So it Began.....Their Finest Hour

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Gage, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery



    Again no signin an improvement in the weather, and it was expected to remain unsettledwith rain periods and a chance of thunderstorms in all areas. Overthe Channel, the heavy cloud and rain should give way to lighter highercloud during the day, but the chance of showers should persist.

    Keith Parkand Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding confer (by telephone as there is norecord of any meeting between them on this day) and they discuss the constantpostponements of the intended invasion by Germany. Park again points outthat he could not understand why the switch to bombing London was madewhen the situation at the time was a critical one for Fighter Command,and there was every chance that the Luftwaffe could have finished off withthe continued bombing of the airfields. The only thing standing in theway between Germany and the invasion was Fighter Command, now, FighterCommand was almost back to full operational strength and Göring wouldhave to start all over again if he wants to destroy the Command. Dowdingmentions, that the bombing of London was his biggest mistake, and one thatcould cost him the war.
    Bymid-September the Germans had assembled about 1,000 assorted invasion craftin the Channel ports, with some 600 more in the Scheldt. RAF bombing crippledabout 12 per cent of this armada; what remained was still sufficient forthe first stage of invasion as planned, but the combination of the bombing,and a sharp riposte by Fighter Command to a renewed attempt at a daylightattack on London on September 9, forced Hitler to yet another postponementof SEALION. It was deferred until the 24th, which meant that a final decisionshould have been made on September 14 (ten days’ notice was the GermanNavy’s very reasonable stipulation). With Hider, however, nothing was evernormal; the decision he actually took on that day was to bring forwardSEALION to the 17th. He had been misled again by Goering, himself in turnmisled by the Luftwaffe’s faulty Intelligence.
    It was notso much the evidence that was at fault — rather the ability to interpretit correctly. The 9th had shown that Fighter Command was still very mucha force to be reckoned with; the 11th & 14th, however, spoke with equivocal voices. On each of these days FighterCommand and Luftwaffe losses were equal, though this was not appreciatedby the Air Ministry at the time. On the 14th, particularly, to the Luftwaffethe opposition appeared scrappy and uncoordinated, and they felt that duringthe last few days Fighter Command had begun to collapse. This news was,of course, conveyed to the Reichsmarschall, and via the situationreports to Hitler. Both felt that the hour of destiny was approaching.

    John TerraineThe Right of the Line Hodder & Stoughton 1985 p210
    In Berlin, Hitlercalled a rush conference ordering all his naval, air force and army commanders-in-chiefsto attend. This time, he made little mention on the bombing of London ofthe last seven days. Instead, he presented to them his plans for the all-outinvasion of Britain. At last, Operation Sealion looked as though it wasall systems go. The Führer was excited and full of eagerness, butnothing was said that was not already known.....except the exact date ofany planned invasion.
    Hitler pointedout that the naval preparations for "Operation Sealion" was now almostcomplete. "All our barges are now in place, and we have more held in reservealong river banks," he said which was borne out by one of the British ObserverGroups which had the day previous seen up to ten large enemy transportships town a number of barges from Calais to Cape Griz Nez. Spitfires ofthe PRU had also flown over the belgian and Dutch coasts and had also reportedand photographed the collection of barges. But there again, based on thePRU intelligence, Bomber Command had bombed many of the barge installationsat an average of every second night, so what ws Hitler trying to pull whenhe said that "All our barges are in place." Maybe he forgot to add thatat least one third of them were submerged at their moorings.

    "If we plannow," he went on, ".....the invasion date can be set for one week fromnow, given that we need five days of good weather to achieve the desiredresults." But then, haven't we heard that before, from Hermann Göringjust prior to Adler Tag in early August. "All I need," he said, "....wasfive days preparation and we will be ready for the day of the Eagle."

    Hitler thenwent on to state that in the preparation we must make sure that the Luftwaffehas complete air superiority over the Channel and over southern England.But again, a remark that had been heard before, when issuing the orderto Göring prior to Adler Tag, "Before any invasion can be mountedagainst England, we must first destroy the RAF both in the air and on theground." This was the whole concept of the task given to Göring, toeliminate the British Royal Air Force.

    Finally, theon again, off again "Operation Sealion" was at last given as September17th, which again, if we want to be critical, should have been September19th if Hitler estimated that it would take five days of preparation. Orderswere given for a full scale attack to be made prior to the lead up of theinvasion, and again this was placed in the hands of Hermann Göring.An alternative date, as was mentioned earlier by the Führer couldbe given as September 27th. But is does seem that there was a chain ofmisleading eventsas shown above from the work by John Terraine.

    1200hrs:The Germans do what they could in an attemp to jam the British radar withelectronic interference. A few aircraft managed to cross the Channel onweather reconnaissence missions. One or two raiders bombed some of thecoastal resorts in the vicinity of Eastbourne and Brighton where some sixtycivillians were either killed our seriously hurt. A small formation wasdetected over Selsey Bill and one German aircraft is reported to have beenshot down. Others probed the areas of South London and bombs fell on residentialareas of Croydon and Mitcham killing over fifty people.

    1515hrs:German raiders were detected corssing the coast at both the Thames Estuaryand in the Deal and Folkestone areas. Bf109s escorting Do17s, He111 andJu88 bombers. The enemy strength did not exceed 100 in both areas and amini aerial combat session developed within 30 minutes.

    1545hrs:Again, as was becoming a common occurence, people along the coastal stretchesfrom Folkestone, round 'Hell Corner' to Margate saw the twisting and snakingblack dots against the grey overcast with many cheered if they recogniseda German plane spiral down into the sea.

    Park had reshuffleda number of his squadrons during the lull of the last few days so thatHurricanes and Spitfires could work in pairs. With most of the German raidsfollowing a similar pattern whenever crossing the Channel on a bombingmission, Park was now better prepared than ever for any raid coming infrom the Thames Estuary or over the Channel between Dungeness and Ramsgate.This, coupled with the fact that most aerodromes had now been repairedand were 95% operational, radar stations were all back to normal, and alltelephone lines connecting the radar stations, Observer Corps, FighterCommand HQ and 11 Group HQ were all repaired and functioning properly.

    Vectored tothe Thames Estuary were 41 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 66 SquadronGravesend (Spitfires), 73 Squadron Debden (Hurricanes), 222 Squadron Hornchurch(Spitfires), 504 Squadron Hendon (Hurricanes) and 1RCAF Northolt (Hurricanes).

    Vectored tothe Kent coast near Deal were 72 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires), 92 SquadronBiggin Hill (Spitfires), 229 Squadron Northolt (Hurricanes) and 253 SquadronKenley (Hurricanes).

    1600hrs:Most of the action took place over the Estuary or over north Kent nearMaidstone by the time that the British fighters made contact with the enemy.Even though the raids were small by previous standards, it was noticedthat there were more Bf109s than usual indicating that the Luftwaffe weretrying to draw as many fighters in the air as possible. A number of Do17swere shot down but also quite a few Bf109s also suffered. I/KGr.606 wasto suffer most when two Dorniers were classed as write offs, while twoothers were damaged.

    For FighterCommand, 73 Squadron Debden (Huirricanes) was to suffer most after losingthree aircraft and four others were damaged but were repairable, but onlyone pilot was killed. There were casualties amongst other squadrons.

    1800hrs:There had been a sighting over Bournmouth just prior to the evening attack,but they turned back before any British fighters could intercept. Now anumber of separate raid seemed to be approaching the coast in formationsof 10+, 12+, 15+, 20+ and 30+. All aircraft were detected at between 17,000and 20,000 feet. Many of Fighter Commands squadrons had only been backa short while after the afternoon raids when they were scrambled again.The formations were intercepted just as they crossed the southern coastlineand a running battle took place as far as London, but many of the raidershad turned back before their destination had been reached.

    1605hrs:Tonbridge. Hurricane P2542. 73 Squadron Debden
    Sgt J.J.Brimblekilled. (Shot down by enemy aircraft andcrashed at Parkhurst Farm Chart Sutton)
    1615hrs:Rochford. Spitfire X4275. 222 Squadron Hornchurch
    Sgt S.Baxterkilled.(Badly damaged by gunfire fromBf109s and crashed attempting to land)
    1620hrs:Orsett (Essex). Spitfire R6625. 19 Squadron Duxford
    Sgt F.Marekkilled. (Crashed during routine patrol.Possibly oxygen failure. No other details)
    1800hrs:Bredgar. Hurricane P5184. 253 Squadron Kenley
    Sgt W.B.Higginskilled. (Shot down in flames after combatwith Bf109. Pilot did not bale out)

    2 x Hurricanesof 253 and 610 Squadrons shot down but no details are known except thepilot of the Hurricane of 610 Squadron is listed as missing. The Hurricaneof 253 Squadron was shot down near Faversham Kent.
    [1]Wood & Dempster The Narrow Margin McGraw-Hill 1961pp347-8
    [2]Hough & Richards The Battle of Britain-A Jubilee History Hodder& Stoughton 1989 p272
    September 12th - September 14th 1940
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    SundaySeptember 15th 1940
    Details of the mornings action

    The"hour of destiny" was September 15th, a date thereafter commemorated as"Battle of Britain Day". The title has been disputed; Alfred Price, forone, says that September 15th "has singularly little to commend it.....theday when the British victory claim was furthest from the truth....." Yet,forgetting the "numbers game", it is hard to dispute Churchill's verdictthat it was, in fact, "the crux of the Battle of Britain". He made thatjudgment in the light of his knowledge of what happened to Operation SEALION- which was, of course, from beginning to end, what the Battle of Britainwas really about. The Official History sums up with clarity:
    "If 15thAugust showed the German High Command that air supremacy was not to bewon within a brief space, 15th September went far to convince them thatit would not be won at all."

    John TerraineThe Right of the Line Hodder & Stoughton 1985 pp210-211
    Sunday September15th 1940, was not only the turning point of the Battle of Britain, itwas the turning point of the whole war. Every Fighter Command aerodromein 11 Group was in some way involved, every squadron within 11 Group participatedas well as the Duxford Wing from 12 Group and a number of squadrons in10 Group were called upon to protect areas in the south west. Ground crewsat all 11 Group airfields had to make efficiency a top priority in gettingaircraft refueled and rearmed in between sorties, while at 11 Group HeadquartersAir Vice Marshal Keith Park busily controlled the situation drawing onall his experience and expertise under the watchful eye of visiting WinstonChurchill who saw first hand the development of activities on this importantday. Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding remained at Fighter Command Headquarterskeeping silent vigil over the large map below indicating to him the eventsand the unfolding battle that was taking place over the south-east of England.
    For Adolf Hitlerand the German commanders, time was now running out. If an invasion wasto take place on September 17th as planned, the lead-up would have to commenceno later than today.....September 15th. The weather had shown, just how quickly itcan turn at this time of year, and with winter not too far away, the Germanforces would have to take advantage of the better conditions that now seemedto prevail. Göring had sent out the instructions the day previousto all bomber and fighter bases that preparations for an all out assaulton England was to be made on this day September 15th, bomber units weregiven times and flight paths of their attack. Over the last few weeks,the Luftwaffe had experimented with different flying formations, needlessto say, none had really been successful, losses had still been high, butthey had discovered that on the occasions that they had kept at high altitudes,they had on a number of occasions surprised Fighter Command.

    This was mainlydue to the fact that the British radar was ineffective above 20,000 feet,and by flying at a height above this level they could cross the Channelundetected, but, the Germans did not know this. All that they were awareof, was the fact that those formations that flew at higher altitudes werenot intercepted until they were usually well over the English coast. Themost logical reason for this, thought the Germans was due to the fact thatit took the British fighters much longer to gain the required height tointercept.

    The sendingof advance Ju87 and Bf110 units to bomb the radar stations along the southerncoastline was, in the opinion of the Luftwaffe, a waste of time. As fastas they seemed to be destroyed, they were back in operational use again, and mobileunits too were brought in to replace any radar station damaged. Over thelast few days, the Germans had practiced at electronic jamming, this, theybelieved was successful and plans were made to intensify the jamming procedurein an effort to further reduce detection.

    The spirit ofthe German aircrew, was still far from high. Time and time again, theyhad been told that the 'Glorious Luftwaffe' is ready to strike the finalblow. But they had been told that in July, and again in August when Adlerangriff hadbeen announced, and it was to be repeated yet again this September 15th. Earlyin the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe aircrews were told that the Royal Air Forcewould be wiped out in two or three weeks, now, whenever they fly over the Britishcountryside they are still met with masses of British fighters in the hands of pilots that were gaining in skill and techniques. Many firmly believed that they were no nearer victory than theywere two months previous.

    Failureto achieve any notable success, constantly changing orders betraying lackof purpose and obvious misjudgment of the situation by the Command, andunjustified accusation had a most demoralising effect on us fighter pilots,who were already overtaxed by physical and mental strain.
    Adolph GallandCommander

    In Britain, thingswere slightly different. Most of the pilots were relatively fresh unliketheir German counterparts. Combat action had been very infrequent, withonly one really heavy day. As mentioned previously, Fighter Command wasnow stronger than it had been for weeks, aerodromes repaired, planes andpersonnel had replaced many that had been shot down and the radar stationswere all functioning at 100%.
    Park meanwhile,was prepared. He had learnt just a few days previous that there was tobe a large scale attack prior to the impending invasion, only that he wasunsure as to the exact date or time. Whatever attack that the Germans planned,he was sure, that 11 Group was ready even though the Luftwaffe commanderscould not agree as to the actual strength of Fighter Command at the time.

    Ithink one of the problems with German intelligence was, was that it simplydid not help the Germans to fight the battle, partly because of the problemswe've mentioned with their inability to tell the truth even when they knewit, but the results of this can be seen only in September when there isa conference for senior German commanders attended by Göring himself,and Bepo Schmidt. And you have the commander of one Luftwaffe unit givinghis opinion that there are at least one thousand RAF fighters left in FighterCommand, and the commander of another Luftwaffe unit giving his opinionthat Fighter Command is beaten.
    So the degreeof confusion in the German High Command as to what was actually happeningis quite obvious whereas the British, at least they knew what they weretrying to achieve. The British had a slightly simpler problem. Their mainobjective was survival. Both intelligence organizations seriously overestimatedthe number of enemy aircraft they shot down, the Germans by a factor ofbetween three and four. The British right towards the end of the battledid get slightly puzzled by the fact that they could only find the wreckageof some eight hundred aircraft whereas the numbers claimed were far inexcess of that. Instead of drawing the correct conclusion which was thatthe fighter pilots for quite understandable reasons were over claimingthe number of enemy aircraft lost.
    September 15th 1940 (morning)

    They triedto work out where the missing, in inverted commas, aircraft might be, andthat is to why did they crash in France or in the English channel or wherever.They didn’t correctly identify the problem which was that a German aircraftshot down was often claimed by more than one pilot in the confusion ofthe air fighting.

    SebastianCox Air Historical Branch regarding the Battle of Britain
    To survive anyintense attack that may be instigated by the Luftwaffe, Keith Park had,in the last few days rearranged some of his squadrons, carefully placingthem in the best strategic position to provide the best defence of Londonthat he possibly could. Of course, we must remember, that the pilots ofFighter Command had no idea of any large scale attack being made by theLuftwaffe. This information was only known by a selected few in radio interception(the "Y" Force) and the Air Ministry and of course, Dowding and Park himself.To the pilots, any change they thought was the usual relieving of tiredsquadrons.
    [ Document52. ] September 15th Order of Battle

    It was not longafter breakfast that Keith Park new that today was to different from allothers, for the first time in a week, he had been notified that there wasa build up of German formations along the enemy coast. 'This, I think iswhat we have been waiting for' he said, ' I think that it is about to happen.'

    Heavy cloud and rain periods overnight was expected to clear and the forecastfor the day was fine in most areas with patchy cloud. No rain was forecastbut some areas could expect an odd shower to develop. The cloud was expectedto clear during the afternoon giving way to a fine and clear evening.
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    SaturdaySeptember 21st 1940

    The day opened toscattered cloud although along the Estuary and the River Thames as faras London there was considerable haze. Once this cleared, most of the southwas fine with scattered cloud but by midday cloud had started to buildup. In the north there was cloud with sunny spells but it remained dry.

    Early morning dawnedwith cloudless skies as no sign of the enemy. It was to remain that wayfor most of the day. Radar picked up an occasional aircraft, but thesewere believed to be on reconnaissence flights as they kept clear of theEnglish coast. This was to be one of the quietest days of the battle, withmore action being seen behind the scenes than in the air.

    The invasion of German troops on theisland of great Britain was called "Cromwell" and all stations had beenplaced on standby as the possiblity was always there that an invasion wasalways a possiblity. But just as the Battle of Britain in the air seemedto be slowing down, so was the possiblity of any German invasion for atleast this year. Now, almost into the month of October, the days wouldbe becoming shorter, the weather would soon deteriorate with the watersof the Channel becoming rougher and the signs from the German held Channelports indicated that Bomber Command had all but destroyed any hope of theGerman infantry using the ports as a dispersal point for the Channel crossing.

    No hintof relaxation of alertness against the threat of invasion was allowed topercolate through to the armed forces, nor the civilian population. Itwas premature for that. But the view of the War Cabinet and of the mostsenior officers in all the Services was that with the days shortening,the weather deteriorating and the equinox approaching, it would now bemost foolhardy of Hitler to attempt a crossing in 1940.
    On 21stSeptember ‘Cromwell’ was cancelled and Alert No. 2 reinstated. AnthonyEden, while relaxing one morning at Elham, was therefore all the more surprisedto hear from Churchill by telephone on 22nd September that he had justreceived a call from the American President that, for sure, the Germanswould invade that very day. Eden took a walk to the Dover cliffs. He peereddown through the fog and noted an exceedingly choppy sea. He then returnedhome and telephoned Churchill. An invasion, he said, seemed highly unlikely,and in any case they would all be sea-sick by the time they arrived bybarge.

    The nextday Roosevelt telephoned again, this time to apologise. ‘I’m so sorry,’he said. ‘The codes got mixed. It was Indo-China, not England, and Japan,not Germany.’ And that, indeed, was the case.

    Hough and Richards Battle ofBritain A Jubliee History Hodder & Stoughton 1989p294

    But if one wasto get the impression that tensions were easing, what with a day of very littlecombat action and "Cromwell" being cancelled. Fighter Command was in factstrengthening its commitment to battle with the introduction of 421 Flight.
    One of the problemsthat Fighter Command encountered was the fact that when radar picked upapproaching enemy aircraft and formations, it was not known as to whattype of aircraft they were until clarified by spotters or the ObserverCorps. With the approach of German bombers, Keith Park had just enoughtime to scramble his fighters, get to the correct height to attack andintercept the enemy as it crossed the coast. But with this new tactic ofsending formations of Bf109s, often in Geschwader force, there was notenough time to scramble the fighters and meet them as they crossed thecoast. As experienced over the last few days and on those occasions thatBf109 formations made their intended attacks on British targets, they generallywould be well over the coastline and much closer to London before theywere intercepted by British fighters.

    It was on thisday that Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding was to authorise the formationof a new unit that was to become known as 421 Flight. This was instigatedin colaboration with Keith park because it was now felt that with Bf109formations that could cross the Channel quicker than the bombers that theyonce escorted, their would be no chance of British fighters interceptingthem in time once they had been positively identified.

    The task of421 Flight that was equipped with Hurricanes, was to fly in small formationson reconnaissence missions over the Channel to report on any build up andcomposition of these formations prior to them reaching the English coastline.This way, as well as the detection being made on radar stations along thecoast of their location, 421 Flight would be vectored into a position wherethey could provide details back to their sector station of type and strengthof the enemy much earlier than if it was left to the Observer Corps alone.Initially, the flight was formed at Gravesend in mid October and on October31st was posted to West Malling and before the end of 1940 they had beenmoved to Hawkinge.

    The formationof 421 Flight (which was later to become 91 Squadron) was naturally toolate for the Battle of Britain. Some authorities say that such a squadronshould have been formed earlier so as to provide early indications of strengthand composition of the enemy. But again, this would have been another ofthe many debatable points that arose during the Battle of Britain.

    In general, this was an exceptionally quiet day. Small nuisance raids by small formations of enemy aircraft had attacked both Kenley and Biggin Hill aerodromes but these were thwarted by fighters from Kenley, Biggin Hill and Croydon. 238 Squadron had accounted for one destroyed while the Spitfires of 602 and 611 Squadrons accounted for one each destroyed. One of the Do17s damaged by 802 Squadron managed to get back to the French coast, but was to crash land at Landerneau killing all on board.

    The usual night raids continued on London and Liverpool which was now becoming a regular occurence. Although the East End of London still came under constant bombardment, other targets in and around London were now being hit. Spasmodic raids around Tynemouth and County Durham also occurred but records indicate that no casualties were recorded.

    There wereno casualties on either side on this day.
    Page 48: September 21st 1940
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    The Battle of Britain, 10 July – 31 October 1940
    The Battle of Britain was fought above the skies of Britain, between the RAF and the German Luftwaffe. Had British and Allied aircrew not defeated the Luftwaffe, it is likely that Germany would have invaded Britain.

    The Battle of Britain is often described as having 4 phases:

    Phase 1: 10 July – 12 August 1940 Attacks on Channel Shipping
    The Luftwaffe attacked shipping conveys in the English Channel and Channel ports and coastal radar stations on the South coast. There were widespread night-time raids all along the coast.

    16 July: Adolf Hitler issued Directive No. 16, calling for preparations to be made for Operation Sealion – the invasion of Britain. Hitler demanded that ”the British Air Force must be eliminated to such an extent that it will be incapable of putting up any sustained opposition to the invading troops.”

    Phase 2: 13 – 18 August 1940 Attacks on Airfields and Radar Stations
    The Luftwaffe planned to destroy the aircraft of Fighter Command, either on the ground or in the air. Airfields and radar stations became the focus of German bombing. The raids destroyed valuable aircraft and damaged airfields, making it difficult for aircraft to operate. The airfields of No.11 Group in the south east of England suffered the heaviest attacks. Small civilian airfields were used in emergency.

    13 August: ‘Eagle Day’ (Adlertag): The Luftwaffe launched intense raids on RAF airfields, focusing their attacks in the south east of England.

    18 August: The Hardest Day: Fierce air battles between the Luftwaffe and the RAF, with severe loss of RAF aircraft on the ground.

    Phase 3: 19 August – 6 September 1940
    The Luftwaffe continued to bomb towns, cities and airfields across the south coast of England, the Midlands and the north east.

    20 August: British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, acknowledged the enormous gratitude to British & Allied aircrew: ”Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”

    24 August: During night bombing of Britain, a lost German bomber formation dropped bombs on London by mistake.

    25 August: In retaliation of the bombing of London, the RAF launched their first bombing raid on Berlin.

    31 August: Fighter Command suffered its heaviest losses to date. 303 Squadron (Polish Squadron) – based at RAF Northolt – became operational.

    Phase 4: 7 September 1940 – 31 October 1940
    Mass bombing raids were launched against London, and continued against other major British cities.

    15 September: Battle of Britain day. The Luftwaffe launched its heaviest bombing raids on London. Fighter Command successfully fought the attacking aircraft, resulting in heavy Luftwaffe losses.

    17 September: Hitler postponed the invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion)

    26 September: The Spitfire factory at Southampton was attacked and destroyed.

    October: The German Luftwaffe focused their bombing raids on British cities at night, to reduce Luftwaffe casualties. Coastal towns, airfields and other military targets were attacked during the day.

    31 October: The German Luftwaffe were denied air superiority by the RAF. The Battle of Britain ended.

    Battle of Britain Timeline: 10 July 1940 - 31 October 1940 | Bentley Priory Museum
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    10 October 1940

    The Luftwaffe threatened Kent, London, Manchester, Liverpool and a range of airfields during this 24 hour spell.

    Over Tangmere at 8.15 am, two Spitfires of No 92 Squadron from Biggin Hill collided while attacking a Dornier. Both Flying Officer Drummond and Pilot Officer Williams were killed.

    In an incident that was not uncommon, the No 249 Squadron Hurricane of Sergeant Bayly dropped away from a patrol over the Thames Estuary for no obvious reason and plunged into Cooling Marsh, Kent. Perhaps the pilot was affected by a glycol leak or oxygen failure.

    In the mid afternoon a Hurricane of No 253 Squadron crashed into houses at Albion Place, Maidstone. Sergeant Allgood was killed.

    The other RAF Commands continued to play their part in the war. During October Coastal Command began to receive the much-improved Mk ll version of ASV airborne radar for use against German U-boats. The first sets were fitted to Whitleys of No 502 Squadron, operating from Aldergrove, Northern Ireland.

    11 October 1940
    Messerschmitt Bf 109s attacked centres of population in Kent and Essex, as well as the airfields at Biggin Hill and Kenley.

    London, Liverpool, Manchester and the north east came under attack during the night.

    Dorniers heading for Liverpool were intercepted by Spitfires of No 611 Squadron, based at Ternhill, Shropshire, during the evening. One enemy aircraft was shot down and some crew members baled out of another, but the Dornier, though badly damaged, landed at Brest.

    12 October 1940
    Hitler issued fresh orders, stating that from today invasion preparations would be designed to put pressure on the British. There would be no invasion in 1940, but one might be contemplated in 1941.

    Despite poor weather there was much Luftwaffe activity, with London hit by day and night. A high explosive bomb hit the National Gallery and destroyed a room where works by the Italian painter Raphael had hung before the war.

    At about 9.20am a Spitfire of No 72 Squadron crashed in a field off Winehouse Lane, Capel-le-Ferne, not far from where the National Memorial to The Few now stands. Pilot Officer Herbert Case, a 24-year-old farmer’s son from Somerset, was found dead at the scene.

    It was recorded that, during a patrol led by Squadron Leader Ted Graham, Case’s aircraft had fallen out of formation for no obvious reason. Witnesses, though, later reported that they had seen the Spitfire attacked by German fighters.

    An Army officer’s wife wrote to Case’s mother, explaining this and continuing: “Everyone was terribly upset when the Spitfire was shot down. I have seldom seen my husband so affected but he assured me that the boy must have been killed in the air before he crashed.

    “I thought this knowledge might be of some small comfort to you in your tragic sorrow and pride, in the astonishing courage of these sons whose deeds fill the world with admiration.”

    Herbert Case is remembered on one of the display boards currently being renovated at the National Memorial to the Few.

    13 October 1940
    Targets in Kent and London were attacked during the day, while at night the Luftwaffe headed for London, Liverpool and Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bristol, Wales and Dundee.

    Today was a day for what would now be called “friendly fire” incidents. A Hurricane of No 17 Squadron was shot down by British anti aircraft fire, with the pilot surviving, wounded. Blenheims of No 29 Squadron were attacked by Hurricanes from No 312 Squadron. One complete Blenheim crew was killed.

    14 October 1940
    There there were many small attacks from mid morning onwards, while moonlight assisted nighttime attacks on London. The Carlton Club in Pall Mall was packed with members when it received a direct hit, but despite extensive damage and fire, nobody in the building died.

    Those emerging from the wreckage found incendiary bombs littering the street and passers-by kicking them into the gutters or smothering them with earth. There were about 500 deaths in London today.

    A Hurricane of No 605 Squadron crashed in Tennison Road, South Norwood just before 1 pm after being hit by anti aircraft fire or striking a balloon cable. Flying Officer Ralph Hope, a relative of the former Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, was killed. Hope was a squadron veteran who had gained a rowing blue at Oxford, as bow in the 1935 boat.

    15 October 1940
    New instructions from Air Vice Marshal Park came into effect in No 11 Group today.

    They were aimed at countering the shorter timescale between warnings from radar stations and raiders appearing over London, especially now that some German fighters were carrying bombs.

    Park addressed the time taken for squadrons and other formations to climb from the ground to an effective height. He stressed. “Bitter experience has proved time and again that it is better to intercept the enemy with one squadron above him than by a whole wing crawling up below, probably after the enemy has dropped his bombs.”

    London and Birmingham suffered heavy attacks today. Severe damage was done to the capital’s railway system, including hits on Waterloo station and various points on the underground network.

    16 October 1940
    Fog on the Continent was a factor in the limited extent of enemy operations today.

    Nonetheless, the Luftwaffe suffered casualties. Among them were a Dornier Do 17 that crashed near Wells, Somerset on a sortie to Liverpool and a Junkers Ju 88 that fell at Bishop’s Stortford. There were no survivors from either aircraft.

    Aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm, flying from HMS Furious, attacked targets at Tromso in Norway.

    17 October 1940
    Raids on targets in Kent and London were the basis of the Luftwaffe’s operations.

    As the nature of the German threat changed, further detailed instructions were issued by Keith Park as to how No 11 Group should react.

    In the middle of the afternoon a Spitfire was shot down over Westerham and crashed at Crockham Hill. Pilot Officer Hugh Reilley of No 66 Squadron, a Canadian, was killed. He died five days after his friend Pilot Officer Herbert Case of No 72 Squadron.

    Shortly before their deaths the pair had spent leave together at the Case family home in Somerset.

    Reilley was downed by the German ace Major Werner Moelders, one of the Luftwaffe pilots who had gained combat experience in the Spanish Civil War. Moelders would be killed in a landing crash while flying as a passenger in 1941.

    18 October 1940
    Things quietened down somewhat during the day and overnight, but the threat of tragedy still hung over the population of London.

    One incident that brought home that threat was the bombing of Clyde Street junior school in Deptford. It no longer had pupils and was being used as an ARP post; seven people died when a bomb hit the school, including the nurse in charge of first aid, three first aid attendants and two wardens.

    On the previous night a mine had fallen in St James’s Park and failed to explode. This morning Mr Churchill ignored advice to leave 10 Downing Street, but was recorded as being concerned for the fate of “those poor little birds” in the St James’s Park lake. A bomb disposal squad dealt with the mine.

    19 October 1940
    Morning activity was limited until the weather improved and Bf 109s appeared over the south east.

    A Spitfire crashed at Smarden, Kent, although the cause was not established. Sergeant Leslie Allton of No 92 Squadron was killed.

    The book “The Battle of Britain Then and Now” reports that the wartime recovery operation at the scene was abandoned when a hurricane lamp was knocked over and fuel ignited. In the 1970s excavations at the site recovered the Spitfire’s Merlin engine and other items, including a cigarette case – and what appeared to be the remains of the hurricane lamp.

    Leslie Allton had been school captain at King Edward Vl Grammar School, Nuneaton and was an outstanding sportsman. He had flown Fairey Battles in France and served with No 266 Squadron before moving to 92 on 30 September 1940. He was buried in Nuneaton.

    20 October 1940
    Daytime fighter bomber attacks in London and the south east and heavy bombing at night aimed at London and the Midlands were the major Luftwaffe activities.

    Coventry was hit, although the terrible night for that city, named (in English) “Operation Moonlight Sonata” by the Germans would not occur until 14 November.

    At 1.45 pm a Bf 109 flying as a fighter bomber escort exploded over Woolwich during an attack by RAF fighters. Oberfeldwebel Friedemann fell to the ground, his parachute unopened.

    The front part of his aircraft came down at Wickham Street, Welling, among temporary homes built for Londoners who had been bombed out. The Evening News caught the scene as a crowd inspected the wreckage.

    By now, sheltering from the bombs in London tube stations was becoming commonplace and refreshment services were beginning to develop, including food deliveries by specially arranged underground trains.

    21 October 1940
    In the early hours of this morning Bomber Command aircraft were returning from Wilhelmshaven, where the German battleship Tirpitz had been attacked.

    The Tirpitz would not be sunk (at Tromso, Norway) until November 1944, when the operation was carried out by Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617 Squadrons. On that occasion one of the 617 aircraft was skippered by Flight Lieutenant Tony Iveson, who had been a Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain with Nos 616 and 92 Squadrons.

    Flt Lt Iveson was one of a number of men to both qualify for the Battle of Britain Clasp and later be decorated for service in Bomber Command.

    Single Luftwaffe aircraft and small formations attacked targets in various parts of England during the day, while London, Liverpool and the Midlands suffered at night.

    A Dornier Do 17 tasked to attack Liverpool turned back in bad weather and reached France, but was then reported to have flown back to England because of a faulty compass. Eventually the crew baled out over Salisbury Plain and the Dornier belly landed at Ness Point, Erwarton, Suffolk.

    22 October 1940
    Fog curtailed operations this morning, but the Germans later mounted attacks on targets that included shipping off the Kent coast and in the Thames estuary.

    German losses included a Heinkel He lll that crashed into barracks at Tours airfield following a sortie to England; the crew and 13 ground personnel were killed.

    At about 4.30pm, wreckage from a a Bf 109 fell in the sea off Littlestone Golf course on the edge of Romney Marsh. The aircraft had been shot down over the Channel by Flying Officer the Hon David Coke of No 257 Squadron. Unteroffizier Arp was killed.

    Shortly afterwards another 257 Hurricane crashed into a wood at Moat Farm, Shadoxhurst, Kent, with the loss of Sergeant Bobby Fraser.

    Another aircraft and pilot from the squadron were lost when Pilot Officer “Aubrey” Heywood’s machine was hit by AA fire while in combat over Folkestone and crashed not far from Lydd church.

    In 2013 a memorial to Bobby Fraser was unveiled close to the spot where his Hurricane fell.

    23 October 1940
    After a very quiet day thanks to adverse weather conditions, Luftwaffe bombers were despatched to London and Glasgow at night.

    On the wider war front, 10 elderly destroyers were handed over to the Royal Navy at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Hitler met the Spanish leader Franco. A document pledging co-operation was signed, but Franco’s extortionate demands made him a difficult ally for the Germans.

    24 October 1940
    Another quiet day, although London and the Midlands were attacked in some force at night. Fighters shot down a Dornier Do 215 on a photo reconnaissance sortie to Coventry and Birmingham. The aircraft fell at Eaton Socon, Bedfordshire. All four crew members took to their parachutes but only one survived.

    Air Chief Marshal Dowding issued instructions to the commanders of Nos 11 and 12 Groups seeking to improve the co-operation between them.

    25 October 1940
    Italian bombers attacked Harwich, thus ensuring that the Italian Air Force could claim a footnote in the history of the Battle of Britain.

    In other sorties, fighter bombers, with fighter escort, dropped bombs on London and Kent. Attacks by RAF fighters led to many of the bombs being released haphazardly over Kent.

    “The Few” were recognised in a list of decorations released today.

    There was, for example, a bar to the DFC for New Zealander Flying Officer Brian Carbury of No 603 Squadron, whose citation stated: “Flying Officer Carbury has displayed outstanding gallantry and skill in engagements against the enemy. Previous to 8th September, 1940, this officer shot down eight enemy aircraft, and shared in the destruction of two others. Since that date he has destroyed two Messerschmitt 109-5 and two Heinkel 113’s, and, in company with other pilots of his squadron, also assisted in the destruction of yet another two enemy aircraft. His cool courage in the face of the enemy has been a splendid example to other pilots of his squadron.”

    Also decorated was Pilot Officer Ken Mackenzie of No 501 Squadron, who received the DFC. The achievements of “Mac” included the incident on 7 October when he followed a Bf 109 out over the Channel and deliberately struck the tailplane with one of his wings, causing the enemy aircraft to crash into the sea. Mackenzie was then slightly injured in a forced landing near Folkestone.

    26 October 1940
    Fighter bomber raids took place during the day and were followed by night attacks on London, the Midlands and the North.

    Off the west coast of Ireland, the Canadian Pacific liner Empress of Britain, requisitioned as a troopship, was attacked by a Focke Wulf Kondor and set on fire. Most of those on board were saved. The liner was taken under tow, but sank on 28 October following a U-boat torpedo attack.

    Fighter Command aircrew were under orders to shoot down German aircraft flying sorties to rescue airmen in the Channel on the grounds that they might also be collecting intelligence.

    This policy was to lead to a disastrous incident today. Three Hurricanes of No 229 Squadron attacked a Heinkel He 59 off Boulogne, killing three of the four men on board. The Hurricanes were assailed by Bf 109s and anti-aircraft fire from the shore.

    Flying Officer Simpson, a New Zealander, was killed, Flying Officer McHardy landed in France and became a PoW. Only Sergeant Ommanney returned to Northolt.

    Ommanney was later promoted to Warrant Officer and was killed in action during the “Channel Dash” of German warships in February 1942.

    27 October 1940
    London was a target from early this morning and convoys were attacked, too. Southampton was amongst the places hit later in the day, as well as a number of airfields including Martlesham Heath, Honington, Hawkinge and and Kirton-in-Lindsey. London was the main night target.

    A No 609 Squadron Spitfire was damaged by return fire from an enemy aircraft over Andover. Pilot Officer Paul Baillon baled out and survived.

    In 2013 wreckage from his aircraft was recovered from the crash site on Salisbury Plain. Paul Baillon’s daughter Rosemary was there; she was not born until several months after her father’s death in action on 28 November 1940.

    28 October 1940
    Weather conditions initially restricted the Luftwaffe’s ability to attack but there were sorties by single aircraft, particularly against ships in the Channel and the Thames estuary.

    More significant operations were launched in the afternoon when waves of aircraft headed for London. Bombs were dropped in many areas at night.

    One of the more familiar photographs of the Blitz was taken at about this time. It showed a postman, wearing a tin hat and carrying a gas mask, attempting to deliver mail to a bombed house in London. More damaged houses and shops can be seen in the background.

    A Bf 109 was shot down by RAF fighters and crashed near Hythe, Kent. In 1973 the site was excavated and the remains recovered of Leutnant Werner Knittel, who had been a Gruppe Adjutant, aged 39. He was laid to rest at the Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire.

    Another 109 fell to the guns of No 603 Squadron’s Flying Officer “Sheep” Gilroy. Unteroffizier Gonschorrek took to his parachute and was captured, slightly wounded. His aircraft crashed near to London Road, Maidstone.

    29 October 1940
    There were attacks on London, Ramsgate – involving Italian bombers and fighters – Portsmouth and Southampton, with major operations against London and the Midlands at night.

    This was a day when the Bf 109s suffered. Crash sites included near Elham, Kent (pilot captured), Shepherdswell, Kent (pilot became a prisoner), Tillingham, Essex (another prisoner), Horsham, Sussex (pilot died of injuries), Langton Green, Kent (pilot killed) and Goldhanger, Essex (pilot died of wounds).

    30 October 1940
    Bad weather reduced the amount of German activity by day and by night, but there were still losses on both sides.

    At Struntney, near Ely, a Ju 88 forced landed after being attacked by British fighters. The crew of four NCOs became prisoners. Fighters also accounted for the Bf 109 that fell at Leylands near Meopham, Kent. The pilot was wounded but survived.

    The last Fighter Command aircrew deaths during operations in the Battle of Britain occurred today. At 8.30 pm, in worsening weather and following R/T failure, a Blenheim of No 23 Squadron crashed at South Berstead near Bognor Regis. Flying Officer Woodward, Pilot Officer Atkinson and AC 2 Perry died.

    31 October 1940
    There was some German fighter and fighter bomber activity today, but rain ensured that what later became regarded officially as the last day of the Battle of Britain (though nobody knew that at the time) passed without significant aerial conflict.

    The last word in these daily posts goes to a soldier. Major General (later General) Hastings “Pug” Ismay was one of Mr Churchill’s key aides during the war. In The Memoirs of Lord Ismay, published in 1960, he wrote, in relation to the Battle of Britain:

    “As usual, the Prime Minister took every opportunity to go and see things for himself, and I accompanied him on many of his visits to fighter stations in Kent and Sussex.

    “From the moment one set foot on the tarmac, one sensed the tension in the air – the pilots standing by ‘on readiness’, waiting to ‘scramble’ into their machines at a moment’s notice.

    “It was impossible to look at those young men, who might within a matter of minutes be fighting and dying to save us, without mingled emotions of wonder, gratitude and humility. The physical and mental strain …….. must have been prodigious. And yet they were so cheerful, so confident, and so obviously dedicated.

    “They were always thrilled to see Churchill, and they gave me a kindly welcome.. But they seemed a race apart, and I felt an intruder.”

    Day by day
  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    19 October 1940
    Morning activity was limited until the weather improved and Bf 109s appeared over the south east.

    A Spitfire crashed at Smarden, Kent, although the cause was not established. Sergeant Leslie Allton of No 92 Squadron was killed.

    The book “The Battle of Britain Then and Now” reports that the wartime recovery operation at the scene was abandoned when a hurricane lamp was knocked over and fuel ignited. In the 1970s excavations at the site recovered the Spitfire’s Merlin engine and other items, including a cigarette case – and what appeared to be the remains of the hurricane lamp.

    Leslie Allton had been school captain at King Edward Vl Grammar School, Nuneaton and was an outstanding sportsman. He had flown Fairey Battles in France and served with No 266 Squadron before moving to 92 on 30 September 1940. He was buried in Nuneaton.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    29 October 1940
    There were attacks on London, Ramsgate – involving Italian bombers and fighters – Portsmouth and Southampton, with major operations against London and the Midlands at night.

    This was a day when the Bf 109s suffered. Crash sites included near Elham, Kent (pilot captured), Shepherdswell, Kent (pilot became a prisoner), Tillingham, Essex (another prisoner), Horsham, Sussex (pilot died of injuries), Langton Green, Kent (pilot killed) and Goldhanger, Essex (pilot died of wounds).
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    "What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour."
    Service No:
    Date of Death:
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    253 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference:
    Grave 413.

    [​IMG]Sgt Ian Charles Cooper Clenshaw (1917 - 1940) - Find A Grave Memorial
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  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Thursday 11 July 1940

    • Weather: Channel overcast.
      Cloud base 5,000ft, Visibility fair. Thunderstorms and bright intervals in the midlands and north.
    • Day: Convoys attacked
      off Suffolk. Portland harbour raided.
    • Night: Activity over
      south-west England, East Anglia, Yorkshire coast and Portsmouth.

    RAF - Campaign diariesBattle of Britain
  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    FRIDAY JULY 12th 1940


    Heavy rain periods in the north with 8/10ths cloud but clearing as the day wears on. In the south-east there was low cloud, occasional showers with thunderstorms but clearing by the afternoon, while in the west the early morning cloud cleared to give way to sunny periods.

    Most of the action took place off the Essex and Suffolk coastline. He111 and Do17 bombers were targeting some of the merchant shipping along one of Britain's busy trade routes. The Hurricanes of 85 Squadron (Martlesham Heath) were up early after enemy aircraft had been spotted off the coast near Harwich possibly attacking the merchant convoy code named "Booty". More Do17 and He111 bombers were detected and 151 Squadron (Hurricanes, North Weald) and 17 Squadron (Hurricanes, Debden) were scrambled.

    Combat just off the East Anglia coast lasted until almost midday with the Hurricanes having accounted for two He111s, Sgt D.Fopp claiming one at 0900hrs and Sgt G.Griffiths claiming one at 0940hrs. A He111 was detected over the North Sea just off the coast near Aberdeen in Scotland where bombers dropped a number of bombs killing 29 people and injuring 100 and was shot down by Spitfires of 603 Squadron and in the late afternoon. Ju88 bombers attacked Exeter and St Eval airfields with one Ju88 being shot down.
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 12th 1940)
    0850hrs. Off Felixstowe. Hurricane P2557. 85 Sqn Martlesham Heath. (Lost at sea)
    Sgt L. Jowitt Missing believed drowned. (Hit by gunfire from He111 from 11/KG53 off Felixstowe. Crashed into sea)
    0945hrs. Off Burnham (Essex). Hurricane P3275. 151 Sqn North Weald. (Lost at sea)
    F/O J.H.L. Allen. Missing believed drowned. (Hit in engine by gunfire from Do17 off Orfordness. Crashed into sea) 1545hrs. Off Portland. Hurricane P3084. 501 Sqn Middle Wallop. (Lost at sea)
    P/O D.A. Hewitt. Missing believed drowned. (Hit by gunfire while attacking Do17 off Portland. Crashed into sea)
    Time N/A. Biggin Hill. Spitfire P9502. 610 Sqn Biggin Hill. (Aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt S. Ireland. Killed. (Believed his aircraft went out of control during diving practice)

    July 2nd - July24th 1940
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  13. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    238 Sqn.
    Hurricane P2950
    F/Lt John Connelly Kennedy - Killed.
    Stalled aircraft while making a forced landing.
    CL1 likes this.
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  15. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    615 Sqn Hurricane L1584 KW-G
    P/O M R Mudie killed.
    Shot down in flames over St Margaret's Bay. Died the following day.
    This combat was reported on the BBC by Charles Gardner who mistakenly called the downed aircraft a JU87.
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  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Pilot Officer
    Service No:
    Date of Death:
    Royal Air Force
    615 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference:
    Class A. Grave 1596.
    His brother also died
    Flight Lieutenant
    Service No:
    Date of Death:
    Royal Air Force
    84 Sqdn.
    Panel Reference:
    Column 239.
    Additional Information:
    Son of Norman and Katherine E. J. Mudie, of East Molesey, Surrey.

    Michael Robert Mudie ( - 1940) - Find A Grave Memorial Mudie - one of "the few" from the Battle Of Britain.

    In the first week of the Battle of Britain, on Sunday 14th July 1940, a convoy of merchant ships was travelling through the Dover Straits when it was attacked by forty of the Luftwaffe's JU87 "Stuka" dive-bombers, escorted by Me109 fighter aircraft. These German aircraft were engaged by just three Hawker Hurricanes, belonging to the Red Section of 615 Squadron, RAF Kenley. The battle was later joined by Yellow, Green and Blue Sections of No.615 Squadron, plus Hurricanes from No.151 Squadron and the Spitfires of No.610 Squadron. Unfortunately, this was after 24-year-old Michael Mudie - Red 3 - had been shot down in flames and had parachuted into the sea, terribly burned. He died the following day in Dover Hospital, and was buried at East Molesey Cemetery, Surrey, on the 18th July. A broadcast eye-witness account, by Charles Gardener of the BBC, made the tradgedy sound like a sporting event and was met with disapproval, made worse when it was later discovered that the pilot was one of ours. In his book, "The Most Dangerous Enemy, A History Of The Battle Of Britain", Stephen Bungay devotes six pages, the whole of chapter 11, "The Enemy At The Gate", to a discussion of the matter. BBC reporter, Charles Gardener, was supported by Ogilvie - his boss - and by several members of the public who had never been to war, but it is noted that several of the critics were World War One pilots. Winston Churchill broadcast a message to the nation, immediately following Charles Gardner's broadcast. Germany lost a Stuka, another was damaged and a BF109 was written off, on landing in France. Michael Mudie, his courage and his suffering, have not been forgotten.
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  17. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    The Phases of Battle

    It has always been a point of controversy as to how many phases there were in the Battle of Britain. At least in Britain all historians agree that the Battle of Britain commenced on July 10th 1940. Like a book that is broken into chapters, the Battle of Britain was broken up into phases, with each phase depicting a different approach to combat attack and defence. Some historians claim that there were four phases in the battle while others make claim to it consisting of five. Officially, there are no official phases, those listed in the many historical reference books on the battle, are how the author/s see the Battle of Britain from their own perspective.

    Richard Townshend Bickers in Battle Diary - Battle of Britain claims that there were four phases.
    Phase 1: Aug 8 - Aug 18. Phase 2: Aug 19 - Sept 5. Phase 3: Sept 6 - Oct 5. Phase 4: Oct 6 - 31.
    Norman Franks in Fighter Command Losses also claims there were four phases but with different dates.
    Phase 1: July 10 - Aug 7. Phase 2: Aug 8 - Sept 6. Phase 3: Sept 7 - 30. Phase 4: Oct 1 - Oct 31.

    Derek Wood & Derek Dempster in the Narrow Margin claim that there were five phases.
    Phase 1: July 10-Aug 7. Phase 2: Aug 8-23. Phase 3: Aug 24-Sept 6. Phase 4: Sept 7-30. Phase 5: Oct 1-31.

    Len Deighton in Fighter-The True Story of The Battle of Britain claims four phases.
    Phase 1: July 10 - Aug 11. Phase 2: Aug 12 - 23. Phase 3: Aug 24 - Sept 6. Phase 4: Sept 7 - 15.

    John Ray, Battle of Britain - New Perspectives uses only three phases in his book.
    Phase 1: July 10 - Aug 18. Phase 2: Aug 19 - Sept 7. Phase 3. Sept 7 - Oct 16.

    All these authorities have excellent reasons for quoting the dates as they have done, and after reading their material I can see good reason as to why they have quoted the above dates in their books. I agree with John Ray in his statement that did the battle begin either in late June or the fall of France because airmen killed or wounded from those dates to what is regarded as the first day of the battle on July 10th 1940 were not regarded as to have taken part. My own opinion is that Germany turned their attentions to attack and invade Britain as soon as the battle of France was over, and as Winston Churchill announced "The Battle of France is over, I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin". And he was right.

    The following phases are broken into the different tactics and scenarios that took place between the official dates of the Battle of Britain and these compare favorably with the dates suggested by Norman Franks and are also very close to the dates given by Wood and Dempster with the exception that they have broken phase two into two phases, which is understandable because phase two was an exceptionally hard phase on the Royal Air Force.
    Phase 1. (July 10th - August 7th 1940) Attacks on the Channel Convoys.

    The bulk of attacks were in the south where the Luftwaffe went on probing attacks on British shipping in the English Channel and in the outer Thames Estuary. Smaller raids, and a number of German reconnaissance aircraft were spotted along the east coast while other nuisance raids took place in the north. During this phase, London remained unscathed, in fact many Londoner's went about their business as usual as if there was no war on at all, the only reminder that their country was at war was the AA gun emplacements, the barrage balloons, an occasional searchlight and of course purchasing restrictions and the supply of Anderson Shelters to the majority of backyards and gardens.

    Most of these attacks in the Channel were on the merchant convoys conveying much needed coal, raw materials, machinery and foodstuffs to Britain. By sinking these merchant ships Germany would deny the British people of the various commodities required just for their sheer existence. But at the same time, by attacking these channel convoys, it was hoped that it would draw out the British fighters from their bases. This way the Luftwaffe could analyze the strength of the RAF, determine the speed and efficiency that the RAF could deploy its squadrons, in other words, Germany was testing the efficiency and strength of the Royal Air Force and it was hoped that the Luftwaffe would destroy the RAF in the air.

    Spasmodic bombing raids continued throughout this first phase on such places as Portsmouth, Falmouth, Swansea, Newcastle and Merseyside, but these raids were not consistent like the channel convoy raids.
    Phase 2. (August 8th - September 6th 1940) Attacks of RAF Airfields

    The attacks on shipping continued, but after the failure to draw and destroy Fighter Command in the air, Germany's tactics were to now bomb and destroy RAF airfields in southern and south-east England and to obliterate the radar stations along the south coast. It was during this phase, that German intelligence reported back to Berlin that the RAF total strength had now been seriously depleted and that with continued attacks the Luftwaffe would have command of the skies over the Channel and in Southern England.

    Hitler then issued his directive No.16 which would put "Operation Sealion", the invasion of Britain into operation. This second phase was all important to Germany, as it had to destroy the RAF both in the air and on the ground if any attempt at an invasion crossing of the Channel was to be a success. It was during this phase that Fighter Command was stretched to the limit.
    Phase 3. (September 7th - September 30th 1940) Bombing of London, Major Cities & Airfields

    The first bombing attacks on the City of London started the third phase of the battle. Attacks by massed formations of bombers never before seen in the skies escorted by twice as many fighters brought the war now closer than ever to the residents of the great capital. Heavy bomb concentrations of the industrial factories and the dock areas of London's "East End" turned the eastern entry to the city a huge fireball on both sides of the River Thames.

    The Luftwaffe theory was that with mass bombing raids, they could inflict severe damage to the city and lower the moral and strength of the people while at the same time eliminate the last of the remaining fighters of Fighter Command. Further attacks on RAF airfields would continue although on a lesser scale than in phase two, but the daylight bombing of London would continue until the end of the month, where it would give way to heavy night bombing that was planned to continue for as long as it takes, or until the city and its people were bombed into submission.
    Phase 4. (October 1st - October 31st 1940) Concentrated Night Bombing Tactics

    The night raids continued with Hitler's planned invasion in tatters. Throughout September he kept the thrust of his heavy bombers mainly on London, but many other industrial centres suffered as well, but at a high attrition rate to the Luftwaffe. They continued to suffer heavier losses than the RAF and this they could not afford to do.

    The earlier plan to destroy Fighter Command had failed miserably, still the British fighters defended their capital even though considerable damage was being done, so in late September "Operation Sealion" was canceled.

    The night bombing raids continued thought October, mainly in desperation, and in the hope that the RAF would falter, but all the Luftwaffe was doing was losing more aircraft and losing more and more aircrews.

    By October 31st, the skies were all quiet as Germany directed its efforts towards Russia. But night bombing attacks on London and other cities and industrial centres was to continue.

    But the German Luftwaffe saw it a little differently. They do agree that the Battle of Britain commenced on July 10th 1940, but they insist that the battle was fought not in four stages, but six stating that the night of the heavy bombing raid on London on the night of May 10th and 11th 1941 finalized the Battle of Britain. The dates of the first four phases are very similar to those recorded by Britain, but they added a fifth phase that took place from November 1st 1940 to February 8th 1941 calling it the "End of the Air Battle". A sixth phase was also added between February 9th and continued until May 11th 1941 being termed as an appendix to the main battle. In theory they may be correct, but the Battle of Britain was all about the Luftwaffe attempt to making an all out attack on Britain by first annihilating the RAF from the skies.

    There was no way that Germany could effectively make an invasion of Britain without first destroying its defences. The Luftwaffe had, at all costs wipe out the two main defences that Britain possessed which was the first part of Hitler's plan of the invasion of Great Britain code named Operation Sea-Lion, these were the radar stations along the south coast of England and most importantly, the Royal Air Force both in the air and on the ground. It was this period of time between August 8th and October 31st 1940 that the Luftwaffe tried in vain to break the heart of the RAF, but without success.

    Come October 31st, there was an erie and strange quiet, the skies were empty, the airfields were waiting patiently for another attack, but it never came, the courage and the determination of not only the gallant aircrew, but all those that kept them in the air, those that directed them to their attackers had terminated the German first phase of the invasion of Britain. It was on this day that Germany had to change tactics and their plan now was to destroy the hearts of the British people by the constant bombing of British cities and towns. It was on this day, October 31st 1940 that the Royal Air Force ripped the heart out the German Luftwaffe and officially ended that final phase of the invasion of England, the Battle of Britain was now over.

    But strangely enough, the the first air attacks of July 1940 took place, not over England, but way down in the Mediterranean. Italian bombers had been seen at two locations, one just off the coast of Malta, and the other just north of Sidi Barrani close to the Egyptian border. The weather was said to be very warm with cloudless blue skies, which was in stark contrast to the weather pattern over England and the English Channel where it was stormy with heavy rain and thunderstorms.

    Charles Gardner's broadcast (July 14th 1940)
    For a full text version of Charles Gardner's commentary see [ Document-23 ]
    Manston received some damage in an attack, but an attack on a destroyer in Swanage Harbour done no damage except causing a lot of sea spray and water spouts.

    THE CASUALTIES: (July 14th 1940)
    1530hrs. Dover. Hurricane L1584. 615 Squadron Kenley. (Crashed into sea)
    P/O M.R. Mudie Died of injuries. (Baled out badly injured, rescued by Navy, died on July 15th 1940)

    MONDAY JULY 15th 1940

    Low cloud persisted most of the day with occasional heavy rain.


    Not the most ideal weather conditions for flying, and neither side saw, or undertook much activity. The Luftwaffe made a few reconnaissance missions over the North Sea and the English Channel. The convoy "Pilot" was making its way through the Thames Estuary when spotted by the German reconnaissance aircraft and its position and course were radioed back to German HQ. By late-morning the weather had broken up enough for 15 Do17 bombers of KG2 to take off for an intended attack on the convoy.

    1130hrs (11.30am): A number of He111 bombers were attacking industrial and dock areas along the Scottish coast.
    603 Squadron Dyce (Spitfires) intercepted and avoided any major damage, although quite a number of bombs fell causing only minor damage. A He111 of 2/KG26 was shot down at 1212hrs which crashed into the sea.

    1350hrs (1.50pm): A number of German bombers made an attack on an aircraft works at Yeovil in Somerset in the west of England. One of the runways received slight damage, as did one of the hangars and a number of craters appeared, but damage was kept to a minimum. 213 Squadron Exeter (Hurricanes) intercepted and one Hurricane was shot down although the pilot baled out. Interception was also made by 92 Squadron Pembrey (Spitfires) in which the Luftwaffe lost one Ju88 and another damaged.

    1415hrs (2.15pm): Through broken cloud and rain squalls a Dornier formation arrived over the convoy "Pilot" but Fighter command had 'seen' them coming and scrambled 56 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) and 151 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) to meet them before the Dorniers had time to attack the convoy. Although some attempted an attack, they were turned around without causing any damage. Once the attack was aborted, the Hurricanes returned to base without scoring.

    Casualties were light on both sides, in fact the RAF suffered more aircraft damaged or lost in flying accidents than they did on operational sorties. Some were damaged in heavy landings, another crashed in inclement weather whilst attempting to land and another crashed into a accumulator trolley while taxiing into a hangar.
    THE CASUALTIES: (July 15th 1940)
    There were none recorded on this day.

    July 2nd - July24th 1940
  18. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    One of the things that I find intensely irksome about BoBNet web pages is the attempt to introduce journalist spin to spice up the events. This suggests a picture of pilots at readiness waiting to scramble and does a disservice to the constant pressure that Fighter Command was under to satisfy operational needs

    "1415hrs (2.15pm): Through broken cloud and rain squalls a Dornier formation arrived over the convoy "Pilot" but Fighter command had 'seen' them coming and scrambled 56 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) and 151 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) to meet them before the Dorniers had time to attack the convoy. Although some attempted an attack, they were turned around without causing any damage. Once the attack was aborted, the Hurricanes returned to base without scoring."

    Fighter Command HQ AIR24/526 reports a different picture to "scambled RAF Hurricanes reach, in the nick of time, the plucky convoy sailing alone into danger"

    1 patrol of 3 a/c 1200-1338 Escort Pilot
    1 patrol of 3 a/c 1305-1445 Escort Pilot
    1 patrol of 12 a/c 1355-1443 Escort Pilot
    1 patrol of 6 a/c 1355-1510 Escort Pilot
    1 patrol of 3 a/c 1400-1540 Escort Pilot
    1 Patrol of 3 a/c 1500-1620 Escort Pilot
    1 patrol of 3 a/c 1552-1727 Escort Pilot
    1 patrol of 3 a/c 1631-1740 Escort Pilot

    So from mid-day despite reporting by BoBNet that "neither side saw, or undertook much activity" Fighter Command was flying standing 3 a/c patrols over Pilot (and convoys Bread and Agent) augmenting when increased danger was suspected. In fact for the period 09:00 to 18:00 on the 15th Fighter Command list 74 patrols (231 operational flights) to either raid plots or standing patrols.

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
    spidge, Gage and CL1 like this.
  19. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Wednesday 17 July 1940

    • Weather: Dull with occasional rain.
    • Day: Search for shipping off Scottish and east coasts.
    • Night: Targets attacked in south-west. Minelaying.
    Enemy action by day
    Weather hampered our fighters in their action against enemy air activity which was again on a reduced scale. Raids were plotted off the Scottish, East and South coasts, apparently searching for shipping. An attack was made on shipping off Dundee and trawlers were attcked off Beachy Head. One or two raids crossed the coast and bombs were dropped in Surrey, Kent, at Portland and in Ayrshire.

    RAF - Campaign diariesBattle of Britain
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

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