Battle of Britain diary

stona

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Very appropriate, plus anything with a Spitfire in it..... :thumb2:
 

stona

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Saturday 5 October

The weather improved slightly today, though there was still extensive cloud.

The improved weather persuaded the Luftwaffe to resume its fighter bomber attacks and today 480 sorties were flown on or in support of five ‘Jabo’ operations.

The largest operation was made early in the afternoon with about 200 Messerschmitts from Luftflotte 2 flying towards London and various targets in Kent, while at the same time Luftflotte 3 sent thirty-eight Bf 110s from ZG 26 along with forty Bf 109s from JG 2 and seven from JG 53 on a fighter sweep up towards the Isle of Wight area. Fierce fighting ensued with seven squadrons scrambled to oppose this raid and six Bf 109s were shot down for the loss of four RAF fighters.

Today Helmut Wick, of interest to some here, made a number of claims. He had a total of 36 air victories on his account, five behind Galland and six behind Molders. He claimed two of No 607 Squadron’s Hurricanes with other pilots from JG 2 claiming nine more. This makes eleven claims, more than the total number of the seven Hurricanes flown on this operation by No 607 Squadron! Only one Hurricane was shot down, though three others were damaged. Wick then gave this account of the action as his unit retired.

“Having turned towards the base, I suddenly spotted three Spitfires above myself. They seemed to come from the sea. I saw them first, attacked, and soon I had shot down the first one. […] I gritted my teeth and made a new attack. Number two also plunged into the sea after just a few rounds. Now only one was left. Unfortunately, by then I had run out of cannon shells, so I was left with only the machine guns. After a while, he left a white trail behind, which presaged gasoline fire. By all accounts, the pilot was also hit, since the aircraft swerved off uncontrollably. However, after a while the pilot seemed to have regained control over the machine, so I have to give him the coup de grace. The Spitfire reeled over and splashed into the sea.”

The problem is that these Spitfires, these losses, simply do not match any British records. These aircraft did not exist. One wonders whether Wick may have been a little too keen to catch up with his rivals. His five claims today, only one of which can possibly be verified, put him level with Galland. Wick was not alone in his pursuit of numbers. Within the Luftwaffe men like him were said to be suffering a ‘sore throat’, a reference to the ‘Ritterkreuz’ which was worn around the neck. There was a feeling among Luftwaffe pilots that the fighter operations over England were not serving to defeat the RAF but to increase the scores of the ‘experten’ (sometimes called hawks) at the expense of the men protecting their rears. Most over claiming was the result of genuine mistakes, the result of the confusion of air fighting. There is more than a suspicion that some of the Luftwaffe ‘experten’ were making outright fraudulent claims. In some cases it was proven and in very rare cases action taken against the claimers. The case of the "Expert Schwarm" (composed of Vogel, Sawallisch, Bendert and Stigler) of 4./JG 27 in North Africa was one such rare case.

This raid may have served as cover for another attack by the two Bf 110 Staffeln of Epgr 210, which targeted the Becton gas works and West Malling airfield. The first Staffel never reached Becton. It was intercepted by No 303 (Polish) Squadron which was patrolling over Dungeness, with No 501 Squadron joining in. No 1 (Canadian) Squadron tangled with the Bf 109 escorts. Two of the Bf 110s were shot down. The acting Gruppenkommandeur, Oblt. Werner Weymann and his Bordfunker, Untoffizier Erwin Hubner were shot down into the Channel. At least three of the Poles, F/O Henneburg, F/O Feric and F/O Pisarck claimed this aircraft in an example of confusion rather than fraud. Feric reported.

“I noticed an Me 110 break away from the circle, and dive towards the sea, smoking slightly, but maintaining a very high speed. I chased E/A and catching up with him about seven miles from the coast fired a short burst from 20 yards into his cockpit. E/A immediately dived into the sea.”

Weymann was the fourth Gruppenkommandeur to be killed in action since 15 August.

A second Bf 110, that of Fw Fritz Duensing and Fw Helmut Krappatsch was also shot down, diving into the ground at high speed. The CEAR noted that

“…aircraft dived with engine on and exploded on impact, scattering wreckage over a wide area.”

What could be found of the two crew was buried in Hawkinge cemetery where they remain today, not having been reinterred at Cannock. They were victims either of Sgt Belc of No 303 Squadron or, more likely, No 501 Squadron’s S/Ldr Hogan who reported that he

“was able to attack an Me 110 with two short bursts. The Me 110 attempted to evade by diving and turning but I followed and as he went into a steep diving turn, I gave him one long burst and he rolled onto his back and went in, crashing two miles south of Ashford.”

This position exactly matches that of Kingsnorth, where Duensing and Krappatsch came down. One other 1st Staffel Bf 110 returned to France badly damaged.

The 2nd Staffel reached and bombed West Malling, but no serious damage was reported. They were intercepted, one Bf 110 being damaged but able to make it back to France.

In operations against Britain today the Luftwaffe had lost or written off 11 aircraft with 9 more damaged. The RAF had lost 6 of its fighters with another 8 damaged. Looking at the numbers over the last few days it is difficult to see what the Luftwaffe was hoping to achieve. It was suffering attrition at a greater rate than Fighter Command and was less able to sustain it. 250Kg bombs dropped indiscriminately by fighter bombers were never going to have anymore than a nuisance value. To me it seems that the Luftwaffe leadership, stymied at every turn, had simply run out of ideas. Dowding on the other hand knew exactly what he was doing.

It almost goes without saying that the Luftwaffe’s bombers were back tonight. 177 sorties were flown and raids were almost continuous through the night. In London a number of factories in the Woolwich area were hit. Many bombs were reported to have fallen across Essex, Sussex and Kent. Portland was bombed as was Holyhead. Bombs fell close to Ford aerodrome in an unsuccessful attack.

Bomber Command was back in action tonight attacking targets in Germany and Rotterdam. The Channel ports were no longer a priority as the invasion fleets were clearly dispersing. Oil and rail targets in Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Hamm, Osnabruck and Soest were targeted by 20 Hampdens. 10 Hampdens went minelaying in the Elbe and 4 Wellingtons went to Rotterdam. 3 Hampdens were lost.
 

adt70hk

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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.
Pete

Thanks for sharing. Very moving!

ATB

Andrew
 

stona

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Sunday 6 October

Cloud and rain

The weather curtailed Luftwaffe operations today but the pattern for the month had already been set. Small formations of bombers, usually the faster Ju 88s, or single bombers made nuisance raids, often using the cloudy conditions as cover. On fairer days the bomb carrying ‘Jabo’ Bf 109s and their escorts would make high altitude raids, hoping to draw Fighter Command into combat. There would be just one more daylight raid by a bomber Gruppe, but that would come tomorrow.

Today, for example, individual Ju 88s from 4./KG 30 bombed the Northolt sector station, blowing up a taxying 303 Squadron Hurricane killing its Polish pilot, Sgt A Siudak, and damaging two more Hurricanes. No 72 Squadron also lost a Spitfire on the ground when a lone raider dropped bombs on Biggin Hill. That was about as good as it got for the Germans today. A feature noted in various reports today was that the bombers, often flying at low level, machine gunned various towns and villages.

Those above were the only combat losses to Fighter Command today, though a 64 Squadron Spitfire inexplicably crashed into the sea on a routine patrol, killing Sgt F F Vinyard and a No 229 Squadron Hurricane made a forced landing having run out of petrol.

The Luftwaffe lost four bombers on operations against Britain, only one of which was shot down by fighters. Several others were lost or damaged in accidents, probably caused by the bad weather over their home airfields.

One of the bombers lost today was a Ju 88 of 4./KG 30. It was seen by eye witnesses to be on fire before diving vertically into the ground at Netherstead in Bedfordshire. Here an Air Intelligence Officer surveys the resulting smoking hole and wonders what he will write in his report.

IMG_2356.JPG

The weather seems to have limited operations tonight. The only reports of bombing came from Welwyn and Enfield. There were no air raid warnings between 22.38 and 05.01, which must have been a relief to the sleep deprived citizens of London.

For Bomber Command too, tonight was a wash out. No sorties were flown.
 

stona

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Monday 7 October

Better weather, broken cloud over the Channel and southern England.

Between 09.30 and 15.40 the Luftwaffe sent a series of fighter sweeps and ‘Jabo’ attacks against targets in southern England.

These fighter bomber missions today cost 2./JG 51 a loss of three Bf 109s.

Things went far worse for JG 27, which was sent to escort II.(S)/LG 2 in its attacks against London and Biggin Hill airfield. The fighter bombers managed to carry out their attack undisturbed, but when the Germans turned back towards the coast, Hurricanes from 1 RCAF and 303 RAF (Polish) squadrons attacked them. The RAF fighters were in turn attacked by Bf 109s from II./JG 27 which had been lurking unseen at higher altitude, F/O Deane Nesbitt was badly damaged, but managed to nurse his Hurricane home. Now No 605 Squadron appeared on the scene and decisively turned the tables on the Germans. This squadron was led by the aggressive Squadron Leader Archie McKellar who shot down two Bf 109s during his first attack. Then he made a sharp turn and sent down a third 109. The Germans broke and ran for France. When they landed seven Bf 109s were missing. Four of these had been downed by Archie McKellar, the other three Bf 109s were shot down by pilots of No 303 (Polish) Squadron. The RAF’s total losses in the clash were confined to one damaged and one destroyed Hurricane.

The main action of the day was the final daylight attack by German bombers, in strength, of the Battle of Britain. It was not on the scale of the 30 September raids, but it was another attempt on the Westland Aircraft Factory at Yeovil. The factory had escaped damage on the 30th when KG 55 had mistakenly bombed Sherbourne. This time it was twenty Ju 88s of II./KG 51 which would make the attack, escorted by all three Gruppen of ZG 26, which managed to muster thirty-nine Bf 110s, and fifty nine Bf 109s from JG 2 and JG 53. The Bf 109s only participated to a limited extent, they seem to have forced to return to France due to lack of fuel before the ensuing combat reached its peak.

The raid was detected by RDF at 15.42 and 10 Group began scrambling its squadrons. First to engage were Nos 152 and 609 followed by the Hurricanes of No 238. P/O Richard Covington’s involvement was brief.

“I followed Bob Doe into attack, and I was going to have a go at this daisy chain of Me 110s that were milling about when an Me 109 got me from behind. I baled out – quickly.”

The Bf 110s were flying their defensive circle, a tactic by which they provided mutual support for one another. P/O Eric Marrs of No 152 Squadron gave a good explanation of this tactic and the way that he managed to exploit a weakness.

“This raid consisted of about 40–50 Junkers Ju 88’s and an equal number of Me 110’s. Some people say that there were also Me 109’s about, but I saw none. They crossed the coast and went North just to the East of Warmwell and then turned North-West and made for Yeovil. We attacked them just about as they turned North-West. The bombers were in loose formation at about 16,000 ft with their guard of Me 110s behind and above them. We were at 20,000 ft and to one side of the bombers. We all dived down on the latter to try to split them up thoroughly. I was not able to get in a good shot at them and pulled away to the right and up again. I then took stock of the position. I was in a bad position to go for the bombers again, so I thought I would have a crack at the fighters. These I found were going about in strings of about 10 aircraft sneaking along behind the bombers. From time to time the leader of each string would come round behind the last man in the ring to form a defensive circle. The leader would then break the circle again to catch up the bombers. After one or two attempts I found I was able to sneak up behind one of these strings and attach myself to the end of it for a short spell, shooting at the end machine in the line. Every time the leader came round to form a defensive circle I had to break away and wait till the circle broke up again. I was however, able to tack myself on again. In this way I was to make the end one of one of these lines stream glycol from one of its engines. I was not able to finish it off as the leader of this particular string was forming one of the defensive circles and was coming round behind me … I then drew away for a bit to take stock of the position. The Huns were now making for the coast again, and I saw a straggler all by himself. I swooped up on him from the starboard rear quarter. He saw me coming and opened up, but I was able to catch him up quite easily. I opened fire and his starboard engine streamed glycol. I switched on to the fuselage and then over to the port engine. I was by now overtaking him somewhat fast, so I drew out to his left. Suddenly the back half of his cockpit flew off and out jumped two men. Their parachutes streamed and opened and they began drifting slowly earthwards. Their aeroplane, left to itself, dived vertically into the sea, making a most wonderful sight and an enormous splash.”

As the British fighters and escorts fought it out the Ju 88s forced on to Yeovil. At 15.55 bombs began falling on Yeovil town centre. Not one bomb fell on the Westland works or airfield. In Yeovil, Burton’s outfitters was hit, killing eight people and a direct hit on the public shelter in Vicarage Street killed another four. Another four people were killed by bombs falling across Grove Avenue, Summerleaze Park and School and St Andrew’s Road. In all 16 were killed and 29 injured. The RAF pilots harassed the raid as it withdrew, the last casualty probably being P/O Herbert Ackroyd of No 152 Squadron who was shot down at about 16.30. His Spitfire crashed in flames at Shatcombe Farm near Dorchester, Ackroyd baled out but had suffered fatal burns, to which he sadly succumbed on the following day.

This final Gruppe strength bombing raid of the battle of Britain had followed a course similar to most of the others. A large number of fighters had managed to make interceptions, the Luftwaffe lost more aircraft than the RAF, including a precious bomber, and the bombing had been inaccurate and ineffective.

In its operations against Britain today the Luftwaffe had lost a total of 16 aircraft, 10 of which were Bf 109s. Another 4 aircraft returned damaged. In exchange the RAF had lost or written off 14 of its fighters, with a further 8 damaged.

Tonight, Luftwaffe bombers flew over London throughout the night. Bombing was widespread and some damage was caused to railways. Liverpool and Manchester were also bombed during a three hour period. Edinburgh and Swansea reported bombing. The most serious damage was the destruction of the gas works at Rochester.

The better weather also saw Bomber Command make a major effort. 140 sorties were flown tonight to targets in Germany and occupied countries. The biggest effort, by 42 Wellingtons and Whitleys was to twelve targets in Berlin. 1 Wellington was lost.
 

stona

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Tuesday 8 October

Variable weather, squally with cloud cover.

The new Luftwaffe tactic now caused what amounted to a battle for altitude. Galland remembered,

“Because we always tried to stay above the opponent, air fighting took place at ever higher altitudes. My personal record was 8,200 metres, but you could see Me 109s and Spitfires engaged in dogfights at over 9,000 metres, close to the stratosphere’s lower limit. You could see their vapor trails against the dark blue sky.”

For his part, Park gave orders to, ‘when time permits’, allow the fighter planes to climb to high altitudes, Spitfires to 30,000 to 35,000 feet, individual Hurricane squadrons to 20,000 to 25,000 feet and Hurricane squadrons which operated in pairs to 18,000 to 22,000 feet, before they were sent against the German flight formations. This was rarely possible when squadrons were reacting to a raid but was possible with the use of standing patrols.

The Hawker Hurricane, for all its sterling service over the last year was hopelessly out classed at these elevated altitudes. This did not stop its pilots from trying. Sgt Peter Fox certainly gave it a go.

“I remember well the greatest altitude I ever managed to achieve in a Hurricane: 32,800 feet. I really had to nurse the aircraft up the last few hundred feet and I kept falling out of the sky in stalls.”

The day started with a notable victory for No 235 Squadron, which flew Blenheims. An He 59 was shot down off Cherbourg.

Four ‘Jabo’ attacks reached the capital throughout the day bombing from high altitude and escorted by other Bf 109s as high as 32,000 feet. There was no pretence at aiming at anything but Greater London in general. We have an account of a morning raid from a Oblt Werner Voigt, commanding 4./JG 3. The first bombs were reported falling on London at 09.15.

“As usual, the British fighters were waiting for us high above London. Our bomb-Staffel dropped its little “eggs” on London with the usual feeling of hopelessness, and then the Englishmen attacked. I tried to count how many they were, but gave up when I arrived at twenty, because time was becoming sparse. Then we all dived at the Kommandeur’s order towards a cloud cover at 3,000 metres’ altitude over London.”

The British fighters lost the Germans in the cloud cover.

Killed today was No 303 (Polish) Squadron’s Sergeant Josef Frantisek (who was a Czech), the most successful pilot in the RAF at the time. He had scored 17 victories in the RAF, plus possibly ten or eleven more during his time in the French Air Force. No 303 Squadron went up from Northolt for a patrol south of London at 09:50. The unit never made contact with the enemy, missing the thirty aircraft of III./JG 54 heading for London, probably due to the marginal weather. About twenty minutes later III./JG 54 did clash with British fighters. Lt Max-Hellmuth Ostermann, Obfw Max Clerico and Fw Fritz Oeltjen all made claims. At about the same time and in the same area a Hurricane crashed. The pilot, who was thrown out of the cockpit and killed, was Frantisek. For unknown reasons he had disappeared from No 303 Squadron’s formation during the patrol, and now he had crashed and been killed for reasons that have never been clarified.

The Luftwaffe had lost 7 aircraft in operations against Britain, with another 8 damaged. In a bizarre accident 2 Ju 87s were also lost in a mid-air collision. The RAF had lost 5 fighters including 2 to unexplained causes (Frantisek’s Hurricane and a No 264 Squadron Defiant).

The Luftwaffe made the biggest effort in the early part of the night. London was again the main target, with a number of bombs also falling on Reading and Tunbridge Wells.

Bomber Command dispatched 108 sorties tonight, to targets in Germany, France and Holland. 38 Blenheims raided the Channel ports. 17 Hampdens attempted an unsuccessful attack on Tirpitz which was in the dry dock at Wilhelmshaven.
 

stona

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Wednesday 9 October

Overcast with squalls.

The poor weather enabled small numbers of ‘Jabos’ to evade Park’s standing patrols and attempted interceptions. Airfields in 11 Group suffered sporadic bombing and at least five raids dropped bombs on London.

At 16.00 F/O E H Thomas of No 222 Squadron shot down the Bf 109 of 7./JG 54s Fw F Schweser, who was captured by civilians after setting his aircraft on fire. No 41 Squadron’s Eric Lock made two more claims for Bf 109s destroyed.

An unusual casualty today was a Bf 109 of I./JG 77 flown by Lt Escherhaus. His dinghy accidentally inflated (at least he had one Fighter Command’s Spitfire and Hurricane pilots did not) causing him to lose control of his aircraft, crash landing at Vensons farm, Eastry at 07.45. Miraculously Escherhaus survived.

The Luftwaffe lost 6 aircraft in operations against Britain today, with several more written off or damaged in accidents in the marginal flying weather. Fighter Command lost 2 aircraft in action today, including a No 235 Squadron Blenheim, with 2 more damaged.

The Luftwaffe continued the London Blitz tonight, most heavy raiding was in the early part of the night, though the city remained under warning until after dawn. Bombs fell on St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Courts of Justice and in the Strand, with damage also reported to the railway network. Manchester was attacked and bombs fell on Falmouth and Newport in the South West. A few bombs were reported in Essex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Kent.

Bomber Command sent off 38 sorties tonight, attacking Cologne, Ludwigshafen and Dutch airfields. All the aircraft returned safely.
 

adt70hk

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Steve

Thank you yet again for your efforts.

ATB

Andrew
 

stona

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Thursday 10 October

The weather improved, cloud but with some breaks.

Today the pattern of high flying ‘Jabos’ and single nuisance raiders resumed. There was a larger raid in the evening when as many as 100 aircraft attempted to converge on London from several directions, but some elements were intercepted and driven back.

No 92 Squadron was unlucky to lose two of its top aces, Pilot Officer Desmond Williams and Flying Officer John Drummond, when they collided as they attacked Lt Walter Dilcher’s Do 17 of I./KG 2 over Tangmere. Drummond did manage to bale out, but too low for his parachute to operate. Sgt W T Ellis was also shot down by the rear gunner in Dilcher’s aircraft. This one action accounted for three of Fighter Command’s operational losses today. The Do 17 did not escape unscathed, though it returned to France just 10% damaged, Lt Dilcher had been killed.

Fighter Command had lost 6 aircraft on operations with two more damaged. The Luftwaffe had lost 8 aircraft with 6 more damaged on operations against Britain. More worrying for the Luftwaffe was the spiralling rate of losses to accidents. Today it lost 8 aircraft in accidents with 3 more damaged. The weather and fatigue were causing losses almost as heavy as those inflicted by the British.

One of the aircraft lost today was Hurricane L1928, flown by Sgt H H Allgood which crashed onto houses at Albion Place in Maidstone. I mentioned this crash in an earlier post, having a vague memory of it, probably related to the work done by the Kent Battle of Britain Museum at the site during redevelopment.

At 15.20 hrs nine Hurricanes of No.253 Squadron took off from RAF Kenley. Sergeant Allgood took up position as tail-end Charlie. Thirty minutes into the patrol with the squadron at approximately 20,000 feet over the eastern outskirts of Maidstone, Allgood’s aircraft went into a steep dive and crashed into Nos. 59 and 61 Albion Place, the aircraft immediately burst into flames. The pilot, two adults and six children were killed. The cause of the crash was never established, but it is likely that Allgood’s oxygen supply failed, causing him to lose control of his aircraft. The civilians, all killed at No. 61 Albion Place, were buried at Maidstone Municipal Borough Cemetery. The house belonged to Doris Woods, aged 29, (wife of Charles H. Woods) who was there with her seven month old baby, Patricia Audrey Woods. Her mother, Elizabeth Annie Wooding, aged 49, of 4 Astley Street, (wife of Arthur E. Wooding) was also staying at the house, having been forced out of her own home after it was severely damaged during an air raid on 2nd September. With her were also Mrs Woods’ five youngest siblings; Vera Margaret, aged 18, Brenda Naomi, aged 14, Mavis Patricia, aged 12, Sylvia, aged 10, and Brian, aged 6.

Arthur Wooding had lost not only his wife (Elizabeth) and six children (Doris, Vera, Brenda, Mavis, Sylvia and Brian) but also his granddaughter (Patricia). Two other adult children who were not at the house survived.

It is not just soldiers that die in war.

The Luftwaffe was back in force tonight, an estimated 150 aircraft attacked London which was under warning from 19.22 to 04.55. Bombing was as usual scattered but caused a few fires. There was a series of raids in the Manchester-Liverpool area and several places on Tyneside also reported bombing. Scarborough was bombed again. A few bombs were reported falling in the Midlands and South West, probably jettisoned by returning bombers that had failed to find their targets.

Bomber Command made a big effort in the improving weather, despatching 157 sorties to thirteen targets in Germany, to the Channel ports, Eindhoven airfield and on minelaying operations. There were no losses.
 

stona

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Friday 11 October

A dull start but improving later in the day.

Much of the action was over South East England. The British estimated that 450 aircraft crossed the English coast during the day, most of them fighters.

JG 26 flew three different missions against England and it was during the third and final one that Galland and II./JG 26 would surprise the lone Spitfire of Sergeant Charles Ayling. This was a Spitfire II of No 421 Flight, flying one of the ‘Jim Crow’ patrols and Ayling would become the Flight’s first casualty. The German formation then tangled with Nos. 41 and 92 Squadrons, operating as a pair. The Germans claimed three Spitfires, one for Galland, and the British two Bf 109s, one each for British aces Flight Lieutenant Brian Kingcombe (92 Squadron) and Pilot Officer Eric Lock (41 Squadron). The British had lost three aircraft but two were due to a collision between F/O D H O’Neill, who was killed, and Sgt L R Carter who baled out unhurt.

Not all the action was confined to the South East. No 611 Squadron, based at Digby, was operating a Flight from Ternhill in Shropshire, with the intention of intercepting German reconnaissance aircraft attempting to assess damage to the Manchester-Liverpool area. ‘A’ Flight was patrolling Anglesey when it did just that, intercepting three Do 17s and shooting two down, damaging the third. In a bizarre series of events the wireless operator and flight engineer baled out of the third burning bomber, the latter being killed when his parachute failed. The pilot and observer subsequently extinguished the fire and managed to limp back to their base in France.

Later, the Squadron’s Blue Section would intercept another pair of Do 17s over Prestatyn, damaging both of them. It was following this action that Sgt Pattison became disorientated and lost in the fading light. He eventually attempted a forced landing at Cooksey Green in Worcestershire, but crashed, suffering severe injuries to which he succumbed two days later at Barnsley Hall Military Hospital, near Bromsgrove.

Today the Luftwaffe had lost 4 aircraft in operations against Britain with another 2 damaged. Fighter Command had lost 9 aircraft with a further 4 damaged.

The Luftwaffe was very active in the early part of the night. London was bombed again, and bombing was reported in the Home Counties and Dorset. An estimated forty aircraft attacked Manchester and Liverpool. A few bombs were reported falling as far afield as Scotland and in Wales. After midnight activity decreased and the warning period for London ended unusually early, at 02.26.

Tonight, Bomber Command sent off 86 aircraft. The principal targets were oil and shipbuilding targets in Germany. ‘Minor raids’, usually meaning single aircraft, went to the Channel ports.
 

stona

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Thanks again Steve for all your work.
No worries. Still no prospect of a return to work, so it gives me a little project each day. I generally stay a day or two ahead. :smiling3:

It's getting harder to find a lot of detail because the weather had started to have a serious effect on operations by mid October and many days were rather desultory affairs but still with fierce fighting on occasion and, of course, a steady stream of losses. A lot of authors don't follow the Air Ministry's definition of the Battle and more or less give up on this month!
There would be no more huge air battles as seen in August, September and even the beginning of this month, but it's important to remember that both sides were still flying and fighting whenever possible.
I intend to keep going until the official end of the Battle, one way or another.
 

stona

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Saturday 12 October

A grey day, overcast with cloud

Despite the weather the ‘Jabos’ were in action again today. There were seven separate attacks, five of which reached London, and more than 400 sorties were flown.

JG 51 were one of the first units across the English coast near Dungeness where they were intercepted by No 72 Squadron which lost P/O Herbert Chase, who became Werner Molders’s 44th victim (officially). British records state that Chase lost formation and crashed for unknown reasons and not in combat. No 249 Squadron were next to intercept and the Squadron Adjutant, G Perrin was shot down, also claimed by Molders. Perrin survived ‘slightly wounded’.

Further raids came in throughout the day and there were losses on both sides. 421 Flight suffered another loss when F/Lt C P Green was shot down by Bf 109s. Green baled out safely, landing at Pembles Cross Farm, Egerton, wounded in the neck and arm.

A few bomber sorties were made, typically by lone raiders. Two Spitfires of No 602 Squadron were damaged by return fire from a Ju 88 of II./LG 1 over the Channel. The Ju 88 was also damaged, crashing on its return to Orleans-Bricy and subsequently being written off.

Squadron Leader Bob Stanford Tuck had an interesting morning. He was the CO of No 257 Squadron, based at North Weald, but was visiting his old colleagues at No 92 Squadron when the latter was scrambled. Tuck jumped into one of 92 Squadron’s Spitfires rather than his own Hurricane and took off with them. He then shot down a Bf 109 of Stab II./JG 54 which made a good forced landing at Chapel Holding, Small Hythe, Tenterden. The pilot, Lt. Malischewski was captured unhurt. Tuck was a competent leader, much admired by those who flew with him. Sgt Reg Nutter remembered,

“I found Tuck to be a very charismatic leader and this, combined with his exceptional combat record, immediately gave one a good deal of confidence. His style of leadership contrasted greatly with that of his predecessor, Squadron Leader Harkness. Tuck would make suggestions to the Controller as to how we could be better placed to make an interception, but Harkness would follow instructions without question. There is no doubt that before Tuck’s arrival, squadron morale had sunk to a very low ebb; under his leadership there was a tremendous improvement. In many ways he was an individualist but he would go out of his way to give advice to other pilots.”

Operations today had seen the steady attrition on both sides continue. The Luftwaffe had lost 10 aircraft with 2 more damaged. Fighter Command had also lost 10 aircraft, with 4 more damaged.

We know that Operation Sealion was dead and buried and not merely postponed, but at the time this was not considered the case by either side. It was today that Generalfeldmarschall Keitel announced the OKW’s decision that Sealion was postponed until the spring or early summer of 1941. In the meantime, efforts would be made to “improve the military conditions for a later invasion”. How the Luftwaffe imagined that it was contributing to this objective is a moot point.

For the second successive night Luftwaffe activity over Britain ended early. The London warning period was from 19.14 until 02.05. The raids followed a similar pattern to the previous night, aircraft approaching over the coast in Shoreham-Hastings area or flying up the Thames Estuary. Apart from London, Surrey and Essex experienced some heavy bombing. There were at least two attacks on Coventry.

Tonight, Bomber Command despatched 93 sorties to 5 targets in Germany, the Channel ports and minelaying. 24 Blenheims and 6 Battles attacked the Channel ports, the last major raid on these targets during the invasion threat period. The British too understood that there would be no invasion attempted in 1940. All aircraft returned safely.
 

Tim Marlow

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Another good write up. At this point in the battle German fighter morale must have been at a very low ebb. The strain on the Jabos in particular must have been extreme knowing they were achieving very little in return for the risks involved. At least the Allies were defending home soil so could use that as motivation, even if they were exhausted.
 

stona

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Another good write up. At this point in the battle German fighter morale must have been at a very low ebb. The strain on the Jabos in particular must have been extreme knowing they were achieving very little in return for the risks involved. At least the Allies were defending home soil so could use that as motivation, even if they were exhausted.
Yes, the Germans were feeling the strain.
At this time no squadron anywhere in Fighter Command was short of aircraft. This was not the case for the Luftwaffe units across the Channel, some could barely muster one third of their authorised strength.
None of 11 Group's squadron were short of fully trained pilots, the stabilisation system was working well. Only Leigh-Mallory let it down by sending very 'green' pilots to 11 Group, where they were killed (this is not just an accusation, but statistically proven). The Luftwaffe fighter units had many pilots so inexperienced that their senior officers were reluctant to take them on operations, estimating that they only had a 50% chance of surviving their first 'war flight'.

A lot of nonsense is written about whether the Battle of Britain was an outright victory for the RAF or whether, by surviving until the winter weather closed in, a de facto draw became a victory. By this stage the Germans had already lost. It was an unequivocal victory for the RAF. Unsurprisingly, one group who have never argued anything different are the men who were on the receiving end, the Luftwaffe veterans who survived.
 

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Sunday 13 October

Thick fog and cloud over Channel area and much of England.

The weather severely curtailed any daylight operations. A few Jabos did operate in the afternoon and No 66 Squadron, up from Gravesend, was one of the few to make interceptions. P/O C A W Bodie’s Spitfire was damaged in combat with Bf 109s at about 16.20. Cpl Bob Morris remembered Bodie returning to base.

“I remember Pilot Officer ‘Bogle’ Bodie coming back with his port mainplane knocked about by a cannon shell, and I had to rip part of the aileron off for him which he proudly took as a souvenir.”

Two more of the squadron’s Spitfires were damaged in this action.

No 29 Squadron lost a Blenheim and both crew when it was shot down in error by Hurricanes of No. 312 Squadron. Another Blenheim was damaged. In another incident of ‘friendly’ fire a No 17 Squadron Hurricane was shot down by AA fire over Chatham. The pilot, P/O J K Ross baled out wounded.

Today the Luftwaffe lost just 1 aircraft to British defences with another 2 damaged. Fighter Command had lost 2 to own goals and 1 to the Luftwaffe, but had suffered 4 aircraft damaged.

Luftwaffe activity tonight was extensive and of longer duration, an estimated 300 aircraft operated over Britain, of which 80 attacked London. All the Home Counties reported bombing, heaviest in Surrey and Kent. Bombs fell across the country, but the heaviest raids were reported in Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesborough and Hull.

At 9.15 p.m., in London, a bomb from a lone enemy aircraft demolished two houses directly above the east end of the westbound platform tunnel of Bounds Green Piccadilly line station, killing or mortally wounding seventeen shelterers and injuring fifty nine. Four people also perished in the two houses. This was a warning that the Underground was not as secure a shelter as some believed.

Tonight, Bomber Command entered what the Official History describes as the ‘winter lull’, which continued through to February 1941. Despite this, operations continued. 125 sorties were despatched to targets in Germany, but the bad weather meant that just 41 aircraft reported identifying their primary target. One of the targets was Wilhelmshaven, to which 35 Hampdens were sent. They must have reached the area because German Flak opened fire and one 80 year old woman was killed by a falling shell fragment, but no bombs fell on the target. One Wellington failed to return.
 

stona

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Monday 14 October

Morning fog, cloudy with rain

The bad weather again limited daytime operations, though ‘Jabos’ did drop bombs on London. An estimated ninety enemy aircraft flew over the UK today, a substantial number being weather or reconnaissance flights. 7./JG 2 lost a Bf 109 which crashed at Sway in Hampshire, killing the pilot, but the cause is unclear as there is no matching British claim.

The Luftwaffe lost just Obgftr Lux’s Bf 109 (above) and a Do 17 damaged by fighters in operations against Britain today. Fighter Command suffered no losses to enemy action, though there were several accidents. Unlucky was F/O R Hope of No 605 Squadron who inadvertently flew into the Inner Artillery Zone and is thought to have collided with a balloon cable, causing him to be killed when his Hurricane crashed.

The Luftwaffe made a substantial effort tonight. Bombs were reported falling in any parts of the country, but it was London which suffered the heaviest attack for some time. This was a period of full moon and the Luftwaffe took advantage of this to fly 242 sorties.

Heavy casualties were caused at Balham Underground Station. I passed through this station a while ago and paused to read the plaque commemorating the event.

At 8.02 p.m., a 1,400 kg ‘Esau’ semi-armour piercing bomb struck the road surface in front of 184 Balham High Road, just north of Balham Northern line station. Penetrating deeply before detonating, the bomb only exploded when it hit the cast iron segments of a cross passageway, causing a massive crater on the surface and collapsing the northern end of the north-bound platform tunnel. An avalanche of earth, debris and water from broken mains and sewers flooded into the station, which was packed with people sheltering from the air raid, causing multiple fatalities. The running tunnels between Clapham South and Tooting Bec stations were also flooded. Here is some of the official report, from a Colonel Mount:

At 20.02 hours (precisely) on 14/10, a heavy bomb (presumably 500 kilo? [this presumption was incorrect]) fell on the north-bound tramway track in Balham high Road, some 200 yards north of the Southern Railway main (Brighton) line four-track bridge over this road, 1½ miles south east of Clapham Junction and the same distance north west of Streatham.

This site was immediately over the north end of the north-bound tube platform where the tunnel lining is 22 feet 1½ inches diameter and about 27 feet below the surface of the road. The top of the tunnel was broken in to an extent which is at present unknown; the south side of the fracture being located some 18 feet north of the platform clock. The road carried three 30-inch water mains and one of 10 inches; also a 4 feet x 2 feet 8 inches sewer and two gas mains 6 inches and 8 inches. All the mains were broken as also many cable and of course the tram lines. A large quantity of shingle, silt and water and some clay ran through the cavity into the tunnel with the result that the final crater extended completely across the road from shop to shop, its diameter being some 60 to 70 feet. A north-bound No. 88 bus had pitched headlong into it at a steep angle, the conductor’s platform coming to rest just above the level of the roadway. It will be a big operation in itself to get the bus out.

Entering the station via the escalators, we walked through the sliding watertight door on to the shingle and silt covered platform and up to the bottom of the crater through which there was daylight; the depth of the shingle and silt over the platform was 4 or 5 feet tapering off to nothing at the south end of the platform. The Stationmaster’s office was located at the north end of this platform on the north side of the crater, but we did not inspect that side and at present I have not heard whether anyone has done so. The shingle had flowed out through the one sliding and one hinged watertight doors on this platform into the escalator chamber. There is another sliding watertight door from this chamber giving access to the south-bound platform through which the Fire Brigade were pumping out this tunnel. Water was still draining from one of the mains into the crater like a small waterfall.”


The reported number of fatalities for this incident usually varies but the best figure, including a casualty added in 2010, is sixty six. The plaque in the ticket hall, which I paused to view early that morning as I headed towards Brixton Academy (in the days when we still had live entertainment), was put up in 2010 and replaced an earlier one. It commemorates ‘the civilians and London Transport staff who were killed at this station during the Blitz on the night of 14 October 1940’, but does not number them. In all 500 people were killed in London tonight, with another 2,000 injured. No Luftwaffe aircraft were shot down. P/O George Pushman expressed his frustration.

“We of 23 Squadron were based at Wittering, but flew mostly from Ford during the Battle of Britain, which was a very busy period. We used to have 10 days on duty followed by 2 days off. Flying at night in our Blenheims, we prowled around the east coast, but I never even caught a glimpse of a German aircraft.”

Bomber Command despatched 78 sorties to targets in Berlin, Stettin, Bohlen, Magdeburg and Le Havre. One Whitley was lost when it collided with a barrage balloon cable at Weybridge while on its way to Le Havre. Three other aircraft failed to return.
 

stona

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Tuesday 15 September

Various reports state that the weather cleared today.

The improvement in the weather meant that the Luftwaffe could again make a significant daytime effort. The Luftwaffe carried out 500 fighter and 304 bomber sorties over England, and Fighter Command responded with a total of 598 fighter sorties, of which more than two hundred made contact with the enemy.

The action started early in the morning when No 229 Squadron's S/Ldr John Banham was shot down by Bf 109s of JG 53, this victory was claimed by Werner Molders. Banham had previously flown a Defiant in 264 Squadron until he was shot down on 26 August. On the previous occasion he had baled out to be rescued from the sea off Herne Bay (his gunner was killed), today he baled out again coming down on dry land but suffering burns.

At 11.30 JG 26 escorting II./LG 2 to London and spotted a formation of British fighters over the Thames Estuary. Adolf Galland reported.

“Coming from below, I attacked a lone Spitfire which had become separated from the others. ‘I opened fire from 150-200 metres and could see my bullets hitting. The aircraft levelled off. My wingman and I made one pass each against the Spitfire, which at that time was flying very slowly and without taking any evasive action. Suddenly, we saw the pilot bail out. He fell freely at least 1,000 metres before his parachute opened.”

The man shot down was British ace F/Lt Brian Kingcome of No 92 Squadron, up from Biggin Hill. Kingcome was admitted to RN Hospital Chatham for treatment. This was one of three operations flown by JG 26 over England today.

No 46 Squadron had a bad day. The squadron ORB recorded the day’s events.

“Commencing at 12.30 hours, a patrol was carried out by the Squadron over Seven Oaks and Gravesend. While flying at a height of over 20,000 feet, they were vectored east and attacked from the sun by a flight of Me 109s, three of our aircraft were shot down.”

Sadly for the squadron two of the pilots were killed, the third, Sgt A T Gooderham survived but was another to suffer burns.

Also in action was a combined force from JG 2 and ZG 26, flying a fighter sweep over the Isle of Wight. They were met by four squadrons from 10 Group. JG 2 would make ten victory claims when there were only two British fighter losses. For this it lost three Bf 109s, while the British claimed to have shot down four. One of these ten ‘imaginary’ victories was chalked up as number 42 for Major Helmut Wick.

The Germans had learned from their initial mistakes during the ‘Jabo’ offensive, and now had fighter escort flying together with fighter bombers, denying the British fighters the gaps they had previously exploited. It also yielded results for the Luftwaffe in the form of increased British losses, reflected in today’s numbers.

The Luftwaffe had lost or written off 10 aircraft with 6 more damaged. Fighter Command had lost 14 aircraft with another 11 damaged (including a Blenheim destroyed and another damaged by bombs from a Ju 88 which attacked No 29 Squadron’s aerodrome at Ternhill). Another 2 of No 313 Squadron’s Hurricanes were lost and another damaged when they became disorientated on a routine patrol from Speke. This suggests that the weather was still marginal for flying in the north- west.

Tonight would see another very heavy attack on London. Damage was extensive and large fires started. There was widespread disruption to communications and transport infrastructure and as many as a million Londoners suffered interruption to their gas supplies. Bombs also fell on Bristol and Gloucestershire.

Following yesterday’s heavy raids there had been discussion at the British War Cabinet’s meeting today over concerns that:

“The civilian population in London were beginning to wonder whether we were hitting back hard enough at Germany in our bombing operations”.

Bomber Command was doing its best. 134 sorties were despatched tonight, many to oil targets in Germany. The naval dockyards at Kiel were damaged and an oil storage facility set on fire, according to German reports. 9 Fairey Battles were sent to Calais and Boulogne in what would be a swansong for this type with Bomber Command. This was to be the last time the venerable Battles operated with the Command.
 

adt70hk

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Steve

Thank you as always for keeping us updated every day.

Andrew
 
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