So it Began.....Their Finest Hour

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Gage, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. smokey stover

    smokey stover Member

    It's got to be the Bristol Blenheims surely! And i know they weren't actually in combat during the b.o.b air raids. But they did bomb the barges and pens across the channel during 1940. Those guys were some brave pilots considering they all knew the Blenheim was obsolete. And if/when they should run into axis fighters it was basically a suicide mission. The only other UK aircraft that was totally flawed and shot out of the sky in droves was the Fairey Battles. Again, it must have took a very brave crew to fly those kinda planes
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Sunday September 15th 1940, was not only the turning point of the Battle of Britain, it was the turning point of the whole war. Every Fighter Command aerodrome in 11 Group was in some way involved, every squadron within 11 Group participated as well as the Duxford Wing from 12 Group and a number of squadrons in 10 Group were called upon to protect areas in the south west. Ground crews at all 11 Group airfields had to make efficiency a top priority in getting aircraft refueled and rearmed in between sorties, while at 11 Group Headquarters Air Vice Marshal Keith Park busily controlled the situation drawing on all his experience and expertise under the watchful eye of visiting Winston Churchill who saw first hand the development of activities on this important day. Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding remained at Fighter Command Headquarters keeping silent vigil over the large map below indicating to him the events and the unfolding battle that was taking place over the south-east of England.
    For Adolf Hitler and the German commanders, time was now running out. If an invasion was to take place on September 17th as planned, the lead-up would have to commence no later than today.....September 15th. The weather had shown, just how quickly it can turn at this time of year, and with winter not too far away, the German forces would have to take advantage of the better conditions that now seemed to prevail. Göring had sent out the instructions the day previous to all bomber and fighter bases that preparations for an all out assault on England was to be made on this day September 15th, bomber units were given times and flight paths of their attack. Over the last few weeks, the Luftwaffe had experimented with different flying formations, needless to say, none had really been successful, losses had still been high, but they had discovered that on the occasions that they had kept at high altitudes, they had on a number of occasions surprised Fighter Command.

    This was mainly due to the fact that the British radar was ineffective above 20,000 feet, and by flying at a height above this level they could cross the Channel undetected, but, the Germans did not know this. All that they were aware of, was the fact that those formations that flew at higher altitudes were not intercepted until they were usually well over the English coast. The most logical reason for this, thought the Germans was due to the fact that it took the British fighters much longer to gain the required height to intercept.

    The sending of advance Ju87 and Bf110 units to bomb the radar stations along the southern coastline was, in the opinion of the Luftwaffe, a waste of time. As fast as they seemed to be destroyed, they were back in operational use again, and mobile units too were brought in to replace any radar station damaged. Over the last few days, the Germans had practiced at electronic jamming, this, they believed was successful and plans were made to intensify the jamming procedure in an effort to further reduce detection.

    The spirit of the German aircrew, was still far from high. Time and time again, they had been told that the 'Glorious Luftwaffe' is ready to strike the final blow. But they had been told that in July, and again in August when Adlerangriff had been announced, and it was to be repeated yet again this September 15th. Early in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe aircrews were told that the Royal Air Force would be wiped out in two or three weeks, now, whenever they fly over the British countryside they are still met with masses of British fighters in the hands of pilots that were gaining in skill and techniques. Many firmly believed that they were no nearer victory than they were two months previous.

    Failure to achieve any notable success, constantly changing orders betraying lack of purpose and obvious misjudgment of the situation by the Command, and unjustified accusation had a most demoralising effect on us fighter pilots, who were already overtaxed by physical and mental strain.
    Adolph Galland Commander

    In Britain, things were slightly different. Most of the pilots were relatively fresh unlike their German counterparts. Combat action had been very infrequent, with only one really heavy day. As mentioned previously, Fighter Command was now stronger than it had been for weeks, aerodromes repaired, planes and personnel had replaced many that had been shot down and the radar stations were all functioning at 100%.
    Park meanwhile, was prepared. He had learnt just a few days previous that there was to be a large scale attack prior to the impending invasion, only that he was unsure as to the exact date or time. Whatever attack that the Germans planned, he was sure, that 11 Group was ready even though the Luftwaffe commanders could not agree as to the actual strength of Fighter Command at the time.

    The "hour of destiny" was September 15th, a date thereafter commemorated as "Battle of Britain Day". The title has been disputed; Alfred Price, for one, says that September 15th "has singularly little to commend it.....the day when the British victory claim was furthest from the truth....." Yet, forgetting the "numbers game", it is hard to dispute Churchill's verdict that it was, in fact, "the crux of the Battle of Britain". He made that judgment in the light of his knowledge of what happened to Operation SEALION - which was, of course, from beginning to end, what the Battle of Britain was really about. The Official History sums up with clarity:

    "If 15th August showed the German High Command that air supremacy was not to be won within a brief space, 15th September went far to convince them that it would not be won at all."

    September 15th 1940 (morning)

    BBC ON THIS DAY | 15 | 1940: Victory for RAF in Battle of Britain
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    This is the date after which I believe Hitler's chances will rapidly dwindle. The weather holds good in a miraculous manner but there are faint premonitory puffs of wind from the South- West and a chill in the air. Dispatches received through Switzerland say that there are the beginnings of a press campaign in Germany breaking the news to the people that England is to be subdued by blockade and bombing. If this is true, Hitler is on the downgrade. I can’t for the life of me puzzle out what the Germans are up to. They have great air power and yet are dissipating it in fruitless and aimless attacks all over England. They must have an exaggerated idea of the damage they are doing and the effects of their raids on public morale. . . . Just as I finish writing this, the heavy guns commence giving tongue and the little Irish maid comes in to turn down the bed. She went over to Victoria to see the plane which crashed there and is very pleased because she saw the dead German crew extracted from the wreckage.
    RAYMOND LEE, United States Military Attaché in London, 15th September 1940

    I started to chase one Dornier which was flying through the tops of the clouds. Did you ever see that film "Hells Angels?" You'll remember how the Zeppelin came so slowly out of the cloud. Well, this Dornier reminded me of that. I attacked him four times altogether. When he first appeared through the cloud—you know how clouds go up and down like foam on water —I fired at him from the left, swung over to the right, turned in towards another hollow in the cloud, where I expected him to reappear, and fired at him again. After my fourth attack he dived down headlong into a clump of trees in front of a house, and I saw one or two cars parked in the gravel drive in front. I wondered whether there was anyone in the doorway watching the bomber crash. Then I climbed up again to look for some more trouble and found it in the shape of a Heinkel III which was being attacked by three Hurricanes and a couple of Spitfires.
    I had a few cracks at the thing before it made a perfect landing on an RAF aerodrome. The Heinkels undercarriage collapsed and the pilot pulled up, after skidding 50 yards in a cloud of dust. I saw a tall man get out of the right-hand side of the aircraft, and when I turned back he was helping a small man across the aerodrome towards a hangar.

    Squadron leader John Sample 501 Squadron Kenley

    September 15th 1940 (Afternoon)
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Wednesday September 18th 1940

    It now appeared that the Royal Air Force were starting to gain the upper hand, but even though London suffered serious damage and hundreds of casualties from September 7th onwards, the battle was far from being over, although the turning point could be said, happened on September 15th. Adolf Hitler may have postponed the invasion once again, but the intensity of day and especially night raids were about to increase.
    Göring was under instructions to continue bombing attacks on the British capital although personally, he would have like to revert back to destroying the fighters, the airfields and ground support installations of the RAF, but unlike the British chain of command, he was under instructions from Hitler personally. Daytime attacks would still continue, and by increasing Bf109 and Bf110 escort duties to the bombers, he could hopefully destroy at least some of Fighter Command by forcing them to send fighters into the air, but with instructions to concentrate on the industrial areas of London's East End and bombing London itself, it was going to be a big ask if the targets were not the fighter aerodromes themselves. Night time bombing would continue, and this was to become more widespread with greater intensity and with more high explosive bombs followed by thousands of incendiary bombs.

    Keith Park was now under pressure to pursue the tactics of flying his squadrons in pairs. The instruction was given by the Air Ministry, mainly under pressure by those in favour of the "Big Wing" theory and as it had turned out, that the British tactical position had improved greatly. [1]

    The flying of squadrons in pairs was more of a compromise on the part of Park who refused to send up the number of squadrons as Douglas Bader and Leigh-Mallory had wanted, although it must be admitted that Bader's "Big Wing" was destroying large numbers of enemy aircraft when given the opportunity. The combination of the "Big Wing" and other squadrons flying in pairs proved how successful the method was during the British victory on September 15th. We were not to see the last of paired squadrons yet.

    During the early hours of the morning, Bomber Command flew a number of sorties which comprised of some 194 aircraft. Seventy-five per cent of the bombers were attacking the Channel ports as they had done throughout September, with special emphasis on Antwerp targeting the barges that would be used in any impending invasion. 187 of the bombers despatched reported successful missions with only two Hampdens being lost during the night operations. [2]
    Page 45: September 18th 1940
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  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    There's nothing worse than having to leave a half cooked breakfast, scramble and push hard to a vectored height and position, look left, right, above and behind and see nothing but clear blue sky. Not a tell tale sign of AA gunfire and you are then ordered back to base reporting nothing seen and that you didn't partake in any combat, only to find that your breakfast is stone cold.
    Pilot Officer George Barclay 249 Squadron Fighter Command
    Page 45: September 18th 1940
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  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    From September 17th through to the end of the month The Luftwaffe done everything in its power to pound London while at the same time making spasmodic attacks on other places such as Merseyside, Birmingham, Swansea and Southampton. Many of these attacks were made by day, but by far the greatest damage was done during the night bombings. London was to experience night bombing every night for over two months. The three raids of September 18th, 27th and the 30th were by far the most intense, considerable damage was inflicted on the capital city but had it not been for the British fighters who by now were gaining valuable experience every day the damage would have been much worse. Each of these days, the German bombers sustained many casualties. In total 120 German aircraft were shot down or severely damaged while Fighter Command lost only 60.

    The sad saga continued for the Luftwaffe, from September 15th German losses were mounting, but still Göring did not understand that he could ill afford to lose aircraft at the rate that he was. Although his aircraft establishments were producing more aircraft, Britain too was producing just as many. In fact newer models of the Hurricane and Spitfire were being produced that were to prove far more deadly than the earlier versions. Between September 7th and September 30th, Fighter Command had lost 242 aircraft compared with the Luftwaffe loss of 433. Nearly twice that of Britain.

    Page 52: The Battle is Won
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  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Phase 4: 7 September 1940 – 31 October 1940
    Mass bombing raids were launched against London, and continued against other major British cities.

    15 September: Battle of Britain day. The Luftwaffe launched its heaviest bombing raids on London. Fighter Command successfully fought the attacking aircraft, resulting in heavy Luftwaffe losses.

    17 September: Hitler postponed the invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion)

    26 September: The Spitfire factory at Southampton was attacked and destroyed.

    October: The German Luftwaffe focused their bombing raids on British cities at night, to reduce Luftwaffe casualties. Coastal towns, airfields and other military targets were attacked during the day.

    31 October: The German Luftwaffe were denied air superiority by the RAF. The Battle of Britain ended.
    Battle of Britain Timeline: 10 July 1940 - 31 October 1940 | Bentley Priory Museum
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    This "Roll of Honour" contains nearly 3,000 names of all those aircrew that served with RAF Fighter Command between the dates of July 10th and October 31st 1940, the official period known as the Battle of Britain. Each one of those 2,937 British and Allied airmen were awarded the Battle of Britain clasp for having flown at least one authorised sortie with an accredited unit of RAF Fighter Command.

    The Battle of Britain aircrew came from the following countries:
    Great Britain - 2,342
    Australia - 32
    Barbados - 1
    Belgium - 28
    Canada - 112
    Czechoslovakia - 88
    France - 13
    Ireland - 10
    Jamaica - 1
    Newfoundland - 1
    New Zealand - 127
    Poland - 145
    Rhodesia - 3
    South Africa - 25
    United States - 9

    BOBHS | Aircrew
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  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    October: The German Luftwaffe focused their bombing raids on British cities at night, to reduce Luftwaffe casualties. Coastal towns, airfields and other military targets were attacked during the day.

    Every pilot that flew his fighter aircraft into battle, and every aircraft that flew in the skies against this formidable enemy was supported by thousands of civilian and military personnel in the support teams. Without them, these fighter aircraft and their pilots would never have left the ground on operational duties. For every Spitfire or Hurricane to become airborne and fly of into battle, nearly two hundred people would have been responsible for keeping it in the air and getting it safely back to its base. These support teams were the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain. They worked behind the scenes, many of them throughout the nights to keep Britain's defence system working.
    Some of these support teams are:

    • The designers and engineers at Supermarine, Hawker and Rolls Royce
    • The radio designers and technicians who strove to improve communications
    • The fitters and engineers of the RAF ground staff
    • The refuellers of the RAF ground staff
    • The armourers of the RAF ground staff
    • The CRT operators at the radar stations
    • The servicemen of the Observer Corps
    • The radio operators and plotters in the filter rooms
    • The personnel of the Anti-Aircraft Regiments
    • The RAF Intelligence
    • The Air Transport Auxiliary
    • The doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers
    • Civilian gas, electricity and water technicians
    • The many civilians who helped crash-landed pilots get back to their bases
    All these people in some way or another assisted to keep the aircraft flying and in the air. Women too, were to play their part. Many preferred women as radar operators and plotters because they appeared to be far more sharp and accurate than their male counterparts. Women also drove cars, trucks and even flew aircraft in a ferrying capacity, but they were never allowed to fly on combat operations.
    Listed below, are some of the factors that were to play a very important part in Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.

    Support Services of Fighter Command
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  10. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    The Battle of Britain ends 31st October 1940

    31 October 1940
    On this day the last daylight raid by the Germans take place in the UK. It's the end of the Battle of Britain. However night-time attacks continue throughout the winter of 1940-41 only ending when the Luftwaffe move east in preparation for their attack on the Soviet Union.
    Battle timeline

    9 Important Dates In The Battle Of Britain
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  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Phase 1: 10 July – 12 August 1940 Attacks on Channel Shipping
    The Luftwaffe attacked shipping conveys in the English Channel and Channel ports and coastal radar stations on the South coast. There were widespread night-time raids all along the coast.

    16 July: Adolf Hitler issued Directive No. 16, calling for preparations to be made for Operation Sealion – the invasion of Britain. Hitler demanded that ”the British Air Force must be eliminated to such an extent that it will be incapable of putting up any sustained opposition to the invading troops.”
    Battle of Britain Timeline: 10 July 1940 - 31 October 1940 | Bentley Priory Museum

    Service Number 745067

    Died 10/07/1940

    253 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

    Location: Essex, United Kingdom
    Number of casualties: 12

    Cemetery/memorial reference: Grave 413.
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  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    THURSDAY JULY 11th 1940


    The morning of the 11th, was typical of what one could expect on a English summers day. Southern England was covered in exceptionally low cloud, and thick fog in many areas would have made flying impossible. In contrast to the events of the previous day, the next few days were very much similar to those of the days leading up to the 10th, that was, spasmodic attacks on coastal shipping in the Channel, recon flights along the English coast, and only a few occasions where the fighters went up and generally engaged air combat on a one-to-one basis. The weather was generally clearer in the west during the morning, and this is where the Germans had to decided to strike, and for many, it was the first time that they had seen the role played by the Ju87 Stuka dive bomber.

    It all started when six Spitfires of 609 Squadron (Middle Wallop) were vectored into an area where radar had picked out a blimp in the region of Portland. What they found was a a formation of Ju87s. They were just ready to make the engagement when they were pounced on by three Staffels of Bf109s. 609 lost its Flight Commander, and another Spitfire was shot down. Another Stuka attack on Portland later incurred slight damage, but with the arrival of Hurricanes from 601 Squadron (Tangmere) the Stukas had to abort after two of them were shot down and two Bf110s also suffered the same fate.

    Earlier, during the dawn period, radar picked up a signal off the east coast near Walton-on-Naze. 66 Squadron sent out a flight to intercept and found it to be lone recon Do17. Suffering from damage by the Spitfires, the German bomber lost height as it made its way out over the North Sea, but not before its gunfire hit one of the Spitfires off the coast south of Great Yarmouth. A Hurricane was also damaged by gunfire from a Do17 off the east coast and the pilot, S/L Peter Townsend was picked up by merchant boat after bailing out.

    By afternoon, the weather had cleared in the east and six Spitfires intercepted an Heinkel 59 seaplane that displayed Red Cross markings and was escorted by 12 Bf109s of the coast of Deal in Kent. The He59 was shot down by the RAF and in the ensuing dogfight two Spitfires and two Bf109s were shot down.

    Most of the day, spasmodic attacks were being made by Ju87s and He111 to various targets west of the Isle of Wight. Shipping came under fire in Portsmouth and in the Solent, while small convoys were attacked in the Channel off the coast of Weymouth and Portland. 10 Group had not been formed at this time, and squadrons based at Exeter and St Eval came under the control of 11 Group.
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 11th 1940)
    Hurricane P2485. 501 Sqn Middle Wallop. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    Sgt F.J.P Dixon. Drowned. (Hit by gunfire from Bf109 of 111/JG27 ten miles off Portland. Baled out but search failed to find any trace of pilot)
    0805hrs. Spitfire L1095. 609 Sqn Warmwell. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    P/O G.T.M. Mitchell. Drowned. (Shot down in combat by Bf109 over Channel off Portland protecting convoy. Body later washed ashore at Newport I.O.W)
    0810hrs. Spitfire L1069. 609 Sqn Warmwell. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    F/L P.H. Barran. Died of burns. (Shot down in combat by Bf109 over convoy in Channel off coast at Portland. Baled out. Pilot was rescued but died on rescue boat)

    July 2nd - July24th 1940

    Service Number 90484

    Died 11/07/1940

    609 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force)

    Son of Thomas Robert and Sarah Agnes Mitchell, of Letchworth. B.A. Hons. (Cantab.).

  15. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    Friday 12th July - 700 RAF Fighters fly 207 Patrols

    Early morning fog and low cloud over the Channel and south-east England with showers and occasional thunderstorms, but improving by the late afternoon. Bright with sunny spells in the west after early cloud lifted. Heavy rain in the north.
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  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Pilot Officer John Bisdee diary 13th July 1940

    13 July

    No entry - the Air Staff Operational Summary records:

    During the day the enemy focussed his attention primarily on shipping and many bombs were dropped on convoys but no hits were reported. Major fighter engagements were as follows:-
    i. Off PORTLAND at 1430 hours.
    ii. In the DOVER area at 1730 hours.
    iii. About 15 m. off CALAIS at 1800 hours.

    Plt Off John Bisdee diary 13th July 1940 | Blog | RAF Museum
  17. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    3. Where Goering and Raeder still wanted an invasion of England, was Hitler still having reservations. Was it his plan to give the British a taste of what was to come by trying to win the air war over the Channel then request again the terms of a settlement. This is backed up by Richard Hough and Dennis Richards in their book "Battle of Britain".

    "If these few days in mid-July showed the first hints of vulnerability of the Ju87 Stuka, they also tragically proved the unsuitability of the Defiant for front line fighter duties. These turret fighters of 141 Squadron were unblooded until 19 July, when they were moved down to Hawkinge from West Malling. The day had dawned clear, vulnerable convoys were numerous and trouble was expected.
    All nine serviceable Defiants were ordered off soon after midday to patrol south of Folkestone. They were carrying out this duty in a model manner when, without warning from the controller, a Staffel of Bf109s fell upon them. Unmanoeuverable, and at a hopeless disadvantage, the gunners valiantly attempted to spin their turrets to get a bead on the swooping 'snappers'. Another Staffel, eager to join the massacre, added to the one-sidedness of the dogfight. One after the other the Defiants fell from the sky, some in flames, the gunners at a hopeless disadvantage in struggling to get out.

    Only the belated arrival of John Thompson's Hurricanes of 111 Squadron saved the last of 141 Squadron. Three pilots got back to Hawkinge, one of them without his gunner and in an aircraft that could never fly again.

    That evening, Hitler gave his 'last appeal to reason' speech to the Reichstag. If the outcome of this combat had been typical of the air fighting, Britain might have had to take some note of the German leader's 'thorny olive branch'. It was not, but this was a bad day all round for Fighter Command."
    Richard Hough & Denis Richards Battle of Britain Hodder & Staughton 1989 pp131-132

    4. Was the Channel conquest proving a worthwhile tactic, or were they just playing into the hands of the RAF. After all, German records would show that only about eighty British fighters had been destroyed in the first month of the battle, no doubt Britain was producing more fighters than they had lost, or were they?

    But, remember the prophecy of Hugh Dowding way back in 1936, who stated to a group of RAF students that if Germany were to prepare for an invasion of England, they would first, knowing that Britain relied heavily of products from overseas, that Germany would attack all forms of merchant shipping bringing in supplies in an effort to cut all supplies into the country. By doing this, he would be able to attack the fighters that would be defending the shipping lanes. This then, looked like a prophecy coming true.
    Understandably, it was at a price. Both sides were losing both valuable aircraft and experienced men. So far it was a bit of a stalemate like a case of 'you pop me off, I pop you off'. It could only get better....or a damm sight worse.

    FRIDAY JULY 12th 1940


    Heavy rain periods in the north with 8/10ths cloud but clearing as the day wears on. In the south-east there was low cloud, occasional showers with thunderstorms but clearing by the afternoon, while in the west the early morning cloud cleared to give way to sunny periods.

    Most of the action took place off the Essex and Suffolk coastline. He111 and Do17 bombers were targeting some of the merchant shipping along one of Britain's busy trade routes. The Hurricanes of 85 Squadron (Martlesham Heath) were up early after enemy aircraft had been spotted off the coast near Harwich possibly attacking the merchant convoy code named "Booty". More Do17 and He111 bombers were detected and 151 Squadron (Hurricanes, North Weald) and 17 Squadron (Hurricanes, Debden) were scrambled.

    Combat just off the East Anglia coast lasted until almost midday with the Hurricanes having accounted for two He111s, Sgt D.Fopp claiming one at 0900hrs and Sgt G.Griffiths claiming one at 0940hrs. A He111 was detected over the North Sea just off the coast near Aberdeen in Scotland where bombers dropped a number of bombs killing 29 people and injuring 100 and was shot down by Spitfires of 603 Squadron and in the late afternoon. Ju88 bombers attacked Exeter and St Eval airfields with one Ju88 being shot down.
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 12th 1940)
    0850hrs. Off Felixstowe. Hurricane P2557. 85 Sqn Martlesham Heath. (Lost at sea)
    Sgt L. Jowitt Missing believed drowned. (Hit by gunfire from He111 from 11/KG53 off Felixstowe. Crashed into sea)
    0945hrs. Off Burnham (Essex). Hurricane P3275. 151 Sqn North Weald. (Lost at sea)
    F/O J.H.L. Allen. Missing believed drowned. (Hit in engine by gunfire from Do17 off Orfordness. Crashed into sea) 1545hrs. Off Portland. Hurricane P3084. 501 Sqn Middle Wallop. (Lost at sea)
    P/O D.A. Hewitt. Missing believed drowned. (Hit by gunfire while attacking Do17 off Portland. Crashed into sea)
    Time N/A. Biggin Hill. Spitfire P9502. 610 Sqn Biggin Hill. (Aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt S. Ireland. Killed. (Believed his aircraft went out of control during diving practice)

    SATURDAY 13th JULY 1940

    Early fog covered much of southern England and restricted any flying operation until mid-morning. Then clearing conditions but low cloud persisted.


    Most commanders kept their squadrons "confined to quarters" because of the weather. There was very little activity, even by the Luftwaffe. As the conditions seemed to improve during the morning, a couple of attacks were made on the port of Dover. 43 Squadron Tangmere (Hurricanes) responded and engaged a force of He111 over the Channel. Early afternoon saw a couple of feint attacks on a convoy off the Essex coast near Harwich. Later in the afternoon, enemy aircraft were detected again in the Channel area and attacked the convoy "Bread" off the Dorset coast near Lyme Bay and 56 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes), 64 Squadron Kenley (Spitfires) and 238 Squadron (Hurricanes) were scrambled to intercept. One Do17 was shot down during the afternoon by 238 Squadron while another five were destroyed in mid-Channel.
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 13th 1940)
    1135hrs. Tatsfield (nr Biggin Hill). Spitfire R6807. 610 Squadron Biggin Hill. (Aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt P.J. Watson-Parker Killed. (Crashed. Reasons not recorded.)
    1520hrs. Southdown (Sussex). Hurricane P2950. 238 Squadron. (aircraft destroyed)
    F/Lt J.C. Kennedy Killed. (Believed injured by gunfire from Do17 [above] crashed on returning to base)
    1645hrs. Calais. Hurricane N2432. 56 Squadron North Weald. (aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt J.R. Cowsill Missing. (Last seen in combat with Bf109, believed ditched in Channel)
    1645hrs. Calais. Hurricane P2922. 56 Squadron North Weald. (aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt J.J. Whitfield Missing. (Hit by gunfire from Bf109 over Channel. Crashed into sea)
    1900hrs. Balsham (Cambs). Spitfire R6688 (Aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt R.R.G. Birch Killed. (Stalled while attempting steep turn during dogfight practice)

    SUNDAY JULY 14th 1940

    Fair, with high cloud.


    As the convoy "Bread" continued its journey in the Channel, it again became the target for the Luftwaffe but were continually being harassed by fighters and most bombs missed the merchant ships. The Luftwaffe attacked another convoy making its way through the Dover Straits and 74 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 111 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes) and 615 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) intercepted. A description of the air combat was verbally captured by the BBC's Charles Gardner and broadcast to the nation:

    Click on the Real Player icon below to download a copy of the sound file to your computer so that you can play it on your own media player.
    Charles Gardner's broadcast (July 14th 1940)
    For a full text version of Charles Gardner's commentary see [ Document-23 ]
    Manston received some damage in an attack, but an attack on a destroyer in Swanage Harbour done no damage except causing a lot of sea spray and water spouts.

    THE CASUALTIES: (July 14th 1940)
    1530hrs. Dover. Hurricane L1584. 615 Squadron Kenley. (Crashed into sea)
    P/O M.R. Mudie Died of injuries. (Baled out badly injured, rescued by Navy, died on July 15th 1940)

    MONDAY JULY 15th 1940

    Low cloud persisted most of the day with occasional heavy rain.


    Not the most ideal weather conditions for flying, and neither side saw, or undertook much activity. The Luftwaffe made a few reconnaissance missions over the North Sea and the English Channel. The convoy "Pilot" was making its way through the Thames Estuary when spotted by the German reconnaissance aircraft and its position and course were radioed back to German HQ. By late-morning the weather had broken up enough for 15 Do17 bombers of KG2 to take off for an intended attack on the convoy.

    1130hrs (11.30am): A number of He111 bombers were attacking industrial and dock areas along the Scottish coast.
    603 Squadron Dyce (Spitfires) intercepted and avoided any major damage, although quite a number of bombs fell causing only minor damage. A He111 of 2/KG26 was shot down at 1212hrs which crashed into the sea.

    1350hrs (1.50pm): A number of German bombers made an attack on an aircraft works at Yeovil in Somerset in the west of England. One of the runways received slight damage, as did one of the hangars and a number of craters appeared, but damage was kept to a minimum. 213 Squadron Exeter (Hurricanes) intercepted and one Hurricane was shot down although the pilot baled out. Interception was also made by 92 Squadron Pembrey (Spitfires) in which the Luftwaffe lost one Ju88 and another damaged.

    1415hrs (2.15pm): Through broken cloud and rain squalls a Dornier formation arrived over the convoy "Pilot" but Fighter command had 'seen' them coming and scrambled 56 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) and 151 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) to meet them before the Dorniers had time to attack the convoy. Although some attempted an attack, they were turned around without causing any damage. Once the attack was aborted, the Hurricanes returned to base without scoring.

    Casualties were light on both sides, in fact the RAF suffered more aircraft damaged or lost in flying accidents than they did on operational sorties. Some were damaged in heavy landings, another crashed in inclement weather whilst attempting to land and another crashed into a accumulator trolley while taxiing into a hangar.
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 15th 1940)
    There were none recorded on this day.
    July 2nd - July24th 1940
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  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  19. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    RAF Coastal Command played a pivotal role in the Allied war effort, most notably against Hitler's U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic – a role which has been largely obscured by the more famous achievements of Fighter Command, and Bomber Command's costly and controversial offensive against German industry. Yet the war to protect Britain's Atlantic life-line and secure safe shipping routes for men and materiel from North America was perhaps the most important struggle of all.

    From weak and feeble beginnings, and in the face of massive competition for resources, Coastal Command built a formidable force of anti-submarine aircraft. Armed with effective new weapons and the latest radar technology, these could hunt and attack U-boats by day or night, off Britain’s shores or out in the vast expanses of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Coastal Command patrolled a vast area of the Atlantic from the Arctic Circle to North Africa – some ten million square miles of ocean. To extend its reach, squadrons were based at Gibraltar, Iceland, West Africa and in the Azores.

    A small number of long-range aircraft made a huge difference in the convoy battles, which was fortunate as Coastal Command was denied its fair share of home-grown aircraft.

    How RAF Coastal Command Defended Britain During The Second World War
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    On July 24th 1940 Six Spitfires of 54 Squadron Rochford (Spitfires) attacked a number of Dorniers who were attacking a convoy in the Straits of Dover during the morning but the squadron had to break up to send a couple of flights to the Thames Estuary where another convoy was under attack, but they could claim no victories except to spoil the aim of the bombardiers on the Dorniers. This day was the last day for 54 Squadron at Rochford, they had been there for a month and had now been posted back to Hornchurch. The Operational Record Book of 54 Squadron states that July 24th was the biggest and most successful day of operations since Dunkirk. "B" Flight intercepted a formation of Do215s off Dover and Green Section under P/O Dorian Gribble managed to break up the formation forcing them to jettison their bombs and turn back across the Channel. An early morning raid on shipping in the Bristol Channel by Ju88s with a few ships damaged, but one Ju88 was shot down by 92 Squadron Pembrey (Spitfires). By 1100hrs, more Do17s returned to the Estuary to continue the attack on the shipping.
    July 2nd - July24th 1940

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