Weather: fine morning, cloudy afternoon.
Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:
- Blenheim – 57
- Spitfire – 208
- Hurricane – 405
- Defiant – 24
- Gladiator – 7
- Total – 701
This day 4 main attacks developed. No less than 450 aircraft of the Luftwaffe were involved. The first attack was by 100 plus aircraft which, once over the south coast of Britain, split up to launch their individual attacks. 14 and a half squadrons were sent up by the RAF to intercept. Once again it was Biggin Hill which was the first to be hit. Detling and Eastchurch were also targeted. A group of Do17 aircraft bombed the station and made it temporarily inoperable. 72 Squadron was relocated to Croydon. At around midday a second attack developed with 150 aircraft which, when they crossed the coast, aimed at exactly the same targets as the aircraft in the earlier attack.
There were two more major attacks that afternoon and early evening. They went for Hawkinge and Lympne. The fourth group also went for Detling. Finally a group of Do17s split off from this group and went for Biggin Hill yet again. It was what the long suffering airmen and WAAFs were becoming accustomed to, namely the 6 pm visit from the Luftwaffe. The Operation’s Room, on this last occasion, was wrecked. Most of the communication with the outside world was severed and much damage done. There was one bright spot however. The two WAAF telephonists, Corporal Elspeth Henderson and Sergeant Helen Turner, had refused to abandon their post and continued operating until the very last moment when they had flung themselves to the ground to avoid glass and shell splinters. For this, they both received a well merited Military Medal. The raid left a vast amount of urgent repair work to be done, mainly by GPO engineers, but by the next morning the Operation’s Room had been relocated to a local butcher’s shop.
An order was issued by the German High Command stating that attacks should be made on the British aircraft industry. It was an attempt to holt the seemingly unstoppable flow of new fighters to the squadrons of the RAF.
This day 147 patrols were flown by the RAF which suffered 15 losses, but, happily, 9 of the pilots survived. The Luftwaffe lost 14 aircraft.
Night raids took place in Kent, the Midlands, the Bristol Channel, South Wales and Tyne/Tees.
266 Squadron Operational Record Book: 1 September – Wittering
Very warm – visibility excellent. Practices included formation flying, sector reconnaissance – R/T test. 2 raid investigations by aircraft of “A” Flight.
Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 1st September 1940):
* Enemy: 25 confirmed, 10 probable, 24 damaged
* Own: 15 aircraft with 6 pilots killed or missing.
Todays’s theme: Captains & Commanders – Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh Mallory