That is totally out of order Tim & very ungentlemanly. However I am not jealous which was your ployI’ve got beef stew and suet dumplings for tea tonight....I can smell it cooking as I write this
Thanks Steve as always. The numbering system for German formations used to drive me crazy until I recently read a book by a former Wilde Sau JG pilot who flew later on the war.Wednesday 2 October
Generally clear but with some broken cloud.
The cloud enabled single bombers or small groups to evade British defences and bomb targets mainly in the SE of England. Bombs were reported further afield, in Redditch and even in S Wales. For the most part these nuisance raids were ignored by Fighter Command. Some bombers were unlucky. The crew of Oberleutnant Hans Seidel’s ‘A1+CH’ from I./KG 53 was intercepted by P/O Irving Smith of No 151 Squadron. He had ineffectually bombed the Rolls-Royce factory before Smith shot him down.
An exception to this pattern was another raid by our old friends of Epgr 210 on Lympne aerodrome. Both Bf 110 Staffeln took off for the raid and reached Lympne unopposed. The station ORB recorded the result.
“One squadron of twin-engined enemy dive bombers approached from the south east having been turned by Anti-Aircraft fire in the Folkestone area. Enemy aircraft approached aerodrome in a shallow dive and dropped approximately two 500 pounders per machine, about 20 bombs in all, including a few incendiary. Bombs landed along the western side of the camp, demolishing several unoccupied shelters and destroying an Army lorry by fire. Four Army personnel in the lorry were injured, one slightly. Little other damage.”
The reference to one squadron and twenty bombs would imply that Eprg 210, whose own records show that two Staffeln took off for this raid, was suffering low serviceability and that the two staffeln could barely muster the strength of one Staffel between them.
Today also saw the beginning of the new fighter bomber attacks on London. The fighter bomber strategy was based on two false premises. The first was that Fighter Command was down to only three hundred serviceable fighters. The fighting on 30 September temporarily reduced the number of operational Spitfires and Hurricanes from 621 to 593, but it was still twice as many as the Germans thought. Secondly, the Germans assumed that if Fighter Command was drawn into combat with the German fighters, it would in some way automatically lead to the RAF coming off worst. This was a false premise that pre-dated the Battle. This was never the case, and the results of the fighter vs fighter combats over the last two months showed that both sides were fairly evenly matched. The Germans did not appreciate this due to their faulty intelligence.
As this ‘new’ offensive began the veterans of II.(S)/LG 2 were first in the action. One of its Staffels took off at 0.800 to fly to London, escorted by about forty Bf 109s from JG 54. Since the Bf 109s climbed to 6,000 metres before they flew out over the Channel, they were quickly detected by the British radar. Eight squadrons went up against them. When the Germans crossed the coast the Spitfire units were in a good position to attack, but when the RAF pilots reported only Bf 109s they were ordered not to engage. Some thirty Bf 109s from JG 54 stayed and began to orbit over Dover, while the fighter-bombers and the rest of the fighter escort continued towards London. Shortly afterwards, Dowding in Bentley Priory received a report that bombs were falling on London. It was too late for Fighter Command to intervene and at 09.20 the raid withdrew to France. There had been a failure somewhere in RAF reporting. The ability of the Bf 109 to carry a bomb had been known to the RAF since September 9 when a British report concluded that the presence of bomb carrying Bf 109s ‘now can be confirmed’. Why the possibility was discounted this morning we will never know.
The ‘Jabos’ posed a new problem for Fighter Command. Neither RDF, nor the Observer Corps could tell whether a formation of Bf 109s was carrying bombs or not. The only way to tell was by closer observation by fighters in the air. This would put an added strain on Fighter Command as it struggled to meet raids arriving at 30,000 feet. It took a Bf 109 just 17 minutes to cross the Channel to London, it took a Spitfire I 27 minutes to climb to 30,000 feet. The result was standing patrols, something Park had always sought to avoid. With them came added wear and tear on machines and pilots. The average daily operational flying for an 11 Group squadron increased from 45 to 60 hours.
The Germans still had flaws in their tactics to iron out, as the next raid would show.
III./JG 53 had appointed Oberleutnant Ernst-Gunther Heintze’s 8./JG 53* to be its ‘Jabo Staffel’. Escorted by forty other Bf 109s from JG 53, its bomb-laden planes passed the coast at Dungeness at 7,000 metres, about half an hour after II.(S)/LG 2 had flown back to France. The raid headed for London. The RAF fighter pilots had no difficulty in identifying the fighter bombers. The German fighter escort flew much higher, at 9,000 metres. The fighter-bombers could not fly so high because of their heavy load and were flying far below, leaving a gap that would be exploited by No 603 Squadron which attacked the heavily laden ‘Jabos’ unseen by the escorts, shooting down four Bf 109s. P/O P G Dexter would be shot down in the ensuing fight, baling out wounded in the leg.
Here is one of the 8./JG 53 ‘Jabos’ shot down today. It is the aircraft of Obltn Walter Fiel, who made a good forced landing at Addlested Farm in Kent. His was a cannon armed E-4, but of the four of this unit shot down today, two were E-1s, armed with just four machine guns. Fiel’s machine was displayed in London to a curious crowd. Often these aircraft were used for fund raising, you could usually sit in the cockpit for a shilling.
View attachment 399386
Fighter Command’s only operational loss today would be Dexter’s Spitfire. The Luftwaffe lost 4 Bf 109s with another damaged and 8 bombers with another damaged. Its new campaign had not got off to a flying start.
The Luftwaffe would fly 230 sorties against Britain tonight. The principal target was once again London as the Blitz continued. Manchester and neighbouring towns were also attacked. Bombs were also reported in Scotland.
Bomber Command dispatched 81 sorties tonight. The targets listed were nine targets in Germany, Eindhoven airfield, Channel ports and minelaying.
*Luftwaffe nomenclature, expanding a little on yesterday’s post:
At this time there were three Gruppen in a Geschwader. The Gruppen were numbered using Roman numbers, so I./JG 53, II./JG 53 and III./JG 53
Each Gruppe comprised a staff flight (loose translation) called the Stab, and then three Staffeln. The individual Staffeln were numbered in a similar way to the Gruppen but with Arabic numbers. 1./JG 53, 2./JG 53 and 3./JG 53 would make up I./JG 53, the first Gruppe.
Heintze was the Staffelkapitan (literally ‘squadron captain’, a position, NOT a rank) of 8./JG 53, one of the three Staffeln (7, 8 and 9) making up III./JG 53. His Staffel had been selected to be that Gruppe’s fighter bomber Staffel, in accordance with Goering’s order that one Staffel in every Gruppe should convert to this role.