop, 234 Sqn is placed at readiness as is 609 Sqn. Within half an hour, one flight of 234 Sqn and one flight of 609 Sqn are scrambled, while it is another ten minutes before 'B' Flight of 234 Sqn led by F/L Pat Hughes is scrambled.


    1745hrs: Three He111 bombers come in over the airfield from the south and unload their cargo of bombs. As the Spitfires of both squadrons attack the Heinkels, a second flight of 609 Sqn attempts a hairy take off dodging both bombs and exploding craters in an effort to get airborne. Just as this was happening, a Ju88 came in from a slightly different angle, unmolested by any of the RAF fighters ready to make its attack on the airfield. The Ju88 went into a steep dive, its nose pointing at the business end of Middle Wallop. A few of 609 Sqn’s Spitfires were still trying to get off the ground just as at 1,200 feet the bomber let its bomb glide gently from its bomb bay. The bomber then pulled out of its dive, levelled then with engines at full throttle went into a steep climb away from the blast that was just about to happen.

    In the meantime, Sergeant Alan Feary of 609 Sqn banked sharply, his wing almost ninety degrees to the ground, then with miraculous precision, levelled off to see the climbing bomber heading for the clouds. The Spitfire had a perfect view of the bombers underbelly then; within perfect range he hit the firing button to see a stream of tracer go straight into the whole length of the bomber. It exploded with parts flying off in all directions, its climb halted momentarily then it seemed to hang in the sky then beginning the descent in an uncontrollable manner before hitting the ground. The Ju88 crashed at North Charford near Romsey. The crew, Oberlt. W.Heinrici, Gefr. H.W.Stark and Gefr. F.Ahrens were all killed instantly except for Gefr.Ahrens who suffered severe injuries and died the following day. One of the Heinkels was also shot down by 609 Sqn. The other two managing to escape and return to their bases.


    Luftwaffe – 21


    32 Sqn R.F.Smythe in Hurricane P3171

    43 Sqn H.F.Montgomery in Hurricane L1739 was killed. off Dover while on patrol at 1250hrs. He was 26. Montgomery is buried at Oye Plage, France.

    151 Sqn G.Atkinson in Hurricane P3310 was shot down in combat with Do 17's at 0700hrs. He baled out just off Christchurch and was rescued from the sea.

    609 Sqn H.MacD Goodwin in Spitfire N3024 was shot down and killed over Bournemouth at 1730hrs

    615 Sqn P.Collard in Hurricane P3109 was shot down and killed off Dover at 1245hrs. Collard is buried at Pye Plage in France, he was 24 years old.

    615 Sqn C.R.Montgomery in Hurricane P3160 was shot down and killed over the Channel off Dover at1250hrs. Montgomery is also buried at Pye Plage, France, he was 26 years old.

    London: The Reuters News Agency reported:

    The southeast of England has been the arena of heavy dogfights. This morning more than 300 German aircraft took part in the raids; but the RAF fighters foiled the intrusion of the enemy planes. Dozens of Messerschmitt fighter planes dived from a great altitude to protect their bombers, but the British air defence was so effective that in most cases the enemy wings had to veer off and change course.

    So far, any attempt to wipe the RAF out had been nothing but a farce. "They're playing games at the moment" said Dowding trying to summarise the situation, "they're not going to achieve anything by these scant and random attacks. I believe that something is building." 11 Group Commander Keith Park agreed. "What damage they have done to the airfields has been a setback but they're still operational." Dowding asked him about the condition of Manston and Middle Wallop, "like I said, just a setback, I believe that Middle Wallop is at full strength and that Manston will be at 100% strength in twelve hours. In that time we will be ready for them."

    And in twelve hours Manston and Fighter Command was ready and waiting……..

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    15th August 1940


    Cloud covered much of the south and south-east during the morning. This was to disperse before noon where a ridge of high pressure right across Britain would insure a fine and warm day.


    RAF Bomber Command 4 Group. Bombing - Fiat works at Turin and Caproni aircraft at Milan. 10 Sqn. Four aircraft. Three bombed primary, one failed to return. 77 Sqn Whitley bomber P5044 collided with barrage balloon cables at about 0334 hrs to the East of Royal Naval Air Station Eastleigh, Hants (H.M.S. Raven) at Allington Lane, West End.

    RAF Fighter Command

    German High Command could not resist the break in weather conditions by mid morning, and the order went out that planned operations be commenced. At the HQ of the II Fliegerkorps, Oberst Paul Deichmann who was Chief of Staff already had 1,000 fighter planes and more than 800 bombers all ready with full compliments of bombs in their bays and fuelled up just waiting for the order to commence the operation. With no word from his superiors, he decided that the opportunity was too good to miss, and took it upon himself to launch an attack. The planned operation was that the Ju87s of II/StG 1 and IV (St) /LG 1 loaded with 500 and 250 kilo bombs would lead out first, Dornier bombers from the 3rd Bomber Group would head out over the Channel then turn and head in the direction of Eastchurch, and the Bf110s of 2/ZG76 would head through the Dover Straits then turn inland and attack Manston once again. In the centre of all this, 100 plus Bf109s would provide cover for the formations to left and right of them.


    Radar stations all along the south coast could not help but pick up the huge formations that were heading between Lympne and Manston. There were so many aircraft heading across the Channel that many of them were not even on the radar screens, while the different formations could not be distinguished. The Luftwaffe were coming over in force, a mass of 1,120 aircraft were coming across the Channel. There was no doubt about the intentions of the Luftwaffe on this day they would follow the path of previous missions that attacked the airfields and airfield installations of Fighter Command, but this time, by coming over in larger numbers their plan was to entice more RAF fighters into the air.

    1000hrs: Luftflotte 5 in Norway release 63 Heinkel He111 bombers from I and III/KG26 based at Stavanger and Sola. These bombers were given a 20-minute start before 25 Bf110s of I/ZG76 based at Stavanger/Forus take off to escort the Heinkels to their targets which were the British airfields at Asworth, Dishforth, Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesborough. The Bf110s are equipped a 1,000 litre drop tank that will allow them to fly well beyond their normal range. At the same time as the Bf110s depart from Norway, 50+ Ju88 bombers from KG30 in Denmark begin their journey north also to bomb British airfields in the north of England. 1100hrs: The RAF "scrambled" 54 Sqn (Hornchurch) and 501 Sqn (Gravesend) to intercept the foreboding onslaught that was coming across the Channel. The Observer Corps had reported 60+ Ju87 Stukas and an undisclosed number of Bf110 as escort. But this was a numbers game, it was going to be obvious that two squadrons were not going to be enough. The order went out from Fighter Command to Kenley and 615 Sqn was "scrambled" to join the other two squadrons already on their way towards Dover.


    Depiction of Junkers Ju-87 brought down by Sgt Antoni Glowacki's 501 Sqn Hurricane,

    110hrs: Radar stations and the Observer Corps along the far north east coast of England and southern Scotland reported that an estimated 30 enemy aircraft had been detected coming in from the North Sea. A few moments later, this was changed to 50+ aircraft. A number of squadrons in the north had already proved their worth, but generally most of the squadrons in the north were newly formed squadrons or training units. Little did the Luftwaffe know that a number of experienced fighter squadrons were at this time up north on a rest, including 72 and 79 Sqns. 13 Group of Fighter Command scrambled 72 Sqn (Acklington) to meet the enemy. Not too many large or frequent sightings had been made in this part of Britain as most of the action so far had taken place in the south with 11 Group, hence the radar operators were not as experienced as the radar operators in the south. The formation that they had estimated as being 30 aircraft, was in fact a formation of 65 Heinkel III bombers of KG 26 and 34 Me 110s from I/ZG 76 based in Norway and a formation of 50 Ju 88s from KG 30 based in Denmark -13 Group only estimate that the formation consisted of only 30 aircraft which later was corrected to 50+, which now turned out to be a mammoth task for 72 Sqn to undertake.

    Squadron Leader Collins headed his squadron past the estimated vector point seeing the German formation well to his left, then turned through the broken cloud towards the direction of the formation from the sun. Approaching the enemy, a voice came over the radio " Haven't you seen them ?" to which a reply was forthcoming "Of course I've seen the bbbbbb*stards, I'm trying to wwwwwwork out wwwwhat to dddddo." It wasn't that the leader had a sudden touch of bad nerves, but under strain it is said he stuttered badly. In the meantime, corrections to the original estimate had been corrected and 605 Sqn (Drem) and 41 Squadron (Catterick) had been dispatched to join 72 Sqn. It was a bad start for the Luftwaffe after their long journey across the North Sea. 23 German aircraft were shot down which included 8 He111s, 8 Bf110s and 7 Ju88s. It was a high price to pay for a little damage done to two airfields, although the German airman's account below states that the airfield at Driffield had been destroyed and 'was no more.' Records show that a number of Whitely's of Bomber Command at Driffield in Yorkshire were damaged. No other daylight raids on the north coast have ever been recorded.

    Back down with 11 Group, 54 Sqn (Hornchurch), 501 Sqn (Gravesend) and 615 Sqn (Kenley) were airborne and on course towards the massive formation of German bombers and fighters that were heading towards the Kent coastline. 1130hrs: The Bf109s were successfully fending off the defending 54 and 501 sqns while the Ju87s of II/StG 1 dive bombed Hawkinge and Lympne airfields causing severe damage that put both of them out of action for about three days. The Ju87s then concentrated on the radar stations at Rye, Dover and at Foreness, demolishing buildings at will, severing main power supply lines and completely obliterating the towers. All the radar stations were put out of action and the RAF were now blind, their 'eyes' gone, observation was now left to the Observer Corps alone which could only see as far as it was humanly possible. 1200hrs: Twelve Bf110s manage to get through and again make a hit and run attack on Manston airfield. No bombs were reported having been dropped, but they did straffe the airfield with cannon and machine gun fire destroying two Spitfires and it is reported that 16 personnel are killed.

    1415hrs: South coast radar picks up further large concentrations of aircraft forming up over Calais. But with most of the main radar stations out of action it is difficult to determine which way the German formations are heading. Urgent messages are relayed to the Observer Corps to be on the lookout for formations coming in from the Channel and off the North Sea. The whole of the south-east corner of Britain is now virtually running blind. 1500hrs: 16 Bf110s from the EprGr 210 Group and Ju87s with an escort of Bf109s manage to cross the Essex coast and make an attack on Martlesham Heath which put them out of action for one day. The Stuka's made the first attack on the signals station that had not yet been completed. The bombing was not accurate and the signals station suffered only broken windows and a damaged water supply tank. The Bf110s targeted the administration side of the airfield and destroyed some workshops and the Officers Mess. Two hangars were seriously damaged with a Fairy Battle being destroyed. The attack ruptured the water mains and telecommunications was disrupted.

    1530hrs: The large formation that had previously been detected over Calais appeared coming in from across the Straits of Dover. At the time, Fighter Command had only four squadrons patrolling the area. At Uxbridge, on receiving a report from the Observer Corps Keith Park releases another three squadrons. Observers on the coast wonder how on earth Fighter Command could hold off this huge concentration of German aircraft coming in. Eighty-eight Dornier Do17s of KG3 and 130+ Bf109s cross the coast near Deal while nearly 70 Bf109s cross between Dover and Folkestone. 1 Sqn (Northolt), 17 Sqn (Debden), 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill), 64 Sqn (Kenley), 111 Sqn (Croydon), 151 Sqn (North Weald) and 501 Sqn (Gravesend) have to all that they can to drive off nearly 290 German aircraft, almost an impossibility.


    Depiction of Bf109's of 9./JG54 escort Dornier 17s of KG3 heading to attack Rochester.

    Led by Oblt. Hans Ekkehard Bob in 'Gelbe Eins' (Yellow One), the Messerschmitts peel of to break up the counter-attack of 151 Sqn Hurricanes

    The sheer number of Bf109s managed to keep the British fighters at bay until the huge formation was over the coast near Faversham in Kent then they broke into two distinct groups, each with a target in mind. One group headed for the airfield at Rochester where the new Short Stirling bomber is under construction.



    6 Stirlings were destroyed at Shorts, Rochester with major damage to the hanger and surrounding houses.

    The Do17s drop nearly 300 H.E. bombs on the airfield destroying hangars, large storage sheds, spare parts blocks and six planes nearing completion are destroyed. At 1558 hrs the Pobjoy's aircraft factory at the airfield is also hard hit. The other group target Eastchurch once again, and damage is severe, but one cannot wonder as to why these two targets were chosen as neither of them were associated with Fighter Command and the damage caused did nothing to setback the Battle of Britain. 1700hrs: The combat areas now switched the west. Some 60 Bf109s and 25 Bf110s were escorting a formation of 40 Ju87 dive bombers and were detected to the south of Portland. 10 Group despatch 87 Sqn and 213 Sqn from Exeter to intercept. Soon after, now realizing the size of the enemy force, 234 Sqn (Middle Wallop) were scrambled while 609 Sqn (Warmwell) were placed at readiness in case they were needed.

    The British fighters engaged the formation over the Channel well south of Portland and the notorious Solent, the graveyard for both British and German aircraft alike. The combined strength of the British fighters was about 20 aircraft, while the German force boasted a combined strength of 125. That worked out at a ratio of one RAF fighter to five Germans. F/L Ian Gleed who was commanding the five Hurricanes of 87 Sqn and in a good position to attack, instructed his flight " Okay chaps let's go and surround them!!!!!" But despite the odds against them, The RAF fighters managed to halt the progress of the raiders and a number of Bf110s were brought down. Records show that three were shot down and crashed into the Channel, while two limped back to base, one crashing in a field in France, while the other caught fire after crash landing at its base.

    With the British fighters vastly outnumbered, it was always on the cards that they would suffer casualties. 234 Sqn lost three pilots. One was shot down over Bournmouth, another was badly damaged well out to sea and headed towards France where the pilot crash landed on a beach near Cherbourg and was taken prisoner and another became a prisoner after he crashed his Spitfire off the French coast. Three of the five 87 Sqn Hurricanes were shot down. S/L Lovell-Gregg was killed as his aircraft crashed in a wood, P/O P.W.Commeley was posted as missing after he crashed into the sea south of Portland while Sgt Cowley received injuries after making a forced landing near Bridport.

    1750hrs: While the dogfighting continued over Swanage and Portland, some 60 Ju88s of LG1 with their escort of 40 Bf110s managed to slip through and seemed to be heading towards the airfield at Middle Wallop. 609 Sqn were still at readiness on the airfield when the message came through for them to "scramble". Just twenty miles away from the airfield, the Junkers formation split up, with one section heading for the other aerodrome at Worthy Down. The last of 609's Spitfires are still tearing across the airfield at Middle Wallop when the Ju88s appear overhead and start to release their bombs. With the exception of a few more craters appearing at Middle Wallop, very little damage is done compared to that of the previous day. Worthy Down was also bombed but again, no serious damage was done. Odiham was also a target, but miscalculations saw that Andover was bombed instead. 609 Sqn manage to turn the attackers around and they head out towards the open sea, but not before they manage to shoot down one Ju88 and four Bf109s. three Ju88s are reported as probables.


    1820hrs: It had been a long day for Fighter Command, but as evening approached it was not over yet. Without the radar that had been destroyed earlier in the day, a small formation of Do17 bombers crossed the coast headed for Biggin Hill. Here, 610 Sqn and 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill) are scrambled and 610 Sqn who were dispatched first meet the German bombers about 10-12 miles to the south-east of the airfield. The tired pilots of both squadrons who had been in action most of the day managed to shoot down a couple of the Dorniers. Both squadrons turn their attention to the Bf109 escort and in doing so allowed the bombers to continue towards their target, but instead of hitting Biggin Hill, they attacked West Malling by mistake. As the escort decides to make a turn for home, 32 Sqn decides to chase after the bombers, but as they do so, they are vectored back towards Biggin Hill, where from the high altitude the Hurricane pilots can see a huge pall of smoke from the south London area. 1850hrs: Bf110s of EprGr 210 were not detected until too late, they had come in north of the Dornier formation and as the Do17s attacked West Malling, the Bf110s continued towards London. Escorted by only eight Bf109s, the German formation was flying into the low setting sun, and although their target was Kenley, they mistook the South London airfield of Croydon which was an ex-civil airport now being used by the RAF as being the target and then, coming down from 2,000 feet commenced their bombing run just as 32 Sqn and 111 Sqn (Croydon) arrived on the scene. For some reason, at this stage, the Bf109 escort departed and escaped with only the odd one being attacked by British fighters.


    Hauptmann Walter Rubensdorffer who had lead his crack 210 Bf110s on this raid on Croydon, had been hit and was desperately trying to get his crippled plane back across the Channel. But he had had a Hurricane on his tail all the way from Croydon. Slowly the Hurricane was within striking distance over the tiny village of Crockham Hill in Kent. The Bf110 started to catch fire as ruptured fuel tanks spread burning fuel over the wings and along the body of the aircraft. Still the Hurricane fired at Rubensdorffer who was by now losing height rapidly. A couple of more Hurricanes joined in, but decided to attack another 110 that was also trying to make it back to base, this left Rubensdorffer alone, who stayed courageously with his crippled plane that eventually crashed into trees, then as the fuel tanks burst, the whole plane was engulfed in flame killing both crewmen.


    This Bf110D was shot down at 1955hrs by Sgt W. L. Dymond of 111 Sqn and Sgt L. H. B. Pearce of 32 Sqn (shared victory) following the dive-bombing attack on Croydon aerodrome It crashed and burned out at Redhill aerodrome. The pilot, Oblt Fiedler, the Gruppe Adjutant, was captured severely wounded and died three days later. His radio operator, Uffz Werner baled out and was captured.

    It was by a sheer miracle that 111 Sqn managed to take off under such circumstances, but by the time that they had turned and reached the required height, the damage had been done. Just as the Bf110s broke away and began their return, ironically flying over Kenley the airfield that they originally intended bombing, 111 Squadron was reinforced by 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill) who had been diverted to give assistance. One by one the Bf110s were hit as they had no time to go into their defensive circle pattern, their only means of defence against the fighter. The German fighter bombers were riddled with bullets, sparks and glowing yellow star shapes running horizontally along their long fuselages. Many tried in vain to keep altitude and head for home, others, victims to the marauding British fighters spiralled and crashed, unfortunately into the heavily populated suburbs around Croydon and Purley. One such factory that sustained a direct hit was the Bourjois perfume factory. Sixty people died and over 180 were injured in the twisted mangled remains.



    As it made its way back across the East Sussex countryside, this Messerschmitt Bf 110D was attacked by a chasing Hurricane of 32 Sqn and forced to make a landing at School Farm, Hooe at about 1850hrs. The pilot Oblt Karl–Heinz Koch managed to land his aircraft safely and, virtually, intact. He, and his badly wounded gunner, Uffz Kahl, escaped without any further injury. Koch was taken, temporarily, to Battle Abbey, as a prisoner of war, until he was removed to a permanent POW camp, where he remained for the duration of the war.

    The news shattered Londoners. These were the first bombs to fall on their city, and to many it brought home there worst fears, all these dead and injured in one raid at one location. They did not know it then but 60 innocent people dead and 180 badly injured because of a mistaken target by the Germans. One by one the Bf110s fell, they were not only engaged in combat with 111 and 32 Sqn’s, but they were being held back, using up valuable fuel that was required to get them back to base. A number of them were shot down crashing into the fields of Kent and Sussex, while others struggled to make it back to their base, many of them crashing into the Channel.

    post-6667-045779400 1281895009_thumb.jpg

    Cleveland Road, New Malden – the damaged factory of James Avis cardboard box maker and printer after a direct bomb hit

    1930hrs: The days events were slowly drawing to a close with 54 Sqn engaging a large German formation near Dover on the final engagement of the day.

    It was unfortunately a historical day. The first daylight raid on the English mainland in north eastern England, the first fall of bombs on a London suburb, Churchill emotionally gives Dowding’s fighter pilots due credit with his now famous words, and every squadron in south east England was in operational combat at the same time, someplace, somewhere. These fighter squadrons were: 151 Sqn who had chased the Dorniers out into the Thames Estuary and the North Sea, 17 Sqn (Debden) in action off the coast at Clacton, 1 Sqn also in action off of Clacton, 151 Sqn (North Weald) in action in North Kent, Dover and at Rochester, 32 Sqn who had a busy day off of Clacton, then over Croydon and Kent in the early evening, 111 Sqn who earlier saw combat near Portsmouth then over their own airfield in the early evening, 54 and 266 Sqn’s who were engaged in combat all day over the Kent coast, 64 Sqn who also spent the day in combat over the Kent coast. Other squadrons operational on this day were 43 Sqn and 601 Sqn (Tangmere), 234 Sqn (Middle Wallop), 152 Sqn (Warmwell), 87 Sqn and 213 Squadron (Exeter) and 238 Sqn (Middle Wallop).


    Luftwaffe – 76


    1 Sqn M.H.’Hilly’ Brown in Hurricane P3047 baled out slightly injured & was rescued by a trawler

    1 Sqn D.O.M.Browne in Hurricane R4075 crash landed at 1815hrs but was unhurt.

    1 Sqn M.M.Shanahan in Hurricane P3043 shot down and killed off Harwich at 1500hrs

    32 Sqn D.H.Grice in Hurricane N2459 baled out badly burned rescued by MTB at 1515hrs

    54 Sqn N.A.Lawrence in Spitfire N3097 destroyed three Ju 87's then was shot down by a Bf 109 in the same fight and crashed in the sea off Dover at 1145hrs; the Navy rescued him

    54 Sqn W.Klosinski in Spitfire R7015 was shot down after combat over Dover with a Bf 109 at 1145hrs, it crashed near Hythe. He was severely wounded.

    54 Sqn A.C.Deere in Spitfire R6981 Bailed out unhurt near Ashford

    64 Sqn C.J.D.Andreae in Spitfire R6990 was shot down and killed by a Bf 109 at 1520hrs

    64 Sqn R.Roberts in Spitfire K9664 force landed at Calais-Marck after combat with a Bf 109 at 1525hrs. Roberts became a P.O.W.

    87 Sqn T.G.'Shovel' Lovell-Gregg in Hurricane P3215 was shot down and killed by Bf 109s at 18:00hrs over Portland - he crashed at Abbotsbury.

    87 Sqn J.Cowley in Hurricane P3465 Force landed near Bridgeport after combat with a Bf 110 off Portland at 1805hrs. He was slightly injured, but his Hurricane was a write off.

    87 Sqn P.W.Comeley in Hurricane P2872 was shot down by a Bf 110 off Portland at 1805hrs but was seen to shoot another Bf 110 down before he was killed.

    111 Sqn A.G.McIntire in Hurricane P3595 landed the badly damaged aircraft at Hawkinge. He had been in combat over Thorny Island at 1800hrs. The Hurricane was written off and he was slightly wounded.

    111 Sqn M.B.Fisher in Hurricane P3944 was shot down during combat with a Ju 88 over Selsey Bill at 1750hrs. He managed to bale out but was killed.

    151 Sqn J.T.Johnson in Hurricane P3941 was shot down by Bf 109's off Dymchurch at 1915hrs and crashed into the Channel, he was dead when picked up. He was 26.

    151 Sqn H.W.Begg in Hurricane P3065 shot down at 1915hrs by a Bf 109 and crashed at Shorncliffe, Kent - he was wounded

    151 Sqn M.Roswadowski in Hurricane V7410 was killed at 19:20hrs, by a Bf 109 whilst on patrol over Dover

    151 Sqn J.A.C.Gordon in Hurricane P3941was wounded in combat with a Bf 109 over Dover but he landed safely at North Weald.

    152 Sqn B.P.A.Boitel-Gill in Spitfire K9954 landed at Cherbourg after combat with a Bf 109 over Portland. He was uninjured but his aircraft was a write off.

    213 Sqn M.S.C.H.Buchin in Hurricane V7227 was the first Belgian to be killed in the Battle of Britain when he was shot down over Portland at 1745hrs.

    234 Sqn C.H.Hight in Spitfire R6988.at 18:15hrs he crashed near Bournmouth after combat. Hight died in the crash.

    234 Sqn R.Hardy in Spitfire N3277 was in combat with a Bf 109 at 1830hrs. He force landed his aircraft at Cherbourg and was made a P.O.W. The Germans captured his aircraft intact

    234 Sqn V.Parker in Spitfire R6985 was in combat off Swanage at 1615hrs. Parker was rescued from the sea by the Germans and made a P.O.W.

    234 Sqn unknown in Spitfire P9363 Damaged by Bf109s and abandoned nr Twyford Hants

    257 Sqn C.G.Frizell in Hurricane L1703 baled out of his burning aircraft and crashed near Edgware - he was unhurt.

    266 Sqn F.B.Hawley in Spitfire N3189 Following the destruction of a Heinkel He115 floatplane off Dunkirk he is believed to have crashed into the sea off Deal, Kent at 17:15hrs and was reported M.I.A., aged 23.

    266 Sqn F.W.Cale in Spitfire N3168 was shot down at1850hrs & baled out into the River Medway and drowned

    501 Sqn J.A.A.Gibson in Hurricane P3582 baled out safely after combat with a Ju 87 over Hawkinge at 11:30hrs.

    501 Sqn A.R.Putt in Hurricane P3040 baled out after combat over Hawkinge with some Ju 87’s at 11:30hrs. He escaped injury.

    601 Sqn G.N.S.Cleaver in Hurricane P3232 The cockpit was shattered by a cannon shell and his eyes were filled with Perspex splinters. He returned to base and was rushed to hospital. His sight was saved, but he never flew operationally again

    604 Sqn Unknown in Blenheim L6610

    604 Sqn Blenheim L6723 Destroyed on the ground

    605 Sqn C.W.Passy in Hurricane P3827 crash-landed 1 mile from Usworth Nr Washington after combat with He 111's of KG 26 around Newcastle at 1410hrs. He was not injured.

    605 Sqn K.Schadtler-Law in Hurricane P2717 was injured when his aircraft was hit by return fire from some Heinkel He 111's of KG 26 off Newcastle at 1420hrs. His Hurricane was repaired after he force landed on Hartlepool Golf course.

    615 Sqn D.W.Halton in Hurricane P2801was shot down and killed by a Bf 109 at 1205hrs.

    615 Sqn unknown in Hurricane P2581

    Because of the fact that the weather forecast predicted poor conditions and that all operations were postponed, Göring had summoned all his top commanders for a conference at Karinhall. Albert Kesselring, Hugo Sperle, General Bruno Lorzer of Fliegerkorps II and Generalmajor Joachim Coler of Fliegerdivision XI were all included. He put it to his commanders that they were having no impact on the RAF, he wanted to know the failures that had taken place, he wanted to know why they were suffering so many casualties, he wanted the commanders to explain. "We must have bigger impact in our attacks" said Göring, "our missions must consist of more bombers, bigger formations, more escorts that will fly with greater skills than they have done before". He also made one of his greatest mistakes when he instructed his commanders that the bombing of the radar stations was having no effect on the British, they were not being destroyed and that bombing them was not going to destroy any of their aircraft.


    This day is a turning point. German losses convince the Luftwaffe that air superiority is essential before all-out bombing can be successful. It also marks the virtual end of Luftflotte 5's offensive usefulness, so sparing the North such heavy attacks in future. It also marks the beginning of the end of the Ju 87's value as a dive bomber and that of the Bf 110 as an escort fighter.

    At Fighter Command HQ, Churchill, Dowding, Lord Ismay and Lord Beaverbrook stood in silence as they watched the tangled mess of the huge map board below them unravel. They watched the wall as squadron after squadron came in to land, refuel and rearm then take off again. They stayed until they at last saw what was left of the German formations head back across the Channel. With Adlertag not being able to commence as planned for the Luftwaffe, August 15th 1940 could be said to have been the opening phase. Another directive had been issued by Göring, this time regarding new methods of attack, but no mention yet of a definite plan of invasion. So far, this had been the largest air battle so far during the Battle of Britain. Combat action were seen from beyond Newcastle in the north, to Dover in the south and across to Portland in the west. The Luftwaffe had lost officially seventy-six aircraft while Fighter Command lost thirty-four. Out of the seventy-six German aircraft lost, thirty-seven were bombers, and with four crew to each plane that was one hundred and forty-eight aircrew that would not take part in operations again.

    Winston Churchill turned and left the room, he was to head silently back to Chequers near Amersham to the west of London. Lord Ismay followed, as tried to talk to a concerned and upset Churchill "Don't talk to me" bellowed the Prime Minister, " Never before have I been so moved". They sat silently as the staff car made its way to the ministerial residence, then in an emotional tone of voice, Churchill said, "Never, Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few". It was these few words, giving praise to the courage and the esteem of the fighter pilots that fought that day, that were to become amongst the most famous words spoken by Britain's leader. The sentence would form the basis of his speech to the House of Commons on August 20th



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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    70 years later to the day, Spitfires, Hurricanes and even a Messerschmitt 109 (well actually a Spanish built Buchon with RR Merlin power!) filled the skies over Beachy Head and Eastbourne, just as they had on 15th August 1940...






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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    16th August 1940


    Mainly fair and warm with temperatures above normal. Cloud coming in from the Channel during the evening. The morning of the 16th August was slightly overcast with a haze out over the Channel, the forecast was for the day to become fine. The question for the RAF was: would the fine weather bring on a repeat of the previous day?

    RAF Bomber Command 4 Group. Bombing - Zeiss works at Jena, Dornier aircraft factory at Augsburg and power station at Bohlen. 10 Sqn. Nine aircraft to Jena. All bombed primary, one claimed at Bf110 destroyed and one failed to return. 51 Sqn. Fourteen aircraft to Bohlen. Two returned early, twelve bombed primary. One force landed at Nuneaton. 58 Sqn. Eleven aircraft to Jena and Augsburg. Two returned early (one hit by own AA), four bombed Jena and five bombed Augsburg. 77 Sqn. Five aircraft to Augsburg. One bombed primary, three bombed alternative targets. Weather bad. 78 Sqn. Five aircraft to Bohlen. Four bombed primary, one bombed an alternative target.

    RAF Fighter Command

    It looked as though it could be a carbon copy of the previous day, the weather was right, and Britain's pilots were tired after the events of the previous day. But surprisingly, no major attacks were planned by Germany which was a really a mistake on their part because they did at this time have the opportunity in pushing Fighter Command to the brink, and seeing just how far they could hold out.

    1200hrs: Radar picked up formations of enemy aircraft on three fronts coming across the Channel. The first was just off Dover where 100 plus Do17 bombers and Bf109 fighters appeared to be heading for the Thames Estuary. A larger force was detected between Brighton and Folkestone while a third had departed from Cherbourg and was heading towards the Southampton/Portsmouth area. 54 Sqn (Hornchurch), 56 Sqn (North Weald) and 64 Sqn (Kenley) engaged combat with the enemy over the Thames Estuary with only one Hurricane destroyed and a Spitfire of 64 Sqn damaged. 1215hrs: The formation that was approaching the Kent coast between Folkestone and Brighton was larger than the one over the Thames Estuary and Park scrambled three squadrons. 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill), 111 Sqn (Croydon) and 266 Sqn (Hornchurch). All three squadrons decided to go in en masse at the middle of the bomber formation hoping to spread the bombers apart. The combat action from here was fierce and ruthless with fighters and bombers weaving this way and that and the sky was nothing but hundreds of black shapes manoeuvring in spectacular fashion. But such action often culminates in danger and this was no exception.

    The Hurricane of F/L Henry Ferris collided with one of the Dorniers and both aircraft exploded in mid-air. The Spitfire of 266 Sqn commander S/L Rodney Wilkinson had two Bf109s attack him and he went down in flames after it is believed he collided with a Bf109 in which its pilot Uffz E. Buder baled out and was captured. Although the Luftwaffe had lost up to ten aircraft, one Hurricane and five Spitfires were lost in this action. 1300hrs: A large formation of enemy aircraft was detected coming in over the Channel east of the Isle of Wight. 43 Squadron and 601 Squadron (Tangmere) were scrambled as orders were given to all base personnel that the formation was Ju87 dive bombers and that they were heading towards Tangmere Aerodrome. Residents of the surrounding villages and personnel on the airfield had a clear view of the gull winged attackers as they made their near vertical dives onto the airfield. Passengers on an electric train that plied the Portsmouth-South Coast railway line also had a clear view of the events, and saw hangars and buildings explode as bombs found their mark. A number of Hurricanes and Blenheim aircraft were destroyed in many of the hangars that were hit. After just fifteen minutes, it was all over with eight Ju87 aircraft destroyed and many others trailing smoke as they went back across the Channel. 43 Sqn lost four Hurricanes on the ground, and another flown by P/O C. A. Woods-Scawen crashed for the second time in two days and although the aircraft was destroyed, the pilot was unhurt. Two other Hurricanes were damaged but managed to return to base. 1310hrs: Tangmere also became victim to the Ju88s of Air Fleet 3 who targeted the airfield with extreme accuracy. Not one building or hangar escaped damage, aircraft were smashed both in the hangars and as they stood out in the open, in fact a total of fourteen aircraft were destroyed.

    Ventnor radar station, now restored since its devastation on August 12th, was the next target for the Luftwaffe. Five Ju87s hammered the radar station for just five minutes and with accurate bombing it was once again put out of action, but this time considerable damage was done and Ventnor was to be out of action until September 23rd. Across the Solent, the stretch of water that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland, Ju88s had attacked with great success the anti-aircraft installations at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. More enemy action was seen over the Naval establishments of Gosport and Lee on Solent. Both these bases, although not belonging to Fighter Command, were targets for the Luftwaffe and they came under constant bombing attacks. 213 Sqn (Exeter) and 249 Sqn (Boscombe Down) were involved in combat over Southampton and Portland with both squadrons losing aircraft. Ju88s and Bf110s dived down on Gosport seriously damaging a number of buildings and killing a number of people. 1345hrs: Later, three Ju88s were visually spotted over the Solent.


    One of the pilots that spotted the threesome was Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson flying his Hurricane of 249 Sqn, had seen many enemy aircraft but this was the first time that he had been close enough to make an attack. It happened so fast; he turned and dived to improve his position, but lost the formation. Then he saw a squadron of Spitfires attacking the Ju88s and again made a turn to join in the combat. But suddenly, while he was concentrating on the melee in front of him a burst of cannon fire ripped his canopy apart. Partially blinded by the sudden rush of cold air that was now engulfing him, plus the fact that blood was seething out of a wound on his forehead and running into his eyes. Momentarily dazed, and not knowing that a Bf110 had been on his tail he was again hit, this time by another cannon that split open his reserve fuel tank and in a sheer split second the Hurricane was engulfed in flame. Again he was hit, this time by gunfire and this time as bullets cut into the whole length of the plane he was hit in the left leg and that portion of his trousers was ripped right off. Losing speed, he tried in vain to blindly turn the aircraft away from the pursuing German fighter bomber when the Bf110 had overshot him. Nicolson straightened the Hurricane and still bellowing smoke and flame and with a damaged cockpit cover dived and set chase for the German. He was now only 200 yards from the 110 and within striking distance. Flame and smoke wrenched from the instrument panel with glass popping from the instruments.


    At 1350hrs he got the 110 in his sights, he lined it up and with his finger rock hard on the firing button blasted away at the bandit, his badly injured hand taking all the pain that it could. Suddenly, the 110 was engulfed in smoke, and it then turned, went into a gentle dive and spiralled down into the sea below. He tried desperately to disengage the harness from his body, and pulled a useless left leg up towards him, then dived head first out of the burning ball of flame that once was his Hurricane. It is said that he actually fell some 5,000 feet before realizing that he had to pull the ripcord. His left eye, now completely blinded with blood, his other eye closed as if it was a relief to rest them as he gently fell towards solid ground. At this point one would be forgiven for thinking that was quite a day he had had but his ordeal was far from finished.

    As Nicholson descended some Local Defence Volunteers (LVD), under orders, began firing with rifles and shotguns at what they mistakenly believed to be enemy parachutists. Flight Lieutenant Nicolson, unsurprisingly in enormous pain still landed and saw with his good eye, that blood was pouring through the lace holes of his left boot, his flying jacket showed signs of being burnt, and the glass on his wrist watch had melted with further wounds received from shotgun pellets. When ground troops realised their error he was rushed to The Royal Southampton Hospital where he made a full recovery and returned to active duty during late 1941.

    It was actions such as this that typified the courage and determination of the fighter pilot, it was actions such as this that brought out the emotions of Churchill, and it was Dowding who said that "...the pilots are doing their best." For his actions, James Nicolson was awarded the VC, the only member of Fighter Command (and the only Battle of Britain participant) to be so honoured.


    1730hrs: 1 Sqn (Northolt), 610 Sqn and 615 Sqn are vectored towards Sussex after a formation of He 111 bombers and an escort of Bf110s are detected coming in across the Channel. By the time that the squadron engage the enemy, they are well inland and combat operations take place on the Surrey/Sussex border. The Heinkels are then picked up by 602 Sqn (Westhampnett) who intercept them over the Brighton area


    Heinkel He 111P aircraft, code G1+FR Kampfgeschwader 55, 7th Staffel Unit based at Villacoublay in France. The aircraft crash landed at High Salvington Sussex, on board was Leutnant Rudolf Theopold who was the pilot (POW). Accompanying him were Unteroffizier Rudolf Hornbostel (POW) – observer Helmut Glaser (POW), wireless operator 31-year old Unteroffzier Albert Weber the flight engineer (killed and later buried in Durrington Cemetery) 24 year old Gefreiter Johannes Moorfeld the gunner (killed and also buried in Durrington Cemetery)

    This Heinkel was picked up again flying over the Worthing Golf Course pursued by Spitfires from Blue Section of 602 Sqn. Findon villagers heard the sound in the air grow closer as a dogfight broke out. Firing was heard and the aircraft appeared to be extremely low. The drone of a crippled aircraft right overhead followed more firing and “thud thudâ€. The Heinkel was passing too low for comfort from the north over Findon Farm and the Horsham Road area. It was riddled with 400 bullets received from the Spitfire whose pilot, Flight Lieutenant Robert Finlay Boyd reported:

    Sighted He111 approx 1,000 feet above and coming towards us. I did a climbing turn and delivered a beam attack, followed by Blue 2, who stopped one motor. Successive attacks were delivered by the Section until E/A (enemy aircraft) crashed in waste ground approx four miles north of Worthing. Attack at 16.55 hours, landed at 17.45 hours


    The Spitfire pilot had shot down his very first enemy aircraft, (a Dornier Do17) only the day before the Heinkel incident and on the 16th August he had shot down a Junkers 87 within a minute of taking off, and later in the day shared in the "kill" of this Heinkel 111 with other members of 602 Sqn.


    6./KG55 (G1+HP) After the attack on Feltham, near London. Gunfire from Squadron Leader Pemberton’s 1 Sqn Hurricane damaged the oil cooling system causing failure of the engines. The pilot, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Wieland, brought the Heinkel down to a good landing at Annington Farm, Bramber, Sussex

    Three other He111s were reported to have been destroyed also two Bf110s, while another Bf110 was reported to have been damaged in this action crashed in France. Four of the 1 Sqn Hurricanes received damage, but all returned to base with no loss of pilots, and all aircraft repairable. 610 Sqn lost a Spitfire while 615 had one Hurricane damaged. 1735hrs: Late afternoon action saw 234 Sqn in combat with Bf109s over Portsmouth and the Solent. Then a lone He111 was rammed by an unarmed Anson trainer by a sergeant pilot. It will never be known as to whether the sergeant pilot rammed it intentionally or by accident will never be known as both aircraft plunged earthwards joined together. 1750hrs: Flying back to Duxford from Coltishall, 19 Sqn Spitfires were given mid-air instructions to proceed to a vectored position just off the east coast at Clacton-on-Sea Essex. At first there was no sign of the raiders, but it was not long before a flight made contact with 70 He111 and about 50 Bf110s just south of Harwich. Joined by another flight, a strong and intense battle emerged with weaving planes and long glowing lines of tracer above the coastline. One He111 was brought down over the sea, but a number of Bf110s crashed into the Essex countryside.


    The first German aircraft to be brought down within what was then the County Borough of Eastbourne crashed in Meads. A Messerschmitt Bf 110 (A2 + G) of ZG 2 had left the former French aerodrome at Guyancourt as part of an escort for bombers raiding RAF airfields at Feltham, Heston and Heathrow. Over the South Downs, the Messerschmitt was engaged by a British fighter – almost certainly the Hurricane flown by P/O H N E Salmon of 1 Sqn. His report was as follows:

    I was green 2 and squadron 1. I did not stay with the squadron for the first attack as I was a little way behind so I climbed to 22,00ft and then dived on the last section of the bomber formation but a 110 came beneath me and I fired a short burst at it and saw the port engine immediately stop and it went into a vertical dive out of control, F/O Matthews confirms this. I continued my dive and went into some cloud as three 110’s attacked me from astern I continued my dive through the cloud and circling to find my position landed as I was on my reserve tank. The aerodrome was Redhill and after re-fuelling and being bombed by a single Do17, I took off again and landed at Northolt at about 1830 hrs


    The German aircraft broke up in the air, and the pilot, Hauptmann Ernst Hollekamp, was killed when he fell on the roof of Hillbrow School in Gaudick Road, his parachute unopened. The rear gunner, Feldwebel Richard Schurk, came down in the sea off Holywell and was drowned. The bulk of the aircraft crashed in the grounds of Aldro School in Darley Road - the wreckage was incorrectly identified in the local press as being that of a Heinkel He 111


    26 high explosive bombs were dropped from a Bf110 on Eastbourne in a line across Hampden Park from Kings Drive to the railway with some landing in Rosebery Avenue, Brodrick Road and Freeman Avenue. Three men died at 1720hrs - the Corporation workmen were sheltering under their lorry when it was hit, two died instantly the other dying the following day from burns


    Luftwaffe – 72



    1 Sqn Hurricane P3173 J.F.D.Elkington injured at 1305 hrs

    43 Sqn 4 Hurricanes destroyed on ground including P3971 and V7364

    43 Sqn Hurricane N2521 C.A. ‘Tony’ ‘Wombat’ Woods-Scawen bailed out uninjured over the Sussex coast – this was the second time in 2 days!

    43 Sqn Hurricane L7136 J.L.Crisp bailed out after a fire caused by glycol leak at 1800hrs, he broke a thigh

    56 Sqn Hurricane V7368 L.W.Graham bailed out near Manston at 1205 hrs injured


    56 Sqn Hurricane P3547 F.W.’Taffy’ Higginson force landed at 1615 hrs

    64 Sqn Spitfire P9554 A.D.MacDonnell was shot down by a Bf109 at 1715hrs near Uckfield - uninjured

    65 Sqn Spitfire K9915 L.L.Pyman shot down and killed at 1730hrs near Deal, Kent

    65 Sqn Spitfire R6618 destroyed on ground

    111 Sqn Hurricane R4193 H.M.’Mike’ Ferris 111 Sqn Hurricane P3029 R.Carnall was injured when he was shot down near Paddock Wood at 1230hrs.

    213 Sqn Hurricane ? J.E.P.Laricheliere was shot down and killed off Portland at 1300hrs.

    234 Sqn Spitfire R6967 K.S.Dewhurst bailed out uninjured after combat with Bf109 over Gosport at 1730 hrs

    234 Sqn Spitfire IX4016 F.H.P.Conner bailed out uninjured after combat with Bf109 off Portsmouth

    249 Sqn. Flt-Lt Eric James Brindley Nicolson stayed, wounded and badly burnt, stayed in his blazing Hurricane P3576 over Southampton long enough to down a German fighter (see above)

    249 Sqn. Hurricane P3616 M.A.King was killed as he baled out - his parachute collapsed at 1355 hrs over Southampton

    266 Sqn Spitfire R6768 R.L.Wilkinson was shot down by Bf 109's at 1235hrs near Deal, Kent and killed, aged 30.

    266 Sqn Spitfire N3095 N.G.Bowen was shot down and killed by Bf 109's at Adisham, Kent at 12:45hrs, aged 20.

    266 Sqn Spitfire P9312 S.H.Bazley bailed out injured after combat with Bf109 at1245 over Canterbury

    266 Sqn Spitfire N3240 H.L.Greenshields was shot down and killed at 12:40hrs, aged 22, by Lieutenant Mueller-Duhe of JG 26. His aircraft crashed in Calais. He is buried at Calais Southern

    266 Sqn Spitfire K9864 S.F.Soden was shot down by Bf 109's over Canterbury, he force-landed and was wounded in the legs.

    600 Sqn Blenheim destroyed on ground

    601 Sqn Hurricane IP3358 W.M.L.’Billy’ Fiske was the first American to join the RAF in WW2. William Meade Lindsley Fiske III became the only American buried at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He died in a belly landing at Tangmere in the midst of a Stuka raid on the airfield. His aircraft burst into flames on coming to rest and Fiske was badly burned. He was taken to the Royal West Sussex Hospital in Chichester, but died 48 hours later from shock. He was 29 years old. The inscription on his headstone reads: "An American citizen who died that England might live."

    610 Sqn Spitfire R6802 W.H.C.Warner was shot down in combat with Bf 109's at 17:15hrs off Dungeness. He died aged 21.


    615 Sqn Hurricane P2963 Petrus Hendrik 'Dutch' Hugo was a South African injured when he force landed following an attack on a He 111 and a combat with a Bf 110, at 17:30hrs he was shot in the legs.


    The German News Bureau reported:

    An authoritative source has informed us that in the course of this afternoon's aerial hostilities, one German aerial formation took off on a special mission. This combat group was deployed against all military and war-related targets immediately surrounding the British capital. The German Luftwaffe will offer proof that no power in the world can prevent it from dropping its bombs anywhere in England that it chooses - even, if it should be necessary over the City of London.

    Trying to lure the British fighters into combat over the Channel by attacking Channel convoys did not bear fruit. Keith Park would not be drawn into sending all his fighters in one large force, in actual fact he sent only selected squadrons keeping many in reserve. Douglas Bader was still in favour of 'the big wing', that is attacking the German formations with multiple squadrons flying as though they were one, and he was slowly bringing No.13 Group Commander Leigh-Mallory round to his way of thinking. But Keith Park commanding 11 Group would hear nothing of it. The onslaught by the Luftwaffe on August 15th making attacks the whole width of the south coast and along the east coast proved, that the 'big wing' on occasions such as this was just not a feasible proposition

    German intelligence reported that the RAF had suffered considerable losses the previous day, and coupled with the fact that British losses for the first part of August was heavy, and it was estimated that the RAF had only 450 operational aircraft with a further 300 that were classed as serviceable. The truth was that Britain was turning out fighter planes at a far greater rate than ever before, and that now with some 450 Spitfires and Hurricanes being added each month, (against 175 Bf109s that the Germans were producing during August) the actual strength of Fighter Command was 570 front line fighters, with an additional 100 plus Defiants, Blenheims and Gladiators that could be called upon. What advantage the Luftwaffe had was in the strength of manpower. They could boast 1,560 pilots against the RAF's 1,380. Reichmarschall Herman Göring had held a meeting on August 15th 1940 after his Luftwaffe and Fighter Command had built Adlertag into a crescendo. His plan that the RAF would be destroyed in a matter of days was not going to come true, and a new set of plans was sent to all Luftflotte Commanders. The bombing of radar stations also was not working, as soon as it was thought that they were destroyed, Fighter Command had them back in operation within a matter of days. Attacking targets in the north of England and Scotland from bases in Norway and Denmark was proving suicidal, especially by day as it seemed that Fighter Command had many experienced squadrons based there and that their losses on these missions were proving far too costly. The use of the Junkers Ju87 dive bomber was not proving a success as it was hoped, and the Bf110 twin engined fighters were not faring much better either. In all, the Luftwaffe was not making much impression on the RAF at all. After the meeting, he dispatched new orders to all commanders to be effective immediately.

    The heavy concentrations of bombing in the south-east did cause considerable damage, and the attacks on the radar stations were probably their only claim to success, but even that was not fully accomplished as Britain had the radar back on air within a matter of days. But even so, many of the German bomber formations had lost their fighter cover transferring the advantage over to the RAF. Then came the mistaken target by Rubensdorffer that caused the first attack on a London suburb, which meant that not only had Göring's orders been disobeyed earlier by Deitchmann, but Rubensdorffer had also disobeyed orders laid down by Hitler. If anything that could be said of the German attacks on August 15th, it was that they managed to stretch RAF Fighter Command to the limit. 11 Group showed that they could in the event of a heavy attack, they could hold their own, just. In an all out attack, they would have to bring down support from 13 Group or 10 Group, but by doing this it would seriously weaken the defences of these Groups leaving the west and the midlands under strength.

    What had happened on August 15th could only be told as a victory for the RAF. Once again, too many blunders by the Luftwaffe had cost them dearly. Deichmann had taken his own initiative and ordered an all out attack on Britain, much to the displeasure of Göring. Luftflotte 5 made its first open daylight raid on the north of England from bases in Norway and Denmark and considering the damage they caused, their losses were high, and further to that, any aircraft that sustained damage, the long journey back across the North Sea accounted for many of them ditching before reaching the Norwegian coast.

    I have decided, that in view of the fact that not one of those attacked has been put out of action. From now on we shall waste no more time on the British radar installations

    Herman Göring - August 15th 1940

    True, the radar stations were back on the air usually within hours, a few days if major damage had been done, but was this a tactical move by the Chief of the Luftwaffe, or was it to be another blunder on the part of the enemy?

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  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    johnholmes said:

    I'll have a search C but I suspect that weather forecasting during the B-o-B was pretty rudimentary. The WAAFS plotting data is fine its just how much detail other than over the UK was available and then the forecasters ability to forecast for 12-24 hours ahead.

    anyway I'll have a look around.

    I know that later in the war met recce flights became routine into various sectors of the Atlantic and, I think, Mosquito aircraft were sometimes fitted with weather recording data when they flew over after a bombing raid to collect photo evidence of damage.

    I don't know whether this image of filght routes is of interest.

    It's taken from a talk by P.G.Rackcliff.

    A small extract from the talk may also be of interest. .

    "It would be very untoward not to refer to some of the pioneers in a talk of this nature and you will hear Alec Haslam's name repeated again, but I think we need to go back to Capt C K M Douglas* of the Royal Flying Corps who was with 15 Squadron in France in 1916 and later with 34 Squadron. Douglas took every opportunity to record temperature and cloud observations, and although wounded and posted to Home Command where he also undertook some observations in UK, he was back in France in 1918 and joined the Meteor Flight at Berek, which obtained upper air data for the Meteorological Section of the Royal Engineers, under the command of Lieut-Col E Gold who was probably well known to many of you"

    * Later to become senior fore caster at CFO, Dunstable.

    Mention of Capt. C. K. M. Douglas brings to mind the the most important forecast ever made. I refer to the forecast for Operation Overlord. I've been scratching around for a booklet I have by Dr. Stagg on the subject to no avail. Peter Cockroft has written a brief account:


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  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    A further extract from the transcript of the talk by P. G. Ratcliff on the Meteorological reconnaissance flights may be of interest.

    "Well, you will need to know something about the typical type of sortie; the long-range sortie involved an outward leg of 700 n.mi. at 950 millibars, with observations at 50 nautical mile intervals and additional sea level observations at every fourth position. There was a climb at the terminal position, after the sea level observations, to 500 millibars with temperature observations every 50 millibars and a top leg of .seven positions, followed by a descent to sea level, again with a sounding. Finally a low-level leg at 950 millibars or in stormy conditions, with very low MSL pressures, a low level section flown at, say, 920 or 930 millibars. Now a point to make about that viewfoil you see there. There were no definitive reconnaissance tracks; they were constantly being modified to suit operational requirements, as were times of the terminal ascent, and a number of flights which were originally straight out-and-return tracks were modified to a triangular form. So those tracks displayed were only nominal -in case of the nitpickers! And if I may go off-track for a minute, excuse the pun, there was no definitive Met air observer or at least no-one of that trade who could be recognised as such from his uniform. This anomaly arose because the men in the first four or five training courses undertook a short air gunnery course at RAF Manby and on successful completion were awarded the Air Gunners brevet. That was fine but unfortunately the powers that be then decreed that the air gunnery course was an unnecessary part of the training. This meant that a significant number of Met air observers were denied a flying badge their first operational tour of some 800 flying hours. It took the personal intervention of Air Chief Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, C-in-e Coastal Command, to put matters right and the Met air observers were finally awarded a flying badge of their own just before the end of the War. (the 'M' brevet).

    If I could now turn to one other very important flight which was the PAMPA Flight which I think we could call Weather Photo Intelligence Flight. I am not sure about their installation of fixed cameras but I certainly know they carried hand-held cameras just to prove their point to the forecaster when they got back from their sorties! The PAMPA Flights operated over enemy territory; originally there were two Spitfires with No 1401 who you remember had moved to Bircham Newton. Later on an establishment of Mosquitos was approved with a two-man crew, pilot and navigator, who also operated as the Met air observer. They commenced operations about Hay 1942 and then soon after that No 1401 Flight was up-graded to become 521 Squadron and in the Spring of 1943 the whole PAMPA operation was split-off from 521 Squadron and the aircraft and crews moved to Oakington to become 1409 Met Flight which was part of No 8 Group R.A.F. Pathfinder Force".

    Edited by weather ship
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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    A further extract from the transcript of the talk by P. G. Ratcliff on the Meteorological reconnaissance flights may be of interest.

    Certainly is WS! Thanks for adding that.

    17th August 1940


    Even though the 17th dawned an exceptional summers day with little wind and cloudless skies, there was not a German aircraft in sight, the skies around the south coast were empty. Radar operators at many of the stations began to suspect that their masts or receivers were faulty, not a blip could be seen on any of them.

    RAF Bomber Command 4 Group. Bombing aircraft factory at Augsburg. 102 Sqn. Five aircraft. One returned early, three bombed primary and one FTR

    RAF Fighter Command

    The Luftwaffe sent no major bombing operations on this day, only the occasional reconnaissance flight and Fighter Command did not even send out any fighters to intercept these either. There was no apparent reason for the lull, only that both sides, after the heavy engagements of the last few days both sides were in need of a rest. But for the Luftwaffe not to attempt any operation against Britain, it just proved the fact that they too were feeling the brunt of constant engagements and a days rest was the only way that they could reassemble and recompose themselves.


    Not a single sausage, scare, flap or diversion of any description today. Amazing, heavenly day too

    Commanding Officer 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill) Mike Crossley

    While Fighter Command were asking the question "Why? Why don't they come?" Station Commanders took the opportunity to clean up their airfields. Biggin Hill, Manston, Brize Norton, Tangmere, Kenley and Hornchurch as ground staff found the badly needed precious time to catch up on general running repairs without hindrance of enemy bombing interfering with the clean up, even if it was only for one day. Ventnor radar station appreciated the unexpected quiet, although more than one day was really needed to complete all repairs. Tangmere had been badly damaged and took advantage to fill in craters scattered all over the airfield, Brize Norton was also in the same boat. Broken communications were repaired and in many cases arrangements were made to re-house pilots where accommodation areas had been badly damaged or destroyed. It was also an opportune time to move out the dead and injured. Wherever possible, the dead were given decent burials, while those suffering serious injuries were transferred to civilian hospitals. Most of the ground staff found the time to complete repairs instead of just doing a quick patch-up to the aircraft. It may have only been one day, but it was a day that was welcomed by all.

    Just as the pilots of Fighter Command were in need of a rest, so were the German bomber crews of Luftflotten 2 and 3. German commanders had pleaded for a rest for their battle weary crews, and this was granted. Taking advantage of this were the ground crews who repaired damaged aircraft, and replacement aircraft were supplied where needed. Many of the Ju87 Stuka aircraft were showing scars of battle damage and the Dorniers and Heinkels too were in desperate need of servicing and repair. Fighter Command had inflicted serious damage to many of the German aircraft, and if these aircraft were to perform, then there just no alternative, satisfactory repairs had to be made. New aircraft had been flown in, but these to had to go through a period of inspection before they could be sent in to actual combat.

    Around 1700hrs a photo-reconnaissance aircraft lingered at 35,000 feet over London, before another flying even higher surveyed the Thames and its Estuary. During night attacks homes are destroyed in Aberavon, Wales. Bombs also fell south-west of Coventry and a dozen on Liverpool. P/O R.A. Rhodes and Sgt. Gregory operating a Mersey Blue Line patrol from Ternhill in Blenheim L6741 of 29 Sqn stumbled upon a Junkers Ju 88 from 224/NJG1, which they located by the lights in its rear position. Killed in the encounter was KG 53's Gruppenkommandeur when it was shot down into the sea off Spurn Head at 0300hrs.


    Luftwaffe – 1

    RAF - 0


    310 Sqn made up of Czechoslovakian pilots became operational. They were posted to Duxford. The language was a bit of a problem, on the ground it was not all that bad as there was always someone available to interpret, but in the air they talked in their own tongue over the RT and conveying instructions started to become a work of art. The same was to apply to the Poles later.


    Almost 90 Czechoslovak pilots flew in the Battle of Britain, with both 310 Sqn and 312 Sqn became operational during the Summer of 1940. Together with Czechoslovak pilots serving in other RAF units, a total of 88 Czechoslovaks (87 Czechs and 1 Slovak) served claiming almost 60 air kills. Eight pilots were killed. The top Czech scorer was Sgt. Josef František flying with 303 Polish Squadron who claimed 17 confirmed kills which made him the highest scoring allied pilot in the Battle of Britain. Many of the Czech pilots had fled to France after the annexation of their country in March 1939 and had become veterans of the Armee de L'Air Apart from Battle of Britain, 2,430 Czechoslovak aviators served in the RAF during the Second World War

    By the summer of 1940 some 35,000 Polish airmen, soldiers and sailors had made their way to Britain, making up by far the largest foreign military force in the country; of these some 8,500 were airmen. Polish pilots were among the most experienced in the Battle; most had pre-war flying experience and had fought in the Polish September Campaign and/or the Battle of France. No. 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron claimed the highest number of kills (126) of all the squadrons engaged in the Battle of Britain even though it only joined the combat on 30th August 1940 (though the number of claims could be verified down, but claims of the British squadrons were verified down proportionally as well). The 147 Polish pilots claimed 201 aircraft shot down. Sqn Ldr Witold Urbanowicz of 303 Sqn was the top Polish scorer with 15 claims. Sgt Tony Glowacki was one of two Allied pilots in the Battle to shoot down five German aircraft in one day, on 24th August (the other was New Zealander Brian Carbury). Sqn Ldr Stanislaw Skalski became the top-scoring Polish fighter ace in the Second World War.

    London: The Reuters News Agency reported:

    For the first time in the war, yesterday German aircraft have bombed the suburbs of London, but the actual city of London neither saw enemy aircraft, nor heard the roar of their engines nor of anti-aircraft fire. Londoners are going quietly about their work. In the evening the usual crowds are to be seen outside theatre and cinemas, and the parks are packed with strollers who will be very surprised to read in the morning papers what the Germans say about the great air battles over London. The first German report that London's port district had been "very badly damaged," provoked some mirth here; while the later German reports that their planes "danced" over London, that gigantic fires were raging on both sides of the Thames, and that a curtain of smoke lay across the whole of London, gave Londoners much amusement. When the air alert was sounded for the second time in 24 hours on Friday afternoon, at an hour when there was busy traffic on the streets, the majority of passers-by entered the air-raid shelters in complete composure.

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    18th August 1940 - 'The hardest day'


    After early morning mist, especially in inland areas the morning was bright with clear skies. Most of Britain could expect warm temperatures although a weak change would come in from the Channel at midday and bring cloud to most of southern England. The Midlands and North remained fine with patchy cloud.

    If the Germans were going to smash through Britain's fighter defences in an effort to make an invasion of England, they would have to do it soon. Again and again Göring brought his Generals together for conference after conference. They discussed tactics, failures, missions, radar, and the weather……

    RAF Bomber Command

    Bombing - Caproni aircraft factory at Milan and Aluminium factory at Rheinfehlen. 10 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Rheinfehlen. Very bad weather, eight bombed primary. 58 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Rheinfehlen. Six bombed primary, one bombed an alternative target. 77 Sqn. Four aircraft to Milan. Four bombed primary, one claimed a fighter destroyed

    RAF Fighter Command

    In the heaviest day of fighting so far, the Luftwaffe loses 69 planes to the RAF’s 33; another 29 RAF machines are wrecked on airfields.

    The Luftwaffe were now becoming frustrated, as it was way back in mid-July that it was estimated that it would take about six days to knock the RAF out of the air. Those six days had now turned into four weeks, and still the Luftwaffe where nowhere nearer victory than they were a few weeks before, in fact they were actually losing ground to Fighter Command. Although many losses for both sides were generally grossly exaggerated, it was a fact that for every RAF aircraft shot down the Luftwaffe was losing two. Couple this with the fact that British fighter production far exceeded that of Germany, the RAF by this day were well in front. But Germany was not a spent force yet; the Luftwaffe could call upon 1240 bombers and 745 Bf109s, a total of just under 2,000 aircraft. To fend off any attacks made by these aircraft, the RAF had only 825 fighters, which consisted of 520 Hurricanes and 258 Spitfires. 47 other aircraft that were generally not used in combat, but that could be called upon included Defiants, Blenheims and Gladiators. Of these, 11 Group had at their disposal 80 Spitfires, 245 Hurricanes and 15 Blenheims shared amongst 23 squadrons.

    For the last five days since August 13th the Luftwaffe had been targeting the airfields of Fighter Command and so far all they had done was to cause inconvenience instead of destruction. The German plan to destroy the Royal Air Force on the ground, and in the air was far from bearing fruit. Looking back on some of the previous days attacks, it was true that many of them had been of sizable proportion, but each time Fighter Command had managed to hold their own, if only just. Convoys in the Channel now seemed to be a thing of the past, Göring had already given up on trying to destroy the radar stations and the plan was to destroy the RAF airfields. But, they were not causing any substantial setback to Fighter Command as yet. Many of the airfields that the Luftwaffe had targeted were either those of Coastal Command, the Fleet Air Arm or RAF training installations. Also, and as was evident of the last few days, the Luftwaffe attacks were not concentrated in any one area. They were scattered, an early attack may be on the east coast, later an attack would occur off the Kent coast, then they switched to the west. With attacks like this, because of the set up of Fighter Command, the RAF were able to hold their own, so to speak. The ‘en masse’ attacks that were intended just had not occurred. Until now.

    The Luftwaffe knew that some of the larger airfields around London, notably Hornchurch, Biggin Hill and Kenley were the key stations of Fighter Command. They were actually unaware that they were sector stations, just important airfields in the organization of Fighter Command. The plan was, for August 18th 1940 to completely destroy both Kenley and Biggin Hill with a well planned attack, that once accomplished, they could duplicate the procedure at Hornchurch and other airfields important to Fighter Command. This was the plan for the day, and it was here that most of the daytime combat took place. During the afternoon there was some activity in the south near the Isle of Wight. Late afternoon saw action mainly along the east coast, which kept many squadrons busy and a few skirmishes took place in the west. But the main activity was Kenley and Biggin Hill.

    The very first Luftwaffe intruders of the day were six German reconnaissance planes (including a Bf110 of LG 2 which was shot down at 31,000 feet over Manston) dispatched to patrol the Channel between the Isle of Wight and Dover. They were to report on weather activity in the Channel areas and over southern England. They reported back that the early morning haze was thinning out and that the skies were clear although cloud was building up over the French coast and was expected to move north over England during the early afternoon.

    Between 0850 - 0910hrs: In methodical fashion, and at pre-arranged times, the German bomber forces and their escorts took off from various airfields in Northern France. The Heinkel He111s of KG/1 were to take off first from Rosieres-en-Santerre and Montdidier. These were to be followed by Do17s and Ju88s of KG/76 and these were to be joined by Bf110s of ZG/26 and Bf109s of JG/51. The He111s had just got airborne when a radio message came through that the mission was to be aborted because of thick haze over the English coast. The message managed to get through to the other Geschwaders before they took off, so the Heinkels were the only ones inconvenienced.


    1155 - 1230hrs: With cloud building up, the bomber formations were given the all clear to take off, some three hours behind the planned commencement of operations. Bombers of KG/1 got away as scheduled and over the French coast meet up with their escorts. The Do17s and Ju88s of KG/76 had problems with cloud and found it difficult meeting up with their escorts. The area to the north of Paris was 8/10ths cloud and the bombers had to climb through 4,000 feet of this before reaching clear blue skies. This was to put them behind schedule for the rest of the operation. Nine Do17s of 9/KG76 had managed to leave their base on time but it was these nine Dorniers that was to be the element of surprise as they were to fly at almost sea level and at between 50-100 feet above the Kent countryside to avoid detection by British radar. The plan here was for about 50 - 60 Bf109s to cross the coast at Dover and head north-west towards London. Their task was a free rein to make contact with any British fighter squadrons that were in the air and lure them away from the main bomber force about five minutes behind. This bomber formation consisted of 12 Ju88s and 27 Do17s with an escort of about 25 Bf110s and 20 Bf109s. The target for this formation was Kenley. About ten minutes behind is a formation of 60 He111s escorted by 40 Bf109s who's target is Biggin Hill. Further west, and to cross the coast near Beachy Head are 9 low flying Do17s who are unescorted.

    Once at their target, the 12 Junkers Ju88s were to approach Kenley from the east and make a precision dive-bombing attack on the hangars and buildings on the south side of Kenley aerodrome. This was to be followed approximately five minutes later by a high-level saturation bombing attack by the Dorniers to destroy ground defences and crater the landing ground. Finally, the nine Do17s coming in at low level from due south were to make the final blow destroying any visible hangars and building still standing. It seemed a daring sort of plan, but was feasible using a total of 110 bombers and about 150 escorting aircraft. The only problem was that the delay that had occurred with the Ju88s and Do17s in negotiating the cloud base on take off, coupled with the fact that flying time was slower than expected, they were running up to ten minutes behind schedule while the nine low flying Do17s crossing near Beachy Head were on time. 1225hrs: Dover radar station picked up some heavy activity over the Calais area. The CRT's (Cathode Ray Tubes) indicated a large build up on a wide front. At first, it was estimated by the operators that the enemy formation was 350 in strength, a gross exaggeration. 1235hrs: The Observer Corps scattered along the Kent coastline give a more realistic account, but even this was not completely accurate because of the still lingering haze. The lower level Ju88s were accurately accounted for, but it was almost impossible to number the Dorniers flying at higher altitude. But at least they could record the time and direction of the enemy formation.


    Flying Hurricane P3175, P/O Gerard Maffett of 257 Sqn, over the Thames Estuary, 18th August

    1245hrs: Activity at 11 Group Headquarters was gaining momentum. Plots were being placed on the map board and just below the area known as 'Hellfire Corner' at Dover the map board became inundated with black markers stretching right back towards the French coast. A number of squadrons were vectored into the area between Maidstone and Canterbury. These included 17 Sqn (Debden), 54 Sqn (Hornchurch), 56 Sqn (North Weald) and 65 Sqn (Hornchurch). 501 Sqn (Gravesend) were already on patrol and were preparing to return to base when they received orders to make 20,000 feet and patrol over Canterbury. 1305hrs: Both Fighter Command Headquarters and 11 Group Headquarters were watching the build up intensely and AVM Keith Park had put up what he thought would be adequate fighter defences. The German forces were still ten minutes behind schedule but all aircraft were on course. The Bf109s of JG3 and JG26 were still on a free hunt forward of the Ju88s and Do17s of KG76, while fifteen miles behind came the 60 He111 bombers of KG1. All eyes were now on the triangle bordered by Dungeness, Dover and Ashford.

    The squadrons that were patrolling the north Kent area were slightly too far north to make any contact with the German formation, except 501 Squadron who made a sweep between Tonbridge and Maidstone. They did not notice the Bf109s of JG26 above. To Oberleutnant Gerhard Schoepfel who was commanding the 109's, he could not have wished for a better opportunity having height and position. They swooped on 501 Squadron who were taken completely by surprise and were on the defensive from the outset. Five Hurricanes were destroyed but luckily only one pilot was killed. But coming in across the Channel at barely 50 feet above the waves, the nine Do17s of 9/KG76 the plan to fly low to avoid radar detection had worked. Fighter Command knew nothing of their presence.

    Charlie and Betty McNabb were walking along a country lane going towards Beachy Head:

    It had been a beautiful morning, peaceful and quiet and as we strolled enjoying the tranquillity of the morning, we both spoke and agreed that it was a shame that there had to be a war on, on such a tremendous day as this. I can remember the gentle breeze, so gentle it hardly rustled the leaves on the tree's, and all the birds seemed to be singing quite oblivious to our presence, when suddenly we heard a heavy rumbling sound, almost the sound of a strong wind coming towards us. But we could see nothing, but the sound got louder it was so strange. Then suddenly, and it gave us both a fright really, these huge dark shapes appeared over the cliffs almost as if they had come right out of the sea. The noise was now deafening as what must have been six or seven huge bombers disappeared as soon as they had appeared and all was peaceful again. My God it was scary.


    The Observer Corps post on Beachy Head had also spotted the Dorniers and reported the sighting to their headquarters at Horsham who in turn reported the situation to the fighter sector stations in their area, namely Kenley and Biggin Hill. Fighter Command was aghast when suddenly a small cluster of black markers appeared between Beachy Head and Lewes. No one knew at this time knew where the Dorniers were making for as they were on a north-westerly course between Beachy Head and Lewes. Both sector stations put up their fighter defences immediately - 32 Sqn and 610 Sqn (Biggin Hill0 + 64 Sqn and 615 Sqn (Kenley)

    But the actual flight plan of the low flying Dorniers was northwest from Beachy Head picking up the railway line at or near the town of Lewes. Then at the railway junction with the main Brighton to London railway line the Dorniers were to turn due north keeping the railway line to their left. This would take them directly to Kenley and the main buildings in the most southerly corner of the pear-shaped aerodrome. 1310hrs: The Dorniers of 9/KG76 were lining up to make their final approach to Kenley, the journey had been uneventful except for being shot at by a couple of Navy patrol boats over the Channel. Everything had gone to plan, except for the fact that there was no tell tale smoke over Kenley Aerodrome. What had happened to the Ju88s that were supposed to have dive-bombed Kenley first, and the Do17s that were supposed to have bombed the airfield just prior to their approach? The fact was, was that the formation coming in from the east was still running late and that it now appeared that the first attack would have to be made by Walter Roth's low flying Dorniers.

    The formation coming in from the east and the one following the railway line in the south were being closely watched. The sector station operation rooms at Kenley and Biggin Hill were being very cautious at the black markers that were both headed towards the south of London. It now seemed obvious that their targets were either Kenley or Biggin Hill. Both sector station had released their fighters to give cover from altitude, but reports were still coming in that the formation from the south was still at exceptionally low altitude. The observations were still being maintained by the Observer Corps, and still no word had been received from Fighter Command who generated all the decision making. Although Fighter Command HQ had been advised, the duty controller Squadron Leader Norman at Kenley who's airfield was about to be attacked could wait no longer for instructions from FCHQ. He had to make the decision without the consent of Fighter Command and acted as swiftly as he could, which was allowed if an airfield was in danger of being attacked. He requested assistance from nearby Croydon who dispatched the 111 Squadron Hurricanes. This was the only one squadron left that could possibly attack the Dorniers of 9/KG76.

    111 Sqn (Croydon) were "scrambled" and instructed to vector Kenley, and to 111 commander Squadron Leader John Thompson's surprise, he was told to maintain only 100 feet over the airfield. "You’re bloody mad" quipped Thompson, " I could prune trees at that height." "I repeat, yes repeat vector Kenley, patrol at 100 feet, 30 plus low level bandits approaching" came the voice over the R/T. 1319hrs: Squadron Leader John Thompson had seen the nine Dorniers directly in front of him as they made their approach to Kenley from the southern end, and had to make the decision as to make their attack on the leading bombers, or sweep round and attack from the rear. The Dorniers were preparing their formation to attack by spreading out, and Thompson decided to place the main thrust of his attack from the rear. 1321hrs: The Dorniers commence to spread out in an arc to commence their attack.

    1322hrs: The crews of the Do17s could now see the buildings and hangars of the aerodrome standing out before them. Just as they were about to unleash their bomb loads, the Hurricanes of 111 Sqn had taken up position at the rear of the Dorniers and had commenced their attack. The rear gunners of the bombers answered back with machine guns pointed towards the British fighters. At the same time, the ground defences of Kenley commenced firing in rapid succession with their Bofors, then came the chatter of machine gun fire from the sandbagged circles of the gun emplacements. Other defences were brought into action. Men manned the AA gun emplacements, but they could not fire until the Dorniers were almost directly above them. The parachute and cable were unleashed, while men and women not involved in any of the ground defences were ushered to the nearest shelters, although the approach of the Dorniers was so quick that many were not able to shelter at all and tried to find cover the best way they could. The specially fused bombs from the Dorniers fell with deadly accuracy. The hangars, mess rooms and other administrative buildings exploded in smoke and flame as each bomb found its mark. One of the Hurricanes was hit as the bombers commenced their attack, hit either by Dornier gunfire or from the guns of the Kenley ground defences. F/L S Connors was killed as his aircraft crashed to the ground at nearby Wallington.


    One by one the Dorniers dropped their load of twenty 110-pound bombs, and there was little that the defences could do. The noise, smoke, fire and explosions was intense. One by one, they created a path of absolute destruction. Hangars, domestic blocks, administration buildings, the officers mess, the station headquarters building all suffered at the accurate bombing. Bombs that had been released by the bombers in the centre of the formation bounced along the runways like ping-pong balls on a table tennis table before exploding. But if the bombing had been a success, it was at a price. One Do17 was hit as they made their approach, although it is not known if it was hit by gunfire from one of 111 Sqn Hurricanes or from Kenley ground fire, but the bomber continued on streaming smoke and letting loose it deadly cargo of bombs before crashing. Feldwebel Wilhelm Raab had just let his bomb load go when a PAC was sent skywards, but luckily the Dornier was in the process of doing a banking turn that the cable just missed his aircraft. But PAC's did account for two other Dorniers, being caught off balance as the cables caught their wings. Other Dorniers were hit as they climbed to make height by 111 and 615 Sqn’s.

    1324hrs: In just 90 seconds, Kenley had been made a shambles, and as the Dorniers had passed, many thought that the raid was over and emerged from whatever shelter they could find, only to be told by someone yelling at the top of his voice to get back under cover as the raid was not over. 1327hrs: The six remaining Dorniers had made their low level sweep over the aerodrome; their mission had been completed all bar getting back to their bases. The nine Dorniers, which between them had unleashed twenty, bombs apiece, that's 180 bombs in total or 19,800 lbs of explosive. Three had been hit and crashed and now the remaining six had no reason to remain at low level. They had to get out the best way that they could and with two squadrons of RAF fighters now circling a battered Kenley, their task was not going to be easy.

    The Bf 109's heading the formation from the east was now approaching Kenley and were constantly being kept busy by 615 Sqn (Kenley). At 20,000 feet they were suffering heavy losses but they managed to keep the Bf109s away from the bombers that they now should be protecting. 5,000 feet below, the 27 Dornier Do17s of KG76 who were unescorted now became the targets for 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill). Under the command of S/L "Mike" Crossley, the squadron had practiced head-on attacks, and here was one occasion that they could put all their learning into practice. Mike Crossley called the all familiar "Tally Ho" which now placed him in control of the situation. The twelve Hurricanes banked round sharply and headed for the formation of black dots, which through his windscreen looked as if they were almost stationary, which meant that the Hurricanes and the Dorniers were heading towards each other - at a closing speed of over 400 mph….


    The Dorniers were accompanied by an escort of Bf110s, and Crossley ordered "B" Flight to engage the escort while he himself would lead "A" Flight in line abreast head-on attack at the Dorniers. F/O Alan Eckford claimed the first Do17. As they closed in, it was almost like a game of 'Russian Roulette' to see who would give way first. One of the Dorniers, piloted by Oblt. Stoldt could not maintain course any longer with the Hurricanes coming straight at him. He banked to port, pulling out of formation and it was an ideal opportunity for Alan Eckford who opened up with all guns blazing at the under belly of the Dornier. The bomber trailed smoke then went into a spin spiralling earthwards finally crashing at Hurst Green. One other Dornier is thought to have been hit and crashed, but 615 squadron was up to its task and the Dornier formation were the ones who finally broke formation and scattered putting every one of them of their approaching bombing run. All bombs dropped fell mainly in surrounding areas and little further damage was done to Kenley. 615 Sqn was to suffer though. Four Hurricanes were shot down in the combat and one of the pilots was killed. S/L Mike Crossley went on to claim one of the Bf110s, and further back engaged the Ju88s and sent one of these spiralling to the ground, although it levelled out and trailing thick smoke could only get as far as Ashford where it crashed.

    1337hrs: The sound of the departing Dorniers had hardly disappeared when cleaning up operations went into action. The attempt to destroy Kenley had failed although considerable damage had been done. ll R/T communication with the aircraft had been severed when the attack commenced, but this was soon re-established by 1337hrs. Eight Hurricanes were destroyed on the ground, two hangars were totally destroyed while five others were severely damaged, the operations room suffered considerable damage and was put out of action, while many other buildings, including the hospitals were reduced to rubble. Had all the bombs exploded on impact, Kenley could have been totally destroyed, but many were released too low and hit the ground horizontally and failed to activate the warheads. A fireman at Kenley stated that the hangar fires were extremely difficult to extinguish. The roofs frames were made of timber, which was covered with asphalt and bitumen, most of the hangars had many drums of paint and thinners in them and most of the aircraft in them had petrol in their tanks. It was really an explosive situation.

    Unexploded bombs were everywhere. But the most imminent danger was the fires, made worse because one of the bombs had exploded and fractured the aerodromes water mains. Three of the four aircraft hangars had been destroyed, the main sector operations room lost all electricity and telephone services and the main power cable had been severed rendering the mainframe useless. Many station buildings and the medical sick bays were destroyed as was both the officers' and the sergeants' messes. A hangar housing the stations motor transport was wrecked, and four Hurricanes and a Blenheim had been destroyed with three Hurricanes and a Spitfire badly damaged. It had been a surprise attack to all members of air and ground crews at Kenley. The Luftwaffe plan was to send in a small formation of nine Do17 bombers to make a low level approach and attack, flying at between 50 and 100 feet between crossing the coast at Beachy Head and following the main Sussex railway line towards London crossed the southern perimeter of Kenley aerodrome and in one sweep across the airfield that took just ten seconds dropped specially fused bombs causing havoc and confusion, fire and destruction but with only a small amount of casualties. Apart from these deaths and injuries, the Germans paid a far higher price than Kenley suffered. The hangars were mainly surplus to requirements, and the equipment stores was mainly dispersed to the squadrons. The sick bay was relocated and such was aircraft output that there were more planes than people to fly them. Runway craters were filled in from mounds of rubble located around the airfield and, most of all, the Operations block remained intact. It was a lesson learnt about vulnerability and soon the Operations block was moved to a vacant butcher's shop in Caterham while alternative arrangements could be made. Alterations were being made to 'The Grange' in Old Coulsdon, which would accommodate an Ops room that would have more up-to-date equipment as well as space.

    The plan was that a large formation of Heinkel He III and Junkers Ju87 dive bombers should follow and would be guided by the visual sighting of fire and smoke. But these were late in arriving. The 50 plus Heinkels flying at high level escorted by some 75 Bf109 fighters were attacked over Surrey. 615 Sqn (Kenley) led by "Sailor" Malan mixed it with the fighters but outnumbered by five to one, 615 Sqn lost four Hurricanes before the Messerschmitts turned for home. The remaining six Hurricanes then tore into the 50 Heinkels and split them up. Some turned away, some obviously damaged attempted to turn for home while it is estimated only fifteen managed to get through to Kenley.

    A formation of Junkers Ju88 and Dornier Do17 bombers where also on a flight path towards Kenley. But 32 Sqn from Biggin Hill intercepted them and one Ju88 and a Do17 were shot down. Some managed to get through to the Kenley area, but most of the bombs dropped were way off target. 1345hrs: While the ground staff started to commence repair work on Kenley, and civil services arrived to assist in whatever way that they could, the Do17s and Ju88s of KG76 and He111s of KG1 lined themselves up to attack Biggin Hill, just a short distance away from Kenley. With a cover of some forty Bf109s the formation was spotted by 610 Sqn (Biggin Hill) with Squadron leader John Ellis in command. The bombers were in a stepped formation from 12,000 to 15,000 feet. Again, the timing of the attack was all wrong. The plan was very similar to that of the attack on Kenley, but either the low flying Dorniers were early or the Junkers were early.


    1350hrs: By the time the Dorniers had got into position at 100 feet to commence their low altitude attack, 610 Squadron had been joined by 32 Sqn and between them they managed to play havoc with the Luftwaffe's well thought out plan of attack. As at Kenley, the ground staff released the PAC rockets as the Do17s made their approach and accounted for the destruction of two of them. Other aircraft were forced to take evasive action. This meant that many of the bombs were released too early and either fell in the open areas of the landing field or amongst the trees in the wooded area to the east of the aerodrome. Some bombs and shrapnel fell close to the station buildings, but were not to cause any serious damage. Joan Mortimer worked in the operations room. The attack on Biggin Hill was to have been a carbon copy of the earlier attack on Kenley. Nine low flying Dorniers made the initial attack followed by high level bombing raids by Heinkel and Ju88 bombers. The difference here was that of the nine Dorniers that made the low level attack, seven of them were never to return to their bases. Again, as in the Kenley attack, timing of the attacks was out. The Dorniers arrived too early and the Heinkels arrived far too late than planned.

    1353hrs: Just three minutes after the low flying Dorniers had passed, the high level bombers were to release tons of high explosive on the airfield. But many of the He111 and Ju88 bombers were far too busy evading the onslaught of 32 and 610 Sqn’s that were doing a superb job of the defence of Biggin Hill. The bombing could only be regarded as very inaccurate with most of the bombs falling away to the east of the airfield, although a few did land on Biggin Hill only to cause large craters in the centre. No buildings were destroyed, only windows blown in by some close blasts. Compared to Kenley, Biggin Hill escaped unscathed.


    While 18th August will always be noted for the attacks on Kenley and Biggin Hill fighter stations, very little has ever been recorded on the German air attacks on the Coastal Command aerodrome of Thorney Island, and the Fleet Air Arm aerodromes of Gosport and Ford. It was around midday that 109 Junker Ju87 Stuka dive bombers from 2/StG77, 3/StG77, 5/StG77 and III/StG77, 65 Messerschmitt Bf109 fighter escorts and 55 Messerschmitt Bf109 fighters following up on a free hunting patrol left their bases in Normandy and Brittany to attack the aerodromes in Hampshire and Sussex and Poling Radar Station also in Sussex. The Messerschmitt Bf 109s were from 6/JG2, 1/JG27 and 6/JG27. Their flight path would take them across the English Channel and twelve miles to the east of the Isle of Wight.


    A depiction of P/O Bob Doe, off the Isle of Wight on 18th August, flying his Spitfire of 234 Sqn

    About ten miles south of the English coastline they would break up into three distinct groups. Twenty-Two Ju87s would attack Gosport, 27 would attack Thorney Island, 29 would attack Ford while 31 would attack Poling.


    Sgt. A. H. Pond of 601 Sqn engaging German Stuka dive bombers over Thorney Island

    The Poling Stukas were intercepted by in turn 43, 152, 601 and 602 Sqn’s with 234 Sqn taking on the top cover. In all 16 Ju 87s were shot down, two more crash landed and four were badly damaged, in addition to 8 escorting Bf109s shot down. The RAF lost four Spitfires and two Hurricanes. During the night raids took place on South Wales, RAF Sealand (Chester), Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Another bomb at Hook, Hampshire, exploded killing five members of a bomb disposal squad dealing with it.


    Standing beside Hurricane UF-N of 601 Sqn are: F/O Topolnicki, F/Lt Robinson, F/Lt Davis, F/O Jankiewicz, P/O Mayers and an unknown F/Sgt


    Luftwaffe – 69

    RAF –

    17 Sqn Hurricane L1921 N.D.Solomon and Hurricane P3029 D.O.G

    No 32 Sqn Hurricane P3147 J.F.Pain, Hurricane V7363 H a'B Russell, Hurricane N2461 M.N.Crossley, Hurricane V6535 R.G.C.deH de Grunne, Hurricane R4016, L.H.B.Pearce, Hurricane R4081 B.Wlasnowolski and Hurricane V6536 B.Henson,

    43 Sqn Hurricane R4109 F.R.Carey

    56 Sqn Hurricane ? I.B.Westmacott and the Hurricane of F.W.Higginson

    64 Sqn Spitfire D.O.G. (destroyed on ground)

    65 Sqn Spitfire R6713 F.Gruszka

    85 Sqn Hurricane P2923 R.H.A.Lee, Hurricane V7249 J.A.Hemmingway and Hurricane P3649 J.E.Marshall


    92 Sqn Spitfire N3040 R.R.S.Tuck,

    111 Sqn Hurricane P3943 H.S.Newton, Hurricane N2340 A.H.Deacon, Hurricane R4187 S.D.P.Connor, and the Hurricane of P.J.Simpson + two more Hurricanes D.O.G.

    151 Sqn Hurricane IP3871 F.V.Beamish, Hurricane P3940 J.A.C.Gordon and Hurricane R4181 J.B.Ramsey

    152 Sqn Spitfire W.Beaumont and another unknown Spitfire

    234 Sqn unknown Spitfire

    253 Sqn Hurricane P3488 D.O.G.

    257 Sqn Hurricane P3708 A.G.Girdwood and the Hurricane of H.R.A.Beresford

    266 Sqn Spitfire X4061 and Spitfire X4066 + 6 others all D.O.G. .

    501 Sqn Hurricane R4219 R.C.Dafforn, P3815 F.Kozlwolski, Hurricane N2617 D.A.S.MacKay, Hurricane P3208 J.W.Bland and Hurricane P2549 G.E.B.Stoney and Hurricane P3059 K.N.T.Lee, Hurricane

    'There I stood at the bar, wearing a Mae West, no jacket, and beginning to leak blood from my torn boot. None of the golfers took any notice of me - after all, I wasn't a member!'
    Kenneth Lee of 501 Sqn after being shot down on the 18th August.

    601 Squadron Hurricane R4191 L.N.Guy, Hurricane L1990 R.P.Hawkins and Hurricane V7305 flown by A.H.D.Pond

    602 Squadron Spitfire L1019 B.E.P.Whall, Spitfire L1005 C.J.Mount, Spitfire X4161 H.W.Moody, Spitfire X4110 J.Dunlop-Urie and Spitfire K9969 flown by P.J.Ferguson

    610 Squadron Spitfire R6694 C.Pegge and Spitfire R6993 of J.Ellis

    615 Squadron Hurricane P2966 L.M.Gaunce, Hurricane R4221 P.H.Hugo, Hurricane IP2768 P.K.Walley, Hurricane L1592 D.J.Looker, Hurricanes IR4186, P3487 and IP3158 all D.O.G.

    6 SFTS Avro Anson B.Hancock

    Göring rebukes the Luftwaffe generals for their disappointing campaign, and the fighter ace, Adolf Galland asks for Spitfires in reply:

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  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    Very interesting posts Coast. Don't know whether anyone has mentioned it but there is an interesting article "The history of Biggin Hill met. office" by W.S. Pike in Weather magazine April 2005, Vol, 60, No. 4. A brief snippet.

    "The savage German air attacks during August 1940 (from Eagle Day on the 13th onwards) were specifically directed at Dowding's No. 11 Group Fighter Command airfields in south-east England, and Biggin Hill was hit twice on the 30th. Three of the four met. office observers were killed as they took shelter underground at about 1710 GMT in the second (low-level) raid. In fact, these were all three people who had written the hourly weather observations in the large pocket register, namely Norman Arthur Roberts (Observer in Charge). Leading Aircraftman Thomas Charles Joseph Brunning and Leading Aircraftman Edwin Henry Frederick Butfield. Following an immediate decision that the airfield was to be evacuated by all but essential personnel, the surviving observer (R. H. Jessop) rescued the pocket register from the damaged met. office building and, for the next few days, maintained rudimentary observations without instruments "from a house on the northern edge of the airfield" (note by Jessop in the register). This was likely to have been in a small row of houses by the bend in the main road to Bromley".

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  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    hi WS

    I think if you go to this link you will find the full output by UK Met in 1990 about Met involvement during the BoB.


    and as you say the posts from Coast are totally fascinating and well worth reading.

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    19th August 1940


    Overcast and dull during the morning. Forecast was for showers to develop my midday, which they did turning mainly to rain periods especially in the east. In the west, although overcast, it was brighter, although the midday drizzle periods ceased by early afternoon and it remained dry.

    RAF Bomber Command 4 Group (Whitley)


    Bombing - power station at Schornewitz. 51 Sqn. Ten aircraft. One returned early, nine bombed primary, one FTR. [Hitherto, it had not been possible to determine whether missing aircraft had actually reached a target and bombed, but the improvement in W/T procedure eliminated this.]


    RAF Fighter Command

    1230hrs: After a very quiet morning, a formation of approximately 100 Bf109s, in two waves, 60 plus being detected just off the coast of Dungeness while forty plus were sighted to the north of Dover and flew along the south coast of England on a 'free chase' mission but the RAF were not to fall for such a tactic and ignored them allowing them to return to their bases. (Free Chase is an operation where enemy aircraft patrolled close to the coast in the hope that they would lure the RAF fighters into the air). 1300hrs to 1600hrs: Spasmodic attacks by Bf109 fighters from Calais airfields during the course of the afternoon made strafing attacks on many of the British coastal airfields. These included Manston, Lympne, Hawkinge and a number of airfields in the south-west. Manston received the most serious damage once again, but was not recorded as being serious.

    1430hrs: 602 Sqn (Westhampnett) were dispatched to intercept a formation of Ju88s detected off the Sussex coast. One Ju88 was shot down off the coast near Bognor with all four crewmen killed. One of the Spitfires was also shot down about 15 minutes later by return gunfire from a Ju88. The pilot managed to bale out although sustaining burns to both hands and landed near Arundel. All Ju88s aborted the mission and returned to their bases in Northern France. 1500hrs: Bilbury airfield, a satellite aerodrome of Pembury was attacked by what was thought to be Ju88s, possibly the same that attacked the oil tanks later at Pembroke. A number of Spitfires were damaged on the ground, but all were repairable. 1520hrs: Believed to be two Ju88 bombers managed to cross the south-west counties of England without interception by British fighters and cross the River Severn and head for the oil storage tanks at Llanreath close to the Pembroke Docks in South Wales. Two tanks received direct hits and eight tanks of the fifteen total exploded and burst into a flaming inferno. The fire was not brought under control until the early hours of the next morning.


    Luftwaffe – 10


    1 Sqn Hurricane P3684 C.N.Birch crashed when he strayed into a balloon area nr Finsbury Park. He baled out safely

    66 Sqn Spitfire N3182 J.A.P.Studd was killed by the return fire from a He 111 Off Orfordness. He baled out and was rescued, but did not regain consciousness

    92 Sqn Spitfire R6703 T.S.Wade crash landed near Selsey after being hit by the return fire of a Ju 88 over the Solent His aircraft exploded after he had got clear, he escaped injury.

    248 Sqn Blenheim L9457 J.H.Round, W.H.Want and M.P.Digby-Worsley on a recce of the Norwegian coast - they failed to return.

    602 Sqn Spitfire P9423 H.W.Moody baled safely out at 14:50hrs near North Berstead, West Sussex. He had been attacking a Ju 88 off Bognor Regis and his aircraft was hit by return fire from the rear gunner. Moody suffered slight burns to his hands.

    By this time, Fighter Command as well as the Luftwaffe were looking into the reasons as to why very little progress was being made, things now seemed at a stalemate. Both sides called important meetings and conferences as they entered the next phase of the battle. Air Chief Marshal Keith Park told a staff group conference of 11 Group that utmost priority must be given to the defence of the airfields. He informed the meeting that Sector Airfields were under continuous attack and that he had no doubt the Luftwaffe would continue to bomb them especially those in his group, which are still the main threat to the German Air Force. He made it quite clear that we must avoid airfields from the devastating attacks like the ones on Kenley and Biggin Hill of the last few days. He pointed out to the conference that 'now Göring knows that he can penetrate our inland airfields, there will be no stopping him from continuing.'

    Air Vice Marshal Leigh-Mallory still insisted that more use should be made of the 'big wing' theory, and Leigh-Mallory was now gaining more supporters of this. But Park still stood firm, stating that a statement of figures had been placed before them regarding the losses and replacements, and that he would still object to the 'big wing' theory;

    "but we are at moment in no position to implement it anyway"

    AVM Keith Park to the August 19th Conference

    Park at this time still had the support of Dowding who agreed that the area 11 and 10 Groups had to cover on the south coast was too great for a 'big wing' to be successful at this time. The idea of sending anything up to five squadrons to attack the same formation, would be nothing short of catastrophic, remarked Dowding, his thinking was that the more planes you sent into battle, meant that the possibility of losing more pilots would be greater than ever. Fighter Command could not afford to lose more pilots than absolutely necessary. Keith Park also brought to the notice of the meeting that he had become aware that many pilots were still chasing the 109 escorts, probably because of the thrill of high-speed combat and inexperience. But he went on to add, that now that the Luftwaffe were now concentrating more on bombing missions, that it is imperative that these bombers must be regarded as priority targets. He went on to add that the escorts had only limited fuel once over English soil, and that they would have to return back to their bases, but the bombers had a far greater range, and not only that, could cause far greater destruction. So the order was to be given, "Prime targets are the bomber formations and that fighter to fighter combat must be avoided if such bomber formations are present". Dowding also agreed to Parks request that immediate assistance be given to 11 Group by 10 and 12 Groups when requested.

    When the pilots heard of the order that attacks be given to the German bombers instead of the fighter escorts, they were far from happy about this. The tactic of selected squadrons attacking the escorts above while other squadrons attacked the bombers was working and was far easier to control because the combat would be broken into two different combat actions. If greater priority was given to the bombers, then;

    a. They could be jumped upon by the escorts while concentrating on the bombers, and

    b. if all squadrons were to make attacks on the bombers as first priority, then the escorts would have to come down to the same altitude as the bombers and the task would be made even more difficult, and

    c. if this method was to continue, the German bomber crews would demand even bigger escorts.

    Across the Channel, Göring realizing that at the moment his Luftwaffe was not gaining the upper hand against the RAF was holding an important conference with his commanders at Karinhall also. It was from this meeting, that a number of important changes to strategy would be made.

    First, he confirmed that the Ju87 and the StG Staffels would cease front line operations against British targets and that only two Staffeln would be maintained. This would be for reasons that some operations may require the services of the Ju87 for pin-point bombing accuracy that only the Stuka could be used to greatest effect. They would also be used for attacks on any British merchant convoy that would be passing through the Channel.

    Another instruction was that because RAF Bomber Command could possibly engage in counter attacks on German airfields and towns, he instructed his Air Fleet Commanders to make continued attacks on airfields of Bomber Command. One of the orders to come out of this meeting angered many Bf109 commanders. Göring instructed that on Bf110 missions, they must be escorted by Bf109 fighters. This almost seems a laughable situation having fighter aircraft escort fighter aircraft, and not only that, his order was that the Bf109s should fly in close escort. An order that only goes to show how out of touch Göring was with modern day air warfare.

    One of the limitations of the Bf 109 was that it was limited in range. For this reason all of Air Fleet 3s Bf109 fighters were moved to various airfields in the region of Pas-de-Calais, bringing them under the command of Kesselring, but this would then provide them with greater limits and allow them to stay over England for a longer period of time.

    Another decision made by Göring, was that fighter crews be given the chance to 'get to know' the bomber crews that they were to escort. They should meet; build up friendships, and work together like brothers. This was further highlighted when the commander stated that all bomber crews should always have the same escorts. A view that was not received with the same enthusiasm by fighter and bomber crews alike. If anyone wanted to do something that would bind the two crews together, they said, then we should be given radio communication with each other, our radios should also be on the same frequencies making for easier and less confusing understanding of radio messages.

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    20th August 1940


    Overcast and dull during the morning. Cloud base was very low in the north with rain in many places. As the morning progressed, the rain moved further south. London and the Thames Estuary remained cloudy and overcast, but the Channel area was fine with sunny periods.

    The orders given by Göring in his Luftwaffe Command Orders Staff 1A were in part put into action during the night of the 19th/20th. Göring mentioned that the weather conditions expected in the next few days were cloud over much of Britain, and that the Luftwaffe must take full advantage of the situation.

    RAF Bomber Command

    120 RAF bombers attack targets in Germany and airfields in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

    RAF Fighter Command

    "The cloudy conditions likely to prevail over England in the next few days must be exploited for (aircraft factories) attacks. We must succeed in seriously disrupting the material supplies of the enemy Air Force by the destruction of the relatively small number of aircraft engine and aluminium plants. These attacks on the enemy aircraft industry are of particular importance, and should also be carried out by night. It would appear desirable for the purpose of night operations to allocate to units particular areas which they will come to know better during each successive raid. Within this area a list of target priorities should be drawn up, so that each sortie will produce some valuable result. There can no longer be any restriction on the choice of targets. To myself, I reserve only the right to order attacks on London and Liverpool."

    Reichsmarschall Herman Göring 19th August at Karinhall

    But these amounted to only small raids, between 12 and 15 He111 bombers attacked Liverpool and the Merseyside Docks and some dropped more bombs in the Midlands on the way back. Damage was only minimal and one He111 was shot down on the return journey over County Durham. These were some of the first bombs to be dropped on the City of Liverpool. A Large formation of 100 plus aircraft was detected coming in from the North Sea into the Thames Estuary. They seemed content in maintaining their altitude and started to take in a circular pattern and their flight path seemed to be over Rochford, Hornchurch, North Weald and turning back along the North Kent coastline. No attempt was made to bomb any of the areas and Hurricanes from 32 Squadron Biggin Hill and 56 Sqn (North Weald) chased them back out to sea. It is believed that the German formation was on a reconnaissance flight.

    1345hrs: 242 Sqn (Coltishal) were on a convoy patrol off the east coast when they attacked enemy aircraft. Very few details are available, but it is believed that they were hit by returning gunfire from Do17s over the North Sea. One of the Hurricanes piloted by Midshipman P.J.Patterson was hit and he went into a vertical dive and crashed into the sea some miles out of Winterton on the east coast. This was one of the first young pilots that had been trained by the Royal Navy and transferred to the RAF, and had come under the command of Douglas Bader.

    The most serious of the day’s actions were during the mid-afternoon. 1530hrs: Another raid was made on the airfield at Manston. Bombs were dropped and the airfield strafed. Damage was only minimal although a hangar was damaged, a couple of buildings hit by debris and a Blenheim aircraft of 600 Sqn was damaged, but there were no casualties during the incident. 65 Sqn (Hornchurch) went in to intercept, but were attacked by the Bf109 escorts in which one Spitfire was damaged by cannon fire and made a forced landing on Foulness Island. The pilot was unhurt although the aircraft was destroyed. 1545hrs: The oil tanks at Llanreath at Pembroke Docks, which were still burning from the previous days bombing, were again attacked. Defence was by anti-aircraft gunfire that failed to hit any of the German bombers, but they did manage to hit a Blenheim of 236 Sqn (St Eval), that although damaged, managed to return to base.


    Luftwaffe – 7


    A Luftwaffe Focke Wulf FW 200C-1 Condor, coded "F8+KH" and assigned to Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG 40), crashes at 1410 hours local on the lower slopes of Faha Ridge on Mount Brandon on the Dingle Penninsula in County Kerry. This was the second Luftwaffe aircraft to crash in the country during World War II. The Condor had departed Abbeville, France, on a reconnaissance mission over northwestern Ireland and had been damaged by AA fire from a ship. All of the crew survived. A plaque commemorating this event is on the wall of O'Connor's Bar and Guest House in Cloghane, Co. Kerry. Some interesting relics of that and other aircraft can be seen in the bar of these premises.



    No 65 Squadron Spitfire R6818 K.G.Hart was attacked over the Thames Estuary at 15:30hrs. The aircraft was badly damaged and written off but he escaped injury.

    No 242 Squadron Hurricane P2976 Midshipman P.J.Patterson crashed into the sea off Winterton Norfolk at 13:45hrs. Patterson was reported missing, cause unknown.

    London: Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons this day, 70 years ago at 1536hrs and praised the RAF for its heroic struggle against the Luftwaffe.





    "The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world ... goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds , unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war", he said. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day." Comparing this war with the last, the Prime Minister found many differences: "The slaughter is only a small fraction, but the consequences to the belligerents have been even more deadly. We have seen great countries with powerful armies dashed out of existence in a few weeks ... Moves are made upon the scientific and strategic boards, advantages gained by mechanical means."

    "There is another more obvious difference from 1914. The whole of the warring nations, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children. Our people are united and resolved, as they have never been before. Death and ruin have become small things compared with the shame of defeat."


    post-6667-024258300 1282287240_thumb.jpg

    post-6667-061675200 1282287281_thumb.jpg

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    21st August 1940


    Cloud and winds continuing to come down from the north, much cooler and conditions were expected top deteriorate during the day. Rain periods were expected in the south during the afternoon especially in coastal districts. The weather, which was slowly getting worse from the previous day was expected to continue. Fighter Command knew that large scale operations would be out, but they were not stupid enough to acknowledge the fact that the Luftwaffe would not attempt the occasional mission to possibly airfields and/or industrial targets. This was borne out just after midday when the days events started to unfold

    RAF Bomber Command

    No Ops

    RAF Fighter Command


    1215hrs: Radar picks up a small to medium formation out over the North Sea off Norfolk. The formation is tracked for a while before Fighter Command dispatched any aircraft. This was due to the possibility that the formation may have been on a reconnaissance mission and not causing any particular threat. The formation breaks into two groups. One comes inland and flies on a south-westerly course, the other continues north past the Wash and the Humberside region. Newly formed 302 Sqn (Leconfield) and 242 Sqn (Coltishall) were instructed to intercept. The Dorniers are from KG2 and head towards Norwich crossing the coast near Great Yarmouth. The other formation also consisted of Do17s were from KG3 and continued their flight path along the east coast towards Hull. 1230hrs: 242 Sqn make first contact and throw the Dornier formation into disarray. As the bombers twist and turn, Blue Section led by Fl/Lt G.F.Powell-Sheddon, tear into the front part of the formation and with two of his section hit one of the Dorniers. The Do17 of KG2 goes down and crashes in flames in Norfolk. Many of the formation seek cover in the low cloud and abort the mission. 302 Sqn, a new Polish squadron was returned to base. At RAF Watton in Lincolnshire a Do17 completes half a circuit before dropping 20 bombs causing neither casualties nor damage. In Southwold three houses are wrecked and in Leicester five die and 13 are injured during the city's first air raid.

    1235hrs: As the other portion of the formation flying north-west pass Hull, they are closer to the coast and Fighter Command release 611 Squadron (Digby) and interception is made just off the coast at Skegness. P/O J.W.Lund claims first blood when he shoots down a Do17 that crashes into the sea killing all on board. 1240hrs: The next casualty is one of the Spitfires of 611 Sqn, when P/O M.P.Brown launches in to attack a Dornier, but as he pulls away his Spitfire his hit by gunfire from the Do17 which damages the tailplane and one of the ailerons on his starboard wing and he is forced to return to base with a very unresponsive Spitfire. More Spitfires go into the attack, F/O D.H.Watkins lines up a Dornier in his gunsight and gives it a five second burst. Smoke trails from the stricken bomber and it goes down crashing into the sea off Scotts Head killing all the crew. 1245hrs: Within five minutes, his Spitfire is hit, but damage is only minor. The pilot, F/O D.H.Watkins tries to stay with the combat but his crippled aircraft is just a burden in the affray so he decides to return to base.

    1300 hrs: A section of 242 Sqn led by Douglas Bader was coming in to land at Coltishall just to the north of Norwich from a normal practice flight when Bader heard over the R/T that an enemy aircraft had been spotted near Yarmouth. The call was actually not for 242 Sqn, but for 66 Sqn also based at Coltishall. Bader could not resist the temptation, Yarmouth was only minutes away and he could be there within minutes. A layer of strato-cumulus cloud covered the sky at about 8,000 feet. He lifted his nose and bored into the cloud; twenty seconds later he lifted out of the grey foam into brilliant sunshine and there unbelievably in front of his eyes flew a Dornier 17 with a glistening pale-blue belly. The aircraft was about 700 feet above, going from left to right only a couple of hundred yards in front. As he wheeled up, the Dornier spotted him and dived for the cloud, but Bader was between the cloud and the enemy. Closing fast, he fired, seeing the tracer flick out. The rear gunner was firing. He was straight behind now and something came suddenly away from the Dornier like a little chain with weights on and then it had whipped past under him. He had his thumb on the button in a long burst when the Dornier slid into the cloud and he followed, still hosing bullets into the greyness. Bader lost the aircraft in the cloud, he stayed just under the cloud base twisting and turning, but the Dornier eluded him. Bader returned to base exceptionally annoyed and in a state of rage.

    1305hrs: The combat action continues and moves off the coast at Skegness, the Dorniers have been foiled in their attempt in attacking a coastal convoy coming down the coast. Many of the bombers try to gain height and take cover in the cloud. The Spitfire of P/O J.W.Lund takes a hit from gunfire from a Dornier and decides to return to base only to crash on landing with the pilot escaping any injury. 1320hrs: Another Spitfire takes a hit in the glycol system and it is believed that he also sustained damage to the hydraulic system, and returned to base. With 611 Sqn losing half of its aircraft the rest attempt to block access to the cloud cover forcing many of the Dorniers to take evasive action. 1330hrs: In a desperate attempt to seek the safety of the clouds, one Do17 collides with another receiving damage that forces the bomber to make a forced landing between Skegness and Maplethorpe. The crew were believed to have been captured. The other Do17 is immediately attacked by 611 Sqn and crashed in the vicinity of Maplethorpe. In the south west, German bombers made several attacks targeting 10 Group airfields and oil installations. 1425hrs: 234 Sqn (Middle Wallop) intercepted and attacked a Ju88. Possibly shot down by P/O R.F.T.Doe. The bomber crashed and burst into flames killing all on board. 1615hrs: An attack was made on Brize Norton airfield and also at Middle Wallop. 17 Sqn (Tangmere) intercepted a formation of Ju88s making the attacks. One of which was shot down, the Junkers crash landed at Earnley and the crew captured. 17 Sqn sustained no casualties. One Blenheim bomber was damaged at Middle Wallop during the raid.


    Luftwaffe – 14


    56 Sqn F/O R.E.P.Brooker was shot down by return fire from the rear gunner in a Do 17 over East Anglia, at 18:15hrs. He was slightly injured during his force-landing in his Hurricane P3153

    302 Sqn Sgt S.J. Chalupa in a Hurricane from Leconfield, Yorkshire force landed near its base with engine trouble following combat with Ju 88s off Bridlington at 16.30. The pilot was unhurt, the aircraft damaged but repairable.

    The RAF and Fleet Air Arm had included non-British personnel from before the beginning of the Second World War. After the beginning of the Second World War, there were volunteers from the British Dominions and refugees and exiles from nations in Europe. The RAF Roll of Honour for the Battle of Britain recognises 574 pilots from countries other than the United Kingdom, as flying at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit during the period from 10th July to 31st October 1940,

    American pilots of the Battle of Britain

    The RAF recognises seven aircrew personnel who were from the United States of America as having taken part in the Battle of Britain. American citizens were prohibited from serving under the various US Neutrality Acts although many Americans either misled the British authorities about their origins, claiming to be Canadian or other nationalities at war.


    P/O W M L "Billy" Fiske was probably the most famous American pilot in the Battle of Britain, although he pretended to be a Canadian at the time. Fiske saw service with 601 (County of London) Sqn and claimed one (unconfirmed) kill. He crashed on 16th August 1940 and died the following day Ultimately three RAF squadrons of pilots from the United States, known as Eagle squadrons would be formed before the US entered the war, although the first, 71 Sqn, became operational in February 1941, well after the main daylight battles.

    The South Africans

    One of the RAF's leading aces, and the one of the highest scoring pilots during the Battle of Britain was South African Adolph "Sailor" Malan DFC, an RAF pilot since 1936, who led No. 74 Sqn during the height of the Battle of Britain (see previous article) He was part of a group of about 20 pilots from South Africa that took part in the Battle, eight or nine of whom (depending on sources) died during the Battle.


    Other notable pilots included P/O Albert "Zulu" “Gerald†Lewis (above), who was with 85 Sqn in August, and then in September with 249 Sqn under Squadron Leader (later Air Chief Marshal) Sir John Grandy, at North Weald. Lewis flew three, four and five times a day and by 27th September, flying GN-R, he had eighteen victories. Basil Gerald "Stapme" Stapleton, with several probables to his credit, survived a crash on 7th September, trying to stop bombers getting through to London. Both men would later command RAF squadrons. The most senior officer of South African origin during the Battle was Air Vice-Marshal Sir Christopher J. Quintin-Brand of 10 Group RAF covering the Southwest; a long service RAF officer, he had joined the RFC in 1916.

    The Irish

    Among the dozen or so Irish pilots who flew in the Battle was Dubliner Brendan "Paddy" Finucane, an air ace who went on to claim a total of 32 enemy aircraft before being shot down and killed in 1942. He became operational in July 1940 and shot down his first Bf 109 on 12th August, getting a second Bf 109 the following day. In a 51-day period in 1941 he claimed 16 Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters shot down, while flying with an Australian squadron. "Paddy" Finucane went on to become the youngest wing commander in the RAF, an appointment he received at the age of 21. He was killed on 15th July 1942.

    ‘Dominion Pilots’

    The Australians

    Australia was among the first countries to declare war on Germany and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF; previously the Australian Flying Corps) was among the world's oldest air forces, having served in Europe and the Middle East during World War I. A large number of RAAF trainees had entered the Empire Air Training Scheme (as the Air Training Plan was known in Australia) by early 1940. However, the flow of Australian personnel to RAF fighter units was slowed by two factors: RAAF doctrine at the time emphasised the army co-operation and maritime patrol roles, and; the Australian government placed great emphasis on Article XV of the Scheme, which stipulated that Dominion aviators in Europe should serve with units from their own air forces. The first RAAF fighter squadron formed during the war did not commence operations in Europe until mid-1941. During the Battle, nevertheless, over 100 Australians served in RAF units including more than 30 in Fighter Command and 10 Sqn RAAF was also based in Britain where it formed part of Coastal Command. The top Australian ace in the Battle was Flight Lieutenant Pat Hughes of 234 Sqn (below) who claimed 14 kills before his death in September 1940.


    The New Zealand contribution

    The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) was set up as a separate service in 1937, but numbered less than 1,200 personnel by September 1939. The Empire Air Training Scheme (as the BCATP was known in New Zealand and Australia) had resulted in about 100 RNZAF pilots being sent to Europe by the time the Battle started. Unlike the other Dominions, New Zealand did not insist on its aircrews serving with RNZAF squadrons, thereby speeding up the rate at which they entered service. An annual rate of 1,500 fully trained pilots was reached by January 1941.

    The most prominent New Zealander in the Battle was Air Vice Marshal Keith Park a high scoring air ace in the First World War and a member of the RAF since its creation. He was Commander of No. 11 Group RAF which was tasked with the defence of London and south-east England. The RAF recognises 127 Fighter Command aircrew from New Zealand as having served in the Battle. Several New Zealanders became high scorers, including P/O Colin Gray (54 Sqn) with 14 claims, F/O Brian Carbury of 603 Sqn - 14 claims and P/O Alan "Al" Deere (54 Sqn), 12 claims. Carbury shot down the first German aircraft over British territory since 1918 and was also one of two aces in a day in the Battle.


    P/O Colin Gray

    The Canadians

    Many Canadians served in the fighter squadrons, which repulsed the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940. In fact, although the RAF only recognises 83 Canadian pilots as flying on fighter operations during the Battle of Britain, the RCAF claims the actual figure was over 100, and that of those 23 died and 30 were killed later in the war. Another 200 Canadian pilots fought with RAF Bomber Command and RAF Coastal Command during the period and approx 2,000 Canadians served as ground crew. Of these, 26 were in 1 Sqn RCAF, flying Hurricanes. The squadron arrived in Britain soon after Dunkirk with 27 officers and 314 ground staff. This squadron would later be re-numbered as No. 401 "City of Westmount" Sqn RCAF, in line with Article XV of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which numbered Dominion air force units under RAF operational control in the 400-series, to avoid confusion with RAF units. (These squadron numbers are still used by Canadian squadrons, to honour their predecessors.)

    1 Sqn made an inauspicious start to its service with Fighter Command, when on 24th August 1940 two of its Hurricanes mistook a flight of Bristol Blenheims for Ju-88s, shooting one down with the loss of its crew - an example of what is now known as friendly fire. 1 Sqn became the first RCAF unit to engage enemy aircraft in battle when it met a formation of German bombers over southern England on 26th August 1940, claiming three kills and four damaged with the loss of one pilot and one aircraft. By mid-October the squadron had claimed 31 enemy aircraft destroyed and 43 probables or damaged for the loss of 16 aircraft and three pilots. Other Canadians were spread across RAF squadrons, and on the second day of the Battle, 11th July, Canada suffered its first fighter casualty. In a Luftwaffe attack on the Royal Navy Dockyard naval base at Portland Harbour, P/O D. A. Hewitt of Saint John, New Brunswick, flying a Hurricane with 501 Sqn, attacked a Dornier Do-17 bomber and was hit himself. His aircraft plunged into the sea. Another Canadian pilot, Richard Howley, died eight days later. The dispersed Canadian airmen included one who flew with No. 303 (Polish) Sqn


    Douglas Bader's 242 Canadian Sqn during the Battle of Britain from the Left - Dennis Crowley-Milling (obscured), Hugh Tamblyn, Stan Turner, J.E. Savill, Neil Campbell, Willy McKnight, Douglas Bader, G.E. Ball, M.G. Homer & Ben Brown

    A total of 12 Canadian pilots in the Royal Air Force flew with 242 Sqn at various times through the Battle. The top Canadian scorer during the Battle was Flt Lt H. C. Upton of 43 Sqn, who claimed 10.25 aircraft shot down

    post-6667-061295500 1282322857_thumb.jpg

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    22nd August 1940


    Rain and strong winds that developed overnight would continue into the day. Heavy seas in the Channel with winds reaching gale force at times.

    RAF Bomber Command

    Raids on German gun pits along the French side of the Channel coast during the night.

    RAF Fighter Command

    900hrs: The convoy code named "Totem" was battling heavy seas through the Straits of Dover when they reported that they were under attack. The report was forwarded to Fighter Command, but no reports had come through from the radar stations of enemy activity in the Channel. As it turned out, the convoy was under attack by German gun batteries based at Cape Griz Nez. The Germans have installed the 14-inch batteries with a 20-mile range along the coast from Boulogne to Calais as part of the plan to invade England. Those guns were used for the first time on this day when shells sent water spouts 100 feet above the convoy. It later reported that most of the shells were wide and no damage was done to the ships. The convoy continued on after the eighty minute bombardment without any further enemy attack. But their position had been reported and with the weather postponing any air attacks on the English mainland, it presented a target for the Luftwaffe.

    1230hrs: Radar picked up a formation of enemy aircraft coming across the Channel. The plot showed that it was heading towards convoy "Totem". 11 Group released 54 Sqn (Hornchurch), 610 Sqn (Biggin Hill) and 615 Sqon (Kenley). 1300hrs: Both 54 Sqn and 610 Sqn arrive over the convoy in time to see the raiders approaching. They go into action immediately, and just as they approach the Ju88s, they are attacked by Bf109s. They manage to turn the bombers back, but not before one of the 54 Squadron Spitfires was shot down and crashed into the Channel off the coast of Deal. One Ju88 was damaged and is thought to have crash-landed in France.

    One of the 615 Sqn Hurricanes was accidentally shot down by one of the Hurricanes of the same squadron, which would have pleased the station C.O.! but the pilot escaped without injury after making a forced landing near Deal. 1900hrs: With the afternoon over, the raids continued. On a number of occasions, the Luftwaffe sent over waves of Bf109 fighters, usually to strafe aerodromes and landing strips. This raid seemed to be one of those. Once it was observed that the formation did not consist of any bombers, Fighter Command released only one squadron of Spitfires to intercept the Bf109s crossing the coast near Deal and possibly heading towards Manston. 616 Sqn drew the short straw on this occasion, and as usual with fighter to fighter combat, just a series of dogfights ensued, but not without casualties

    With dusk, the German gun batteries turned on civilian targets in Dover. During a 45-minute barrage a shell burst through the stained glass window of a church and exploded near the altar. By midnight, refugees carrying bedding were seeking shelter as their homes were demolished. Across the Channel, the RAF lit up the gun pits with parachute flares, then bombed them.


    The Alacazar picture house Lower Edmonton, damaged in the raid on Harrow on the 22nd

    Possibly the most notable, and in a way controversial event this day was the bombs that were dropped on Harrow and adjoining Wealdstone. Records have always shown that at 0330hrs on the morning of August 22nd 1940, the first bombs to be dropped on London were at Harrow. Geographically, in 1940 Harrow was in the county of Middlesex, the Greater London area did not extend as far as either Harrow or Wealdstone. But as far as the Civil Defence was concerned, Harrow was included and was within the boundaries of Civil Defence Area No.5, which was classed as the London area. To take the matter further, Harrow and Wealdstone also come under the jurisdiction of the London Metropolitan Police. Yet look in any gazetteer, and you will most certainly see Harrow and Wealdstone listed as being in Middlesex. The Luftwaffe also dropped bombs on Aberdeen in Scotland, Bristol in the west and on South Wales industrial areas during the night of August 21st-22nd. It is believed that Bradford and Hull was also bombed during this night.


    Luftwaffe – 3


    54 Sqn Spitfire R6708 G.R.Collett by a Bf 109 over Deal in Kent at 1315hrs. Collett is buried at Bergin op Zoom, The Netherlands – he was 24


    65 Sqn Spitfire K9909 (YT-O)M.Keymer was shot down and killed off Dover at 19:35hrs. He was attacked by a Bf 109 of JG 26. Keymer is buried at Bazinghem, France. He was 24 years old.


    610 Sqn Spitfire R6695 (DW-P) D.F.Corfe’s aircraft was written off when he crashed at Hawkinge after combat with a Bf 109 at 14:15hrs

    616 Sqn Spitfire R6926 H.S.L.'Cocky' Dundas was the younger brother of J.C.Dundas. He was wounded in the arm and leg when he baled out after combat with a Bf 109 at 19:30hrs.





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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    23rd August 1940


    Bright intervals were expected with the possibility of showers over most of Britain. Cloud and overcast could persist over the Channel and the south coast

    RAF Bomber Command

    No Ops

    RAF Fighter Command

    Reconnaissance only at first, with small raids developing as the day went on. Overnight, the Luftwaffe targeted Filton again and up to sixteen tons of high explosive fell on the airfield causing some damage, but although hangars and machine shops were hit it was not enough to put them out of action. An occasional German patrol aircraft was detected off the coast, but Fighter Command was not going to waste time on these, and those enemy aircraft that did cross the coast and penetrate inland managed to avoid interception in the low cloud cover.

    The afternoon was still clear of any enemy activity due to the inclement weather. A few single aircraft managed to cross the coast, but they stayed very close to the cloud base and they done little or no damage. Some Luftwaffe bombers drop their bombs on London when they are unable to find their targets. The attack is unintentional, and against explicit instructions of the German high command. Other incidents involved the Scillies, where 15 HEs fell on and around the radio station. At Colchester there were 40 casualties and Cromer, Harwich, Maidstone, Portsmouth and Tangmere were all bombed. Manston received 30 more bombs at 0125hrs and three Ju88s attacked Thorney Island. An attack was mounted on a tyre factory in Birmingham

    Again, with combat operations virtually non-existent, Attention was given to the repair of airfields and telecommunications.


    Luftwaffe – 2


    1 Sqn H.J.Merchant force landed his Hurricane P2980 at Withyham on the border between Sussex and Kent after running out of fuel. He hit some trees but was unhurt.


    Berlin: The propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, worried by recent British successes, orders that ridicule of the English way of life must stop and the enemy's fighting spirit be stressed instead.


    Churchill had the name of the volunteer force changed to The Home Guard, a title with more purpose and dignity, reflecting the fact that these men would be the first line of defence in case of invasion. With the army re-equipped the Home Guard now received uniforms, weapons and ammunition. One element of the Home Guard operation was kept secret for fear of damaging Britain’s morale. A few highly capable members were selected for training as resistance fighters who would harass and sabotage German occupying troops. Weapons dumps were hidden in woodland ready for their use. They would have been at the forefront of the fight to reclaim their country, and were ready to die in that fight.


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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    24th August 1940


    Most of the cloud cleared by dawn and there were clear skies, it was warmer in the south. Cloud persisted in the north of England with many areas experiencing continuing drizzle patches.

    RAF Bomber Command

    4 Group (Whitley). Bombing - electrical factory at Milan - aircraft factory at Augsburg - Daimler-Benz factory at Stuttgart. 10 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Milan. Four returned early, six bombed primary. 77 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Augsburg. Seven bombed primary, one FTR. 102 Sqn. Nine aircraft to Stuttgart. All bombed primary.

    RAF Fighter Command

    Since August 18th, things generally were relatively quiet, the lull of the last five days had allowed both sides to regroup and re-establish themselves. So far, all the Luftwaffe had been doing was to cause inconvenience to Fighter Command. The radar stations had been damaged, but in nearly all cases they were back in operation within 24 hours. Some airfields had been damaged, but again, the damage was not enough to make them non-operational. Both sides were losing pilots and aircraft, and with the Battle of Britain now over two months old, the Luftwaffe had not yet achieved the advantage that it had hoped for, Göring's plan that the Royal Air Force would be wiped out in two weeks were hopelessly dashed.

    It was with a tired and exhausted German Air Fleet, that Göring unleashed a savage all out bombing attack on Britain. A major difference in tactics saw the introduction of 'stepped' raids, with successive formations of aircraft at different altitudes from low-level fighter-bomber groups to high-level bombers at 24,000 ft. As one formation set off so another built up behind Calais, and the raiders split off into feint attacks as they proceeded, making interception most difficult at all levels and positions. August 24th was the start of the sustained bombing, sending over the Channel more aircraft that the RAF could cope with

    On the night of 23rd/24th August, over 200 heavy bombers made a night raid on the Dunlop Fort rubber works at Birmingham in the midlands seriously affecting tyre production.0830hrs: The radar at Pevensey and Dover picked up an enemy formation off the coast of Calais. A short pause as they try to ascertain its flight path, Fighter Command HQ is alerted and the Observer Corps are ordered to keep a sharp look out. The formation consisted of over 40 Do17s and Ju88s with 60 plus Bf109s as escort. 610 Sqn (Biggin Hill) intercepted. The Spitfires had position and height, and dived into the middle of the formation making the bombers scatter and the Bf109 escort initially had problems with acceleration because of the new orders in keeping with close contact with the bombers. There is no account of bomb damage in this area at the time and it is presumed that the formation was turned back on another unsuccessful mission.

    1130hrs: Sgt R.F.Hamlyn and the rest of 610 Sqn had barely had enough time to have breakfast after touching down back at Biggin Hill, when the call went out for 610 Sqn to 'Scramble'. An enemy formation had been detected coming across the Channel from Cape Griz Nez, which consisted of Ju88s and an escort of Bf109s. 264 Squadron (Hornchurch) had also been deployed as was 151 Sqn (North Weald) and 501 Sqn (Gravesend). Deploying the Defiant squadron was a devastating move, especially as 141 Sqn had almost been decimated about a month previous.

    At the time, 264 Sqn was at Manston, now after so many attacks was being used mainly as a refuelling station rather than a base. 610 Sqn (Biggin Hill) had been vectored to Dover, where they saw nothing for the first 40 minutes.1215hrs: The Defiants made contact with the bombers who made their first attack on Manston airfield. Although they managed to claim one Ju88 shot down and another damaged, they suffered in the usual way, even in combat with the Ju88s. Three Defiants were destroyed while two others sustained damage. 610 Squadron managed to intercept a flight of six Bf109s, but they turned away and headed back towards France having a head start on the pursuing Spitfires. 610 Sqn broke off the engagement, except for Sgt.Hamlyn, who chased one back across the Channel, despite orders not to chase enemy aircraft back across the Channel. Most of the way he was too far distant to open fire, until reaching the French coast where at a range of 150 yards he sent two short bursts of machine gun fire into the Messerschmitt and watched it dive out of control into the ground below. Although Manston had many tunnels and underground shelters, it was now rapidly becoming useless, the result of regular and constant bomb attacks. In three days, 264 Squadron had lost twelve Defiants, fourteen pilots and gunners including the Commanding Officer were killed with most of the others being wounded. Just as the Ju87 was withdrawn from the Luftwaffe, Fighter Command decided that the end had now come for the Defiant as a front line fighter, and what was left of 264 Sqn was transferred back to Kirton-on -Lindsay.)

    1500hrs: During the afternoon, more waves of bombers were detected heading towards London. But then a change in course, and the bombers took on a course that placed them in a straight line for the Sector Stations of Hornchurch and North Weald. With many other squadrons attending skirmishes around the south-eastern coastline and with the possibility of more to come, 11 Group was stretched to the limit. 32 Sqn (Biggin Hill) had been scrambled, as was 54 Sqn and 65 Sqn (Hornchurch)), 151 Squadron (North Weald), 264 Sqn (Hornchurch), 501 Sqn (Gravesend), 610 Sqn (Biggin Hill) and 615 Sqn (Kenley) Park sent out a request for assistance from Leigh-Mallory’s 12 Group. 12 Group sent in 19 Sqn (Fowlmere) with their cannon armed Spitfires, while three squadrons at Duxford attempted to form a 'big wing', but by the time that they had reached the target area the enemy bombers were already on their way home leaving a trail of blazing fires around the Thames Estuary, some caused by hastily jettisoned bombs giving an indication as to the ferocity of combat.

    1500hrs - 1630hrs: The combat action continued throughout this period over the Thames Estuary and the north coast towns of Kent. Manston had taken the brunt of the attack, but a number of German bombers managed to get through to their targets of North Weald and Hornchurch where, although considerable damage was done, operations were not affected. Damage to North Weald and Hornchurch suffered considerable damage, but not enough to make them un-operational. But with this attack, and the other raids around south-eastern England, the toll once again began to mount. The RAF was to lose 20 aircraft and 18 of those damaged were repairable, to the 39 destroyed of the Luftwaffe. 1700hrs:

    Ramsgate%2BGas%2BWorks%2Bbombed.jpgRamsgate Gas Works – 24th August

    The day was not over yet. Most of the action during the morning was in the Dover, Ramsgate, Thames Estuary and East London area, but by mid afternoon although Ventnor Radar was not in operation, a formation of 50+ heavy bombers were detected east of Cherbourg. Another formation was also detected coming from the southeast. Several squadrons were scrambled, but only 609 Sqn (Middle Wallop) found contact with the enemy in most unpleasant circumstances. They spotted the bomber formation 5,000 feet above them, just as the AA coast guns started to fire at the bombers. It was like being caught between 'the devil and the deep blue sea' except in this case it was the thick cloud of a bomber formation and the chilly waters of a cold and bleak English Channel.


    Portsmouth bombing of 24th August

    The Spitfire of American, Pilot Officer Andy Mamedoff was hit and fighting with broken controls just managed to land the plane in a field. With only a single squadron against 70+ bombers, it was too much to ask that 609 Sqn force the bombers into retreat, and the formation continued on to the City of Portsmouth where the let loose over 200 250 kg bombs. This raid resulted in the largest amount of casualties so far in a single raid during the Battle of Britain. Over 100 people in the city were killed on that afternoon, and 300 sustained serious injuries. Houses, shops, factories, the Naval barracks and the dockyards were all seriously damaged, and for the first time, the newspapers had to print the grim reality of truth in their headlines. For months previously Britons were reading newspaper headlines, "144 down out of 1,000", 25 Spitfires stop 70 Bombers" and "115 Raiders out of 600 Destroyed" figures were very much exaggerated. Now the headlines were to read "Portsmouth Suffers Heavy Bombing", simply that, in an effort to maintain morale the amount of dead and injured was only placed in small print. 2250hrs: But the bad news was not to stop there.


    No sooner had the bombers began their return journey, another radar station detected another large formation building up off the Cherbourg Peninsular. This was joined by another formation from the south east again and radar tracked them across the Channel. But by this time darkness had fallen and it was an impossibility for any squadron to be 'scrambled'. With the small amount of night fighters that Fighter Command possessed it would be a disaster to allow them to go up and fly the flag for the RAF. Instead, Britain's only defence for the oncoming bombers would be the searchlights and AA ground fire. This time, the target was London itself. A target that was not to be attacked unless ordered to do so by Göring himself from instruction direct from Adolph Hitler.


    Bombing of Croydon airport 24th August 1940

    2300hrs: So far for the period of the war, Londoners although often hearing local gunfire, seeing vapour trails of dogfights in the sky and hearing about the war in newspapers and on the radio, and the only experience of bombing was when Croydon was mistakenly identified as Kenley and just a couple of bombs dropped on nearby Croydon and Purley, the target here was naturally the aerodrome at Croydon. The other instance was earlier in the morning when bombs were dropped on the docks and outskirts of East London. But that was in daylight. This was to be a new experience, a frightful experience, for this was the first time that London would be bombed at night. London had never been bombed since the Gotha bombing raids of 1918, and this was to be far more frightening, and spectacular than anything Londoners had seen before. Bombs fell at Aldgate in the city, at Bloomsbury, Bethnal Green, Finsbury, Hackney, Stepney, Shoreditch and West Ham. Fires covered the whole of London's East End, the night sky glowed blood red, fountains of flame bellowed out of factory windows, and wall structures came crashing down.


    Luftwaffe – 38


    32 Sqn Hurricane V6572 K.Pniak bailed out wounded, Hurricane V6568 R.F.Smythe wounded, Hurricane V6567 E.G.A.Seghers crashed into sea unhurt and Hurricane P3481 M.N.Crossley

    54 Sqn Spitfire X4019 A.R.McL Campbell wounded and Spitfire P3989 C.Stewart bailed out uninjured

    65 Sqn the Spitfire of G.Hill shot down uninjured

    151 Sqn Hurricane R4183 K.B.L.Debenham shot down badly burned, Hurricane IP3273 G.T.Clarke shot down and wounded

    234 Sqn Spitfire IN3239 J.Zurakowski shot down uninjured

    235 Sqn Blenheim T1804 D.N.Woodger and D.L.Wright shot down and killed in error by a Hurricane of 1 R.C.A.F. Sqon

    264 Sqn Defiant N1535 P.A.Hunter and F.H.King shot down and killed, Defiant L6966 J.T.Jones and W.A.Ponting shot down and killed. Defiant L7027 I.G.Shaw and A.Berry shot down and killed. Defiant L6965 R.S.Gaskell wounded and W.H.Machin died of injuries

    501 Sqn Hurricane P3141 P.Zenker missing and Hurricane L1865 K.R.Aldridge baile dout and broke arm

    610 Sqn Spitfire R6686 S.J.Arnfield bailed out broke ankle, Spitfire X4102 D.McL Gray wounded and Spitfire L1037 C.Merrick shot down and wounded.

    To continue the fight against the enemy air force until further notice, with the aim if weakening the British fighter forces. The enemy is to be forced to use his fighters by means of ceaseless attacks. In addition the aircraft industry and the ground organization of the air force are to be attacked by means of individual aircraft by night and day, if weather conditions do not permit the use of complete formations.

    Hermann Göring. Directive issued August 23rd 1940

    Göring went on to add that concentrated attacks were to be made on Royal Air Force airfields. The tactic of trying to lure the fighters of Fighter Command into the air would continue, as "...these fighters must be destroyed if we are to succeed." German fighter pilots were still opposed to the fact that they were not being given 'free hunt' instructions and that they could fly above the bombers that they were escorting. The instruction to stay close to the bombers thus giving them full protection continued.

    Against mass attacks coming inland, despatch a minimum number of squadrons to engage enemy fighters. Our main object is to engage enemy bombers, particularly those approaching under the lowest cloud layer. If all our squadrons are off the ground engaging enemy mass attacks, ask No.12 Group or Command Controller to provide squadrons to patrol aerodromes Debden, North Weald and Hornchurch.

    Air Vice Marshal Keith Park August 20th 1940.

    It seemed now, that it was going to be a battle of tactics. Previously, the bombing had become far more widespread. In the early stages bombing was only concentrated on the radar stations and some of the production factories in the Southampton and Portsmouth areas with an occasional attack on the midlands, but now destruction by bombing was getting far more intense. Most of the airfields had received some sort of damage, bombing was getting closer to London and in some cases the suburbs had been hit, inland towns and cities in the industrial midlands were now sustaining bomb damage. The air Ministry and the War cabinet were very concerned at the close proximity the bombing was on the capital itself. Göring had issued instructions that London was not to be bombed except only upon his orders which was a directive that had been passed down from Adolph Hitler. London was ringed by the Sector Stations that were there to protect it. These were Kenley to the south in the county of Surrey, Biggin Hill also in the south in the county of Kent both just a short drive away from London. Hornchurch to the east, which was a vital airfield because it protected the London Docks, the Thames and the Thames Estuary as well as the large factories at Dagenham and Tilbury. North Weald to the north-east protected much of the Home Counties as well as providing back up for the busy Hornchurch. Northolt in the west of London completed whatever protection London needed.


    The seaside town of Ramsgate suffered badly this day. A broad mixture of people, wardens, policemen and civilians were amongst 24 people killed in the town in what has been described as 'the worlds worst assault from the air’ when 1,200 houses were destroyed and damaged.


    Winston Churchill inspects bomb damage in Ramsgate, Kent

    Churchill knew of Hitler's instruction, 'that London was not to be bombed, unless on my sole instruction'. This attack on the August 24th 1940 was this another blunder by the Luftwaffe bombers? Most reports state that the bombing of London was an accident, and that it was not a planned raid. The explanation was that the Luftwaffe bomber crews that were involved, were to bomb the storage oil tanks at both Rochester and at Thameshaven, but they had overshot the target area and continued on towards the City of London. While most of the bombs landed in the dockland area of East and West Ham and others fell in North London and as far west as Esher and Staines, one of the Heinkels left his release of bombs far too late, and it was these that landed in Central London that was to have immediate consequences in the days following.


    Bomb damage, 153 Tudor Road Hampton, 24th August

    In London, 2nd Lt Ellis Edward Arthur Chetwynd Talbot of the Royal Engineers, carried a new and unpredictable type of German bomb to a safe spot on his shoulders. For this he was warded the Empire Gallantry Medal.

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    25th August 1940. The events of the 24th / 25th August were the turning point of the Battle of Britain


    After early morning mists, especially in the north, the morning was fine and clear with cloud developing during the afternoon. The north had scattered cloud during the afternoon and evening.

    RAF Bomber Command

    Berlin was raided by Bomber Command at night as reprisal for attack on London (see below)

    RAF Fighter Command


    Surprisingly, although the weather could only be termed as cloudy but fair, it was in fact warm to hot with ideal flying conditions. But it was not to be a day of any serious activity - for the morning period anyway. Dowding and Park were discussing the possibility that the Luftwaffe were turning their attention to the bombing of London and the cities after the previous nights encounter, unaware at this stage that the bombing may have been accidental. Air Vice Marshal Sir Christopher Brand of 10 Group in the south- west disagreed that they were in for a lull in activities that had often been the case on previous occasions, and his foresight had been proven correct when, during the mid-afternoon, Ventnor CH had detected a formation coming in across the Channel again heading towards the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.

    1700hrs: Up until now, it had almost looked like being a perfect day off for the pilots of 10 and 11 Groups. Many just lazed around most of the day in the warm sunshine hoping that the Luftwaffe pilots were too, lapping it up and could not be bothered with fighting a wretched war. But now the non-events of the day changed. Some 100 plus aircraft had been detected coming in over the Channel from Cherbourg. Further to that, another three waves of enemy aircraft were coming in from the Channel Islands that totalled some 100 plus aircraft. Headquarters FC immediately notified 10 Group in which they dispatched 609 Sqn (Warmwell) under the command of Squadron Leader Horace Darley. 11 Group dispatched 17 Squadron (Debden) while 87 Squadron (Exeter) was under the command of Wing Commander John Dewar and made up the three squadrons vectored to attack the incoming German formations. All squadrons met at the vectored position just to the south of Weymouth and Portland where the British fighters found a heavy contingent of Bf110s from 1/ZG 2 and Bf109s. As with nearly all occasions of combat, they were outnumbered and once again indulged in some serious dog fighting and a number of bombers managed to get through and attack the airfield at Warmwell causing damage only to a couple of hangars and cutting the communications. Where the Bf110s turned back on another aborted mission.

    Squadron Leader Cedric Williams of 17 Sqn was shot down and killed when gunfire from one of the 110s hit his Hurricane, while another pilot was seen to bale out of his crippled Hurricane to safety. But if there has to be a hero of the day, it has to be Czech pilot Count Manfred Czernin of 17 Sqn who by accurate head on and rear attacks shot down three Bf110s in just one minute. As the number of Bf110s shot down became greater, more Bf109s came in from above who shot down more British fighters, but the damage had been done, the force of 110s had diminished considerably, and the 109s had to return to their bases because they were low on fuel. In this combat, Fighter Command lost sixteen fighters from the three squadrons while the Luftwaffe lost a total of twenty aircraft.1810hrs: At the same time, there was a small skirmish on Dover where a Staffel of 110s again bombed the harbour and docks, but fighters from Gravesend and Biggin Hill chased them back out over the Channel. The Beachy Head Hotel, Eastbourne was bombed by 12 incendiaries at 12.20 am, there was only slight damage.


    25th August South Bank, London


    The first bomb was dropped on the City of London in Fore Street on 25th August 1940

    The new Luftwaffe tactics were working, and to a point were working well. Germany at this time although not doing considerable damage during the daylight attacks, were said to be at this stage just probing, but the cost in loss of aircraft was still a major problem that displeased High Command. They were pleased at the decision that the Bf109 bases had been moved to the area of Calais, which had now allowed them to spend more time over enemy territory. Also, the new tighter Luftwaffe formations were allowing the bombers now to at least get through to their target areas. A point recognized by Fighter Command who stated that all they have to do now is to learn that even from the air, dockland areas do not look like oil refineries and storage areas and that with the new formations they have taught the navigators how to read a map.


    Luftwaffe – 20


    17 Sqn Hurricane R4199 C.W.Williams and Hurricane V7407 A.W.A.Bayne

    29 Sqn Blenheim L1130 R.A.Rhodes and R.Gouldstone

    32 Sqn Hurricane V6547 J.Rose and Hurricane P2755 K.R.Gillman, shot down in Dover area by I/JG26 fighters (probably Lt.Ludwig Hafer)

    54 Sqn Spitfire R6969 M.M.Shand

    73 Sqn Hurricane P3758 M.E.Leng

    87 Sqn Hurricane V7250 S.R.E.Wakeling

    92 Sqn Spitfire N3268 R.R..’Bob’ Stanford Tuck

    152 Sqn Spitfire R6810 R.M.Hogg and Spitfire R6994 T.S.Wildblood

    213 Sqn Hurricane P3200 H.D.Atkinson, Hurricane V7226 J.A.L.Philipart and Hurricanes N2646 and P2766 – pilots unidentified

    602 Sqn Spitfire N3226 M.H.Sprague and Spitfire P9381 W.H.Coverly

    604 Sqn Blenheim L6782 J.G.B.Fletcher, C.Haigh and A.L.Austin

    610 Sqn Spitfire K9931 F.T.Gardiner

    616 Sqn Spitfire R9819 T.E.Westmoreland and Spitfire K6966 P.T.Wareing

    Hitler had still not issued a directive that the City of London should be attacked, and subsequently he issued the command that any aircrew that drops bombs on London will be severely reprimanded. Göring in turn, then issued telegrams to all bomber units requesting the names of any aircraft captain and crews that drop bombs on London. These names would then be submitted to Luftwaffe High Command in that the offenders may be transferred to Army Infantry Units. It is still unsure at this stage as to whether the bombing of London was a deliberate attack or not.


    Winston Churchill dispatched an order to Bomber Command that an attack of retaliation be made on Berlin and first RAF raid on took place on the night of 25th August; eighty-one British Hampden bombers were sent to bomb Tempelhof Airport near the centre of Berlin and Siemensstadt, of which 81 dropped their bombs in and around Berlin, but the damage was slight. In the following two weeks there were a further five raids of a similar size, all nominally precision raids at specific targets, but with the difficulties of navigating at night the bombs that were dropped were widely dispersed


    "If ever a bomb drops on Berlin, then you can call me Meier" Göring once joked convinced that British bombers would never be able to reach the capital. That night, the Hampdens did get through and Berlin was bombed.


    German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels inspects a bomb-damaged street in Berlin following the first RAF raids on the city

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  • Location: West London - ASL 36.85m/120ft
  • Weather Preferences: Cold/stormy
  • Location: West London - ASL 36.85m/120ft

    Man, this is a great read. If you put it in a book, it would sell :good:

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    Man, this is a great read. If you put it in a book, it would sell :)

    Most of it is from books and public information on the web, I'm only collating it day by day and bringing several sources together with appropriate photos / footage and some emphasis on the weather and how it affected decisions etc. Thanks for the comments though! :good:

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    26th August 1940.


    A cloudy day over most of the country, but little or no rain was expected. The north was dull, but dry while in the south brighter conditions with higher cloud, good visibility and dry. Mild condition persisted throughout the day in all areas.

    RAF Bomber Command

    4 Group (Whitley). Bombing - industrial targets at Turin and Milan. 10 Sqn. Six aircraft to Milan. Five bombed primary, one FTR. 77 Sqn. Seven aircraft to Turin. Five bombed primary. One pirate raid by the Luftwaffe placed four HE’s on Harwell, killing six, injuring ten and damaging two Wellingtons. Whitleys later landed at Harwell to refuel for the long flight to Turin and these seem to have been the intended target.

    RAF Fighter Command

    From first light, German aircraft on reconnaissance patrols had been picked up by radar throughout the Kent and Sussex areas. 11 Group kept a watchful eye but they came to the conclusion that these aircraft were only on photographic missions and posed no threat. 1120hrs: Fighter Command was a little hesitant at first when a build-up of enemy aircraft was detected coming from the direction of Lille. This was joined by further aircraft from Luftflotte 2 and the force was estimated at 150 plus. Fighter Command had no option but to take defensive action.


    11 Group "scrambled" 616 Sqn (Kenley) who had not long come down from Church Fenton, and the very depleted 264 Sqn (Hornchurch) operating from Manston. 1200hrs: 616 Sqn was one of the first squadrons of the day that was "scrambled" and according to reports, far too late, a flight of Bf109s were almost on top of them as they desperately tried to gain height. They tangled desperately, but the 109s had the upper hand. Seven of the squadrons Spitfires were shot down, all of them destroyed, while two pilots were killed and the other five either baled out or crash-landed their aircraft.

    1230hrs: Although six squadrons were involved, it was only 264 Sqn (Hornchurch) that suffered further casualties. The Defiants have never been successful in combat operations, and why these aircraft should constantly be used in combat is will always be questioned. On this occasion, they lost three aircraft destroyed with one managing to return to base that was to live to see another day. All the Defiant's were shot down while over the Herne Bay-Margate area soon after 1230hrs. The Dorniers managed to bomb Dover and Folkestone as well as the seaside resorts of Margate and Broadstairs. Some of the Do17s went on to drop bombs on the airfields of Biggin Hill and Kenley again. But opposition from Fighter Command was strong, and all the bombers and the escorts were flying back over the Channel by 1250hrs. The first couple of hours after midday seemed like a break for lunch as no combat activity were recorded. But two hours into the afternoon, it was back to business as usual.

    1400hrs: Radar again detected enemy activity off the Belgian coast. A large build-up was forming over the Channel and heading towards the Thames Estuary. This formation consisted of about 50 Do17s from 1/KG2 and 11/KG3 escorted by 120 Bf109s and Bf110s. A formation coming in from the direction of Lille was the first to be detected, but within minutes, another formation was detected coming from St Omer. The Observer Corps made a visual sighting off the coast at Deal, made a far more accurate assessment regarding strength and height of the enemy. One formation took a wide berth around the Thames Estuary, the bombers and their escorts turning east and approaching the Essex coast just south of Harwich. The other formation came in through the Estuary and took the usual course along the River Thames. 1515hrs: Fighter Command put 10 squadrons into action. Among them were 1RCAF Sqn (Northolt), 85 Sqn (Croydon), 111 Sqn (Debden), 310 Sqn (Duxford) and 615 Sqn (Kenley). The flight path of the enemy bombers could give them a possibility of three targets. The aerodromes of Hornchurch and North Weald, or another attack on London. Debden could also be a possibility but was located just a little to the north of the flight path.

    Air Vice Marshal Keith Park had not failed to notice that in the attacks of the last few days, the Bf109 escorts were actually flying at the same height as the bombers that they were escorting, and not at the extreme heights as they had done so before. Bf109 pilots used to like flying at between 20,000 and 25,000 feet, but were not in favour of flying at lower speed and only at ten to fifteen thousand feet with the bombers.



    It was becoming a known fact, that although the Observer Corps were doing a grand job, their estimations of enemy aircraft height and strength were far from accurate. Park therefore instructed Sqn flight leaders to report the strength of the enemy and exact height and position as soon as contact was made. Keith Park's tactics now, was to release half of his required squadrons leaving the other half on standby at their respective bases. Looking at the overall situation, he could possibly pinpoint the obvious targets of the Luftwaffe. Once the airborne Sqn flight leaders reported the enemy strength, height and position, Park would vector the squadrons that had been on standby to allocated positions to cut the enemy off.



    1515hrs: The first interception was made by the Czech's of 310 Sqn (Duxford). Being the first squdaron on the scene, they found it difficult to get at the bombers because of the Bf109 escorts, so they matched their Hurricanes against the Messerschmitt fighters. Weaving in and out of enemy aircraft, and in many cases themselves, 310 Sqn went in full of exuberance and enthusiasm. It was not until the arrival of 56 Sqn (North Weald) and 111 Sqn (Debden) that the first enemy aircraft were shot down. 56 Sqn claimed the first Bf109 over the beaches of Clacton, then 111 Sqn and 310 Sqn claimed Bf110's in the same area. But 310 Sqn was to lose two Hurricanes although both pilots baled out and sustained only minor injuries, and two others were damaged and managed to return to base.


    111 Sqn (Debden) also had two of their aircraft damaged with no loss of life. 1530hrs: The German bomber formation and their escorts were over the area between Clacton and Colchester when they were intercepted by 1RCAF (Northolt). At this stage, some of the Bf109s had turned back, but Fighter Command still had to contend with the Bf110s as well as the Do17s. Soon, the German formation turned nor' west and it became apparent that the target was Debden. With 56 and 111 Sqn’s still involved, the three Sqns managed to steer many of the Dorniers off their intended bombing run. One of the Do17s fell to the guns of a Hurricane of 1RCAF Sqn, then another Bf110 went down in flames crashing at Great Bentley, and believed shot down by P/O P.J.Simpson of 111 Sqn.

    F/O R.L.Edwards of 1RCAF Sqn was killed in this combat, while the 1RCAF commander S/L E.McNab was hit by return gunfire from a Do17 and returned to base. Although all three Fighter Command Sqns managed to disperse the bombers, six Do17s managed to get through to Debden and release about 100 bombs doing considerable damage to the landing area, one hangar, the sergeant’s mess, the transport and equipment depots and the NAAFI. Water mains and the electricity were hit and were out of action for a short period and it is reported that six people at the airfield were killed. Although Hornchurch and North Weald may have been targets, they were spared on this day.

    1530hrs: At the same time as combat operations were taking place inland from Harwich, 85 Sqn (Croydon) and 615 Sqn (Kenley) intercepted the formation that was approaching up the Thames. Interception was made just off the coast near Margate. A number of Bf109s were shot down over North Kent, and the Do17s fared no better. One of them being shot down by newly promoted P/O G.Allard of 85 Sqn. The Dornier from 2/KG2, with both engines stopped, decided he could make a wheels-up landing at nearby Rochford aerodrome, a satellite of Hornchurch. P/O Allard followed him all the way down. The Dornier slid on its belly almost the whole length of the grass-covered airfield before coming to rest. "Now that's one way to give yourself up" was one remark from the ground staff at Rochford, "door to door service, things must be bad over the other side." as they waved at P/O Allard's Hurricane who flew overhead, then went back to join in the rest of the action.


    1600hrs: Attention was now turned to the Portsmouth area where 50 plus He111 bombers of KG55 and 100 plus Bf109 fighters came in from over the Solent. 11 Group released 43 Sqn (Tangmere) and 602 Sqn (Westhampnett), while 10 Group released 234 Sqn (Middle Wallop), 152 Sqn (Warmwell) and 213 Sqn (Exeter). The weather was by now closing in with low cloud covering much of southern England, and a number of Sqns failed to make contact with the enemy. Those that did, managed to cause havoc amongst the Heinkels dispersing them in different directions. Coupled with the fact that the weather situation was getting worse, the bombers turned back towards home with most of them jettisoning their bomb loads over the Channel. Four He111s were shot down, and two, crippled by accurate gunfire from British fighters limped home in damaged condition.

    p23-1.jpgKG55 lost four Heinkels during the attack on Portsmouth. G1+DM Wn. 2124 was shot down by Spitfire pilots of 602 Sqn and crashed on the beach at Bracklesham, Sussex


    Luftwaffe – 41


    1(R.C.A.F) Sqn Hurricane P3874 R.L.Edwards

    43 Sqn Hurricane P3220 R.Lane, Hurricane P3202 C.K.Gray, Hurricane V7259 H.L.North and Hurricane V7308 G.C.Brunner


    43 squadron pilots at Wick, Caithness during the Battle of Britain

    56 Sqn Hurricane V7340 B.J.Wicksand Hurricane P3473 G.Smythe

    85 Sqn Hurricane P3966 J.A.Hemmingway

    257 Sqn Hurricane VG6563 D.O.G (destroyed on ground)

    264 Sqn Defiant L7005 E.R.Thorne F.J.Barker, Defiant L6985 A.J.Banham and B.Baker, Defiant L7025 I.R.Stephenson and W.Maxwell

    310 Sqn Hurricane P3960 V.Bergman and Hurricane P3887 G.D.M.Blackwood

    601 Sqn Hurricane V7238 A.W.Woolley

    602 Sqn Spitfire X4187 C.H.Maclean, Spitfire X4188 C.F.Babbage

    610 Sqn Spitfire R6965 F.K.Webster, Spitfire P9496 P.Else and 1 Spitfire with an unknown pilot and marking

    615 Sqn Hurricane R4121 J.A.P.McClintock, Hurricane R4111 L.M.Gaunce, Hurricane V6564 D.H.Hone and Hurricane P2878, J.R.H.Gayner


    26th August 1940 had been a bad day for both sides – at a time when fierce combat was the order of the day, although Fighter Command fared better than the Luftwaffe. While the RAF lost 27 fighters destroyed in combat, only six pilots lost their lives. German fighter pilots blamed the new order of flying close to the bombers as the main reason that some forty-one German aircraft had been shot down. They claimed that they lost the element of surprise, and that ‘we were spotted by British fighters as soon as the bomber formation was seen’.


    The German High Command had for some time had reservations of these daylight bombing raids on British airfields and naval bases even though the new strategy was working, and this latest mission failure from Hugo Sperrle’s Luftflotte 3 was now to prove a point and subsequently major daylight raids were suspended indefinitely. (This suspension was to last about four weeks.)

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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    27th August 1940.


    Rain had developed overnight and continued throughout the morning. Heavy cloud for most of the day although the Channel area saw a break up of the cloud by midday. Rain periods in the north with low cloud. Conditions cooler in all areas.

    Most of Britain awoke to a very damp and gloomy morning. Many of the pilots, as they did so often on seeing wet and waterlogged airfields, breathe a sigh of relief as they knew that once again they could possibly take things easy, even if was for four or five hours

    RAF Bomber Command

    4 Group Bombing - industrial targets at Turin and Milan - aircraft factory at Augsburg - marshalling yards at Mannheim. 51 Sqn. Five aircraft to Augsburg. Three bombed primary. 58 Sqn. Six aircraft to Turin and Milan. Three bombed primaries, two bombed alternative targets. 78 Sqn. Five aircraft to Mannheim. Three bombed primary, two bombed alternative targets.

    RAF Coastal Command


    Coastal Command establishes a air base on Iceland to assist with convoy protection. They are equipped with Fairey Battles. The base was at Kaldadarnes, Iceland, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Reykjavik, with 98 Sqn equipped with Battle Mk Is. The ground echelon had arrived on 31st July and the air echelon arrived on this day.

    RAF Fighter Command

    The weather started to clear by midday, and the Luftwaffe moved more Bf109 units to the coast at Calais with the intention here of providing the bombers of Luftflotte 2 with even greater numbers as escorts than ever before. But still only restricted daylight activity. 1015hrs: A lone Do17 was detected over the Channel south of Plymouth and 238 Sqn (Middle Wallop) sent a flight to intercept. The Dornier was spotted and one of the Hurricanes managed to shoot it down and it crashed at Tavistock in Devon. The aircraft was on a photo-reconnaissance flight. 1200hrs -1230hrs: Radar picked up an enemy formation coming across the Channel from the direction of Cherbourg. 10 Group released two squadrons to intercept just as they reached the coast. 152 Squadron Warmwell (Spitfires) managed to claim one Ju88 off the coast near Portland, while two other Ju88s were damaged, one of them crashing on landing back at its base. By nightfall, Do17s made a bombing run on the west and the southwest of England, again, 10 Group sent up three squadrons who managed to destroy three of the bombers, the others scattered and returned home. The only casualties in this combat were the three Dorniers. In Co Durham one HE fell about 03.34 at Port Clarence causing injuries to five persons, two seriously. At 0231 in Hull, three small HEs dropped, the Lodge and Maternity Home in Hedon Road were destroyed and Seward Street goods station damaged. No casualties.


    27th August - Brenda Road, West Hartlepool


    Luftwaffe – 7


    1 Sqn Hurricane P3897 C.A.G.Chetham lost control of in searchlights, he baled out safely in Buckinghamshire.

    152 Sqn Spitfire R6831 W.Beaumont baled out after being hit by a Junkers Ju 88 off Portland at 12:30hrs. He was not hurt.

    213 Sqn Hurricane N2336 Sub/Lt W.J.M.Moss Believed lost control of his aircraft during patrol and crashed into sea at 1258hrs - listed as missing.

    248 Sqn Blenheim C.J.Arthur, E.A.Ringwood, R.C.R.Cox - crew all killed around mid-day. They were on a recce off the Norwegian coast.

    219 Sqn Blenheim undershot the runway at Catterick, Yorkshire in a sudden rainstorm at 0145hrs. Sergeants H.F. Grubb and S. Austin both unhurt and the aircraft found to be repairable

    Air Vice Marshal Keith Park took advantage of the wet and miserable morning to make contact with his controllers, a meeting that also had Air Vice Marshal Sholto Douglas present. The main subject was his disagreement with Air Vice Marshal Leigh-Mallory regarding the sending up of a possible three squadrons of fighters flying as a wing, to intercept large numbers of enemy formations. Leigh-Mallory's persistence in the 'Big Wings' was that at least Fighter Command could meet the enemy with an equal or near equal number of fighters instead of the tactics used by Keith Park and supported by Dowding in sending up a minimum number of fighters where at all times there were outnumbered by anything up to three to one. It is well known that neither Park or Leigh-Mallory saw eye to eye, disagreements continued throughout the Battle of Britain, possibly due to the fact that it was resentment on Leigh-Mallory's part that he thought that it should have been he (Leigh-Mallory) that had control of 11 Group and not Keith Park. But as well as his resentment and jealousy towards Park, Leigh-Mallory also held the Fighter Command AOC Hugh Dowding as the man responsible for not giving him the task of controlling 11 Group. So much so, that as early as February 1940 Leigh-Mallory would have liked nothing better that to have Dowding sacked from his position as the Fighter Command Chief.

    Leigh-Mallory came out of Dowding's office, paused in mine and said in my presence that he would move heaven and earth to get Dowding removed from Fighter Command and he made it quite clear to me that he was very jealous of my group, which was in the front line.

    Park told the meeting that not only was it not feasible to put up large formations of fighters, but greater time would have to be taken in the initial stages of forming them up. He gave the instance of the previous day, when he asked Leigh-Mallory for assistance in intercepting a Dornier formation coming in from the east, and to intercept before they got to the 11 Group airfields east of London. Park continued, that by the time that Leigh-Mallory had got the 12 Group squadrons airborne, the raiders had got through to Debden, caused damage by bombing and were on the way home by the time that the Duxford squadrons had arrived. 12 Groups reaction to Parks comments was that they were informed far too late, and by the time that the Duxford squadrons had arrived at the vectored position, they could not find the enemy. Keith Park questioned this, stating that four squadrons were already managing to hold the enemy between Clacton and Harwich, but as a precautionary measure, called for 12 Group assistance in giving protection to the airfields east of London should the event happen that some of the bombers may get through. Park went on to say that the enemy had twice the distance to travel than the 12 Group fighters, were slower than the 12 Group fighters, yet could not give Debden the protection needed. He compared this with 310 Sqn, a single squadron dispatched from Duxford that managed to intercept the enemy before it had reached the Essex coast.

    An air raid stops play at Lord's cricket ground.


    Biggin Hill, Kent: Sqn-Ldr Eric Laurence Moxey RAFVR, On August 27th 1940, two UXBs were reported on the airfield at Biggin Hill. Moxey volunteered to tackle them and was well aware of the dangers, as he was a Technical Intelligence Officer at the Air Ministry. Alas his luck was out and one of the bombs exploded killing him outright. Sqn Ldr Moxey is buried in the Churchyard of St Peter & St Paul Cudham, Orpington Kent. His headstone shows the George Cross, which was awarded posthumously.


    F/O K C Gundry flew Hurricanes with 257 Sqn RAF from Tangmere, Sussex, during the Battle of Britain. In this letter of 27th August he describes in graphic detail his experiences in his Hurricane during a dogfight over the Isle of Wight earlier that month

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