You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2010.

Weather: fair.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 54
  • Spitfire – 212
  • Hurricane – 417
  • Defiant – 13
  • Gladiator – 4
  • Total – 700

This day proved seriously expensive for the RAF. Airfields including North Weald, Duxford and Debden were attacked in the first wave. But this was followed by a second wave of enemy aircraft numbering roughly 100 and once again launched a very damaging attack on Biggin Hill and Croydon. The raid on Croydon caused a certain amount of damage to the hangars. The raid on Biggin Hill which was from high flying aircraft did further damage to this hard pressed RAF station. However, the Biggin Hill raiders were attacked, as they retreated, by 253 Squadron.

Another wave of raiders targeted Hornchurch. A group of 54 Squadron Spitfires were taking off just as the raiders started to release their bombs. Three of the Spitfires were caught by the blast just as they were leaving the ground. Two of the aircraft were tossed in the air and the third, which was being piloted by that eternal survivor, Alan Deere, skidded along upside down. By enormous luck, none of the three pilots were seriously hurt and were all flying the next day.

The last raid of the day was that afternoon and was targeted on Hornchurch and Biggin Hill which suffered more damage to hangars and telephone lines that were brought down. However, both Biggin Hill and Hornchurch were serviceable the next day.

This day proved seriously expensive for the RAF. The home team lost 37 aircraft as against 39 German shot down.

That night Liverpool suffered another heavy raid. A direct hit on a shelter killed 20 people.

Cyril Shoesmith Diary, Aged 14, Bexhill on Sea – Saturday 31 August
In 1st air raid, 8.50-9.30, I saw 11 planes. 9 of these were high up. Next air raid was from 5.40-7.30. Heard planes and explosions. Saw 3 planes, then 5 planes came over fighting. Heard machine gun fire, and later we found a bullet clip each. 3 of the planes were German and 2 were Hurricanes.

PO DH Wissler Diary – 31 August
We did four patrols today ending up with one on which we intersepted [sic] about 30 Do17s and 20-30 Me109s. I got onto a Me109s tail, after an ineffectual attack on the bombers, and got in several long bursts at about 300yds, however nothing was observed in the way of damage. Another got on my tail and I had to break away. I succeeded in throwing him off in a steep turn but not before he had put an explosive bullet through my wing. Sgt Stewart was shot down, but was safe. I burst another tail wheel today.

54 Squadron Operational Record Book – 31 August
A really amazing day. Hornchurch bombed; the miraculous escape of 3 of our pilots who were bombed out of their planes; the station bombed a second time. The squadron was ordered off just as the first bombs were beginning to fall and 8 of our machines safely cleared the ground; the remaining section, however, just became air borne as the bombs exploded. All 3 machines were wholly wrecked in the air. The survival of the pilots is a complete miracle.

56 Squadron Operational Record Book – 31 August
The Squadron went up to intercept enemy bombers approaching the aerodrome which they did near Colchester. They became involved with the fighter escort and F/Lt Weaver was shot down and killed. He had been given the DFC this very day and he was a great loss to the Squadron. F/O Westmacott and P/O Mounsdon were also injured but not seriously, their a/c being lost. Sgt Whitehead was shot down by an unseen a/c. He baled out and was unhurt. Weather cloudless, wind westerly 10 to 15mph.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 31st August 1940):

*  Enemy: 85 confirmed, 34 probable, 33 damaged
*  Own: 37 aircraft with 12 pilots killed or missing.

Todays’s theme: The Airfields – RAF Hornchurch

Weather: fair.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 52
  • Spitfire – 234
  • Hurricane – 410
  • Defiant – 14
  • Gladiator – 7
  • Total – 717

On this occasion, the Luftwaffe returned to attacking a convoy. In fact, it was a feint. The real effort was an attack picked up by radar of a large formation coming in from the Pas de Calais. The enemy target turned out to be airfields south of London. A group of bombers flying at 20 000 ft struck Biggin Hill, doing considerable damage to the area but not the aerodrome itself. A little later, a second group of aircraft attacked with a large segment aiming once again at Biggin Hill. To this was, however, added Shoreham and Tangmere. Later that afternoon, a third wave of attacks came over, including a third visitation for the day on Biggin Hill, together with a number of other airfields. The most damaging raid of the day was flown by a group of 10 Ju88s which, aiming at Biggin Hill, flew north of that airfield, then turned round and came in from that direction. The bombing was extremely accurate. It left the airfield a virtual wreck. It also left 39 dead and many of the buildings demolished. Detling and Kenley were also hit in this serious attack. Detling was out of action until the following day.

Finally another group got through to Luton where bombs hit the Vauxhall works and caused a large number of casualties.

At the end of a busy day, the RAF had lost 25 fighters compared with 36 German aircraft destroyed. However, 15 RAF pilots had survived. 1050 sorties had been flown by the RAF. This was to be the highest number of sorties flown in a day during the Battle.

That night Liverpool suffered a third episode of heavy bombing.

242 Squadron Operational Record Book – 30 August
Squadron ordered to proceed to Duxford. Operations from Duxford. Enemy planes shot down north of London without any loss to Squadron. 4 e/a attacked and probably shot down. Signal received from AOC 12 Group congratulating Squadron on its achievement. The above brings the Squadron’s total bag for month to 14 certainties and 5 probables. Signal received from AOC 12 Group read: ‘heartiest congratulations on a first class show. Well done 242”. Signal received from Chief of the Air Staff which read: “magnificent fighting. You are well on top of the enemy and obviously the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands”. Signal received from Under Secretary of State for Air congratulating Squadron.

253 Squadron Operational Record Book – 30 August
14 Hurricanes took off Kenley 10:50 hours followed by 5 more at 11:25 hours when an attack on Croydon and Kenley appeared likely. The Squadron was first ordered to patrol Maidstone, but the flights were separated and were ordered back to orbit base where they were joined by the other 5 aircraft. They were then vectored off to the south, where at 18,000 feet near Redhill they saw 3 formations of 9 bombers escorted by 30 fighters, Me110s and Me109s. B Flight at once attacked the bombers, which included He111, Do215 and possibly Ju88s, but observed no results with the exception of PO Nowak (Green 3) who probably destroyed a Do215 (this pilot maintained that this bomber was a Ju88) A Flight who were behind and below followed in to attack and Yellow 3 (PO Greenwood) fired all his ammunition into a Heinkel 111 which force landed, 4 of the crew being seen climbing out. A series of individual fights took place, chiefly with Me110s and Me109s which had come to the rescue of the bombers.

303 Squadron Operational Record Book – 30 August, Northolt

First operation. In the course of training interception with 6 Blenheims in the afternoon, B Flight contacted with some 60 German bombers, 60 fighters and British fighters having a running battle near Hatfield. FO Paszkiewicz brought down one Do 17 (destroyed) while the rest of the fighters escorted the Blenheims safely back to Northolt.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 30th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 62 confirmed, 21 probable, 29 damaged
*  Own: 25 aircraft (10 pilots killed or missing)

Todays’s theme: The Squadrons – 310 Squadron

Weather: fine but with some cloud and rain.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 53
  • Spitfire – 230
  • Hurricane – 412
  • Defiant – 18
  • Gladiator – 7
  • Total – 720

The morning was quiet but the afternoon produced massive fighter sweeps flown by the Luftwaffe. Over 500 Me109s, together with 100 Me110s, flew over Kent. They were hoping to attract the RAF into the air so that they could be destroyed. 11 Group had been expecting at least a small element of bombers in this group. So when they saw that the Luftwaffe was fielding a purely fighter formation, in accordance with Park’s orders, they avoided combat. The Scilly Isles were once again bombed and machine gunned that afternoon and there were reports that the islanders wanted to be evacuated. The RAF lost 9 aircraft that day, but this was against a score of 17 enemy aircraft shot down.

That night Liverpool was hit once again.

501 Squadron Operational Record Book – 29 August

The Squadron was released until 12:00 hours. They left for Hawkinge at 12:55 and patrol carried out from 15:45 to 16:30. No interceptions were made. The Squadron again took off at 18:00 to patrol Gravesend at Angels 15 over Hawkinge. The Squadron were attacked by 9 Me109s out of the sun. Flt Lt J A A Gibson baled out after his aircraft had been shot up, and Sgt Lacey shot down the Me109. Sgt Green also baled out and was picked up near Hawkinge. The Squadron’s victories were 2 Me109s destroyed.

Cyril Shoesmith Diary – Aged 14, Bexhill on Sea – Thursday 29 August
Had 2 air raids today. In the 1st one, which was from 3.20-5 we watched a dog fight in the air. There was [sic] about thirty planes. Machine gun fire could be heard. Saw 3 planes in 6.15-7.30 raid.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 29th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 9 confirmed, 10 probable, 5 damaged
*  Own: 9 aircraft with 2 pilots killed or missing.

Todays’s theme: The Planes They Flew In – the JU88

Weather: fine but cloudy in the Channel.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 55
  • Spitfire – 225
  • Hurricane – 413
  • Defiant – 23
  • Gladiator – 7
  • Total – 723

German attacks that day came in three phases. The first in the morning consisted of around 100 aircraft, made up of slightly more fighters than bombers. Once across the Channel, one section headed for Eastchurch while another flew to Rochford. The RAF made desperate attempts to break through the fighter screen and get at the bombers but without success. Losses were heavy. 4 Defiants from 264 Squadron were shot down. In consequence, Eastchurch suffered yet another attack with some aircraft destroyed on the ground and a number of craters in the runway.

The second attack fell on Rochford near Southend. Again the RAF had tried to get at the bombers but the defensive screen had been too strong. However, little damage was done but during the fighting Al Deere was shot down.

In the afternoon the third attack consisted of a large scale visitation of Me109s over Kent looking for targets.

That afternoon the Prime Minister visited Manston and the south coast to see the damage for himself.

The score for the day had taken a toll of 11 Group fighters, namely 20 shot down. This compared with 31 enemy aircraft destroyed. The problem was that Park’s policy of avoiding fighter to fighter combat and preference given to only attacking the bombers had not been followed. This was partly because of the increased proportion of fighters now being flown by the Germans. This was the last time Defiants were used as day fighters.

That night Coventry and London were bombed and there was a major attack on Liverpool.

54 Squadron Operational Record Book – 28 August 12:13 hours
Patrol over Manston. Flt Lt Deere got a probable Me 109…later in combat Flt Lt Deere had to bale out; this is an art in which he is rapidly becoming expert!!

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 28th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 28 confirmed, 14 probable, 10 damaged
*  Own: 20 aircraft. Seven pilots and three air gunners killed or missing.

Todays’s theme: Top Gun Gallery – Richard Hillary

Statistical summary, Week 7:

  • Total Fighter Command Establishment: 1558 planes
  • Strength: 1377 planes
  • Balance: understrength 181 planes
  • Losses: 20 Hurricanes (+ 1 damaged), 23 Spitfire, 4 Defiants
  • Aircraft Production: 5 Beaufighters, 8 Defiants, 64 Hurricanes, 44 Spitfires

Good intelligence relies on the capacity to understand what is going on in the head of the enemy. During the Battle of Britain, the Germans were not good at this. The Germans had a number of intelligence agencies, each of which jealously guarded their own information. This rivalry, coupled with the intelligence officers providing the leadership with the figures that they wanted to hear, meant that German intelligence could be notoriously inaccurate .

On one occasion, the Luftwaffe had convinced itself that in every way it was more effective than any other air force that existed including the RAF. The trouble was that the Luftwaffe completely failed to appreciate the potential advantage which the new control system of defence, based on radar, gave the RAF. This system was after all the very core of the way the British fought the Battle. The underestimation by the Luftwaffe of the importance of radar to the British can be seen from the way that Goering, in the middle of August, countermanded the orders to attack radar installations. This was because, very shortly after being attacked, they were once again transmitting their signals. The explanation for this was that the Germans thought that the workings were buried beneath concrete reinforcements, which was just not the case. Being above ground, once damaged they could be put back together again very quickly.

The teams responsible for repairing bomb damage were extremely efficient. The only concrete reinforcements were to be found at Fighter Command Headquarters at Bentley Priory and at 11 Group where the control room was protected in this way. All the rest of the radar installations were housed in flimsy huts, easily damaged but easily reconstructed. It also seems as though the Luftwaffe had no system for identifying which airfield being attacked actually belonged to Fighter Command. Consequently, they attacked airfields belonging to Coastal and to Training Command. Indeed, the most apparently successful attack by the Luftwaffe during the Battle was when a couple of Ju88s succeeded in destroying over 50 aircraft at Brize Norton airfield. In fact these had been training aircraft. It was a brilliant attack but had no effect on Fighter Command. The result was a continuing overestimation by the Luftwaffe of how, in the light of the rate of destruction, Fighter Command was being damaged. It all contributed to the feeling that they were much nearer achieving the complete elimination of Fighter Command than in reality was the case.

Weather: dull and cloudy.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 55
  • Spitfire – 228
  • Hurricane – 420
  • Defiant – 18
  • Gladiator – 7
  • Total – 728

This day the Luftwaffe flew scattered attacks and also flew a considerable number of photographic reconnaissance flights aimed at establishing what damage had been done during recent days.

It was on this day that Park let his dissatisfaction surface with regard to the lack of cooperation he was getting from the neighbouring group to the north, no 12. In a well distributed signal he contrasted the cooperation his group had been receiving from 10 Group to the west , with what he was getting from 12 Group. On two occasions, he had apparently asked for reinforcements from 12 Group to patrol airfields, including Debden, while its squadrons were fighting further south. The cooperation requested had not materialised and Debden was heavily bombed. Park was getting seriously frustrated. In his signal, he told his controllers that when they needed assistance from 12 Group they should put their request through Command at Bentley Priory. It was the start of a dispute which was to escalate into a full scale row. To start with the AOC of 12 Group, Leigh Mallory disliked Dowding and had told Park about it. He thought he should have got Park’s job when the latter had been selected as the new AOC of 11 Group. It was clearly a plum job and he thought he should have got the plum. Finally, he was jealous of the opportunity that Park had been given. 11 Group was clearly the frontline of the Battle. He resented the primacy given to Park as a result.

Furthermore, there was another problem hatching in those weeks. Douglas Bader, the famous legless pilot, was, in his way, similarly put out by the prominence being given to 11 Group pilots. Moreover, Bader had his own idea of how the battle should be fought. The airmen he modelled himself on were the aces of the First World War, men like Ball and McCudden who had taken the lead in the battles they had fought. But here he was being asked to play second fiddle to 11 Group squadrons and being ordered about the sky by disembodied voices. What he wanted to do was to meet the enemy with superior force. This meant forming a wing of several squadrons, three or even five, led, of course, by him. Park was to find this suggestion impractical. There was too little time to assemble such a force given the imminent attacks from which 11 Group squadrons were suffering. All this was to build up ahead of steam over the next few weeks.

That day, 27th August, was to be one of the last in which Luftflotte 3 was to participate. Their part in the day time battle was shortly to end. Their role then became the leader of the night time campaign by the Luftwaffe which followed the day time Battle of Britain.

54 Squadron Operational Record Book – 27 August
A day of rest. Our new squadron leader – of international fame – S/L Donald Finlay, arrived at Hornchurch.

74 Squadron Operational Record Book – 27 August, Kirton Lindsey
Mr Mansbridge RA who has been appointed by the Air Ministry to paint portraits of famous fighter pilots arrived and painted portrait of S/L Malan DFC (bar).

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 27th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 4 confirmed, 1 probable, 1 damaged
*  Own: 1 aircraft

Weather: cloudy with some bright intervals.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 56
  • Spitfire – 240
  • Hurricane – 408
  • Defiant – 18
  • Gladiator – 6
  • Total – 728

This was to be a day of heavy attacks on Fighter Command. The day began with an attack aimed first at Dover and Folkestone which was bombed, but with the main targets being Biggin Hill and Kenley, the airfields just south of London. The raiders had come over from Lille and St Omer. In the afternoon a second large 100 plus raid came in. They appeared to be aiming at airfields in 12 Group. Hawkinge and Debden were bombed. At Debden, 3 people were killed and there was a direct hit on a hangar. This was followed in the late afternoon by further raids by Luftflotte 3 on Portsmouth. 43, 615 and 602 Squadrons were involved in the fighting with He111s, Me109s and Me110s. This last attack was contested by RAF squadrons in the area. This led to a bitter fight. No less than 26 RAF fighters were lost that day. This was against a figure of 41 casualties inflicted on the enemy. Fighter Command flew 787 sorties that day. The RAF’s loss of pilots seemed to be increasing each day. The trend was ominous.

That night bombs were dropped over West Hartlepool, Sunderland, Lincolnshire, Plymouth and Birmingham. Ten people were killed in the raid on Birmingham.

73 Squadron Unofficial War Diary – 26 August

The Squadron had its first dawn scramble today with great enthusiasm. “B” Flight set off and carried out a successful interception only to discover that the incoming “raid” was our own bomber boys on their way back from Berlin. The Flight returned feeling somewhat peeved at having been disturbed at such an ungodly hour for a wild goose chase.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 26th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 46 confirmed, 7 probable, 19 damaged
*  Own: 28 aircraft with 4 pilots and 2 air gunners killed or missing.

Todays’s theme: Unsung Heroes – The AA Batteries

Weather: fine but cloudy later.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 54
  • Spitfire – 233
  • Hurricane – 416
  • Defiant – 18
  • Gladiator – 6
  • Total – 727

There was little activity until late afternoon when a massive force of over 200 aircraft built up over Cherbourg and then headed towards Weymouth and Warmwell nearby. The Scilly Isles and Croydon were also bombed by day. In the early evening in the east of the country a force of over 100 aircraft approached Dover. This force was attacked by 32 and 54 squadrons. The day’s tally was 16 RAF aircraft lost with 22 German aircraft shot down. At night Plymouth and Coventry were bombed.

However, an important development occurred that night. As a reprisal for the attack on London which had happened the previous day, 81 twin engine RAF bombers were heading for Berlin. This escalation was to have a profound effect on the outcome of the Battle.

54 Squadron Operational Record Book – 25 August

Al Deere awarded Bar to his DFC – the first member of the squadron to achieve this distinction. He has shot down 11 enemy machines, shared in the destruction of another 3 and probably destroyed another 3. Heartiest congratulations.

Squadron to date: 78 destroyed, 42 probable, 28 damaged.

PO DH Wissler Diary – 25 August

This was our hard day being at 15mins and readiness the day long. At about half past seven we had a hell of a scrap over Portland, in which about 100 a/e were engaged. F/L Bayne made an attack below and astern quarter. The Me110 whipped up in a stall turn and I gave him a long burst while he was in a stalled condition, it fell over and went down. I then went on my own and made a Me110 brake [sic] formation, I gave it another burst and it went down towards the sea. F/L Bayne shot down but ok. S/L Williams lost, wing shot off.

73 Squadron Unofficial War Diary – 25 August

During the early hours of the morning, Sgt Lang was shot down by our own AA guns while chasing a Hun. After a further attempt to reach the aerodrome he decided to bail out having come down to 4,000 feet with his aircraft on fire. Fortunately he landed safely in the middle of Beverley High Street when he was promptly arrested by the Home Guard. AA officers are not popular in the mess these days!

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 25th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 53 confirmed, 15 probable, 16 damaged
*  Own: 16 aircraft with 10 pilots killed or missing

Todays’s theme: Historical Documents – Captains & Commanders: Oberst Josef ‘Beppo’ Schmidt

Weather: fine.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 63
  • Spitfire – 238
  • Hurricane – 408
  • Defiant – 23
  • Gladiator – 8
  • Total – 740

This day was to see the end of the days of bad weather and the start of a fine spell lasting some two weeks. These next two weeks were to be the period of greatest strain on Fighter Command. The period ushered in the major effort by the Luftwaffe to finish off the fight against the RAF. The enemy was to concentrate on attacking the airfields surrounding London and at the same time for it to try and bring the remaining RAF fighters up into the air where they could shoot them down.

To strengthen the attack, the bulk of the Me109s, on the strength of Luflotte 3 on the Cherbourg peninsula, were flown across to the airfields of Luftflotte 2. A similar move of these Me109 fighters was made from Luftflotte 5 in Denmark and Norway. This would enable the protective fighters flown by the Luftwaffe, when accompanying their bombers on their operations, to be strengthened. The Germans also bowed to the inevitable in withdrawing much of the Ju87 strength from the battle. They were to be held in reserve against the time when German fighters had at last wrested control of the air over England from the RAF. It would be then that they would come into their own and punish British installations on the ground.

Meanwhile, Park and Dowding readied themselves for the renewed onslaught which this fresh period of fine weather would bring in its wake. The one problem which they could not overcome was the growing shortage of pilots. They were never short of new planes, but pilots were a different matter. It took months to train them. Looking forward to the next month or two, the prospect of a growing pilot shortage was a nightmare to the two Commanders.

Furthermore, the new phase of the Battle, which was to start on 24th August saw Fighter Command squadrons suffering from sheer exhaustion. The pilots were often desperately short of sleep. Moreover, their nerves were often shot to pieces. They needed rest and recuperation. Instead, they were being asked to fight on all day and every day. The ground crew who serviced the planes were exhausted too. They had been working round the clock as well. They had got to an amazing pitch of efficiency. They were able to refuel, rearm and check over a squadron of Spitfires in ten minutes of their landing. Yet the whole command was operating whilst being bombed and strafed throughout daylight hours. Telephone lines were continually being cut, reconnected and the next day cut again. Death and injury were never far away. Unexploded bombs littered the average airfield. Operating in this manner, the question was beginning to be asked, how long could they continue like this. As they looked at the weeks to come, doubts were beginning to enter the minds of some who had been so confident at the beginning of the Battle. It couldn’t go on forever.

Nevertheless, on 24th August the Battle got going again. The weather was fine, at last. It was perfect for a resumption of the campaign. The day started with a large raid which had built up behind Calais of over 100 aircraft. As it advanced on Dover, RAF squadrons were sent up to intercept. The mass raid was indeed broken up. Smaller sections made for individual targets. These began with Manston. The raid was intercepted but substantial damage was done nevertheless, with 3 Defiants of 264 Squadron being shot down. These same raiders also bombed Ramsgate, firing their machine guns on ARP personnel. More attacks were to develop on Manston. The largest one of over 100 aircraft came in from the Le Havre area. As a result of the further damage, the decision was taken at Fighter Command to evacuate Manston altogether. It was to be closed to all but emergency use. The attacks went on that day on airfields further north such as North Weald which was also heavily damaged by a force of another 50 Do17s and He111s. Air raid warnings were now being sounded in London as the raids approached the metropolis.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth and Southampton had become targets for a massive raid from a fresh group of aircraft from airfields near to the Somme. The raid was intercepted with the result that many of the bombers jettisoned their bombs at random over Portsmouth causing more than 100 fatalities. That day Fighter Command flew no less than 936 sorties losing 22 fighters but shooting down 38 German fighters and bombers.

The day finished with a misdirected attack on the City of London. The bombs had been meant to fall on oil storage facilities in the docks but ended up falling on built up areas of London. Over 100 people in Bethnal Green were made homeless.

54 Squadron Operational Record Book – 24 August
Hornchurch bombed and squadron in action twice. In the afternoon came the raid on the Aerodrome…in spite of over 100 bomb craters in the vicinity very little damage was done except to the SW corner of the drome where dispersal pens and the concreted road were hit.

249 Squadron Operational Record Book – 24 August

2 aircraft of Blue Section ordered to intercept e/a over Bristol at 30,000 feet. No further information was given them by R/T, and no interception was made. It is worthy of note here that the controllers at Middle Wallop appear to be working under very difficult circumstances with untrained personnel and lack of equipment. On many of the patrols so far carried out, no information other than the original telephoned order and the order to land has been received.

56 Squadron Operational Record Book – 24 August- North Weald

The Squadron went up twice in the morning on X raids, without result. The Squadron flew to Rochford, there carrying out various patrols. On one of these they engaged a number of Heinkel 111s with fighter escort. P/O Wicks destroyed a Me109, the pilot balling out and being captured. S/Ldr Manton destroyed a Me109 and F/Lt Weaver sent a Heinkel 111 into the sea, seeing 2 of the crew bale out. The Squadron returned to North Weald late in the evening, while they were away the aerodrome had been bombed, considerable material damage (none of it vital) being caused, there being 10 soldiers killed from a direct hit on a shelter trench.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 24th August 1940):

*  Enemy: 41 confirmed, 13 probable, 19 damaged
*  Own: 20 aircraft with 6 pilots and 4 air gunners lost or missing.

Weather: dull but with some bright intervals.

Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

  • Blenheim – 55
  • Spitire – 236
  • Hurricane – 410
  • Defiant – 26
  • Gladiator – 6
  • Total – 733

The deteriorating weather that day led to a repetition of the Luftwaffe hit and run tactics, often by individual Me109s. 580 sorties were flown by the RAF with 2 German aircraft being shot down without loss to the RAF. A wide variety of targets were attacked from St Eval in the west to Biggin Hill south of London.

At night, there were widespread bombing raids over South Wales, Bristol, Birmingham and the North. In Bridlington, a café was hit trapping the people inside.

266 Squadron Operational Record Book – 23 August – Wittering

Cold. Sky overcast – visibility moderate. Rear party arrived from Hornchurch. Move of Squadron completed.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 23rd August 1940):

*  Enemy: 3 confirmed
*  Own: nil

Todays’s theme: The Squadrons – 303 Squadron

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