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

    Thursday 12 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline

    Reconnaissance and small raids in the south.
    Night: Lesser raids on London.

    Weather: Unsettled, rain in most districts.

    Main Activity:

    Thursday proved mainly quiet thanks to cloud and poor weather over the south and east coasts. The morning was marked by continuous German reconnaissance. At lunch three small raids appeared on the operations table, and dropped bombs on the radar station at Fairlight—although without doing any real damage. Fighters chased one raider as far as Cap Gris Nez and there shot it down.

    Incursions by single raiders went on during the afternoon and early evening but the 247 RAF sorties flown were hampered by the weather. No Fighter Command machine was lost, and the Luftwaffe for the whole period suffered only four casualties.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 14 | Aircraft: 7

    British Losses
    Airmen: 1 | Aircraft: 1

    Hurricane V7306, No. 213 Squadron
    W/Cdr. J.S. Dewar killed. Circumstances not known. Body washed ashore at Kingston Gorse Sussex 30/9/40.
    Little Friend likes this.
  2. CL1

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

    Friday 13 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline

    Small raids mainly against London. Hitler in conference, discussing the German air offensive and invasion plans.
    Night: Renewed attacks against London.

    Weather: Unsettled.

    Main Activity:

    At seven o’clock in the morning the Luftwaffe began its weather reconnaissance for the day’s work, aircraft covering the Biggin Hill, North Weald and Hornchurch sectors and another Kenley and Northolt. The weather reports radioed back to France were picked up by the British radio monitoring service although the actual targets could not be deciphered.

    Three quarters of an hour later a Focke Wulf 200 of I/KG 40, on maritime patrol, bombed the S.S. Longfort off Copeland Light near Belfast and fired on a motor vessel in the same area. This was followed from 9.30 to 11.30 a.m. by a stream of single aircraft from Dieppe, passing over Hastings and heading for south London, while simultaneously the Canewdon, Dover and Rye radars suffered jamming.

    Near midday, radio monitoring reported that an enemy bomber over Kent was sending messages to the effect that ‘cloud is 7/10th at 1,500 metres, and that attack is possible between 1,500 and 2,500 metres’. No. 11 Group were alerted, and sure enough just over an hour and a half later several raids attempted to attack Biggin Hill and the mid-Kent area, while three more, including a few Ju 87s from Luftflotte 3, crossed the coast at Selsey heading for Tangmere. One Heinkel which arrived over Maidstone was promptly shot down by 501 Squadron from Biggin Hill.

    At this time a curious report came in from the naval liaison officer to the effect that a long-nosed Blenheim IV, positively identified, had dropped two bombs in Dover harbour. Several Blenheims had been captured on the Continent but there has never been documentary evidence to confirm their use in the Battle of Britain.

    In the morning raids single aircraft had penetrated to central London, where bombs hit Downing Street, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and the Chelsea Hospital. Buckingham Palace had its third bombing, with the Royal Chapel wrecked, and four near-misses.

    Due to the intermittent rain and low clouds and the high altitude of the raiders, fighter squadrons had difficulty in finding their prey and only four bombers were destroyed for the loss of one fighter.

    During the day the expectation of invasion was sharpened by a report from a coastal post in No. 1 (Maidstone) Observer Group, which had sighted ten large enemy transports each towing two barges from Calais to Cap Gris Nez.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 10 | Aircraft: 7

    British Losses
    Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 3

    Blenheim L5491, No. 248 Squadron
    Sgt W.J. Garfield Listed as missing.
    Sgt A. Kay. Listed as missing.
    Sgt B.W. Messner. Listed as missing.
    Failed to return from reconnaissance flight over Norwegian coast.
  3. CL1

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

    September 12th - September 14th 1940

    FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 13th 1940


    No sign in an improvement in the weather, and it was expected to remain unsettled with rain periods in all areas. In areas in the south and east there was a possibility that there could be breaks in the cloud to give sunny periods. Over the Channel, the heavy cloud and rain should give way to lighter higher cloud during the day.

    Many of the German commanders are pushing for an exact date for 'Operation Sealion' to commence. Already the weather seems to be closing in and with these deteriorating conditions it appears that any chance of a successful invasion may be out of the question if Hitler cannot make up his mind. Already, the date previously set for September 11th had been postponed, and Hitler had said that he favoured September 24th at the most likely date, but if conditions continued as they are, it would be an impossibility for the barges to cross the Channel should the expected winds that are prevalent at this time of the year accompany the heavy cloud and rain squalls.
    A meeting had been called in Berlin to commence at lunchtime, and as was usual a banquet was organised prior to the serious meeting between Hitler, Göring, Milch, Kesselring and Jodl being the most notable commanders in attendance. The Führer outlined the present situation. He made mention of the fact that the Luftwaffe still had not yet attained air superiority over the Royal Air Force, which was a rather hypocritical statement being as he had ordered Göring to concentrate his attacks on London earlier in September at the expense of continuing the raids on RAF airfields. He also made mention that more and more barges were being unloaded along the Dutch and Belgian coasts in readiness. Soon, he said, we will be moving our armies to these northern ports, armies of specially trained men, all will be ready. But, he stated, our bombers have justly tore the heart out of the British populace. London is a city burning night after night and the British air force is still terribly weak and we can continue to hit the British where it so terribly their beloved capital.

    The Führer spoke at length on the bombing of London, and only outlined to preparations of any forthcoming invasion and the commanders started to think that Adolph Hitler was now more concerned with the total destruction of London and that they were beginning to think that their leader was having second thoughts about any invasion of England. By the time that the meeting was over, all that the commanders had learnt was the thoughts that were coming out of the mind of the Führer, there were no fresh orders, he failed to ask for any reports on the current situation.

    In Britain, the radar operators lay in wait for the tell tale blips that would indicate enemy intrusion across the Channel. Pilots sat around waiting for the telephone to ring, but it was the same story of the last few days. A small piece of action occurred high over Hornchurch and Biggin Hill, but these were recognised as weather reconnaissance aircraft when the British "Y" Service picked up their conversations. No action was taken against these aircraft and Fighter Command allowed them to return back across the Channel without any interception.

    A Focke-Wolfe 200 is detected over Northern Ireland, the first time that the enemy has penetrated this area and proof that Ireland is not free of the war situation. The aircraft managed to drop bombs on the steamship 'Longfort' just off the coast at Belfast and also submitted an unidentified vessel to gunfire but there were no reports of damage. [1]

    For both sides, there were further tactical developments within this period. Now that the Luftwaffe had decided to abort any serious attacks on Fighter Command airfields and turned its attention on inland targets as well as London, Park had more time to assess the situation and gave them greater time to intercept the enemy. Keith Park had also sent out the instruction that squadrons should as far as possible work in pairs. The original order of this instruction went out as early as September 5th.

    On the other hand, Kesselring's views on this move by Fighter Command was that he agreed that Park's order was actually working. Not only that, Fighter Command was a much stronger organisation than the tattered remnants of a defeated defence as German sources had earlier imagined. Because of this, formation leaders had now been given the instruction, that should they meet up with what they would consider stiff opposition, they may decide and order the formation to disengage. This order was given by the German High Command.

    Again, as on the day previous, air activities were hampered by bad weather, and the Luftwaffe took advantage of this by sending single aircraft deeper into Britain than they had done during other daylight attacks on the enemy. The Air Ministry buildings at Harrowgate were attacked, so was an aluminium factory at Banbury in Oxfordshire. The large railway junction just outside Reading had been bombed the previous day causing disruptions on the Great Western line, and as previously mentioned, the first raids on Northern Ireland had occurred. [2]

    Small raids did occur during the morning period when two German bombers flying single missions towards London and coming from different directions penetrated the defences and dropped a small number of bombs which fell on Whitehall and a part of Downing Street while the other aircraft dropped bombs on the Chelsea Hospital and another fell in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, the third time the Royal Palace had been attacked and this time damaged had been sustained to the Royal Chapel.

    1200hrs: Keith Park at 11 Group Headquarters had been alerted from a message that originated from the Radio Interception Unit that German weather reconnaissance aircraft had radioed back to their bases that there was seven tenths cloud at 1,500 metres and stated that attacks could be made possible between 1,500 and 2,500 metres. The assessment that Park made, was that under the circumstances, he believed that the Luftwaffe would make spasmodic raids and have the advantage of using the cloud as a cover. He alerted the commanders of selected airfields to place at least one squadron at readiness.

    1330hrs: A number of squadron had been scrambled after reports came through that radar had picked up enemy aircraft, and that the general direction was London. Using the cloud to their advantage, it was difficult for the Observer Corps to keep track, but it did appear that the target were either Biggin Hill, Kenley or Croydon. One of the squadrons scrambled was 501 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) who intercepted a small force of He111 bombers and attacked. Most decided to abort but not before one of the Heinkels was shot down.

    At the same time, another small raid was centred on Tangmere. One enemy bomber was shot down by 609 Squadron Warmwell (Spitfires). Again, the raid was aborted and no damage was sustained on Tangmere aerodrome.

    It had not been a good day for the Luftwaffe. Although only a small number of aircraft were destroyed, there was no real reason that, under the circumstances they need not have made any missions at all. The first aircraft lost was at 0330hrs while on a raid on South Wales that a He111 hit the cables of a barrage balloon and crashed in the town of Newport. A He111 of 2/KG1 was badly damaged during an operational mission over England that it crashed on landing back at its home airfield. Another He111 crashed on German soil after a bombing mission, due to serious damage cause by AA gunfire and from an attack made by a British fighter. One of the Ju88s that attempted to attack Tangmere was badly damaged and crashed into the ground on landing at its home base. As well as these aircraft destroyed and two others that crashed on English soil, twenty German aircrew were killed. The only British casualty during the German attacks was one of the Hurricanes of 501 Squadron, and then, the pilot Sgt J.H. Lacey baled out and was unhurt.

    0700hrs: Norwegian Coast. Blenheim L5491. 248 Squadron Sumburgh
    Sgt W.J. Garfield Listed as missing.
    Sgt A. Kay. Listed as missing.
    Sgt B.W. Messner. Listed as missing. (Failed to return from reconnaissance flight over Norwegian coast)
    Night Sortie: Calais. Blenheim Z5721. F.I.U. Shoreham (Time not known)
    F/L R.G. Ker-Ramsey. Taken PoW.
    W/O E.L. Byrne. Taken PoW.
    W/O G. Dixon. Taken PoW. (Baled out near Calais. Exact circumstances are not known)
  4. CL1

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

    Saturday 14 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    Hitler postpones the German invasion until September 17th. Fighter-bomber attacks during the afternoon on London.
    Night: Reduced activity but main attacks against London.

    Weather: Showers and local thunder. Cloud in the Straits, Channel and Thames Estuary.

    Main Activity:

    The main German target for the 14th was again London and throughout the morning reconnaissance aircraft probed the weather and the defences, while between Poling and Great Bromley radar stations there was continual electronic interference. One raider was destroyed over Selsey Bill at lunchtime and bombs were dropped at Eastbourne.

    Just after 3 p.m. three raids in quick succession crossed the coast at Deal and Dungeness, and headed for London up two corridors, one via Kent and the other up the Thames. No. 11 Group were involved in a series of combats, and requested two 12 Group squadrons to patrol Hornchurch and North Weald, while other 12 Group aircraft shot down a Ju 88 off Lowestoft. In all, 11 Group sent up twenty-two squadrons against these raids, and 12 Group five squadrons.

    At 1715 hours a feint came in over Bournemouth from Cherbourg, but turned back before being intercepted, and shortly afterwards a flurry of raids appeared on the Bentley Priory tables with 12+, 20+, 30+, 15+ and 10+ between 17,000 and 20,000 feet. From then until nine o’clock a succession of individual attacks were made covering the south-eastern area, and aimed towards London.

    The final score of fourteen to each side was poor from the RAF’s point of view, particularly as 860 sorties were flown. Six RAF pilots were, however, saved. Most of the German aircraft sent over were fighters and these lured the squadrons into combat.

    To the Luftwaffe the opposition appeared scrappy and uncoordinated, and they felt that during the last few days Fighter Command had begun to collapse. This news was, of course, conveyed to the Reichsmarschall, and via the situation reports to Hitler. Both felt that the hour of destiny was approaching.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 19 | Aircraft: 13

    British Losses
    Airmen: 4 | Aircraft: 13

    Hurricane P2542, No. 73 Squadron
    Sgt J.J. Brimble killed. Shot down by enemy aircraft and crashed at Parkhurst Farm Chart Sutton.

    Spitfire X4275, No. 222 Squadron
    Sgt S. Baxter killed. Badly damaged by gunfire from Bf 109s and crashed attempting to land.

    Spitfire R6625, No. 19 Squadron
    Sgt F. Marek killed. Crashed during routine patrol. Possibly oxygen failure. No other details.

    Hurricane P5184, No. 253 Squadron
    Sgt W.B. Higgins killed. Shot down in flames after combat with Bf 109. Pilot did not bale out.
    Little Friend likes this.
  5. CL1

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

    Sunday 15 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    Heavy attacks on London, broken up by Fighter Command. Highest German losses since 18 August [185 claimed by the RAF] force a serious rethink by the German High Command.
    Night: Heavy damage to London.

    Weather: Fair with some cloud patches. Fine during the evening.

    Main Activity:

    Now celebrated annually as Battle of Britain Day, Sunday the 15th was remarkable for its ultimate change of German policy and not for its heavy losses, as the 185 German aircraft claimed would lead many to believe.

    The weather was misty but promised to be fine and the chance had come for a heavy blow against London which would show once and for all the desperate state of Fighter Command, and perhaps have a decisive effect on British morale. It was to be a repeat of September 7th in German eyes, and a lead-in to invasion.

    The usual reconnaissance aircraft patrolled the east and south coasts during the morning, one of which, an He 111, was shot down off Start Point.

    At eleven o’clock radar showed mass formations building up over Calais and Boulogne. No. 11 Group put up eleven squadrons, 10 Group one, while No. 12 Group sent five squadrons as a wing to patrol Debden-Hornchurch. No real feints developed and complete attention was devoted to the advancing armadas. The stupidity of large formations sorting themselves out in full view of British radar was not yet realised by the Luftwaffe.

    All the way up from the coast, the raids stepped up from 15,000–26,000 feet were constantly under attack, first by two Spitfire squadrons over mid-Kent, next by three more over the Medway towns, then by four Hurricane squadrons over the suburbs of London, and finally by the Duxford wing from 12 Group over London itself. The wing on Leigh-Mallory’s instructions was now five squadrons strong. In all, twenty-four fighter squadrons operated and twenty-two engaged the enemy.

    Accurate bombing was out of the question, and as formations broke so they scattered their, loads on Beckenham, Westminster, Lambeth, Lewisham, Battersea, Camberwell, Crystal Palace, Clapham, Tooting, Wandsworth and Kensington. A heavy bomb damaged the Queen’s private apartments in Buckingham Palace, while a second fell on the lawn.

    The 609 Squadron diarist recorded that one portion of a Dornier they destroyed during the engagement ‘is reported to have reached the ground just outside a Pimlico public house to the great comfort and joy of the patrons’.

    No. 504 Squadron had a busy morning. At 11 a.m. Generals Strong and Emmons of the U.S. Army Air Corps and Rear-Admiral Gormley of the U.S. Navy paid a visit to see ‘the life of a fighter squadron’. No sooner had introductions been completed than an attack developed with the squadron to patrol North Weald at 15,000 feet. Using a stopwatch, the Americans recorded that twelve Hurricanes got away in 4 min. 50 sec. from the word ‘Go’. No. 504 met a formation of Dorniers between Fulham and Gravesend and shot down several. One pilot. Sergeant R. T. Holmes, attacked and damaged a Dornier, and then found another heading directly for Buckingham Palace. Holmes decided to ram the bomber after his machine guns failed, cutting off the rear tail section with his port wing and causing the Dornier to crash close to the forecourt of Victoria Station. Sergeant Holmes baled out of his badly damaged Hurricane and finally came to rest in a dustbin in Chelsea.

    Before they could eat lunch the squadron was again engaged with German formations between London and Hornchurch.

    After a two-hour break the second attack was seen by radar just after 1 p.m. and began to come in three waves an hour later. Squadrons were ready to receive them and a running fight took place all the way to the capital. Twenty-three squadrons from 11 Group were airborne, five from No. 12 Group and three from No. 10. Two formations were broken up before reaching London, one turning back in the face of a head-on attack by a lone Hurricane flown by Group Captain Vincent, commander of the Northolt sector.

    The remaining bombers were engaged over the city itself by five pairs of squadrons from No. 11 Group and the full five-squadron wing of No. 12 Group. Two squadrons each from 10 and 11 Groups harried the enemy as they retired. Scattering of formations and frequent jettisoning of bombs caused hits over a very wide area in contrast to the concentration achieved on September 7th. West Ham and Erith were the main recipients but other targets were Woolwich, Stepney, Hackney, Stratford, Penge and East Ham—at the last mentioned a telephone exchange and a gasholder being smashed.

    While every effort was being made to deal with the attack on London, a force of Heinkel 111s of KG 55 from the Villacoublay area set out to bomb Portland. Although seen by radar at three o’clock, the count was only given as six +. The raid detoured and approached Portland from an unusual angle which confused the A.A. gunners. The bombing was inaccurate and only slight damage was done in the dockyard. The one squadron left in the Middle Wallop sector succeeded in intercepting, but after the bombs had dropped.

    The final daylight sortie came at about six o’clock when some twenty bomb-carrying Bf 110s from ErprGr 210 at Denain attempted to hit the Supermarine works at Woolston. They were heavily engaged by the Southampton guns as they dived in and this undoubtedly upset their aim as no bombs fell on the factory. Five RAF squadrons were put up, but most of them were unable to find their quarry, and those that did only encountered the Bf 110s as they were streaking for the safety of the French coast using any available cloud cover.

    Families throughout the country listened in to the evening news bulletin and heard ‘185 shot down’. The figures became the sole topic of conversation and the nation glowed with pride. It. was a tremendous and much-needed tonic for civilians and RAF alike.

    In the cold light of history the actual German losses of sixty machines make poor reading to the layman. In fact, for a force which had suffered a heavy loss rate for over two months they were extremely serious, not to mention the numerous aircraft which limped back to France with dead gunners, burned engines and broken undercarriages.

    Hitler, Göring and the whole of the Luftwaffe Command had expected great things of the 15th. After the apparently successful efforts of the 12th it seemed that at long last the RAF was ready for the coup de grace. Instead the losses were higher than on any day since August 18th. At de-briefing bomber pilots complained of the incessant RAF attacks by squadrons that had long since ceased to exist—if the German radio and intelligence reports were to be believed.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 93 | Aircraft: 61

    British Losses
    Airmen: 16 | Aircraft: 31

    Hurricane N2537, No. 229 Squadron
    P/O G.L.D. Doutrepont killed. Crashed onto Staplehurst Railway Station after being shot down by Bf 109s.

    Hurricane P3876, No. 1 RCAF Squadron
    F/O R. Smither killed. Attacked and shot down by Bf 109. Pilot failed to bale out.

    Hurricane P3865, No. 73 Squadron
    P/O R.A. Marchand killed. Crashed into farm at Teynham after being shot down by Bf 109s.

    Spitfire R6690, No. 609 Squadron
    P/O G.N. Gaunt killed. Crashed in flames near Kenley after being hit by gunfire from Bf 110.

    Spitfire P9324, No. 41 Squadron
    P/O G.A. Langley killed. Crashed into building after being shot down by Bf 109s.

    Hurricane P2760, No. 501 Squadron
    P/O A.E.A von den Hove d’Ertsenrijck killed. Aircraft exploded in mid-air after hit by gunfire from Bf 109.

    Hurricane N2481, No. 504 Squadron
    P/O J.V. Gurteen killed. Shot down by enemy aircraft and crashed at full throttle into residential house.

    Hurricane P2954, No. 302 Squadron
    F/Lt T.P. Chlopik killed. Shot down by enemy aircraft. Baled out but died on landing.

    Hurricane N2705, No. 504 Squadron
    F/O M. Jebb died of injuries 19/9/40. Crashed at Dartford after combat with enemy aircraft.

    Hurricane P2836, No. 238 Squadron
    Sgt L. Pidd killed. Baled out after being shot down by enemy aircraft but was dead on landing.

    Hurricane P3577, No. 303 Squadron
    Sgt M. Brzezowski. Listed as missing. Believed crashed in Thames Estuary after combat with Bf 109s.

    Spitfire X4324, No. 603 Squadron
    F/O A.P. Pease killed. Shot down by Bf 109. Pilot did not bale out.

    Spitfire X4070, No. 19 Squadron
    Sgt J.A. Potter taken POW. Ditched damage aircraft off French coast and captured by German military.

    Hurricane P3660, No. 56 Squadron
    Sgt T.R. Tweed killed. Failed to come out of spin during dog fight practice over base.
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery
    Göring in conference following the previous day’s losses. German effort to be switched against Fighter Command. Only minor air activity.
    Night: Continuous attacks against London. Smaller raids on Merseyside and the Midlands.

    Weather: General rain and cloud.

    Main Activity:

    During the 16th the weather precluded any heavy attacks and from the few small raids which penetrated to east London, nine German aircraft were shot down for the loss of one RAF pilot. The dull weather was lightened for both sides by the solemn announcement in the German war communiqué that Göring himself had flown over London in a Ju 88. Apart from lacking the courage for such an enterprise, it was a physical impossibility, as the Reichsmarschall’s girth precluded him getting through the door of a Ju 88, and even in the four-motor Condor he had to have a special wide seat with thigh supports.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 14 | Aircraft: 10

    British Losses
    Airmen: 0 | Aircraft: 1
    Little Friend likes this.
  7. CL1

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

    Tuesday 17 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    Reduced activity again with only one large fighter sweep during the afternoon. German invasion cancelled indefinitely.
    Night: Heavy attacks against London. Merseyside and Glasgow also raided.

    Weather: Squally showers with thunder and bright intervals.

    Main Activity:

    The continued strength of both Fighter and Bomber Commands of the RAF and an adverse weather report for the coming week led Hitler on this day to postpone Operation Seelöwe until further notice and he issued a directive to this effect. A high state of preparedness was, however, to be maintained. The naval staff war diary recorded that an order from the Führer to carry out Sealion was still to be expected at any time, and that if the air and weather situations permitted, the invasion might be got under way as late as October.

    The weather was unsuitable for mass raids on London, and in accordance with Göring’s directive of the 16th, Luftflotte 2 sent waves of fighters across, with a few bombers as bait, in the hope of luring 11 Group into an unprofitable battle.

    Seven to eight main raids totaling some 250 aircraft built up over France and crossed the coast at Lympne, Dover and Deal at 15,000 feet. Intercepting RAF fighters found that the majority of the formations were Bf 109s and the twenty-eight squadrons put up succeeded in turning them back over Maidstone. A few bombs were dropped, and British losses were only five aircraft (one pilot killed and two wounded) out of the 544 sorties flown. Luftwaffe casualties totaled eight aircraft for the whole twenty-four hours.

    By night the German Air Force returned at full strength with 268 bombers over London arriving in a stream via Dungeness and Selsey Bill. Much residential damage was done. It was the turn of the big department stores with John Lewis’s in Oxford Street almost completely burnt out, and both Bourne and Hollingsworth and D. H. Evans hit. By this time 30,000 Londoners had lost their homes.

    By way of diversion, a few raiders undertook the long flights to Merseyside and to Glasgow. Fighter Command put up thirty-eight single-engined fighter sorties, but they groped in vain, except for a Defiant of 141 Squadron which shot down a Ju 88 near Barking at 11.30.

    While the Germans concentrated on London with the A.A. barrage the only opposition. Bomber Command was out in force attacking the barges, transport and munitions being mustered for invasion. Throughout the Battle and afterwards, in its historical surveys, the Luftwaffe always spoke disparagingly of the RAF’s offensive efforts from July to October 1940. The German naval staff, however, were under no illusions, as they were at the receiving end.

    On this night Bomber and Coastal commands, also taking advantage of the full moon, despatched aircraft to Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne, Cherbourg and den Helder. The following morning the German naval staff described losses as ‘Very considerable’. At Dunkirk twenty-six barges were sunk or badly damaged and fifty-eight slightly damaged. A tremendous explosion heralded the detonation of 500 tons of stored ammunition, while a ration depot and dock-handling equipment were destroyed. At the other ports buildings were smashed and a steamer and a torpedo-boat sunk.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 14 | Aircraft: 8

    British Losses
    Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 6

    Hurricane P3820, No. 501 Squadron
    Sgt E.J. Egan killed. Shot down in sudden attack by Bf 109. Aircraft burst into flames. Pilot did not bale out.

    Hurricane P3933, No. 607 Squadron
    Sgt J. Lansdell killed. Shot down during combat with Bf 109. Failed to bale out.

    Hurricane V7529, No. 504 Squadron
    Sgt D.A. Helcke killed. Lost control during attacking practice and failed to bale out.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery
    London and Merseyside bombed.
    Night: Heavy damage to London.

    Weather: Bright and squally.

    Main Activity:

    At 9 a.m. the first blips appeared on Fighter Command radar screens. They showed a heavy build-up over-Calais. The raiders, mainly fighters, penetrated between North Foreland and Folkestone at 20,000 feet. They were split up over Maidstone and the Estuary and turned for home after running engagements with seventeen RAF squadrons. One was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

    Two hours later radar betrayed four raids totalling 190 planes. They crossed the coast at Deal and attacked Chatham. At least sixty reached the centre of London. The rest roamed over Kent.

    At 2 p.m. Luftflotte 2 began to assemble 150 aircraft over Calais. As they climbed to 20,000 feet the Germans sorted themselves into neat formations and set course for Gravesend.

    Breaking cloud over Kent the Germans were met in force, and although some of them penetrated the defences, the majority of formations were broken up and repelled.

    Flying up the Thames, later, two groups of between twenty and thirty bombers were heading for London when Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Duxford wing attacked them. The wing had taken off at 4.20 p.m. and was patrolling Hornchurch when A.A. fire betrayed the presence of the enemy groups.

    Leaving No. 611 Squadron on patrol and No. 19 Squadron to look after the escorts, Bader led his three Hurricane squadrons into an almost vertical diving attack on the first formation. The Germans scattered, leaving only four vies of five aircraft. These were soon broken up and the bombers turned for home.

    Sergeant Plzak, a Czech pilot with No. 19 Squadron, fired a couple of bursts at an He 111 and stopped both its engines. The crew baled out and the bomber crashed near Gillingham, Kent.

    The Duxford Wing claimed thirty destroyed, six probables and two damaged in the engagement. They lost none. But when the score came to be verified against the German Quartermaster General’s records, it was found that only nineteen Luftwaffe machines had actually been shot down during the whole day.

    Twelve British fighters went down in the fighting of the 18th, but only three of the pilots were killed, in the course of 1,165 sorties.

    No. 7 O.T.U. scored a third victory that day. Squadron Leader McLean, Flying Officer Brotchie and Sergeant Armitage took off from Hawarden, Cheshire, and intercepted a raid flying towards Liverpool. They damaged one Do 17 and shot down another which dived into the sea off the Welsh coast.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 36 | Aircraft: 20

    British Losses
    Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 12

    Spitfire X4323, No. 603 Squadron
    P/O P. Howes killed. Shot down in combat with Bf 109s. Pilot did not bale out.

    Hurricane V7442, No. 46 Squadron
    Sgt G.W. Jeffreys killed. Shot down by enemy aircraft, baled out but parachute failed to open.

    Hurricane V6685, No. 249 Squadron
    F/Lt D.G. Parnall killed. Crashed and burnt out after combat with enemy aircraft.
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery
    Reduced activity, attacks mainly over Thames Estuary and East London.
    Night: Raids on London and Merseyside.

    Weather: Showery.

    Main Activity:

    Piccadilly, Regent Street, Bond Street, North Audley Street, Park Lane and many less famous thoroughfares in the centre of London were blocked after the night’s raids. Big cranes surrounded Marble Arch and men of the Civil Defence Corps, Pioneers and Police worked to clear the rubble and rescue the victims trapped in the wreckage.

    A lull was expected after the intensity of the previous day’s operations. Only seventy hostile planes, flying singly, crossed the coast via Dungeness. A few reached Liverpool and London where a lone rooftop raider machine-gunned Hackney.

    Near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, a Ju 88 fell to the guns of No. 302 Squadron. Engine failure compelled another to land intact at Oakington airfield near Cambridge. Losses for the day were eight German and no British.

    In Germany, Hitler formally ordered the assembly of the invasion fleet to be stopped, and shipping in the Channel ports to be dispersed ‘so that the loss of shipping space caused by enemy air attacks may be reduced to a minimum’.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 22 | Aircraft: 10

    British Losses
    Airmen: 0 | Aircraft: 0
  10. CL1

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

    Friday 20 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    One major fighter sweep towards London, otherwise reconnaissance only.
    Night: Raids concentrated on London.

    Weather: Fair with bright periods, showery.

    Main Activity:

    There were few early-morning raids but at 10.30 a.m. the Luftwaffe started massing at Calais. Then twenty planes crossed the coast at Dungeness at 13,000 feet, thirty overflew Dover, at 12,000 feet, and a dozen or more passed over Lympne. The RAF lost seven planes near Kenley, Biggin Hill and the Estuary, and the Germans lost eight.

    Reporting on his trip to Britain, in New York, Brigadier Strong, Assistant Chief of the U.S. Military Mission sent to London to observe the results of the Luftwaffe’s attacks, did much to influence American opinion. The German Air Force, he said, had made no serious inroad on the strength of the RAF and the damage inflicted on military targets was comparatively small. Strong concluded by stating that the British were conservative in claiming German aircraft casualties.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 9 | Aircraft: 8

    British Losses
    Airmen: 5 | Aircraft: 8

    Spitfire X4410, No. 72 Squadron
    P/O D.F. Holland Killed. Baled out after being shot down by Bf 109s. Died on admission to hospital.

    Spitfire N3203, No. 222 Squadron
    P/O H.L. Whitbread killed. Shot down by Bf1 09s and crashed at Pond Cottage. Thrown clear but already dead.

    Hurricane L1595, No. 56 Squadron
    Sgt C.V. Meeson killed. Crashed during formation flying practice.

    Spitfire X4417, No. 92 Squadron
    P/O H.P. Hill killed. Shot down by Major Mölders in Bf 109 and burst into flames on crashing.

    Spitfire N3248, No. 92 Squadron
    Sgt P.R. Eyles. Posted as missing. Crashed into the Channel after being shot down by Major Mölders.
    Gerard and Little Friend like this.
  11. CL1

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

    Saturday 21 September 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    Some fighter sweeps in east Kent.
    Night: London and Merseyside attacked.

    Weather: Mainly fine.

    Main Activity:

    London, cloaked in haze, enjoyed a relatively quiet day, as did the rest of the country except for isolated attacks and extensive reconnaissance in coastal areas.

    Among the lone raiders was a Ju 88 which bombed the Hawker works at Brooklands in a tree-top-level attack. Fortunately the damage did not affect production.

    When an unidentified aircraft was plotted at 4.30 p.m. 25,000 feet over Liverpool, Pilot Officer D. A. Adams of No. 611 Squadron was ordered to investigate. He found a German bomber and sent it crashing into a field near Dolgelly, North Wales.

    The bulk of Fighter Command’s 563 sorties were flown in the evening when five raids crossed the coast at Dover, Lympne and Dungeness to assail Kenley, Biggin Hill, Hornchurch and central London. Twenty No. 11 Group squadrons, the Duxford Wing and one No. 10 Group squadron scrambled to intercept but only one of them engaged. The German casualties numbered nine while the RAF suffered no loss.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 14 | Aircraft: 11

    British Losses
    Airmen: 1 | Aircraft: 1
  12. CL1

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

    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.

    Hough and Richards Battle of Britain A Jubilee History Hodder & Stoughton 1989 p294

    But if one was to get the impression that tensions were easing, what with a day of very little combat action and "Cromwell" being cancelled. Fighter Command was in fact strengthening its commitment to battle with the introduction of 421 Flight.
    One of the problems that Fighter Command encountered was the fact that when radar picked up approaching enemy aircraft and formations, it was not known as to what type of aircraft they were until clarified by spotters or the Observer Corps. With the approach of German bombers, Keith Park had just enough time to scramble his fighters, get to the correct height to attack and intercept the enemy as it crossed the coast. But with this new tactic of sending formations of Bf109s, often in Geschwader force, there was not enough time to scramble the fighters and meet them as they crossed the coast. As experienced over the last few days and on those occasions that Bf109 formations made their intended attacks on British targets, they generally would be well over the coastline and much closer to London before they were intercepted by British fighters.

    It was on this day that Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding was to authorise the formation of a new unit that was to become known as 421 Flight. This was instigated in collaboration with Keith park because it was now felt that with Bf109 formations that could cross the Channel quicker than the bombers that they once escorted, their would be no chance of British fighters intercepting them in time once they had been positively identified.

    The task of 421 Flight that was equipped with Hurricanes, was to fly in small formations on reconnaissance missions over the Channel to report on any build up and composition of these formations prior to them reaching the English coastline. This way, as well as the detection being made on radar stations along the coast of their location, 421 Flight would be vectored into a position where they could provide details back to their sector station of type and strength of the enemy much earlier than if it was left to the Observer Corps alone. Initially, the flight was formed at Gravesend in mid October and on October 31st was posted to West Malling and before the end of 1940 they had been moved to Hawkinge.

    The formation of 421 Flight (which was later to become 91 Squadron) was naturally too late for the Battle of Britain. Some authorities say that such a squadron should have been formed earlier so as to provide early indications of strength and composition of the enemy. But again, this would have been another of the many debatable points that arose during the Battle of Britain.

    In general, this was an exceptionally quiet day. Small nuisance raids by small formations of enemy aircraft had attacked both Kenley and Biggin Hill aerodromes but these were thwarted by fighters from Kenley, Biggin Hill and Croydon. 238 Squadron had accounted for one destroyed while the Spitfires of 602 and 611 Squadrons accounted for one each destroyed. One of the Do17s damaged by 802 Squadron managed to get back to the French coast, but was to crash land at Landerneau killing all on board.

    The usual night raids continued on London and Liverpool which was now becoming a regular occurrence. Although the East End of London still came under constant bombardment, other targets in and around London were now being hit. Spasmodic raids around Tynemouth and County Durham also occurred but records indicate that no casualties were recorded.

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

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

    Page 49: September 22nd 1940
    Sunday 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.
    Little Friend likes this.
  14. CL1

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

    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.

    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.
  15. CL1

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

    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.

    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
    Little Friend likes this.
  16. CL1

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

    The Battle is Won 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.
  17. CL1

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

    Page 52: The Battle is Won

    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.
  18. CL1

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

    Tuesday 1 October 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    London is the main target with additional raids on Southampton and Portsmouth.
    Night: London, Liverpool and Manchester are the main targets.

    Weather: Mainly fair, but generally cloudy.

    Main Activity:

    German patrols began to appear between Beachy Head and Southwold from about seven in the morning. They gave no trouble but at 10.45 a force of 100 aircraft operating from Caen attempted to bomb Southampton and Portsmouth. They met stiff opposition.

    There was a marked difference in the composition of this raid. The machines were mostly Bf 109s and Bf 110s, some of them carrying bombs. The Germans were beginning to reserve their bombers for night operations and place the whole burden for the daylight offensive on the fighter arm which had converted one Staffel of each gruppe or one gruppe of each geschwader to fighter-bomber duties.

    A third of the German fighters — 250 aircraft — were so converted, Bf 109s to carry a 250 kg. bomb and Bf 110s a total bomb-load of 700 kg.

    Flying at great height and taking every advantage of the cloudy weather, these aircraft set Fighter Command new and difficult problems and imposed many fruitless hours of climb and chase upon the British pilots. But they did little else and Fighter Command continued the recovery which had started on September 7th.

    From 1 to 3 p.m. a steady stream of aircraft crossed the coast between Deal and Selsey Bill. The first three waves, consisting of fifty Bf 109s, reached Maidstone before 2 p.m.

    Forty minutes later about seventy-five planes flew in from Calais and split some thirty miles inland. The raiders were intercepted and retired towards Maidstone but bombs landed at Brixton, Wandsworth, Camberwell and Lambeth.

    The third attack was a half-hearted effort to penetrate over Dungeness and the Germans turned back before the RAF could reach them.

    In the north three raids were plotted over Aberdeenshire and three in the Moray Firth. One of these, a single aircraft, was seen returning to Brittany across Wales and Devon.

    At 5 p.m. more than fifty aircraft assembled over Cap Gris Nez at 20,000 feet. No sooner had they crossed the coast than Luftflotte 2 massed for a follow-through with another thirty to fifty Bf 109s and Bf 110s. For each attack the RAF were up in force.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 16 | Aircraft: 9

    British Losses
    Airmen: 6 | Aircraft: 7

    Hurricane P3599, No. 238 Squadron
    Sgt. F.A. Sibley. Reported ‘Missing’ after combat with enemy fighters over Poole Harbour.

    Blenheim R3626, No. 248 Squadron
    Failed to return from a reconnissance operation to the Norwegian coast.
    P/O C.C. Bennet. Listed as missing.
    Sgt. G.S. Clarke. Listed as missing.
    Sgt. G.B. Brash. Listed as missing.

    Hurricane P2900, No. 607 Squadron
    F/Lt. C.E. Bowen. Reported ‘Missing’ after combat with Bf 110s over the Isle of Wight.

    Hurricane V6686, No. 607 Squadron
    N. Brumby killed. Shot down in combat with Bf 110s over the Isle of Wight.
  19. CL1

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

    Wednesday 2 October 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    Fighter sweeps on south-east London and Biggin Hill.
    Night: London once again is the main target. Manchester, Usworth and Aberdeen also raided.

    Weather: Blue skies during the day with cloud building up later.

    Main Activity:

    The first warning came through at 8.30 a.m. when aircraft of Luftflotte 2 began to mass over Cap Gris Nez. Climbing to between 20,000 and 30,000 feet the German machines attacked Biggin Hill and south-east London from 9 a.m. until lunch-time. Seventeen formations, ranging from one aircraft to more than fifty, penetrated inland in a continuous stream. They were back in smaller numbers during the afternoon, a few of them penetrating as far as the centre of London. Eight of the day’s raiders fell in combat to some of the 154 patrols sent up by Fighter Command. Altogether seventeen German aircraft were lost against only one British fighter.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 24 | Aircraft: 18

    British Losses
    Airmen: 0 | Aircraft: 2
  20. CL1

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

    Thursday 3 October 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
    Scattered raids on East Anglia and southern England.
    Night: London and its suburbs attacked.

    Weather: Rain and drizzle in the Channel. Visibility down to 500 yards in places.

    Main Activity:

    Routine patrols and reconnaissance flights off the east coast opened the action for the day. Later raiders coming singly or in pairs, mostly from Belgian and Dutch bases, attacked targets over a widespread area. These included Thameshaven, Cosford, Cambridge, Cardington, Bedford, Leamington, Worcester, Reading, Harrow and Tangmere. The weather was too bad to intercept successfully, or to protect a convoy in the Channel at 5.20 p.m.

    One raider, however, reached the de Havilland works at Hatfield. At 50 feet altitude a Ju 88 of KG 77 machine-gunned workers as they ran for the trenches and bounced four bombs into a sheet metal shop and the Technical School — killing 21 people and wounding 70. The 88 was hit by 40 mm. Bofors shells, 303 machine-gun bullets from an RAF detachment and even rounds from a Hotchkiss manned by the Home Guard. The burning aircraft crashed at Hertingfordbury.

    Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

    German Losses
    Airmen: 21 | Aircraft: 9

    British Losses
    Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 1

    Blenheim L4905, No. 600 Squadron
    Suffered engine failure during routine patrol in heavy rain. Crashed into trees on high ground at Broadstone Warren.
    P/O C.A. Hobson killed.
    Sgt. D.E. Hughes killed.
    AC2 C.F. Cooper killed.
    Little Friend likes this.

Share This Page