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

    WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 1940
    Search for shipping off Scottish and east coasts.
    Night: Targets attacked in south-west. Minelaying.

    Weather: Dull with occasional rain.

    Main Activity:

    At around 1400 hours, twelve Spitfires of No. 64 Squadron on patrol over Beachy Head were bounced by Bf 109s of 3./JG 2. One Spitfire was shot down.

    At 1530 hours, six Hurricanes of No. 145 Squadron encountered and attacked a lone He 111 of Stab/KG 27. It was claimed as damaged but failed to return.

    At 1600 hours, a small formation of He 111 bombers from III/KG 26, based in Stavanger, Norway, bombed the Imperial Chemical Industries factory at Ardeer, Ayrshire. One of the bombers was intercepted and shot down by Spitfires of No. 603 Squadron 25 miles east of Fraserburgh. Two survivors were seen to take to a rubber raft. One of the Spitfires was damaged by return fire but was able to return to base.

    German Losses
    Airmen: 15 | Aircraft: 4

    British Losses
    Airmen: 1 | Aircraft: 1

    Spitfire K9916, No. 603 Squadron. Aircraft lost.
    F/O C.D. Peel. Certified as missing. Failed to return from an operational flight.
    Battle of Britain London Monument - F/O C D Peel

    Wednesday 17 July 1940 | The Battle of Britain Historical Timeline
  2. CL1

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


    The RAF's victory over the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 made a German invasion of Britain all but impossible. In his book Bomber Offensive, published in 1947, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Harris wrote that all the credit for preventing the invasion of Britain had been given to Fighter Command. He felt that the influence and importance of Bomber Command's role in the Battle of Britain had been largely overlooked. Germany's failure to defeat the RAF and secure control of the skies over southern England convinced Hitler to indefinitely postpone the planned invasion of Britain. While this victory was decisively gained by Britain's fighter defences, other organisations also contributed.
    How Bomber Command Helped Win The Battle Of Britain
    Little Friend likes this.
  3. Nick Beale

    Nick Beale Member

    Shamelessly plugging my own work (but it's not as if I'm charging for it, so why not?) the ULTRA intercepts of Summer 1940 are valuable in illuminating what was going on in the early stages of the Battle. As early as 23 May (i.e. before Dunkirk), there was this:

    Allied fighter aircraft carried out attacks along the coast on 23 May. In the evening, Luftflotte 3 asked for formations of He 111 to attack ground organisations in South East England in order to knock out the British air force.​

    The Germans, with France crumbling, seem to have operated less to any plan than at the pace logistics permitted. Take this item from Bletchley Park:

    Late on 18/6/40 Luftflotte 3 gave orders that as the forces had suffered severe disintegration owing to operations being maintained on a wide front, their reorganisation was to be brought about by every possible means. Discipline had also deteriorated considerably and this must be rigidly enforced, primarily through the example of officers.
    The intercepts show the Luftwaffe preoccupied with sorting out fuel storage, maintenance facilities, even water supplies on French bases. Aircraft were having their armour protection and defensive armament increased; units were trying to get hold of dinghies, aircrew survival packs, aircraft self-destruction charges and so on. They were, and remained, worried about the protection of their own aerodromes from RAF bombing. Even so, considerable attention was given to organising and protecting “a grand parade of the armed forces of the Reich” in Paris, originally set for the 30 June–7 July period then put back. To me it seems unlikely that they would have done this had they been expecting to operate against Britain on any scale and the parade was finally cancelled on 21 July.

    Regarding operations over the Channel, on 11 July they were reporting:

    War activities against England are taking the form of armed reconnaissance against shipping with good results. In all 26,000 tons were sunk and about 40,000 tons damaged.​

    So as far as they were concerned, this suggests, the fight was already underway and the picture is of operations slowly building up as the capability was achieved to carry them out. If a new phase was consciously embarked on then this directive of 14 July may have marked it:

    Attacks on convoys … are to be made in such strength that annihilation of the convoy can be counted on. Attention is again called to necessity for adequate fighter and heavy fighter protection.​
    CL1 likes this.
  4. CL1

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

    July 2nd - July24th 1940

    July 20th 1940
    1315hrs: Off Swanage. Hurricane P3766, 238 Sqn Middle Wallop. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    Sgt C. Parkinson. Died of Injuries 21.06.40 (Baled out after being shot down by Bf109. Rescued by ship)
    1630hrs: Lyme Bay (Dorset). Hurricane P3082, 501 Sqn Middle Wallop. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    P/O E.J.H. Sylvester. Certified as missing. (Damaged by Bf109 off Cherbourg, crashed approaching coast)
    1635hrs: Swanage. Spitfire K9880, 152 Sqn Warmwell. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    P/O N.H. Posener Certified as missing. (Crashed into Channel after being hit by gunfire from Bf109)
    1800hrs: Off Dover. Hurricane N2670, 32 Sqn Biggin Hill. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    Sub/Lt G.G.R. Bulmer. Certified as missing. (Hit by gunfire from Bf109 and crashed into Channel)
    1800hrs: Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3964, 43 Sqn Tangmere. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    F/O J.F.J. Haworth. Certified as missing. (Shot down while investigating E/A, baled out over Channel)
    1820hrs: Off Cherbourg. Blenheim L1300, 236 Sqn Thorney Island. (Aircraft lost at sea)
    Sgt W.E. Lockton. Certified as missing. and
    Sgt H. Corcoran. Certified as missing. (Shot down by Bf109 during escort mission. Crashed into Channel)
    Time N/A: Grangemouth. Hurricane P2917, 263 Sqn Grangemouth. (Aircraft destroyed)
    P/O A.R. Downer Died of Injuries 21.06.40 (Crashed while making a forced landing at base)
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  5. CL1

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

  6. CL1

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


    The Observer Corps was officially formed in 1925. A series of observation posts were established during the First World War to spot and identify enemy aircraft over Britain. The Observer Corps built on the legacy of this system.

    Largely made up of volunteers who trained themselves in aircraft recognition, the Observer Corps played a crucial role during the Battle of Britain as part of the Dowding System.

    The radar stations positioned along the coast were only able to look outwards. Once inland, it was up to the Observer Corps to identify enemy aircraft and to estimate the size and height of the formations. This information was passed to an Observer Corps Centre and then to Group and Sector Station Operations Rooms where it was used to inform Fighter Command's operations.

    In 1941, in recognition of their contribution, the Observer Corps became the Royal Observer Corps (ROC).

    The ROC continued to serve throughout the Second World War. They provided early warning of air raids and later in the war helped spot incoming V1 and V2 rockets. Observers even served aboard the invasion fleet on D-Day to give early identification of incoming aircraft.

    How the Observer Corps helped win the Battle of Britain

    July 2nd - July24th 1940
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  7. CL1

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

    P/O J.R. Hamar Killed. (Stalled aircraft at 500ft and crashed nose first on aerodrome)
    Service Number: 70898
    Regiment & Unit/Ship
    Royal Air Force

    151 Sqdn.

    Date of Death
    Died 24 July 1940

    Age 25 years old

    Buried or commemorated at

    Row K. Grave 9.

    United Kingdom

    • Country of Service United Kingdom
    • Awards Distinguished Flying Cross
    • Additional Info Son of Arthur T. Hamer and Sarah A. Hamar, of Knighton.

  8. CL1

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

    July 25th - July 31st 1940
    Thursday July 25th - Wednesday July 31st 1940
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 25th)
    1455hrs: Dover. Spitfire P9451. 64 Squadron Kenley. (Lost at sea)
    F/O A.J.O. Jeffrey. Killed. (Was last seen crashing into the Channel) (Body washed up on Dutch coast)
    1500hrs: Off Dover. Spitfire R6707. 54 Squadron Rochford. (Lost at sea)
    F/Lt B.H. "Wonky" Way. Presumed drowned. (Shot down by Bf109 and crashed into Channel)
    1540hrs: Hawkinge Airfield. Spitfire R6693. 610 Squadron Biggin Hill. (Aircraft destroyed)
    S/L A.T. Smith. Killed. (Crashed and burnt out after stalling on landing. Previously in combat with Bf109)
    1745hrs: Off Folkestone Kent. Spitfire L1035. 64 Squadron Kenley. (Lost at sea)
    Sub/Lt F.D. Paul. Died of Injuries. (Shot down by Bf109, captured by Germans but died 30.7.40
    1810hrs: Dover. Spitfire R6816. 54 Squadron Rochford. (Aircraft destroyed)
    P/O A. Finnie. Killed. (Hit by gunfire from Bf109 and crashed at Kingsdown, nr Dover)
    2345hrs: Porthtowan Cornwall. Spitfire P9493. 234 Squadron St Eval. (Aircraft destroyed)
    P/O G.K. Gout. Killed. (Crashed just outside town. Circumstances not known)

    After this days fighting, 54 Squadron Hornchurch was north for a brief rest. They had been constantly in action for the past three weeks, had flown in excess of 800 flying hours, had 506 operational sorties to their credit, had lost five experienced pilots and had twelve of their aircraft destroyed.
    The tactic here was to meet the bombers head on at full throttle then as they dispersed they pulled upwards to meet the oncoming Bf109's. The tactic worked, and both fighters and bombers withdrew. With 64 Squadron and 111 Squadron returning to refuel, the German formation, strengthened by another staffel circled and returned to the convoy. Here they sank a further five merchantmen and seriously damaged four others. (Only 2 out of 21 were to reach their destination of Portland.)

    AVM Keith Park was all in favour of attacking the bombers "head on". He maintained that they were very vulnerable from the front, very poorly armed, had very little armour protection and often flew in tight formations which meant that they had very little chance of maneuvering for fear of hitting another bomber. "Attack the ones in front" he urged, "If you shoot them down, the formation will break up in confusion, then you can take your pick."
    But such tactics could be dangerous. It called for accurate shooting and one must pull away sharply to avoid collision. ACM Hugh Dowding would not approve such tactics, it was too dangerous for our young pilots to adopt, but many brave and skillful pilots responded to Keith Parks instruction. [2]

  9. CL1

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

    SATURDAY JULY 27th 1940

    The summer of 1940 was as unpredictable as ever, as again by July 27th 1940 the weather partially cleared although the cloud base remained over the English Channel. Fliegerkorps VIII again made attacks along the southern coast. Radar had detected them over the Channel 0925hrs and 609 Squadron was ordered to the Portland area to cover a medium convoy (Codenamed Bacon) off the coast at Swanage. One enemy aircraft was destroyed and another limped away to the south trailing smoke. 609 Squadron lost one aircraft in the combat off the coast at Weymouth. Other attacks were made on convoys off the east coast near Harwich and later in the afternoon, Dover Harbour again came under attack as German raiders bombed naval destroyers and the barracks.

    With the navy losing three destroyers this day, the Admiralty decided to withdraw all naval ships from Dover and cease using the harbour as an advanced base. This was to place a further burden on the RAF as they would have to provide additional protection of the Channel convoys, something that Dowding and Park did not want to do, but with convoys having no destroyer protection the task was presented to the RAF.

    July 25th - July 31st 1940
  10. CL1

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


    Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) held many roles in the Battle of Britain, including working as plotters in the Sector Station Operations Rooms. Plotters worked in three shifts in teams of about ten, tracking the size and direction of incoming German raids. They received information on enemy raids from radar stations and the Observer Corps, and raids were tracked using wooden blocks displayed around a large table. These blocks showed the name of the raid and an estimate of its strength, and arrows placed behind each block showed the raid’s direction. The blocks were colour coded to indicate how up to date the information was. Friendly aircraft were plotted in a separate room.

  11. CL1

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

    Civilian casualties
    004 BRAMBLE JJ - - 30/07/1940 CIVILIAN WAR DEAD
    005 BRAMBLE GM - - 30/07/1940 CIVILIAN WAR DEAD
    006 BRAMBLE PM - - 30/07/1940 CIVILIAN WAR DEAD
    007 BRAMBLE PJ - - 30/07/1940 CIVILIAN WAR DEAD

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