So it Began.....Their Finest Hour

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

  1. CL1

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

    Page 45: September 18th 1940


    Conditions were expected to be a continuation of the previous day except that the low to medium cloud that brought the rain periods would disappear. The day was expected to be bright and clear although the squally winds would continue.

    0900hrs: Radar stations from Pevensey to Foreness detect a formation building up just off the Channel coast at Calais. The information is passed on to FCHQ immediately.
    0920hrs: Keith Park was ready to issue orders to his station commanders after a meeting with Hugh Dowding the previous day. But the news of another detection allowed him to delay the new instructions. The Observer Corps reported tiny specks at high altitude which indicated that it was a formation of fighters flying at heights in the region of 20,000 feet between Folkestone and North Foreland.

    At varying intervals, a total of fifteen squadrons of Fighter Command were scrambled to intercept.

    0940hrs: The enemy fighters reach Maidstone and decide to break up into two separate formations. One headed towards Sheerness while the other veered north towards the open waters of the Thames Estuary. Only six of the fifteen Fighter Command squadrons make contact between Maidstone and Chatham. These were 17 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes), 46 Squadron Stapleford (Hurricanes), 73 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes), 257 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes), 501 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) and 603 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires). Most of these squadrons, once they observed that the enemy was all Bf109 fighters, made their presence felt but broke off any form of attack in accordance with Parks instructions not to be drawn into combat with German fighters unless they were escorting their bombers.

    A couple of flights from both 501 Squadron and 603 Squadron did become involved in combat after being jumped by Bf109s. One pilot baled out of his Hurricane over Staplehurst while Spitfire pilot of 603 Squadron was killed after his aircraft was shot up and crashed near Ashford.

    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
    No sooner had a number of the squadrons landed that others were scrambled and vectored to intercept enemy formations detected over Dover and over the Thames Estuary. Some of the squadrons that were scrambled earlier were vectored to new locations while more squadrons were released.
    1] Len Deighton Battle of Britain Jonathan Cape 1980 p186
    [2] Middlebrook and Everitt Bomber Command War Diaries Midland 1995 p84
    [3] Vincent Orange Sir Keith Park Methuen 1984 p112
    [4] John Frayn Turner Battle of Britain Airlife 1998 p151
  2. CL1

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

    18th September 1940

    Page 45: September 18th 1940

    The night was cloudless and starry, with the moon rising over Westminster. Nothing could have been more beautiful and the searchlights interlaced at certain points on the horizon, the star like flashes in the sky where shells were bursting, the light of distant fires, all added to the scene. It was magnificent and terrible: the spasmodic drone of enemy aircraft overhead, the thunder of gunfire, sometimes close, sometimes in the distance, the illumination, like that of electric trains in peacetime, as the guns fired, and the myriad of stars, real and artificial in the firmament. Never was there such a contrast of natural splendour and human vileness.
    Jock Coleville on two sides of the bombing.
    Finest Hour Tim Clayton & Phil Craig Hodder & Staughton pp323-4

    0950hrs: Ashford. Spitfire X4323 603 Squadron Hornchurch
    P/O P. Howes killed. (Shot down in combat with Bf109s. Pilot did not bale out)
    1230hrs: Chatham. Hurricane V7442. 46 Squadron Stapleford
    Sgt G.W. Jeffries killed. (Shot down by enemy aircraft, baled out but parachute failed to open)
    1325hrs: Gravesend. Hurricane V6600. 249 Squadron North Weald
    Fl/Lt D.G. Parnell killed. (Crashed and burnt out after combat with enemy aircraft)

    [1] Len Deighton Battle of Britain Jonathan Cape 1980 p186
    [2] Middlebrook and Everitt Bomber Command War Diaries Midland 1995 p84
    [3] Vincent Orange Sir Keith Park Methuen 1984 p112
    [4] John Frayn Turner Battle of Britain Airlife 1998 p151
  3. CL1

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

    Page 46: September 19th 1940
    Thursday September 19th 1940

    Dawn: As the first light of day takes over from the dark of the early morning, members of the Civil Defence, the fire services and many civilians count the cost the nights bombing. About 2200 hrs the previous night, German bombers attacked a number of installations in Northumberland and County Durham causing considerable damage. But it was again on London that the bombing was most severe. Just before midnight, heavy bombing occurred along the Thames and as the night wore on this was extended closer to the city centre. By daylight, the extent of the damage was clearly seen. The once high class shopping areas of Regent Street, Bond Street and along Piccadilly, was a scene of devastation. Many shop fronts had been blown in, many of the once beautiful facades that had formed a part of London's history for many years now lay in a crumpled mass of bricks and mortar in the streets.

    Heavy cloud was expected to continue throughout the day and rain periods, heavy at times was expected over most of Britain. The Channel areas could expect a very low cloud base with early morning fog and mist patches in coastal districts.

    Waking up to a rather dismal and damp morning, it was obvious to many of the British pilots that it was certainly not going to be a day that one should be up there in that dull grey murk and they hoped that the Luftwaffe would see it in the same way. They were not going to be disappointed. Radar stations along the Channel coast were idle, the CRT screens blank.
    On mornings where there is absolutely no activity, it is like a gift from God. We are able to take things that little bit easier, have breakfast in comfort and generally most of us are in a very relaxed frame of mind, but there was always someone to keep an eye on that screen.....just in case.
    Margaret Farmer. Radar Operations.
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  4. CL1

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

    19th September 1940


    It was just the second time during the battle that Fighter Command did not suffer any casualties. True that Britain did not have any with the exception that one aircraft of 257 Squadron Debden suffered engine failure while on convoy patrol but landed safely. But the Luftwaffe did sustain a number of casualties.
    Excluding about six Luftwaffe bombers that crashed on landing on internal flights or crashed on take off, there were a number of them that crashed after being involved in operations against the RAF. One Ju88 of 4(F)/121 had to make a forced landing at Oakington aerodrome due to engine failure while on a photo-reconnaissance flight and was involved with British fighters and its crew captured. Another Ju88 of 5(F)/122 was involved in a British fighter attack and had to return to base carrying one dead and one seriously injured crewmember. A Do17 of 7/KG2 was attacked by Spitfires over southern England and although it managed to return to France it crashed. Another Do17 of 2/KG3 was believed to have suffered damage from AA gunfire and crashed on landing causing minor damage to the aircraft. A Ju88 was shot down by fighters over London with all the crew either killed or missing. A He111 of 4/KG4 was pursued by Hurricanes over the Thames Estuary and was last seen heading out towards the North Sea and is presumed to have crashed into the sea. The crew of a He111 were captured after their aircraft was brought down by AA gunfire near Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire. All these claims have been checked ands many of them are also recorded in Winston Ramsey's Battle of Britain - Then and Now Vol 5
    1] Middlebrook & Everitt Bomber Command War Diaries Midland 1996 p84
    [2] Wood & Dempster The Narrow Margin Magraw-Hill 1961 p360
    [3] William L. Shirer Berlin Diary 1934-1941 PRC 1997 p218
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  5. CL1

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

    Page 47: September 20th 1940
    Friday September 20th 1940

    Today, like most mornings the pilots on all the forward sector and forward aerodromes woke up wondering just what the day would bring. The day previous was exceptionally quiet, but this did not place anybody into a sense of false security. Yesterday, operations were relatively easy, spasmodic attacks by lone aircraft during the day while more concentrated attacks occurred after dark as would be expected. But even though the Luftwaffe only lost some six or seven aircraft, Fighter Command did not lose a single aircraft or pilot which shows the inactivity of the day.

    The morning would be reasonably fair with scattered cloud with showers expected by midday and these would continue throughout the day.

    It was another of those mornings where there was an abundance of blue sky and scattered cloud, but the radar screens at the south coast radar stations were totally clear. Pilots at most of the airfields had checked out their aircraft and waited patiently lazing around. Some flights from individual squadrons made routine patrols of the south coast.........but nothing. But it is in these quieter moments that many of the newer pilots are given further training by the more experienced pilots. Fighter Command had taken the opportunity in reinforcing many of the squadrons with fresh aircraft and an influx of new pilots. New pilots maybe, but with very little experience.

    Two further pilots have come to us straight from a Lysander squadron with no experience on fighter aircraft. Apparently demand has now outstripped supply and there are no trained pilots available in the Training Units, which means that we will just have to train them ourselves. However it remains to be seen whether we can spare the hours, as we are already short of aircraft for our own operational needs. It seems a very funny way to run a war.
  6. CL1

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

    Page 47: September 20th 1940

    1050hrs: The quiet of the early morning was broken at 1030hrs when radar had picked up a German formation that was coming across the Channel from the direction of Calais and by 1100hrs a formation of 20 plus Bf109s at 15,000 feet crossed the coast at Dungeness, with other formations of 50 plus Bf109 aircraft crossing the coast in the region of Dover. The radar at Foreness picked up another formation that had stayed out to sea and came in through the Thames Estuary. This was another change of tactic by the Luftwaffe, although it was not the first time that they had sent in Bf109s en masse on daytime attacking raids.

    Fighter Command released fifteen squadrons including 72 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires), 92 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires), 222 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 253 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) and 605 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes). The Luftwaffe in this attack had the upper hand by sheer weight of numbers.

    It was always exciting watching the dogfights over the Kentish fields and the English Channel, I suppose little did we realise then that men were up there fighting for their lives and many of them were being killed or seriously wounded. The long twisting white vapour trails left a messy woven pattern in the skies, while most of those that were going to crash trailed columns of black smoke although there were times when you saw just a single dot slowly get bigger and bigger going straight down to crash into the sea with a giant plume of white spray.
    I remember on this occasion the mêlée commenced just as the planes of both sides came over the cliffs, they were high and the vapour trails started to get more and more intense. One plane dived straight down going round and round with little puffs of smoke that appeared to be coming from the back of the plane, then it crashed into the ground with an almighty bang. Then a German plane came down from a great height and levelled out just above the ground. He was closely followed by a Spitfire, a plane that we all got to know. The German plane weaved left and right but the Spitfire seemed to stick to him like glue, and we had to duck as we felt that they were so low that they would have taken our heads off. Then they turned and flew out to sea, we waited to see if the German was going to crash but they disappeared.

    Pamela Watson - Reading. Talking of childhood memories.
    Is was a possibility that both waves of German fighters were targeting London, but over the Kentish countryside, what the RAF fighter pilots lacked in numbers they made up for in skill even if they did sustain many casualties. The combat action was sustained over the fields of Kent and at the mouth of the Thames near Southend and Sheppy with neither formation making much progress towards their objective.

    One of the first aircraft of Fighter Command to go down was the Spitfire of P/O H.L. Whitbread of 222 Squadron Hornchurch at 1115hrs. A Bf109 came from above and took him by surprise and the Spitfire crashed at Higham near Rochester killing the pilot. At about 1130hrs, 253 Squadron Kenley had three Hurricanes shot down between Ashford and Maidstone. All three pilots, P/O A.R.H. Barton, Sgt A.R. Innes and an unnamed pilot all escaped serious injury. P/O W.J. Glowacki was unhurt as his Hurricane of 605 Squadron Croydon was hit by gunfire from a Bf109 but was one of the lucky ones in being able to return to base. By 1135hrs, 92 Squadron Biggin Hill lost two pilots when they became seriously involved in combat in the Dover/Dungeness area. One Spitfire crashed at West Hougham and another crashed in the Channel, both the victims of Major Moelders.

    It should be noted here that although mass daylight attacks had occurred with the use of Bf109 fighters only, they were causing more than a headache for Fighter Command. The sheer weight of numbers were causing all sorts of headaches for both Hurricane and Spitfire squadrons. The techniques involved when fighter was against fighter and were quite different to those when the German Bf109s were involved with providing escort.

    We in JG52 were very inexperienced. In two months our strength fell from thirty-six pilots to just four. We really wasted our fighters. We didn't have enough to begin with, and we used them in the wrong way, for direct close escort. We were tied to the bombers, flying slowly - sometimes with flaps down - over England. We couldn't use our altitude advantage nor our superiority in a dive. Of course, the Spitfire had a marvellous rate of turn, and when we were tied to the bombers and had to dogfight them, that turn was very important.
    Gunther Ball 8/JG52

    The mornings attack was the only main combat of the day. But is had been a terrible blow to Fighter Command. Of the five pilots killed in the attack, four of them at least were experienced seasoned pilots, pilots that were still badly needed. The Bf109 pilots, whether experienced or not had this day gained a slight advantage by downing more British fighters than they had lost themselves. Maybe the Luftwaffe would learn by this result, and that in the days to follow, more Geschwaders of Bf109s would make the daylight attacks and try to make up for the disastrous losses that they had so far they experienced. We will have to wait and see.

    1020hrs: Canterbury. Spitfire X4410. 72 Squadron Biggin Hill
    P/O D.F. Holland Killed. (Baled out after being shot down by Bf109s. Died on admission to hospital)
    1115hrs: Rochester. Spitfire N3203. 222 Squadron Hornchurch
    P/O H.L. Whitbread killed. (Shot down by Bf109s and crashed at Pond Cottage. Thrown clear but dead)
    1130hrs: Amesbury. Hurricane L1595. 56 Squadron Boscombe Down
    Sgt C.V. Meeson killed. (Crashed during formation flying practice)
    1134hrs: West Hougham. Spitfire X4417. 92 Squadron Biggin Hill
    P/O H.P. Hill Killed. (Shot down by Major Moelders in Bf109 and burst into flames on crashing)
    1134hrs: Dungeness. Spitfire N3248. 92 Squadron Biggin Hill
  7. CL1

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

    Page 48: September 21st 1940

    Saturday September 21st 1940

    The day opened to scattered cloud although along the Estuary and the River Thames as far as London there was considerable haze. Once this cleared, most of the south was fine with scattered cloud but by midday cloud had started to build up. In the north there was cloud with sunny spells but it remained dry.
    Early morning dawned with cloudless skies as no sign of the enemy. It was to remain that way for most of the day. Radar picked up an occasional aircraft, but these were believed to be on reconnaissance flights as they kept clear of the English coast. This was to be one of the quietest days of the battle, with more action being seen behind the scenes than in the air.

    The invasion of German troops on the island of great Britain was called "Cromwell" and all stations had been placed on standby as the possibility was always there that an invasion was always a possibility. But just as the Battle of Britain in the air seemed to be slowing down, so was the possibility of any German invasion for at least this year. Now, almost into the month of October, the days would be becoming shorter, the weather would soon deteriorate with the waters of the Channel becoming rougher and the signs from the German held Channel ports indicated that Bomber Command had all but destroyed any hope of the German infantry using the ports as a dispersal point for the Channel crossing.

    No hint of relaxation of alertness against the threat of invasion was allowed to percolate through to the armed forces, nor the civilian population. It was premature for that. But the view of the War Cabinet and of the most senior officers in all the Services was that with the days shortening, the weather deteriorating and the equinox approaching, it would now be most foolhardy of Hitler to attempt a crossing in 1940.
    On 21st September ‘Cromwell’ was cancelled and Alert No. 2 reinstated. Anthony Eden, while relaxing one morning at Elham, was therefore all the more surprised to hear from Churchill by telephone on 22nd September that he had just received a call from the American President that, for sure, the Germans would invade that very day. Eden took a walk to the Dover cliffs. He peered down through the fog and noted an exceedingly choppy sea. He then returned home and telephoned Churchill. An invasion, he said, seemed highly unlikely, and in any case they would all be sea-sick by the time they arrived by barge.

    The next day Roosevelt telephoned again, this time to apologise. ‘I’m so sorry,’ he said. ‘The codes got mixed. It was Indo-China, not England, and Japan, not Germany.’ And that, indeed, was the case.

    There were no casualties on either side on this day.
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  8. CL1

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

    Page 49: September 22nd 1940

    September 22nd 1940

    The day opened to many fog covered areas and a mist layer remained for most of the morning period. During the afternoon visibility had increased lengthy sunny periods, but the heavy cloud rolled in late in the afternoon and many areas especially in the south experienced periods of rain.
    Again, just like the day previous turned out to be a relatively quiet day and was far from the usual 'business as normal' that had been experienced during the latter part of August into early September. In general things had quietened down considerably and one would possibly have feelings that the worst was over. Gone was the waves upon waves of bombers and fighter escorts that had previously crossed the Channel with monotonous regularity. The daytime activities had now slowed down to just the occasional bomber formation being detected and over the last few days the Luftwaffe had tried out the new tactic of mass Bf109s. But these hardly created any impression or panic and combat losses on both sides were fairly even, and considerably low.

    The residents of the major cities and towns such as London, Merseyside and the ports along the north-eastern coast were now once again settling down to the task of cleaning up after the previous nights bombings that continued. After that they went about their business of enjoying themselves as best they could. The war was just another phase in their lives and they had settled down to accept the fact that the bombers would be over again that night, and the night after. They would make the usual trek down the garden or along the road to an air raid shelter and this would be their abode until daylight broke the following morning. Most of the tasks of the government departments carried on as per usual, the fire brigade, the rescue and demolition squads, hospitals, all these where now busier than they were before as is appeared that the war was taking a different turn. Gone is the consistent daytime raids where raids only came when the fighters could not stop the few that managed to get through. Now the days were quieter, but the nights were becoming increasingly busier.

    Didn't know where to start; got me tin hat and gas mask to look okay and show that I knew something of what was wanted. Somehow got onto stuffing a corpse, an old woman, on a door, very heavy with three other people taking it out of first aid post round to back of hospital towards the garage where nurse (or sister) had said; on the way met "Eddie" young porter who said he was "in charge" of the mortuary. He said, fill up the mortuary before the garage, so slowly onward to mortuary. I very tired suggested a rest, gratefully accepted, one of the men said we should dump her anywhere, as she was beyond help, go and help the wounded. Nobody replied tho' I agreed with him mentally but thought it better to go up to mortuary - not to leave old girl in th' open. Then Eddie thought of barrow, got it, and we put her on it. Eddie and I took her up mortuary; fetched out a metal "marble slab" on wheels rolled her off door and on'o it, she being covered by a thick red curtain blood-stained; took her into mortuary where already four or five corpses in similar bloody condition. Took back barrow to first aid post, dumped it near door, and looked for more work.
    Voluntary first aid orderly writing to Mass Observation in September 1940.

    The first air activity of the day was during the late morning when a formation of Bf109s managed to get through and fly high over London. Sources state that two squadrons were despatched to intercept, but there appears not to be any record of action and the Luftwaffe database does not show if any of the fighters were shot down in the area.
    A lone Ju88 on a photo or weather reconnaissance mission was detected over the Channel south of the Isle of Wight and 234 Squadron from Middle Wallop sent one flight to intercept. The Junkers was shot down and made a belly landing in the sea. All the crew managed to get out of the sinking aircraft and were captured by British authorities.

    Another small number of enemy aircraft got through and according to the station records book at Fowlmere, they came under attack at 1530hrs. One Spitfire was destroyed and a number were damaged. There was no damage to any buildings or to the airfield. There is a possibility that the attack on Fowlmere, was by the Bf109s that were detected earlier over London, but this cannot be said for any certainty.

    The afternoon was again peaceful, much to the delight of the aircrews, although one station commander stated to one of his squadron leaders "....that if things remain this quiet, you sure you won't get bored!!" But during the evening, as usual, things started to change. Wave upon wave of Heinkels, Junkers and Dorniers threw everything at London. The city had many heavy nights of bombing, but this was by far the heaviest. By midnight, it looked as if there was a sunset over London, the night sky was that red.

    Fighter Command sent up a number of Defiant and Blenheim night fighters, but with Britain night fighting ability still in its infancy, and about a dozen 'nighties' up against an estimated 125 bombers, their task was almost an impossibility. After forty five minutes they returned to their bases.

    Just for the records. the weather conditions in the north were considerably different to those in the south. This is shown by three Hurricanes of 85 Squadron who were at Church Fenton who crashed in bad weather conditions. All three were on a routine patrol off the coast when bad visibility caused them trouble in locating base. All three had extinguished their fuel and had to make forced landings well short of Church Fenton aerodrome. F/L G. Allard made his forced landing at Clitheroe, P/O J.E. Marshall forced landed at Burnley while P/O J.A. Hemingway made his force landing outside the town of Burnley.

    There were no casualties on either side on this day.

  9. CL1

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

    Page 50: September 23rd 1940
    Monday September 23rd 1940

    Mist and fog patches were to be expected in most areas but this would give way to a mainly fine day. Some patchy cloud could be expected, but generally mainly fine weather should prevail over most areas.
    The rather peaceful periods that the aircrews had experienced over the last few days was about to end, much like the cloud and rain periods as the bright ball of the sun could be seen above the low lying mist and fog layers. Some aircrews may have been thrown into a false sense of security as the month's combat actions had melted down to almost nothing.

    But by 0840hrs radar stations from Foreness to Rye had detected four separate formations close together coming in from the Channel towards Dover. As they approached the Kent coastline they appeared to fan out with the outer formations coming in from Ramsgate and Brighton while the centre ones came in over Deal and Folkestone. Again, as in the previous few days, they were Geschwaders of Bf109s and the Observer Corps estimated their numbers as two hundred plus. Fighter Command is said to have released twenty-four squadrons, although later authorities have revised this to fourteen. Again the problem of The British fighters not being able to get to the desired height and position because of the time taken to gain height in a Bf109 attack as they approached at a much faster rate than the bombers.

    The formations of Bf109s crossed the coast at about 0915hrs and eight of 11 Group squadrons managed to make an interception of the enemy when they were over North Kent. 257 Squadron (Hurricanes) Debden and 92 Squadron (Spitfires) Biggin Hill were among the first to intercept and a fierce dogfight took place off the coast near Herne Bay and Margate. One of the other formations were intercepted by 73 Squadron (Hurricanes) Church Fenton, 229 Squadron (Hurricanes( Northolt and 303 Squadron (Hurricanes) Northolt.

    1000hrs: An area from Dartford to Margate became a mass of twisting, whirling white vapour trails as the fighters from both sides weaved and spiralled against the backdrop of now bright blue sky. A spitfire of 92 Squadron Biggin Hill piloted by P/O A.J.S. Patterson, engaged in aerial combat over Gravesend was hit, forcing the pilot to break away from the action. He tried to make for the aerodrome at West Malling, but in an attempted forced landing the Spitfire crashed into the ground wounding P/O Patterson in the upper leg. Sgt D.J. Aslin of 257 Squadron Debden suffered burns when his Hurricane sustained a hit from one of the Bf109s and caught fire over the Thames Estuary. He managed to bale out with his aircraft crashing near Eastchurch.

    1100hrs: The action continued as other British pilots come to grief. were four Hurricane's from 73 Squadron (Church Fenton) had engaged combat over the Thames between Sheppy and Southend being jumped on by Bf109s of IIJG/26 which were shot down in flames over the Isle of Sheppy and Thames Estuary, a Spitfire of 72 Squadron which crashed at Sittingbourne, a Spitfire II of 74 Squadron Coltishall which was shot down while in single combat with a Bf109 and a Spitfire flown by P/O W. Beaumont of 152 Squadron but it is not known if he was engaged in combat over north Kent.

    Over London my Schwarm met a formation of Englishmen, around sixty fighters .......... I made a head-on attack on a Spitfire. The enemy tracer flew past my canopy, but the Englishman went spinning down in flames. Perhaps he had lost his nerve. Now a wild dogfight began. It was best to break away. Now I had four Spitfires on my tail. I was 18000 metres, and I pushed the stick forward and dived away at full speed, pulling out at ground level with my wings fluttering. No British fighter could have followed my wild dive. I looked behind me. Damn! There were two Spits on my tail again. There was no time to draw breath. My only chance of escape lay in my flying ability at low level, hedgehopping to the Channel over houses and around trees. It was no use, one of them was always there and I couldn’t shake him off. He hung a hundred metres behind me. Then we were over Dover. I thought: He can’t keep this up as I fled out over the wave tops but the Spitfire stayed behind. I jinked to right and left as the pilot opened fire and the bullets splashed into the water in front of me. I blinked the sweat out of my eyes. The French coast was now in sight. My fuel was getting low. I kept squinting behind so as not to miss the moment when he broke away. Wait, my friend, I thought. ‘You must return soon, and then I will be the hunter. Cap Gris Nez loomed up in front, and I skimmed over it one metre above. Suddenly the Tommy climbed steeply and slowed down. . . . At once I turned my Me 109 and zoomed up in a tight bank, engine howling, straight at him. I fired one burst from close range I nearly rammed him and the Spitfire went straight into the sea. He flew fantastically.
    WILHELM BALTHASAR,III/JG3, 23 September 1940

    But is was not just the fighters of Fighter Command that were having a bad day. The Luftwaffe suffered just as bad. F/Lt Brian Kingcombe of 92 Squadron Biggin Hill managed to score a direct hit on a Bf109 near Maidstone. The pilot baled out and was captured. Another of the 92 Squadron Spitfires being flown by P/O J.F. Drummond damaged the cooling system of a Bf109 north of Maidstone and it was forced down finally finishing up in a pond where the pilot also was taken prisoner. 72 Squadron also claimed credit for destroying a Bf109 that was to dive into the Channel off Folkestone. The Poles of 303 Squadron also increased their tally by another two when they claimed two Bf109s over the Thames Estuary while 257 Squadron and 605 destroyed one each. In all, ten Bf109s either crashed on English soil, or crashed on landing due to battle damage and were all destroyed while four managed to return back to their French bases with sustained battle damage.
    A lone Ju88 on a photo or weather reconnaissance mission was detected over the Channel south of the Isle of Wight and 234 Squadron from Middle Wallop sent one flight to intercept. The Junkers was shot down and made a belly landing in the sea. All the crew managed to get out of the sinking aircraft and were captured by British authorities.

    Another small number of enemy aircraft got through and according to the station records book at Fowlmere, they came under attack at 1530hrs. One Spitfire was destroyed and a number were damaged. There was no damage to any buildings or to the airfield. There is a possibility that the attack on Fowlmere, was by the Bf109s that were detected earlier over London, but this cannot be said for any certainty.

    The afternoon was again peaceful after a busy morning, much to the delight of the aircrews, although one station commander stated to one of his squadron leaders "....that if things remain this quiet, you sure you won't get bored?" But during the evening, as usual, things started to change. Wave upon wave of Heinkels, Junkers and Dorniers threw everything at London. The city had many heavy nights of bombing, but this was by far the heaviest. By midnight, it looked as if there was a sunset over London, the night sky was that red.

    Fighter Command sent up a number of Defiant and Blenheim night fighters, but with Britain night fighting ability still in its infancy, and about a dozen 'nighties' up against an estimated 125 bombers, their task was almost an impossibility. After forty five minutes they returned to their bases.

    But the night time attacks on the British capital and other major centres around Britain, the intensity of the night attacks remained heavy. The British War Cabinet decided to retaliate and ordered indiscriminate attack on Berlin with parachute mines. But, the Air Staff issued the directive that only targets that comprised any military value should only be attacked and that areas of civilian and residential areas should not be targeted.

    1100hrs:Over Channel. Spitfire R6896. 234 Squadron St Eval
    P/O T.M. Kane Confirmed P.O.W. (Was flying routine patrol but believed crashed in Channel off French Coast)
    1130hrs:Over Channel. Spitfire P9371 74 Squadron Coltishall
    Sgt D.H. Ayers Listed as missing. (Chased Bf109 to French coast but was shot down and crashed into sea)
    Unknown Time: Spitfire R7016. 152 Squadron Warmwell
    P/O W. Beaumont Listed as missing. (Failed to return from operational sortie. Last seen over the Channel)

    The above casualty list does really not reflect on the combat action of the day. In total, eleven Hurricanes and Spitfires were lost due to combat action. Four pilots managed to bale out of their damaged aircraft, while four crash landed. Of the eight, six pilots received burns or severe wounds.
  10. CL1

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

    Page 51: September 24th 1940
    Tuesday September 24th 1940

    Mist and fog patches were to be widespread in most areas especially over the French and British coastlines during the morning. Mist or haze was expected to be prevalent for most of the day, with high cloud expected to clear by late afternoon.
    Most of the fighter stations in the south woke up to a rather foggy morning and many experienced an eerie feeling as those that were up while it was still dark inspecting their aircraft before settling down to breakfast, groped around in the shallow visibility with the thought that they would be confined to base under the circumstances. Reports that had come through from the coastal radar stations also indicated that most of the Channel coast was also under the influence of reduced visibility. However, by 0630 hrs, the visibility increased as the fog began to lift. Two aircraft managed to take off from Manston and Tangmere on weather reconnaissance and reported that the fog was prevalent over the Channel, but along the coast and inland, the fog had reduced to low lying mist patches. Above the fog, visibility was good and the cloud base was about 18,000 feet.

    0810hrs:Radar stations at Foreness, Dover and Rye picked up a large formation coming across the Channel from Calais. It turned out to be a formation of about 200 plus that consisted of bombers with fighter escort. The formation was broken up into a number of smaller formations that were to cross the Kent coast on a wide front.

    Keith Park decided that he would send up eleven squadrons. 72 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires) were scrambled early to meet an advance formation of Bf109s. It appears that the bomber formation continues its route in a northerly direction heading towards the Thames Estuary and it was in this area that they were met by 17 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes) and 92 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires). The area over the Thames Estuary was misty with fog areas over the resort towns, but above this, the two fighter squadrons engaged in combat with the bombers.

    The first casualty of the morning was from 72 Squadron that engaged the advance party of Bf109s. At 0820hrs a Spitfire flown by Sgt J. Steere sustained damage while in combat over Dartford, but not enough for him to abandon his aircraft and he managed to return to base. In return, 72 Squadron managed to shoot down one Bf109 before the enemy gained height and redirected themselves east to meet up with the main bomber formation. Over the Thames Estuary, 72 Squadron was to claim another two possibly damaged, and one definitely damaged. 92 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires) were also in attendance over the Estuary where they claimed six enemy aircraft damaged, with two of them possibles. One of them, a He111 was seen returning back out towards the North Sea badly smoking from both engines. One of the 92 Squadron Spitfires was hit by gunfire from one of the Bf109s and was seen to crash near North Weald and bursting into flames on impact. The pilot did not bale out and went down with the aircraft.

    17 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes) also claimed one damaged and another possibly damaged, but unfortunately lost one Hurricane after it crashed into the sea off Chatham after being hit by gunfire from a Bf109. The pilot P/O H.A.C. Bird-Wilson managed to bale out of his burning aircraft with burns to his hands and body, but was rescued from the sea by a boat. According to German records, a number of the bombers did sustain damage in this action, and although they managed to return to their bases many of them crashed upon landing due to combat damage, but the times are sketchy and in many cases are not available.

    Of the squadrons that were also despatched, but did not make contact, often left the pilots in a discerning mood as to them they could have stayed on the ground back at their bases and finished their breakfasts in peace and quiet. P/O George Barclay of 249 Squadron said once, that after being vectored into one location, it almost seemed a waste of his time, and a waste of precious fuel to fly around an empty sky in search of something that wasn't there. But on reflection, we must have been there for a reason.

    Our two Spitfires hummed easily along the air paths........The world of last night seemed a long way off, and I wondered how, by contrast to this ecstatic feeling I had now. I could ever have descended to the general debauchery which characterized last night's behaviour. I wondered what the alternatives were. Were we to sit in our rooms to read a book, or sit in the mess and do a crossword puzzle or read all about the war, or write letters to our loved ones in case we got no further opportunity, or should we go to the cinema? I didn't think any of these activities would really be adequate as a sequel to the day. It would be physically possible to sit down by oneself in one's room and read a book after fighting Germans at a great height and at great speed at intervals during the day - but it would be unnatural. It was no longer a mystery to me why fighter pilots had earned such a reputation for being somewhat eccentric when they were on the ground. I knew why it was, and I knew that if I were alive this evening I should get drunk with the others and go wherever they went.
    P/O R.M.D. Hall 152 Squadron September 1940

    The morning had been a busy one for Fighter Command although we cannot say that they were pushed anywhere near the limit. Almost as if on cue, everything seemed to be quiet while everybody went home for lunch!!
    1330hrs: 41 Squadron (Spitfires) Hornchurch was out on patrol over the Channel near Hell Corner when they were bounced on by a flight of Bf109s. The squadron was forced to take defensive action and failed to turn the action into one of attack. two aircraft were lost, one crashed into the sea and the pilot rescued, while the other sustained serious damage and once over the Kent coast was forced to crash land somewhere outside Dover. The pilot was unhurt.

    1350hrs: A small to medium formation of Bf110 aircraft from I/Erprobungs Gruppe 210, 4ZG/76 and IIIZG/76 made a surprise attack on the docks and naval ports of Southampton and Portsmouth. Wood and Dempster in "The Narrow Margin" incorrectly state that these were bomb carrying Bf109 fighter bombers. It cannot be ascertained as to whether they flew across the Channel at very low level remaining undetected by Ventnor radar until observed by the Observer Corps, or whether Fighter Command was too late scrambling squadrons in time to intercept.

    The Bf110s managed to fly past the Isle of Wight and up the Solent with not one Hurricane or Spitfire in sight and headed towards the Spitfire factory at Woolston where a number of direct hits caused considerable damage to a number of buildings and an air raid shelter where it is estimated that 100 factory workers were killed. The main factory and assembly plant was not hit and production was unaffected.

    The only defence that could be offered by the British defences was by the anti-aircraft units who excelled with accurate gunfire with one Bf110 crashing into the sea, two Bf110s of III/ZG76 also sustaining hits and crashing into the Channel while a Bf110 of 4ZG76 sustained damage and managed to get back to base.

    After the raid on Southampton, the attackers then turned on Portsmouth where they dropped their bomb loads on mostly residential and commercial areas of the city with the naval dockyard and factories remaining undamaged.

    Soon after darkness fell, they usual formations of bomb laden Heinkels, Dorniers and Junkers arrived over the coastline of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire for the continuation of the night bombing raids that had been so prevalent over the last couple of weeks. The bombing was very widespread with heavy forces again targeting London, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Other areas targeted by the Luftwaffe bomber formations were Hull and Humberside, Newcastle and Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Manchester and a number of areas in the west and in South Wales. It was by far one of the most widespread of bombing attacks so far and it continued until about 0600hrs the next morning.

    0900hrs:Nth Epping Forest. Spitfire X4037. 92 squadron Biggin Hill
    P/O J.S. Bryson Killed. Shot down by Bf109s over Essex and crashed in flames near North Weald
    1630hrs:Over Channel. Hurricane P3832 605 Squadron Croydon
    P/O W.J. Glowacki Killed. In combat with Bf109 over French coast and shot down

    Again the above casualty list does really not reflect on the severity of the combat action that took place during the morning. Six Hurricanes and Spitfires were destroyed, three pilots baled out, four damaged aircraft crashed on landing while eight other aircraft, although damaged by enemy gunfire were repairable.
  11. CL1

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

    The Chronology: Page-52
    The Battle is Won
    For the last two months, the great air battle that had raged over south-east England was to go down in history as one of the most important battles that Britain had to overcome. We cannot argue that the German Luftwaffe was by no means an inferior opponent, on the contrary, as far as men and machines were concerned, they were a far superior force. The Luftwaffe, as the attacking force had a combined strength of bombers, fighters and fighter-bombers. There were huge numbers of aircrew both trained and straight out of flying school, and they had the advantage of flying by both day and by night.

    Fighter Command on the other hand, as the defending force had only front line fighters that combined did not equal the number of their enemy. They were also at a disadvantage as far as aircrew were concerned, often not enough to man the operational squadrons, who were also losing valuable aircraft daily. The biggest advantages that Britain had over German was the fact that they had the English Channel as a natural form of defence and the advantage of flying most of the time over home territory. Germany had carried out many blitzkrieg invasions with great success. Warsaw and Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium and finally France. But to make an invasion of Great Britain the German military forces could not use their normal course of events such as pushing in advance columns of Panzer troops, and providing them with the required support of bombers, fighters and dive bombers. The English Channel had first to be negotiated.

    Any attempt at crossing the Channel would be nothing short of disastrous. Aircraft of the Royal Air Force would pick out the sitting targets one by one and the invasion forces would be annihilated before they even got to the English coastline. Hitler had only one option, and that was to destroy the Royal Air Force before he could even make a positive date to commence the invasion. That attempt to destroy the RAF, and in particular Fighter Command is what this web site is all about. From courage to casualties, Fighter Command defended with everything that they had even though the odds were far against them.

    September 15th 1940 was the turning point even though the Battle of Britain was to go on until the end of October. The Luftwaffe threw everything that they had into the attack, morning, afternoon and in the evening, but they could not succeed. Disillusioned and demoralized, Germany had to revise its tactics. Even Adolph Galland stated that ".....September 15th proved that penetrating the British defences and the taking of London was now as far distant as ever." But as the battle continued into October, the Luftwaffe was to lose a further 320 aircraft against Fighter Commands 144. The heavy bombers would continue to attack London by night and the smaller Ju88s with Bf109s now carrying a single bomb were to attempt to do as much damage during small daylight raids.

    Looking back, we can often wonder as to why Hitler did not follow up with attacks on Britain at the time of the Dunkirk operations. At this time Britain was weak, they had succumbed to a demoralizing defeat and Fighter Command at this time was nowhere near ready being short on both pilots and aircraft. Instead, Hitler turned his attentions on Paris and the taking of France. We could also look at why Hitler did not continue with attacks on Fighter Command instead of his "eye for an eye" attitude when RAF Bomber Command dropped their first bombs on Berlin. Fighter Command was at this time, after being worn down with exhausted pilots and tremendous loss of aircraft, yet London was to be destroyed "at all costs".

    The possible answer was in the chain of command and decisions by those in authority. The Luftwaffe leaders did have a free reign as far as the decisive factors were concerned within their own departments, but they were governed by the decisions of Hitler. The Führer was in total command. In Britain, while Churchill exercised his position as Prime Minister, much of the decision making was left to his military commanders. Dowding and Harris were in charge of Fighter and Bomber Commands respectively and Churchill, knowing full well that they had more knowledge of the situation than he had, and had every faith in the decisions that they made.

    At Fighter Command Headquarters the previous day, Air Vice Marshal Keith Park showed a sense of relief and praised his pilots for the job that they had done. He acted almost like a football supporter that had just seen his team score a victory over the opposition. But now he took a slightly different view of the whole matter.

    He had time overnight to study the figures, tactics and the behavioural patterns of his men. He now had had time to analyse the events of the previous day. He indicated that he was far from impressed with the overall performance of 11 Group. He maintained that there were in excess of 1,600 enemy bombers and fighters that had come across the Channel, and all his pilots could do was to shoot down 56 of them. He stated that he would have expected the number to be more like the 180 that the press had claimed, or even more. He went on to say that if each individual attack could be taken as an example, then with the 300+ fighters that his controllers had put into the air, the pilots could have shot them down at a ratio of one to one. He emphasized that we had the advantage of fighting in our own air space, they were fighting within range of their bases were they could refuel and rearm, an advantage that the Luftwaffe did not have.

    So, was Park justified in his criticism. After all the encouragement that he had given them since the battle had begun, after the many times that he had shared in their successes and sorrows, was this statement of dissatisfaction warranted. One pilot stated "what does he want of us?......we stopped them successfully bombing their targets, we stuffed up all their plans, we threw them into utter confusion and to top it all off, we won the battle of the day." But Park did not see it that way, a coach would have been happy with a one nil victory, a win is a win. Parks vision was that the more planes shot down now, the less that would be coming over later.

    But the reality of it was, that many of the veterans and experienced pilots had either been killed or had been posted elsewhere or were recovering from injuries. Many of the newer pilots, although by September were receiving more training than they were when the battle commenced were not all combat experienced, this was a contributing factor as to why the professionalism and skill of the pilot had declined over the last few months.
    It is therefore quite safe to say as to why Park expected perfection, but a pilot can only do his best which I believe that this was done on September 15th. But no, I think that he should have been out there congratulating those pilots, giving them added encouragement that now, they had devastated an air force who were far more experienced than themselves.

    On the other side of the Channel, Göring was still not ready to admit failure. He believed that providing that he could have a few more days of good weather, and this now was going to become a gamble as the autumn would soon give way to winter and all hopes of successful attack would be out of the question, he could still demoralize the RAF and crush Fighter Command and with continued bombing of all major cities and factories compel Britain to surrender, even without the now aborted invasion.

    In the morning of September 16th Göring orders a conference between his Luftflotten and Fliegerkorps commanders. He maintains that the RAF will be wiped out within four or five days, a statement that the commanders had heard many times before and regarded it as just a comment rather than a statement. He orders his bomber commanders to dispatch smaller formations if weather conditions are not favourable, only on days when the weather could be termed as ideal should large formations be dispatched. He stated that he wanted attacks to be made on London, the aircraft factories and the important seaports around Britain, and that these are to be carried out by both day and by night. To his fighter commanders, he stated that he wanted absolute maximum fighter protection on all bombing raids so that as many RAF fighters can be shot down as possible.

    Six aircraft of 600 Squadron Hornchurch (Blenheims) is moved to Redhill, mainly because of the now frequent night attacks and would be better positioned to intercept any night formation that appeared. To strengthen this, a radar equipped Beaufighter is transferred from 25 Squadron also to Redhill. This move had success on the very first night, when a lone enemy aircraft was seen on radar, and Flight Lieutenant C.A. Pritchard scrambled and climbed to his vectored position to intercept the raider. A number of searchlights located the bomber, and their long shafts of light stayed with it enabling the Blenheim to get into a favourable position, and at close range after identifying it as a Heinkel He III, fires a number of short bursts causing the bomber to erupt in flame and crash into the sea. The bomber was later identified as a Junkers Ju88.
    Because of the inclement weather conditions during the day, very little combat activity took place, but at night, London was bombed and so was the Merseyside towns of Liverpool and Preston.

    Again weather conditions on September 17th are regarded as poor, any chance of a mission taking place was out of the question. Spitfires on photo-recon based at Heston return with aerial photographs showing that the invasion barges are still intact and have not yet been removed. Other Spitfires bring back photographs also showing that the invasion barges are still moored in most of the Channel ports. A count of the barges depicts 600 are moored at Antwerp, 270 at Calais, 230 at Boulogne, 220 at Dunkirk, 200 at Le Havre and 200 at Ostend.
    By the afternoon, the weather lifts enough for Luftflotte 2 to send two formations Bf 109 fighter planes across the Channel. They cross the coast between Lympne and Dover at 1530hrs, Fighter Command responds by scrambling 73 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes), 17 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes) and 257 Squadron Martlesham (Hurricanes). All these squadrons were ordered to avoid contact when it was learnt that the formation consisted of only Bf 109s and no bombers had been detected. All squadrons aborted and returned back to their bases without making contact.

    Unaware that Hitler had postponed Operation Sealion, Churchill, after being informed of the landing barges at the French Channel ports, informed the Parliament:

    "....At any moment a major assault may be launched upon this island. I now say in secret that upwards of 1,700 self-propelled barges and more than 200 sea going ships, some very large ships, are already gathered at many invasion ports in German occupation."
    Winston S. Churchill to Parliament September 17th 1940
    Inclement weather over the next few days does not see much action by either the RAF of the Luftwaffe. The Hampdens of Bomber Command make a small raid on the docks at Antwerp and Dunkirk during the early hours of the 18th September. Photo Recon Units (PRU) later that morning report that over 150 of the landing barges have been destroyed. Two of the Hampdens fail to return.
    An enemy formation is detected by radar forming over the French coast at 0900hrs, and Fighter Command HQ orders some 15 squadrons into the air. Included are 17 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes), 46 Squadron Stapleford (Hurricanes), 73 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes) and 257 Squadron Martlesham (Hurricanes). These Hurricane squadrons are ordered to maintain contact with the enemy when it was realized that the formation consisted only of Luftwaffe fighters. The Spitfire squadrons were told to return to their bases, 46 Squadron also was recalled.

    During the afternoon, a number of Ju 88s are spotted flying in from the Thames Estuary and heading for London. 11 Group orders up about 14 squadrons, and requests assistance from 12 Group again.
    Little damage is done, with anti-aircraft fire and 11 Group breaking up the forward formation. Bader's "Big Wing" attacks the second formation which sustained heavy casualties from accurate firing by the Hurricanes.

    London is heavily bombed on the night of September 18th, and the 'blitzkrieg' last through to 5.30am on the 19th September. Damage is done to both sides of the Thames with Southwark and the financial sector of London namely Mansion House, Leadenhall Street and the area around St Pauls taking a heavy battering. Central London also suffered, Piccadilly, fashionable Bond and Regent Streets also suffered considerable damage with most of the main roads closed. Many are killed and trapped and Police, rescue units and the Civil Defence are kept busy in rescue operations.
    At the onset of daylight, the overcast turns to rain and the only air activity during the morning happens when a formation of Junkers Ju 88s are detected and 249 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) and 302 Squadron Duxford (Hurricanes) flying as a paired squadron has the advantage of height and successfully turns the German bombers back. Two Ju 88s are destroyed.

    Right through September and into October each day was very similar, and carried the same stories carried through day after day. Up to and including September 15th, Britain was battling for survival, like a game of chess that was going down to a stalemate unless one of the two sides cracked or made a stupid move. The 15th was as if Britain moved all its pawns into position and then brought in the knights and bishops and had the opposition in retreat with checkmate not very far off. This bravado move by the British was the climax of the battle.

    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.
    October 1940 saw the beginning of Phase 4 of the battle, and a change in the Luftwaffe attacks. The night attacks continued on London, South Wales, the Midlands and Coventry. While London continually burnt and blazed night after night, the other raids elsewhere were concentrated on the industrial areas.

    Göring had now realized that sending in an advance squadron of fighters and fighter bombers was not luring the RAF fighters into the air, and that strongest reaction by the British was concentrated bombing attacks. For this reason, Bf 109s were laden with a small bomb load, and that after the release of the bombs they could then revert to being fighters. Although this move only proved marginally effective, the 109s, because of the extra weight, used up more fuel and their stay over enemy territory was made even shorter.

    With the introduction of the Bf 109E-7 Jabos, it was to set new tactics for the Luftwaffe and a new headache for Fighter Command. The German High Command issued orders that at least one Gruppe in every Jagdgeschwader was to be equipped for Jabo operations. The problem that Keith Park was now faced with was that these Jabos would fly at extremely high altitudes and come in at great speeds. The Hurricane was a great aircraft at lower altitudes, did not perform well at 25,000 feet. So the job of taking on the Jabos was left to the Spitfire squadrons which was a good performer at high altitudes.

    October 7th saw a small but ineffective raid on Portsmouth and the west country. But 10 Group responded. The heaviest attack came as Ju 88s attacked the Westland Aircraft factory at Yeovil in Somerset. 609 Squadron Middle Wallop (Spitfires) responded at the order of AVM Brand, as well as 152 Squadron Warmwell (Spitfires), 238 squadron Middle Wallop (Hurricanes) and 601 squadron Filton (Hurricanes). 152 spots the formation first, there is a formation of 25 Junkers Ju88s escorted by 50 Bf 110s who are flying above and behind the bombers. Warmwell's Spitfires are in front and above, and dive into the bombers splitting them up before the 110s can move in and give the bombers protection. 601 joins in and dogfights the 110s while the Spitfires attack the bomber formation.

    Some of the bombers get through and succeed in causing some damage to the Westland factory by dropping over 80 high explosive and 6 oil bombs onto the complex. Over 100 people are casualties when one of the bombs scores a direct hit on an air-raid shelter. 2 Ju 88s and 7 Bf 110s are shot down at the expense of five British fighters destroyed and two badly damaged. The casualty list of aircraft may have been higher had not a squadron of Bf 109s came to the rescue of the bombers and the 110s as they retreated.

    Raids and attacks continued as October wore on, the introduction of the Jabos was not as successful as Göring had hoped. The Spitfires had their measure, they maintained speed and contact and as their greatest advantage was their diving speed, the Spitfires seemed to round them up forcing them into a dive and into the waiting Hurricanes below. October 15th was one of the busier days.

    The initial flight of Bf 109s get through to London. They drop their 250kg bombs on the factories of South London and Waterloo Station, one of the main railway stations in London gets a direct hit bringing all of the Southern Railway to a halt. Squadron from Biggin Hill and Hornchurch intercept them, but not before the damage has been done.
    149 Squadron who had recently come down from Dyce got caught up in combat over the Channel and one of their Hurricanes manage to get a Bf 109. 609 Squadron Warmwell (Spitfires) also gets some action as they encounter Bf 109s and 110s who are attempting a raid on Portsmouth, but they are thrown into confusion over Southampton. The Luftwaffe fighter climb for the clouds and disappear while a formation of Bf 109s come down on the Spitfires. 609 Squadron too make for the safety of cloud cover and make a hasty retreat back to Warmwell.

    By nightfall, yet another raid was made on London, still the RAF had no answer to the night raids of the Luftwaffe. They had a few Blenheims and Beaufighters that were equipped for night duties, but these were only good for attacking an odd recon plane or observation aircraft, they were not strong enough to take on a whole formation of heavy bombers. London suffered badly on October 15th when 520 civilians were killed, over 1,000 of them were injured and it is estimated that 10,000 more were made homeless.

    By the 27th October, daylight raids were spasmodic, they were considered more of nuisance raids than anything else. There seemed to be no absolute pattern to the German attacks. Raids were conducted only by small groups of planes that were usually turned back by the intercepting British fighters.

    The only change of any difference was on the 26th October, after the Italians had entered the war, a flight of Fiat BR 20s attacked the port of Harwich on the Essex coast causing only minor damage. On the 27th October a number of the airfields came under attack again. Hawkinge, still a forward airfield and of only minor importance, Martlesham, Kirton-on-Lindsay, Driffield and Honnington are also attacked, but serious damage is kept to a minimum.
    On October 29th, the Luftwaffe launched what was possibly their last and final raid of any importance on London during the Battle of Britain. 40+ bombers are intercepted by RAF fighters but a number of them get through and manage to drop bombs on London. Park again asks that 12 Groups fighters to intercept the bombers, but it takes over twenty minutes before the Duxford Wing to form and is again too late to attack the bombers.

    Near mid day, 100+ bomb carrying Bf 109s are intercepted by nine squadrons of British fighters. The Hurricanes and Spitfires have height advantage and dive onto the approaching 109s. 8 of the Messerschmitts are shot down in less than ten minutes, and the others drop their bombs at random and turn back in retreat. Other attacks were made at Harwich, Portsmouth, and North Weald is attacked by dive bombing Bf109s.

    The 31st October is wet with limited visibility. Only minor attacks are made which are nothing more that nuisance raids interrupting dinner of many of the RAF pilots. Many thought that it may have been a repeat of the previous day when 80 German bombers in the morning session and 130 in the afternoon made feeble attempts at London, but poor visibility and closing weather, especially in the afternoon hampered all raids. The Luftwaffe lose eight aircraft to the RAFs 5, while on the 31st October, no aircraft are lost by either side.

    The Battle of Britain has been under the intense scrutiny of historians and others for half a century. Aided by hindsight, they have been able to raise various controversial issues. Criticism is all too easy for those who come after. To touch on but one issue, it is known that both sides overclaimed by a considerable amount. (The British claimed that they had destroyed 2,698 aircraft. The German claimed they had shot down 3,058. Post war investigation proved that the RAF had actually shot down 1,733 German aircraft and that the Luftwaffe had shot down 915 British fighters.) No-one who has not experienced air fighting can possibly imagine the confusion. Neither can they judge. Relative scores are an effect, not a cause. What is clear is that the Battle of Britain was won by Fighter Command because it defeated the Luftwaffe in the battle to control the air over southern England.
    Mike Spick. The Height of the Battle/Battle of Britain Salamanda 1990And the aircrew, Dowdings "chicks" - a term which delighted him when Churchill used it, though one he would have been far too reserved to coin for himself - what more should be said of them? Nothing, perhaps, except that without their skill, their transcendent courage, their devotion and their sacrifice, the scientific system would have been designed in vain. Together, they enabled Britain to escape the devastating clash of armies and the horrors of Nazi occupation.
    Hough & Richards. The Battle of Britain. Hodder & Staughton London 1989October 31st 1940
    now goes down as the official date as the end of the Battle of Britain, even though Germany add the additional phases that include the bombing of London. We may ask ourselves now, that even though the British won the battle, where do we place the credit.
    As far as combat action was concerned, the latter part of September and on into October 1940, were far less intense than the days leading up to September 15th. The combined efforts of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, Air Vice Marshal Keith Park, Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the Air Ministry, the 2,935 pilots that took part as well as the thousands of personnel that manned the radar stations, filter rooms and the operation rooms. The refuellers and armourers and fitters that kept the fighter aircraft in the air. All the combined efforts of these people proved that by working as a team, they could attain victory over an enemy that was fighting for all the wrong reasons.

    My own opinion is that it was teamwork, teamwork of all those who had even the slightest portion of responsibility. Fighter Command themselves, in particular Dowding and Park, but let us not forget the other Group leaders, Leigh-Mallory, Brand and Saul. The whole responsibility of Fighter Command lay on the shoulders of Sir Hugh Dowding. We must admire him even those who would not agree with many of his decisions. His task was not an easy one, taking on the might of the German Luftwaffe when it was at its peak, with an air force that that had had no experience in combat, pilots that had had too little training and with not enough planes. With Keith Park in charge of 11 Group, they together weathered the storm, between them they had done their best with what little they had. But their ideas, tactics and decisions would not have borne fruit if it were not for the pilots who were there to carry them out. I can say no more than what Dennis Richards and Richard Hough have said above.

    But let us not forget others who made this victory possible. The radar plotters at the Chain Home and Chain Low radar stations, the WAAF who worked tirelessly at operations HQ, the telephonists, the armourers, the refuellers, the army who had to repair signalling equipment and the damaged airfields, right down to the batmen, the fitters, the mechanics and the cooks. The Battle of Britain was epic that had no planned script, yet it had a cast of thousands, and each person that took part must be given credit for its success.
  12. CL1

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

    List of Website Contents

    Page 2. The Leaders and the Commanders

      • Document 6. Profile of Sir Winston Churchill - Prime Minister of Great Britain
      • Document 7. The Historic Letter written by AVM Lord Hugh Dowding to the Prime Minister
      • Document 8. Profile of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding - C-in-C RAF Fighter Command
      • Document 9. Profile of AVM Sir Keith Park - AOC 11 Group RAF Fighter Command
      • Document 10. Profile of AVM Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory - AOC 12 Group RAF Fighter Command
      • Document 11. Profile of Adolf Hitler - Führer of Nazi Germany
  13. CL1

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

  14. CL1

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

  15. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    e38849c604fe800ab7deb865ab8ca89f.jpeg 2359da2195d45940c6cda45e4713bd17.jpeg e01605e0980c491c194f4962d8bfd11a.jpeg 5524bf5d80041a895e1835029b19648c.jpeg

    We attended this Service.

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    Today being the 27th September.

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    Another poor soul remembered on the 27th September.

    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  16. CL1

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

    Flying Officer (Pilot)
    Service Number 33409

    Died 27/09/1940

    Aged 21

    242 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force

    D F C

    Son of George James Wood Homer and Millicent Homer, of Swanage.

    Location: Dorset, United Kingdom
    Number of casualties: 11

    Cemetery/memorial reference: Plot A. Cons. Grave 792.

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  17. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

  18. CL1

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

    Little Friend likes this.
  19. CL1

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

  20. CL1

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

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