Battle of Britain diary

Tim Marlow

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I’ve got beef stew and suet dumplings for tea tonight....I can smell it cooking as I write this :cool:
 

Tim Marlow

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Another suet favourite is “Cake and Sydney pudding”. We don’t have it often as it takes ages to cook if you do it right!
 

Laurie

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Yes my mother used to make a sponge pudding with a bit of ginger in there.

Then she would heat up Tate & Lyle syrup to pour over wow wot a feast. After the dumplings of course. All very healthy :tears-of-joy:
 

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I once found a recipe for such a pie with an interesting typo, at least I hope it was a typo. The first ingredient listed was TEAK. I reckon you'd break your teeth on that :smiling3:
 

stona

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Monday 30 September

Generally fair with some cloud and light winds.

This fair weather was not what the pilots of Fighter Command wanted to see. P/O David Crook was with No 609 Squadron at Middle Wallop.

“The weather was brilliantly clear and when we got up we shook our heads dismally, as we knew there would be a lot of trouble.”

He was correct, the Luftwaffe, whose operations had been hampered yesterday would make a big effort. Today would see the final large daylight battle of what we call the Battle of Britain.

At 09.00 the first major raid crossed the coast, twelve bombers escorted by fifty fighters. They were met by 12 squadrons and the bombers were turned back over Maidstone. No 229 Squadron was bounced by JG 26 which was conducting a fighter sweep ahead of the next raid. Four Hurricanes were shot down in just eight minutes of fighting, one pilot, F/O M Ravenhill, was killed.

At 10.10 the next raid, arrived, crossing the coast at Dungeness. The raid got as far as Biggin Hill and Kenley before being broken up and breaking for France.

The next action was a raid launched by Luftflotte 3 against the West Country. This comprised approximately 100 aircraft, the Bf 109s of I and II./JG 2, with II./JG 53 and the Bf 110s of I and II./ZG 26. The raid crossed the coast at St Albans Head at 11.00. Fighter Command scrambled No 504 Squadron from Filton to protect the Bristol works. No 238 Squadron was ordered to patrol Bournemouth. Nos 609 and 56 Squadrons were scrambled consecutively from Warmwell. No 56 Squadron met the Bf 110s at about 20,000 feet and with a slight altitude disadvantage, nevertheless it launched a head on attack, severely damaging one of the Messerschmitts, which returned to France with both crew wounded and was subsequently written off. They were in turn bounced by the Bf 109s of JG 2. Two of 56 Squadrons Hurricanes were shot down though both pilots survived. Sgt Ray suffered a broken arm. Things would have been worse but for the timely intervention of 609 Squadron’s Spitfire’s which, led by F/Lt Frank Howell had climbed up sun over Weymouth Bay and now bounced the Bf 109s of JG 2. David Crook again.

“A few of our Spitfires were chasing Messerschmitts all over the place and obviously a very nice little massacre was in progress”.

No 609 Squadron would land with no losses to claim 5 Bf 109s. They had in fact shot two down and damaged another. The Germans returned to France, many would be in action again later in the day, escorting 43 He 111s of KG 55 for an attack on the Westland factory at Yeovil.

Before this raid Kesselring sent 150 Bf 109s and a handful of Do 17 bombers from III./KG 3 towards London, Park had also adapted his tactics. He decided to accept the challenge and ordered up no less than sixteen squadrons, ten of which made contact with the enemy. For the loss of only three of their own, 11 Group’s pilots shot down eight Bf 109s and a Do 17. The Poles of No 303 Squadron claimed another five victories.

Part Two-Yeovil.

The Yeovil raid assembled over Normandy before setting course for Portland Bill, leaving it just twenty miles over land to Yeovil. The operation was be preceded by a diversionary attack against Portland by eleven Ju 88s from I./KG 51. At the same time Luftflotte 2 sent I./KG 77 towards London. I./KG 51 was fortunate enough to be attacked by only eleven Spitfires, which cost the Germans no more than one aircraft. The He 111s from KG 55 on the other hand attracted the attention of nine whole squadrons. The Heinkels had a powerful escort, consisting of 40 Bf 110s from ZG 26 and 52 Bf 109s from JG 2 and JG 53. The first RAF squadron to engage was No 238 which made a head on attack on the bombers, followed by the Spitfires of No 152 and the Hurricanes of No 56 Squadrons. Things did not go well for the British who were attacked by the escorts. The most effective resistance against the British fighter attacks seemed once again to have come from the Zerstorer airmen. KG 55’s war diary notes that

“ZG 26 fought hard to defend Kampfgeschwader 55”.

One of the pilots shot down was nineteen year old Sgt Peter Fox of No 238 Squadron.

“…there was an explosion and there was little left of my instrument panel…I broke to starboard, pulling upwards and away, with all controls seemingly working correctly. I got over land at about 3,000 feet and was wondering whether I would make Warmwell when I saw flames coming up between my legs. I don’t think I even thought about my next action, but I had turned the kite upside down, released my harness and saw my feet way above me and the plane above my feet, presumably stalled. Where was my ripcord? I told myself to calm down, as I remembered a film where a German was shown dead on the ground with fingernail marks where he had clawed at his ripcord when his parachute had not opened. I also recall remembering that someone had told me that three or six, or some number, should be counted before pulling the cord. My hand went to the metal ‘D’ ring, all was forgotten about counting, and I pulled! I had never pulled a ripcord before, never seen one pulled, never seen a parachute packed, and never had any instruction. The ‘D’ ring was flung into the air followed by some wire. Obviously I’d broken it. Whether my hands moved towards the parachute strapped to my backside or not I’ll never know, but my thoughts were that I had to open the pack somehow, when I felt the small tug of the pilot chute, followed almost immediately by the full wrench of the main parachute. I was safe!”

We have a different sort of account from Eric Clayton, a member of No 609’s ground crew.

“The squadron started operating by day from Warmwell, a forward satellite airfield and on the 30th September, it was scrambled to intercept a large force bound for the Westland factory at Yeovil. It climbed to attack some escorting Bf 110s and in the encounter, seven Hurricanes were shot down – though none of the pilots were killed. Only P/O [Frederick] Higginson (recently commissioned) was able to claim a Bf 110 probably destroyed. This was the squadron’s last major encounter with the enemy during the Battle.”

Clayton was one of the many who were keeping Fighter Command’s aircraft serviceable. Close to home and with manufacturer support they were doing a much better job than their adversaries across the Channel. Today, JG 54’s war diary contained this entry.

“‘Lately, our aircraft have been incessantly in action and it has not been possible to maintain them well enough. Therefore, several are in a totally unreliable condition. On our first mission today three of eight aircraft had to make emergency landings immediately after take-off.’

The raid pressed on towards Yeovil. The target was obscured by clouds and this caused KG 55 to bomb Sherbourne. S/Ldr Peter Devitt, who had attended Sherbourne School.

“I was up with my 152 and poised to attack the bombers again when we saw bombs falling away from their bellies. On looking down to see what the target was, to my horror I saw the old Sherbourne School Courts, which I knew so well.”

Eighteen people were killed and thirty two more injured, some seriously.

So ended the final great daylight air battle of the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe had lost 46 aircraft destroyed with another 12 damaged. Fighter Command had won another victory, but at a cost of 20 aircraft destroyed and another 8 damaged. Today was the final day for the He 111 equipped Kampfgeschwader in the Battle of Britain. Unsustainable losses caused them, like the Ju 87s many weeks earlier, to be withdrawn from large daylight operations. Another phase in the Battle had been fought to a close, and the RAF had won it. There is a tendency today to call this a draw but by any applicable criteria this was not a draw. The Luftwaffe had started in July with the objective of defeating the RAF and achieving the conditions for an invasion. It had not done this and henceforth it would not even pretend to be trying. It is not true, as sometimes claimed, that Fighter Command was stronger now, or at the end of November, than it had been at the start of the campaign, but neither was it significantly weaker. Even in terms of numbers the Luftwaffe had lost. It had achieved parity or even a slight advantage in the fighter vs fighter battles but never the positive exchange rate required. More pertinently, it had lost its bombers at an unsustainable rate. The Luftwaffe had enjoyed some notable successes during this phase of the Battle, particularly with the raids on the Supermarine and Bristol Aircraft works, but it had still lost it.

The Battle of Britain would drag on into its final phase, lasting for another month but the fighting, still deadly, would be different.

The Luftwaffe was back again tonight and once more the principal target was London. The bombers approached across the Isle of Wight and up through Hampshire before retiring across Sussex and out over Beachy Head. Bombs fell not only on London but all along these routes. Damage was not serious. Bomber Command dispatched 104 sorties tonight, the RLM building in Berlin was the aiming point for those targeting Berlin and remarkably no fewer than 17 aircraft claimed to have found and bombed this target. Other aircraft attacked the Channel ports and laid mines in the River Elbe. 5 aircraft were lost.
 

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Another little ditty. Buying a carton of milk this afternoon jolted vintage memory.

Every day at school (my days started after the B O B) at 10:00am lessons stopped. In came the school porter with a crate filled with little bottles of milk.

The bottles probably 1/3 pint. We all got one. This was I believe standard through out Britain.

So there we all were about 50 in a class guzzling this milk.

During the winter the milk was left by the milk lorry out in the playground so the milk was very fresh & very cold which I liked. At times on a frosty morning the top of the milk was like an iced lolly.

Lunch a collection of "dinner ladies" cooked & served us all up lunch. This was served in the main hall from large tins & pans filled with fresh veg meat.
The hall was just a hub bub of sound every one chatting. We lined up & the dinner ladies splodged the food on our plates. Then you got your desert apple rhubarb pie. Perhaps treacle tart.

Laurie
 
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Tim Marlow

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Hi Laurie
Schools still had free milk when I was at junior school. I hated it....for some unknown reason ours was stored by the radiator in the corridor so tasted like warm cheese.....when I left school I worked at the local dairy for a year or so in the early eighties. Thirds were still filled for schools even then, but only for first year infants I think. The milk was repasturised returns from the day before, so wasn’t fresh. Universal school milk was discontinued under Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as schools minister in the Heath government as a cost saving measure.
 

Laurie

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Tim my wife was privileged. She attended a private school. Milk arrived as any council school. She tells me they were all given these little sachets of chocolate sprinkles.

Told her that was cheating on life. Got the reaction I have come used to over 59 years.

Yes remember the Maggie depriving children of milk. Hell of a kurfuffle about it all.
 

stona

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I seem to remember the future Prime Minister earning the soubriquet 'Milk snatcher Thatcher' following her cancellation of free school milk.
 

stona

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Tuesday 1 October

The weather continued fair today.

The Germans do not acknowledge a Battle of Britain as distinct from their longer campaign which had started months earlier and would continue into 1941 and the turn towards Russia. However, despite the British regarding the Battle as lasting through October, from a German perspective it was over. Heavy fighting would continue, but it was not to prepare for an invasion, indeed it was largely politically driven, keeping up appearances and maintaining the illusion that the Luftwaffe was close to bringing Britain to its knees. For example, Hitler was engaged in frantic diplomatic activity in an effort to convince Franco and Spain to join him in the war and needed to appear to be winning.

It becomes difficult now to continue a detailed day by day account, it’s just not something that most author’s have bothered to do. I will attempt to post something each day, but detail maybe rather lacking on some occasions!

Today the Luftwaffe sent out 350 fighters and 73 bombers on more than a dozen operations against England. The largest operation took place around noon when ZG 26 ‘Horst Wessel’ dispatched 32 Bf 110s on a free hunt in the Swanage area, along with 40 Bf 109s from JG 2 and 8 from JG 53. They were met by three of 10 Group’s squadrons. No 238 Squadron lost two Hurricanes and Sgt F A Sibley was killed. ZG 26 lost one Bf 110 which went down in the Channel killing both crew.

Another raid in the afternoon saw Bf 109s on a ‘Freiejagd’ come in over Kent. No 607 Squadron lost two Hurricanes and both pilots. Over Brighton a lone Polish Hurricane of No 303 Squadron chased the Bf 109s of II./JG 26 as they withdrew, shooting down and killing Unteroffizier Hans Bluder. His Bf 109 dived vertically into the ground on Balmer Down and exploded.

At the end of today’s fighting the RAF had lost 5 fighters to the Luftwaffe’s 4.

The most important events today did not take place in the air but on the ground and came in the form of the visit that Generalmajor von Doring, commanding Jafu 2, made to some of his Geschwaderkommodores. To understand its importance, a very brief explanation of the structure of the fighter Geschwader, as they were at this time, is required.

The basic administrative and tactical unit of the fighter arm (Jagdwaffe) was the Staffel, roughly equivalent to a British squadron.

Three Staffeln made up one Gruppe, roughly equivalent to a British Wing.

Three Gruppen then made up one Geschwader, very roughly equivalent to a British Group.

Von Doring instructed the Geschwader commanders to assign one Staffel in every fighter Gruppe to the role of fighter bomber (abbreviated as ‘Jabo’ in German). One third of all the Luftwaffe’s fighters were to become fighter bombers.

According to Galland.

“Von Doring explained that Fighter Command, after their heavy losses in September, was now estimated to be down at a strength of just over 300 serviceable fighters, and that now we were to lure them into combat. We could hardly believe our ears! For too long we had heard the phrase “the last three hundred Spitfires”, and in the end there was no longer anyone who believed in this. The result was just that we lost even more of our already low confidence in the leadership. But the strategy was decided. Von Doring announced that Goering no longer wanted to use the bomber units as decoys, the losses it had already cost them were too high. We could concede he was right in that, but the new directives from the Reichsmarschall were just too much: One third of the entire fighter aviation would be converted to Jabos, fighter-bombers!”

The men who would act upon this order were mostly young officers who had been chosen for their aggressive nature and handling of the fighters and had been rapidly promoted. Men like Molders, Galland, Lutzow and Trautloft were amazed and disconcerted by this turn of events.

Molders said,

“Fighter-bomber operations might harass the British, perhaps even demoralise them but they will never be of any decisive importance. Worse, these fighter-bomber missions may lead to our own morale getting undermined.”

He was right and Galland agreed. Long after these events he would write that the decision was wrong on two grounds,

“First, it was a tired fighter arm with many dejected pilots that were affected by this directive, and many perceived it as a punishment for the failure that Goering accused us of. Second, at such a late stage of the Battle, in October 1940, it could not meet the supposed military aims. It is quite possible that the “fighter-bomber offensive” that now began was primarily politically motivated, namely, to show that we could still drop bombs over London.”

The effects of this new tactic would only become known in time. The absence of large bomber formations and the prevalence of the Bf 110s and Bf 109s resulting from this change of tactics led October to become known as ‘Messerschmitt Month’ by the pilots of Fighter Command.

The Luftwaffe’s bombers concentrated their efforts by night. Tonight 269 German bombers took off for targets in England. Most of them bombed London, while Birkenhead and Manchester were raided by twenty five bombers. In the latter city extensive fires were started that devastated large parts of the western and southern districts.

Bomber Command dispatched 99 sorties tonight, to targets in Germany, mine laying and, of course, the Channel ports. Three aircraft were lost.
 

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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.

IMG_2351.JPG

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.
 

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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.
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.

ATB

Andrew
 

Laurie

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Now this reminiscence is not for the squeamish.

I was 3 my sister one. Mother used to put out scraps for the birds bits of bacon on the garden..

My sister & I played in the garden & like all good brothers I thought she should eat more.

I actually fed her with these bits of bacon & other bits (not telling). amazingly she survived.

Used to go into the garden every morning to search for shrapnel. over time I found two bits , quite large as well, which for a time were my pride & joy.
Not sure if they were from aircraft or the anti-aicraft gun shells.
 

stona

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Thursday 3 October

Rain, cloud and fog blanketing the UK.

The bad weather precluded any high altitude ‘Jabo’ operations it was good for lone nuisance raiders, using the cloud as cover. A more or less continuous stream of Ju 88s began crossing the coast between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, in the murk, from about 12.00. These crews were trained in instrument flying and were among the most highly trained in the Luftwaffe. Fifteen airbases received German bombs. In most places the damage was limited, but at St. Eval two hangars were hit and two Spitfires from 222 Squadron and an Avro Anson were destroyed by two Do 17s from KG 606. Bombs were dropped at Bedford, Kettering, Daventry, Stafford, Banbury, Crewe and Worcester. The MECO factory at Worcester, which made surge drums for barrage balloons, was hit, causing considerable damage and killing seven workers. 18 year old D Clarke was working inside the factory when the bombs fell.

"I was working about ten yards from the canteen - after the explosion everything fell all over the place. All exits were blocked except one."

Also hit today was the de Havilland works at Hatfield. Four bombs were dropped on to the grass airfield, they bounced into the factory workshops, exploding and killing 21 men and seriously injuring many more. There were air raid shelters built within the factory to enable some form of immediate cover and dug outs below ground outside the factory, but the warning came too late for the men to take cover. The bomber was originally mistaken for a British aircraft. The de Havilland shop 94 was a direct hit, it was completely demolished along with 80 per cent of the materials already assembled for the new DH 98 Mosquito, the Technical School in an adjacent building was also destroyed. The scene found by rescue teams was described as being large fires, smoke, debris and lumps of concrete everywhere. A shelter inside the building, built of single brick walls supporting a concrete roof had collapsed killing all those inside. Others had sought shelter under work benches but to no avail. The attacking aircraft, a Ju 88 of Stab I./KG 77 flown by Obltn Siegward Fiebig, was shot down by Anti-Aircraft defences. It was the only Luftwaffe aircraft definitely shot down by British defences today. Fiebig had been tasked with attacking Reading aerodrome but could not find it in the bad weather and attacked the de Havilland factory by chance, as a target of opportunity. The CEAR on this aircraft noted that there was a ‘Tommy gun’ found in this aircraft, one wonders if this really was an American Thomson or some other sub-machine gun. Would an RAF Intelligence Officer recognise an MP 38 (or possibly even the new MP 40)?

Fighter Command flew numerous sorties today, but the appalling weather meant that no successful interceptions were made.

There was very little Luftwaffe activity tonight. After 19.01 no red warnings were given anywhere in the country north and west of Peterborough. London was released from warnings between 21.25 and 22.02 and then from 02.06 until 05.36 when a single raider was plotted approaching the capital. The terrible weather was certainly the reason for this lack of activity.

Bomber Command’s ORB states that no operations were flown tonight as the weather closed in. Other records suggest that just 9 sorties were flown against targets on the French coast. In either case, there was a minimal effort.
 

stona

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Friday 4 October

The bad weather continued with heavy cloud and rain blanketing much of the country.

The poor visibility that had so severely curtailed operations last night did the same today. The Luftwaffe again took recourse to nuisance raids, as seen yesterday but today they were not as effective. London stayed under alert for five hours during the day and raiders penetrated inland across England. Bombs were reported falling indiscriminately on many small towns in East Anglia, Kent and Sussex.

Interception was very difficult in the conditions, but Fighter Command did manage to shoot down three Luftwaffe bombers, including a Ju 88 of I./KG 77 which was a victim of No 257 Squadron’s S/Ldr Tuck. The bomber went down in the sea off Southwold killing all the crew. Three other bombers were brought down by ground fire and several damaged.

The Luftwaffe lost or wrote off 9 bombers on operations against Britain with 3 more damaged. Several other aircraft were written off or damaged in accidents, largely due to the inclement weather. Fighter Command suffered just 1 operational loss today when F/Lt Ken Gillies, a long standing member of No 66 Squadron was shot down in combat with an He 111 off the East Coast. Ken Gillies's body would wash ashore on 21 October at Covehithe. 4 other British fighters made forced landings, suffering various damage, all as a result of the poor weather.

A large number of aircraft were reported raiding London in the early part of the night, but this was not sustained. The All Clear was given at 03.29, shortly after which all enemy air activity over Britain ceased.

Bomber Command carried out 30 ‘cloud cover’ sorties during the day, but tonight flew no sorties.
 

Pete Low

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Hi I hope you don't mind me sharing this with you it's something written for the BBC by a mate of mine he is a fellow modeler and now a author he did 35 years as an Army Helicopter pilot but ended his career in Parklands Community Mental Hospital.


By Karl Tearney
I was honoured to write a poem to be used by the Royal Air Force and Breitling to mark the 100th anniversary year of the Royal Air Force.
 
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