'Wings Over The Reich: War Stories From The Battle Of Britain!'
Hello to all here in the WOTR Community! This is a new thread that I would like to introduce for a project which I began back in the middle of March 2019. To Mark and Mark, the creators of WOTR at OBD, and to Robert for many of the excellent skins in WOTR, I say thanks as I have been captivated and engrossed in Wings Over The Reich since shortly after its release. Sometime back I was Blessed to be allowed to be a Tester for WOTR and try to give a little back to the guys that do the truly amazing programming at OBD by, you guessed it, testing the NEW STUFF. It is amazing to see first hand how much these two gents care about WOTR and how quickly and efficiently they take feedback and implement it, when possible, into WOTR. This Diary/story is another instance to give a little back to OBD and the WOTR Community. Anyway, this is a shout out to both Marks for the amazing production which they have created and brought to the WWII Flight Simming Community, and to Robert for all of the skins which up the immersion level that much more. Thank you each VERY MUCH!
I unknowingly at first began this little project by flying the 'BOB Phase 5 London Night Raid' in WOTR's Quick Scenario missions. After being completely enthralled with the look of the mission at night and a few pictures which I took during that sortie, the thought came to mind to make an AAR from it. So, I searched a bit on the net for information about night time fighter intercepts in the BOB to see if this really happened. I found virtually nothing as the in plane RDF(radar) was still in its infancy. So, I just decided to write a fictional non historical AAR. After about 2 weeks of re flying that mission and taking what I thought were some really good night mission pictures I started writing an AAR. Shortly after that I PMed 33lima to ask about Steel Fury 1942, as I like tank sims also. I noticed he is from Norn Iron(Northern Ireland for those South of the Mason Dixon line) so I approached him through another PM to see if he would be interested in critiquing my AAR and he graciously accepted. Now this project started out to be a simple 3,4 or 5 part Night Raid AAR, but as I revealed these initial episodes to Ivor(33lima), I began to talk about maybe creating one Episode about the main characters life and how he reached the position he was in during the night missions. Well Ivor said if you do that Drew, you are going to have to include the whole enlistment and training regiment to bridge the story. Well from there it took off and through much research and many many correspondences back and forth, this thing became a real monster of a project. It became a Diary/story of the main characters life. And now here we are, posting Episode one. Through this collaboration I have found Ivor to have a very in depth knowledge of the Battle of Britain and to be an unselfish, honest and truly a helpful mentor whom has irreversibly peaked my desire to learn more about how important The Battle of Britain really was in the course of history. Through our correspondence I would say we have developed a friendship and mutually admire and respect the effort put forth by the whole of Britain in The Battle of Britain to defeat the German's attempt to conquer their island home and Empire. We have gone so far as to trade favorite BOB books and other resources that add to the WOTR and BOB experience. Some of his critiquing and literary suggestions have been directly written into this Diary/story and all which he has contributed has GREATLY added to what I started out to accomplish. Ivor, thank you for all of your time, wisdom, input and encouragement to help make this Diary/story the best that I could ever hope for it to be. I am indebted to you Mucker! S!
The characters and actions of this Diary/story are not historical. The time frame and context of being in the correct geographical places in the WOTR world are correct, and I have attempted, and heavily relied on Ivor's knowledge and my own research, to help keep this Diary/story as 1940s 'period' and technically factual as much as possible. Also I asked Ivor to help me keep the dialogue as 1940s 'period' British as possible and not let me inject any 'Americanisms' into the dialogue. Some of the Training Mission Episodes have been technically embellished a bit here and there to fit the story, but I have really really tried to keep this to a minimum. There is a very very small amount of photo editing that is not actually visually available in WOTR.
So, the format will work like this. I will make this initial post and also post Episode I immediately below it. I will post another 25 'placeholder' posts immediately after these initial 2 posts. I am not sure of the actual total of Episodes, but there are 16 as of now so I am hoping to conclude this in 25 or less Episodes(Mark Andrews, I know, I am long winded and I apologize in advance). I will use these 'placeholders' to post each Episode in the coming weeks until the Diary/story is complete. I will attempt to be as punctual as possible and post one Episode per week on Wednesday. If there is any pertinent information or fun little outtakes, I will share them under my signature IN THIS INITIAL POST, numbered to correspond to the current Episode and dated. So remember to look here before reading the new Episode so you will be up to date on the creation of that Episode.
This is an open thread for those that might want to create there own 'WOTR: War Stories From The Battle Of Britain!'. The only thing I ask is that if you decide to create a 'Story' to post here, that you contact Polovski to run it by him and make sure he wants it posted. If he doesn't have time to deal with this then other arrangements will be made to approve any further 'Storys' submitted. There is no certain length or format for creating a submission here as long as it is in some type of story form. This is not a thread for daily AARs from ongoing Careers. We already have a separate completely awesome 'Sticky' thread that I highly recommend checking out here in the WOTR main section(GO Ivor!). Thanks for your compliance in advance. S! Comments are welcome and please if you enjoy this 'WOTR: War Stories From The Battle Of Britain!', feel free to share the thread link with anyone you feel might enjoy it and be interested. Who knows, this might even drum up some new customers to purchase Wings Over The Reich and discover this gem of a WWII Battle of Britain combat flight sim.
Well, after my long winded(sorry again Mark Andrews) introduction, without further adieu,......
I hope you all enjoy this 'Wings Over The Reich: War Stories From The Battle Of Britain!'
Merry Christmas! S!Blade<>< AKA Drew
Episode One: Outtakes. 12/25/2019 All of the pictures are generic and copied from the internet except Mr. Francis Edward Foley whom was an actual person of interesting character. Do a little research and check him out. My apologies as to there only being one screenshot in Episode one, but it was impossible to produce what I wanted from WOTR. Don't worry, the Screenshots are a plenty in Episode two and beyond! Do remember that any of the the dialogue outside of the Diary Entries, is coming from the Grandson, Paton Christopher Wednsforth, as he is the narrator. If there are any 'grammar Nazis' out there, please pm me with corrections if you like. Proper grammar is not my forte, but I do appreciate proper grammar and am willing to correct any blaring mistakes.
Episode Two: Outtakes 01/01/2020 The Link Simulator was most likely not used during the pre war months of 1940, or during the BOB to train fighter pilots. I fictionalized this to fit the story. The Link Simulator was in use for bomber pilot training from well before the start of WWII, which began on September 1, 1939. The Link Simulator was modified later in 1941 as best I can tell to train fighter pilots in the way described in the story. The description of how The Link Simulator was used in training is based on fact for both the early Link and the The Edmondes upgrade. The screenshots have had some minor photo editing applied to them. Anyone see what was done? I had to edit the pilot out of the cockpit and add the unbroken gun tape. This is the last Episode which will have generic photos used in it unless possibly one or more Episodes much further down the line require them. So, from here on out all pictures will be screenshots from WOTR. Ivor really helped keep me straight with the dialogue here and few of his lines were used directly. Thanks Ivor.
Episode Three: Outtakes 01/08/2020 Just some very minor photo editing. Added the unbroken gun tape since this is a training flight. This is just a Free Flight Mission with the skins arranged to fit the story.
Episode Four: Outtakes 01/14/2020 Ivor's namesake makes a cameo in Episode 4. I couldn't help but to write him in the story after all that he has done to help and encourage me. Again the unbroken gun tape is the only photo editing. From here on out every mission used for pictures was flown by me either in the Quick Scenarios missions or from one of my 238 Squadron Campaign missions. I simply took pictures when I wanted to and then wrote the story to match what happened in the mission along my main thought train of the overall story plot. Simple right? This was my first attempt to crop together multiple pictures. An interesting process in and of itself.
Episode Five: Outtakes 01/22/2020 It is funny how things work out. While taking pictures of this mission which I had organized especially for these 'Training Memoirs', WOTR presented me with a little opportunity that most other sims do not. Thanks goes to OBD for correcting the Squadron aircraft numbers so that I could portray the Sections of aircraft properly for each of these 'Training Memoirs'. Upon the return trip to Tangmere while in free camera I just happened to notice Blue 3 was nosing down for no obvious reason. I was like, what the heck is going on? We had not been in any combat and fuel was not that low. Well I went with it and continued to take pics while slowly letting the mission advance a little at a time between pauses. When it was all said and done I started thinking about it and after questioning Mark(Pol), he confirmed that there is provision in the code for random failures. Even for the AI NPC aircraft. So as I was working on this Episode I just went with it as part of the story. Obviously I performed photo editing to insert the steam in the cockpit, the ground impact with the tiny pilot parachutist and the final picture with the smoke in the distance. These are very crude attempts at photo editing I know, but I was only using Infranview and my imagination, so there you go. I think it came out pretty nice and am pleased with the final results. It is just one of the many small things that WOTR does so well in helping the player feel a deeper immersion while flying in this sim. There is one glaring mistake that I just realized today, and is to late to correct, but I will leave that for any of you to figure out, or not.
Episode Six: Outtakes 01/28/2020 First I want to acknowledge ChiefWH for the original Formation spacing mod. Second for the camouflaged hangars mod which are displayed in this Episode. When I first started taking pics for these Formation Episodes the spacing was just to far apart and so I inquired of ChiefWH as to the possibility of closing up the ranks in the formations in WOTR. Within 1 week he shared his original Formation mod with me and it was just what I wanted. With his instruction I tinkered with the spacing more and came up with what you see here. This spacing is not really practical for in game and sometimes causes collisions. After this OBD took up the challenge and introduced the options we now have in game and they work very well. OBD also went on to produce their own camouflaged hangars. No photo editing in these pics. As usual Ivor helped me keep on track with the locations and the vectors of the pictures around London and some of the sites seen. It is not easy trying to getting so many Hurricanes in a good pic, so I am quite pleased with how these training missions came out. So far so good, but will we ever see any combat????
Episode Seven: Outtakes 02/04/2020 There is not much to say this week. This is just the straight forward goodness of what you get when you fly WOTR Phase One: Convoy Battles. The clouds are the best in the business and with a little imagination you can just see the shipping convoys moving below. They are really there, and you know that you have to stay above the mix and protect those sailors as they bring the resources of war and provision to your Island Home. I am sorry if the R/T chatter is rather Formal and lengthy. Even Ivor thinks I might shorten some up or cut some down and out of the story, but this is the way R/T Comms were with the RAF pre 'the official beginning of the Battle Of Britain.' The proper English Language and slow deliberate enunciation with that heavy British accent. You have to Love it, it is so proper and fitting. Spot on Mate! It just wouldn't read right if I used my native Southern Drawl. Remember we are only up to July 2nd and things are just starting to heat up. Anyway, I LOVE IT, and I am writing the story, so sorry Ivor and anyone else whom might think it slow or annoying, you have my apology. I promise when things get really sticky the boys will cut to the gist of the matters at hand in their R/T comms when they have their hands full with the Luftwaffe.I am trying a new multi picture approach with a desktop picture format as the background and the the smaller pics working around that background. Exciting isn't it! Edit: I want to mention that the two pictures with the in Sim maps are using CheifWH's map mod. He put many many hours into this map and it is a must have IMHO. Thanks CheifWH if you are still lurking about Sir.
Episode Eight: Outtakes 02/11/2020 Well it is Wednesday in Australia and I have to work late this evening and open early in the morning tomorrow, so, here is the Episode Eight posting a little earlier than usual. FINALLY we come to some combat! Just some minor photo editing where I covered over one of the two parachutists that always appear in the WOTR bomber bailout sequence. An interesting note is, once Ivor saw these pics he immediately noted that the top gunners glass windscreen was to large, stood to tall and one of the engine intakes was on the wrong side of the engine nodule. This did not match the actual look of the real He 111. After Ivor brought these concerns to OBD's attention, Mark(Pol) made the graphical corrections and as a result we now have the corrected version in WOTR. This is just one more example of how OBD looks after WOTR and attempts to refine this Sim in all possible ways as issues surface.
Episode Nine: Outtakes 02/19/2020 Nothing really to gab on about with this Episode. These last 3 Episodes were from one actual mission from one of my many 238 Squadron Campaigns. There was only one parachutist in the picture I used, I did not photo edit the other one out. I don't know where he went? Maybe OBD programmed in random chute failures? It wouldn't surprise me if they did! The Battle of Britain is warming up!
Episode Ten: Outtakes 02/26/2020 Thanks to OBD the bomb load of the Ju 87 was corrected to the display the actual configuration used by the Stukas in the BOB. A double edge sword for me as I had to go back and re-shoot pictures for my intro to the Episode. OBD also changed the ships explosion graphics which are used in the initial ship bombing pics, with the latter pics representing the older explosion graphics. Both are very nice renditions. I like tying in happenings that were going on in the background of what the RAF was doing in the air war, hence the actual pics and side info. No photo editing was used in this Episode.
Episode Eleven: Outtakes 03/04/2020 This was a real mission in one of my No. 238 Squadron Campaigns. The story pretty much tells what really happened. Payne, VK-A, disappeared early in the mission. I don't know what happened to him, but he was alive in the next mission, so who knows. The AI Stukas actually did drop many of their eggs and not one of them made an attack on any of the ships. I performed some photo editing, adding the starboard wing strikes on Chris's Hurricane. What will happen to Chris? Will he make it to his Island home?? Will he have to bail out, destroying his much loved VK-B? Will he get his feet wet??? Will he have to land his beloved VK-B wheels up and destroy her? Or will the Tooth Fairy bring him home safely? Tune in next week, same time, same channel, to see what will happen to Christopher Patrick Wednsforth II !!!
Episode Twelve: Outtakes 03/11/2020 SPOILER ALERT: YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ THE EPISODE FIRST AND THEN COME BACK AND READ THIS! Hmm, where to start. The last picture in Episode XI is actually the last picture I took from that real Campaign mission. So actually there was no pictorial ending to the situation at hand. Having figured out how to manipulate the missions in WOTR, I set out to create an ending. I used one of OBD's Quick Scenario Coastal Raid missions and then Frankensteined it into 9 Do17s and Chris's VK-B pursuing closely behind them poised to intercept near Folkestone. Fights On! I flew right up in the middle of them, firing all the way as I approached. Stirring the hornets nest as they say! I started to get clobbered and once I saw blood on the windscreen and was told my cooling system was compromised I high tailed it out of the line of fire. I honestly was right off the coast near Hythe. Well the rest is what you see in this Episode. I barely made it to Lympne, as you can tell by the look of the prop in the pics, my girl was hurting and wanted to set down badly. The blood in the pictures, both in the cockpit and externally are completely OBD's fine graphical work. The Hydraulics were actually out, I had to manually pump the gear down and only one locked, for real, no joke. Oh man, I didn't know what was going to happen when I pancaked. Was this the end of Chris's story? I set her down nice and easy and actually did not have brakes?(Pol, is this modeled? maybe that was just in my head?) This I do know, I actually started to veer to the left as I steadily increased the right rudder. If you look in one of the pics towards the end of the Episode I am actually about to run off the left side of the runway. As I came to a stop and was paused and taking pics I finally saw what happened. OBD has modeled flat tire capability and VK-B had an honest to God flat on the left side. The final picture in this Episode shows it clearly. THAT IS NOT PHOTO EDITED IN ANY WAY. Another testament to the boys at OBD for their attention to detail and immersion. I did preform a good bit of Photo editing on several of the pics. The first pic, all the wing strikes and the vapor trail. Most of the pics showing the in game vapor/smoke trail were blurred on top of the in game effect to make it look more realistic. Some of the pics I had to cover over the planes in front of the hangars, as Lympne was not supposed to be occupied when Chris landed. The blood on Chris's flying helmet was photo edited in by me. This was definitely one of my favorite Episodes to fly and take screenshots of. I was a nervous wreck from the time I pulled out of the hornets nest until the time I finally completed the mission and had all of the pics. Until I started to review the pictures to select the ones I wanted, I had no idea a lot of this stuff actually happened real time in sim. Even though I set this mission up, don't be fooled as this has happened in actual Campaign missions as well. If you are careless and rush in, the Huns will eat you alive and spit you out the other end for sure! Thanks OBD!
Episode Thirteen: Outtakes 03/18/2020 All of the information about No. 604 Squadron and the Blenheims operation and armament is as researched and factual as I can find. As far as ACM Park being involved with night fighter actions at Gravesend, that is fictional and is being used to form the foundation of later Episodes. All of the locations of Squadrons, Aerodromes, Towns mentioned and Chain Home Low references are all factual and with a bit of study and correspondence with Ivor have been verified to the best of our ability. I am sure some are saying to themselves, " what does it matter, this is a fictional story?" My goal is to learn as much as possible about the Battle of Britain and then use the factual information to give authenticity to the actions of what happens in my fictional story line. It is very interesting to me to learn so much that I never knew about the Historical happenings and sacrifices made during The Battle of Britain and then try to respectfully use that information to enhance and lead the story I write. The whole process is very enjoyable to me. This is a Quick Scenario mission which I altered to use the 3 DO17s, only 2 Hurricanes including the un-lettered Hurricane Chris fly's. A big shout out to Robert Wiggins for making me 6 custom skins to use in this and future missions. A big shout out to Ivor for his patience, shared wisdom and encouragement to keep cracking away at the creation of this story. Of Course OBD are the ones who have made this possible for me to work on, from creating and continually improving WOTR itself, to allowing me to make the thread and post this the way I always envisioned it. Thanks Mark & Mark! There is very very little photo editing in this episode. I think we might be half way there, but that just depends on where this thing goes as it seems to have a life of its own. We will get to the end when that time comes I suppose. We are closing in on 5,000 views! Thanks to all who are keeping up and are reading 'Wings Over The Reich: War Stories From The Battle Of Britain!'
Episode Fourteen: Outtakes 03/25/2020 First and most important, for all those whom have lost Loved ones and are being affected by Covid 19, my Prayers go out to each of you. I am Praying each day that we all will keep our thoughts positive, our hearts in the right place to help one another and that we most importantly hold on to Hope that this to will pass. Remaining positive, helping others where we can and remaining respectful of each other is most important during this time of crisis. The events from last weeks and this weeks Episodes are from a real Quick Scenario mission. The locations are real and any industrial factory in Hurn could have well produced equipment for The Royal Navy seeing as the former had a large Naval base nearby on the coast at Portland. Very minimal photo editing used. The smoke behind the Do17 in picture 8 and the rear gunners tracer being fired in pic 6 and that is all. Other than that this was a really fun mission flown for the expressed reason of writing this story. Thanks again to Robert Wiggins for the skins he supplied me. Enjoy!
Episode Fifteen: Outtakes 04/2/2020
Thank you Adger and Buckeyebob for the kind sentiments. My apologies to both of you, but me being the Ass I am sometimes could not resist playing the 'April Fools' gag(does the rest of the world acknowledge April Fools Day?) since April 1st occured on my normal posting day. Anyway, please pardon my sometimes off sense of humor, as it only seems to exist to make me chuckle a bit. But that is ok, if you can't laugh with or at yourself, then one needs to lighten up some! Maybe someone got a laugh from my Homer AAR anyway, as that was one from a ways back which I had a lot of fun creating and got quite a few laughs from even if it wasn't funny!
Ok, now that we understand that I am not a comedian, please also understand that I am not a Poet either. Ivor, thanks for your kind words, as the opening three sentences to introduce my poem were basically from your reaction to when I asked you to critique it. So credit goes to you for basically writing the 'Forward' to my effort. Thank you Ivor. I am not really sure where this idea spontaneously came from, why I wrote it or how these pictures inspired the words, but it seems to me to come from learning more and more of the Unbreakable Faith that the people of The British Empire had of their Certain Victory in this War. Love it, hate it or indifferent to it, these words just seemed to come to me when I was viewing these screenshots during my last hour of work one night. All of my work was done and we had had an extremely successful day, so I did not feel bad about jotting this down while we prepared to close. It is very 'cliche', but the words just seemed to write themselves. All told I have about two hours invested and honestly, I am quite pleased with the outcome. I hope you all like it, because I doubt this will happen again for a long, long time. Much to the relief of some of you I expect!
This is a special series of Episodes to me as this represents just one day of Air Combat in The Battle of Britain. I may have mentioned but I purchased a 7 book series(also one additional edition for Dunkirk) of Battle of Britain Combat Archives written by Simon W Parry and distributed by WingLeader Aviation Books & Collectables(link below). Each Book is an account of several day's of complete RAF combat actions. Each day is broken down and all combat actions are documented with Historical information only. These books begin with July 10th and currently end with August 29th. As I understand it, not positive of this, there are more editions in the works which will take these Archives through September 15. Each days account has fabulous pictures, some general maps, and personal accounts from the Squadron actions of the intercepts. Positively Historically fantastic to read, but not a Novel/Drama. Anyhow, I have used this source to chronicle all RAF actions this day interspersed in a chronological order to accompany Chris's Diary submission of No. 238's actions. No. 238 fictional mission is based loosely on a factual mission that occurred at 1100-1115 hours in the Portland shipping lanes. I had to tone it down a bit but 7 Hurris of No. 87 SQN, 12 Spits of No.152 Sqn Intercepted 1 DO 17, 18 JU87s & 12 Me 109s. Remember I said loosely. I have 12 Hurris, No 238 Sqn vs. 8 Me 109s & 30 Ju88s. It was a mess for about 30 seconds there and all pics from these 4 Episodes are from that one mission. Anyway, all of the historical pictures and the accounts I have submitted are based on the actual events of this day. The names are the actual names of the RAF Pilots involved and all of my writing of their Bravery and Sacrifice is created and submitted in the upmost respect to their Legacies. I am not trying to sensationalize my fictional story, but I am merely trying to give a glimpse into all that transpired on the 25th of July 1940. Many gave up their lives that day and I have nothing but The Utmost Respect for their unselfish Loyalty and Complete Dedication to Living in Freedom within The British Empire which they Loved.
A quick funny side note about the source photos(Well... sorry Mark Andrews, actually nothing is quick or short with me writing). Ivor is my production critic and of course I run all of these Episodes by him well before I post them so he can use his wealth of BOB knowledge and well.. critique. This way he can make sure I am not making any 'Yank' blunders with photos or massacring my feeble attempts at writing this Story in an acceptable 1940 English dialect. Well, I started submitting photos and Holly SCHEISSER! Good Gosh! This one was post BOB, see the white band in front of the tail, OK Ivor. That one is a late model Spit, see the six individual exhaust pipes per side, Ok Ivor. That one is pre BOB, see the small Roundels, OK IVOR! That one has 4 20 mike mike cannons, no good, OK IIVVOORR!!! And that one...... Good Lord, this man knows his BOB, there is no doubt and he did not cut me any slack what so ever, but,.... I Loved it, I went back to my searches and was looking deeply to find pics, looking at manifold, looking at paint schemes, looking at armaments and Roundels, and well,... satisfaction comes from success. I finally managed to meet all of his stringent requirements(or he cut me a minute amount of slack & did not tell me????) and as a result these Episodes are much richer and Historically accurate. Thanks Ivor,...... I think?
Anyhow, here is my quoted feeble attempt at an "April Fools" gag as it is being replaced with the Proper Episode for this week. Again all thanks to you Adger and Buckeyebob for the kind sentiments.
Originally Posted by Blade_Meister
I regret to say that I have experienced writers block so severely that I will not be able to continue Chris's story any further. After weeks of attempting to free up my mind, this is all I could come up with. This is not up to par with my previous efforts and I have decided to end my AAR Story writing efforts. It has been fun up until now. My apologies to all at OBD that it had to end this way. Have a nice day. I tried, I really tried, but to no avail! S!Blade<><
Thanks to All who are still reading this story. We topped 5,000 views, WAHOOOOO!!!
S! Drew <><
Episode Sixteen: Outtakes 04/8/2020
My apologies for this being posted so late in the day, but as I was proofreading and amending both this morning before work and this evening after work I just had more to add. I feel this Episode is in good standing now. All of the RAF accounts added in this Episode are factual. I tried my best to find pictures that are Historically correct to the time period, but there are limits to what is available these days. The picture of the He 111 from the first factual action, 1500-1530hours, is really a picture of the actual He 111 that came down in a flat spin near Oakridge Lynch. There is not any photo editing in this Episode, just plain old gorgeous WOTR graphics at work. Last week I joked a little about Ivor holding my feet to the fire and making me accountable for using the correct pictures of Squadrons, types of Hurricanes and Spitfires and correct roundels and call letters.(in all fairness, I asked him to do this) Bad idea! He really let me have it this week with a couple of pics I had submitted to use. This man knows his Hurricanes and Spitfires inside and out, that is all I will say about that as I Do Not want another BOB Wisdom thrashing from him next week. Back to the Salamandor book to study up more so I don't get caught out in the cold with my BOB ignorance anytime soon again! The last Episode, this one and the next couple are all from one custom mission I created. I had one or two marathon picture taking sessions to capture all of these pics and I had a blast doing it. Enjoy! S!
Episode Seventeen: Outtakes 04/15/2020 Writing is a duel edge sword. This Episode has technically been finished for two days, yet every time I proofread it I end up making critical changes that in my eyes make it a better read. It seems a story is never truly finished before it is posted. Time simply runs out and then you just have to put it out there. Thanks again to Ivor for encouragement, straightening misconstrued facts and supplying Sailor Malan's Fighting Rules this week which I used in this Episode. Pictures 9,10 and 11 have photo editing applied to them. Again my amateur photo editing is apparent, but it is what it is and the best I can due at this point. It serves it's purpose to convey the story. It is getting down to the critical point of deciding where and how this story is going to round out. The stage is set, now to find the time and navigate my way. I foresee a whole bunch of time being spent taking new pics, writing and researching needed understanding to take this story in the direction of the 'Blitz Busters'! Enjoy! S!
Episode Eighteen: Outtakes 04/29/2020 My apologies for having to bump this Episode back a whole week. Real Life has kept me busy as of late. We will just leave it at that. I am very thankful for all of the provision I am given, and this week time was allowed to complete Episode XVIII. There is no photo editing. I thought this was going to be the first Episode in quite a long while that I only had non multi-photo shots in. Well that all changed last night, so there are multi-photo shots at the end of this one. The actual mission account was quite complex and I had an over abundance of information to sort through and extract what I was going to use without just rewriting exactly what I read. I had this thing all finished last night and submitted to Ivor to critique(sorry it was to late Ivor) and then I got home today and thought that justice had not been done presenting the Royal Navy battle which took place in The Strait of Dover during this aerial intercept. While the boys of No. 54, No. 56 & No. 610 Squadron were battling it out overhead to try to assist the two destroyers, the Naval Boys were going through hell down on the Strait. I hope I did a good enough job presenting this complex and emotionally heart wrenching account of the many brave Sailors and airmen that sacrificed their lives for the greater good of the day, so that you can appreciate the determination which drove these young men to fight so valiantly. Anyway, it's 9:42 and I have been at this since 5:00, I am starving and here is Episode XVIII. Hope you enjoy. I will try to bring another Episode next Wednesday, but this will really be dictated by my Real Life commitments. It is possible that I may have to continue posting Episodes every two weeks. My goal is to get back on track for weekly postings, so here is to hoping!
Episode Nineteen: Outtakes 05/21/2020 Hmmmm, where to start. Well a very special little book appeared on my front doorstep today. The book's title is 'A Dictionary of RAF Slang' written by Eric Partridge. It was first published in 1945. I really can't think of a more dangerous tool that a very, very amateurish Yank writer could have in his hand. As hard as I try, and I really do try hard, believe me, probably too hard, my attempt to write this as if a British Pilot from the RAF in 1940 was writing it just never seems to roll off the tongue as if an actual British person were writing it. Sometimes when Ivor suggests a correction he will offer an example of how it might read if he were writing it. I read it and say, Dam(n!) that reads so much better, and then I plagiarizer it and hope Ivor won't notice. Just kidding, I always thank him and usually incorporate it into the Episode. Anyway, I digress, but if you Brits see me abusing the 'slang' from this dangerous little book, please speak up and put me back in my place, because I am not British! Well, it has been three weeks since the last Episode, and while I am sorry the weekly postings have slipped off the chart, I am thinking that going forward through the end of spring and into summer, I will be shooting for every other week with the odd three week posting here and there. I have no more buffer of Episodes, so as I post one I have to begin the next one. It is what it is, onward we go! There is no photo editing this Episode apart from the picture in picture format. This mission is all fiction. I decided to create it to illustrate the multi missions that many RAF Squadrons had to fly in the height of the BOB. As always, any of Paton Wedsnforth's, the grandson narrator, footnotes are based on fact to add more detail to the story. Because of the way WOTR begins the missions with the planes already at the end of the runway, I had to go with this in the story. Towing the Hurricanes to the end of the runway would never have happened, so go easy on critiquing that because it is what I had to work with. There is not much else to say, but that this Epidsode was technically finished yesterday but I got home from work at 10pm and had to open this morning at 7am, so once home I had a glass of milk and crawaled right in bed. There just was no time to post it last night and write this. I included a pic of the dangerous little RAF Slang book cover and a list of the terms I incorporated into this Episode this evening for my Yank brother-en, who like me may not be familiar with some of these Slang terms. Enjoy, and it is good to be back and finally posting an Episode! S! Drew <>< Edit: A shout out to 33lima for his CH Tower Mod! Thanks Ivor, you did a real good job with this, plus, 25% more target to bomb! Nice!
Episode Twenty: Outtakes 06/17/2020 Well, what can I say, I did not intend to take this long to finish and post Episode Twenty, but it is what it is. I really enjoyed creating this one and with the time constraint of posting in one or two weeks lifted, I feel it really came out well. There is no possible way that Chris or Paton would possibly know what went on in the other pilots heads as they engaged this fight. So, I will ask your forgiveness as I am employing a sort of God writers mode, pulling back from just Chris and Paton's perspective, to be able to articulate what I envision these other pilots of No. 238 Sqn. going through. I am using what I have read in personal accounts in the many books I have concerning BOB pilots to fuel(not plagiarize) my own fictional accounts of what is happening. These accounts relate to factual readings and so present a very realistic picture to what some of the less fortunate RAF pilots experienced during the BOB. There is photo editing of course, and if you look close enough there are added little details, described in the writing, to the picture concerning Art and the farmer's arrival to Ventnor. I hope you enjoy reading and viewing this Episode as much as I did creating it.
Memoirs of Chris Wednsforth II, recounted by his Grandson Paton Christopher Wednsforth. By the time of my Grandfather's death in 2002, some 60 odd years had passed since he voluntarily applied to be trained as an RAF Pilot. As our family went through the painful process of sorting his personal belongings in his home in Bishopston, Llandeilo Ferwallt, I came across my Grandfather's diary. A very special diary. A very secretive diary! Upon sitting down and reading his diary I discovered a secret in an epoch within a devastating struggle that I knew almost nothing about. His diary intrigued me to personally research and investigate exactly how my Grandfather had become an instrumental part in 'The Battle of Britain'. I have spent the last 17 years putting together the pieces of the puzzle which my Grandfather's Diary inspired me to explore so I might quench my own desire to understand what he and his fellow pilots actually experienced. My grandfather was one of the few known as 'Blitz Buster!' He was one of a daring group of very young RAF pilots whom volunteered to carry the fight to the Luftwaffe pilots in a most unexpected way in spite of the inherent dangers to their own lives .
You see my Grandfather was born on the Twenty Third of September in the year Nineteen Hundred and Twenty One to my great Grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Adison Wednsforth. To the sorrowful lose of Chris Sr. , Mrs. Alison Chamberland Wednsforth perished during childbirth. Christopher Patrick Wednsforth II, my Grandfather, would never know his mother except through this one photograph which his Father kept on his desk always.
Mr. Christopher Adison Wednsforth
Mrs. Alison Chamberland Wednsforth
The child of a member of Parliament, young Chris grew up in the know of world events. From 1933, at the age of 12, Chris began his Diary. For the most part he chronicled the experiences of a youthful boy caught up in exploring the peaceful world of Swansea, South Wales. He was faithful in his journal entries and reveled in chronicling all that he discovered as a young boy. In November of 1937, just a couple of months after his sixteenth birthday, young Chris wrote of his father teaching him the proper handling and discharge of a firearm. He chronicled a trip which his father took him on to hunt pheasant on the Isle Illaunmore on Lough Derg in Whitegate Ireland. Young Chris noted the excitement of beaters, dogs working and the resulting flush of fowl which he and his father attempted to bring down as the birds flew past the point where both were pegged and awaiting. Young Chris wrote, “results on my first day of hunting were somewhat nil, with only one pheasant taken over many shots. On the second day, with the coaching of my father, I felled six pheasant, taking only eight shots that day. My heart was racing, hands shaking, excitement coursing through my body as I found myself to be a hunter on that day.” There were several more hunting trips over the next few months resulting in young Chris apprenticing into a fine shot whom rarely had his prey evade him. These were obviously golden days for young Chris as he loved his Father dearly and strove to earn his respect and exhibit his skills as a true sportsman. In the early months of 1938 he took note of his father's grave concern with a new and seemingly dangerous powerful political figure in Germany. Young Chris recognized, and chronicled, his father's great uneasiness when discussing this Adolf Hitler. Chris Sr. spent much of his time in London attending to his duties in Parliament and upon his homecoming on various weekends, he spoke of a second world war and the need of critical preparations that the British Empire must endeavor upon with haste. Young Chris made special note of his fathers journey to Germany in June of the year 1938 to visit his lifelong friend Frank Foley in Berlin. Young Chris wanted to accompany his father to Germany rather badly, but his father assured him that he had no time to attend to the needs of a young man nor take him sightseeing. He confided in young Chris that this journey was of the utmost importance and every minute of his time would be occupied traveling throughout Germany, hosting interviews and conducting research to gather vital information.
Mr. Francis Edward Foley
When his father returned home from Berlin, three weeks had passed and he seemed quite agitated by the information which he had gathered while in Germany. Young Chris noted that his father spoke of vast numbers of combat aeroplanes, military equipment and large numbers of military personnel which he had witnessed and photgrahed personally. Chris Senior was most distressed that Adolf Hitler was to all appearances leading the German people down a road to extreme nationalism. The Nazi Party's first declaration in Herr Hitler's 25 point program was written to state publicly, “We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people's right to self-determination.” This was in direct conflict with the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty stripped Germany of 25,000 square miles of territory and 7 million people. It was comprehensive and complex as to the restrictions imposed upon the post-war German armed forces and was intended to make the Reichswehr incapable of offensive action and too encourage international disarmament. Chris senior was quite positive that Hitler's Germany was not poised for national defense as the Treaty of Versailles allowed, but rather Adolf Hitler was breeding Germany for war in a most nationalistic militarily strengthened fervor. Young Chris had never witnessed his father in such a distressed, provocative and speculative manner before. Chris Senior seemed as though he was peering into the future as it was unfolding quite clearly within his mind's eye, and he did not like the image of the coming storm which he was foreseeing.
Young Chris was intrigued by exactly how his Father had been able to photograph and ascertain the statistical information which he now saw spread all over the dinning room table. He noted in his writing, “ is my father a spy, possibly in league with MI6? Who is this Mr. Frank Foley whom my father has known for so long?” Whatever the connection his father had with Mr. Foley it was easy to see, even for a sixteen year old young man, that the information they had compiled was of great value and great concern to both of them and to the well being of the British Empire. This importance was only exemplified by the hasty manner with which Chris Sr. left Bishopston to travel to London where Parliament was convening a special session. Through my years of research I came to find the truth about Mr. Francis Edward Foley, and his history would make for a very interesting story in and of itself.
It seems as though young Chris was caught up by his youthful exuberance as his Diary went fairly quiet between the end of 1938 and April of 1939. He wrote of his interest with his studies and his excellent marks as he progressed through the year at Swansea Grammar School. Oddly enough, during the “three nights blitz” of February 1941 the old Swansea Grammar School would be badly damaged, but that is for another story. He noted briefly, in only one writing, of an innocent budding romance with a young girl from his school, as she was the first girl he had ever kissed. Mostly he wrote sporadically of the daily life of a seventeen year old young man, until one Saturday, the 20th of May 1939, when it all changed for young Chris. He wrote of the day that his father took him to a flying display of Empire Air Day at RAF Carew Cheriton. On that day he saw, among many others, twelve fighter style aeroplanes flying in several different formations, performing aerobatics and he wrote this , “today my eyes were opened to a whole new world which I know nothing about.” Young Chris wrote of how the speed and precision formation flying completely fascinated him. “How could a man control an aeroplane with such grace, and precision?” he noted. His imagination ran wild putting himself into the cockpit of one of the fighters and at the controls of such a magnificent machine. He knew from that instant that he wanted to be that man, an RAF pilot, the one controlling that powerful machine soaring through the sky!
Just past mid 1939 , August the 28th to be exact, Chris's Father called him into his study and sat young Chris down opposite him at his desk. “Chris” he said, “War is coming son, I am quite certain of it. Britain will need every fit young man she has to defend her Empire. You will be called up Chris,....... being the son of a Parliament member will hold no sway for you.” Young Chris noted the unflinching seriousness of his Father's demeanor and expression as he conveyed these words. He could feel a real sense of concern. “Chris, even in your youth, please consider this quite seriously son, for it would be much wiser for you to sign on early, study diligently and train hard in preparation for what will surely come. Your Eighteenth Birthday is approaching rather quickly and you must choose son, ....... or they will choose for you.” This made an indelible impression upon Young Chris. He contemplated what his father had said to him over the next few weeks.
“On Twenty Four September Nineteen Hundred and Thirty Nine, I Chris Patrick Wednsforth II was accepted for flying training as an Acting Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force”, wrote young Chris . The Training schedule looked like a mad dash considering that Germany had invaded Poland on the 1st of September 1939. The coming storm which Chris Sr. had so aptly foreseen, was now beginning to unfold before the world, and before young Chris's eyes. With Germany now in a non aggression pack with Russia, and Russia attacking and occupying half of Poland, the storm which had now stricken Poland was surely to move Westward. Adolf Hitler's wrath would now be unleashed upon Western Europe with an eye for Britain in the not so distant future. The British Empire had precious little time to prepare for the German onslaught now known as 'Blitzkrieg!'
Two weeks at Uxbridge filled with square bashing, foot drills, physical training and other parade ground instruction was just the beginning. “High and tight you know and in step to the cadence and the likes mate!” wrote Chris. There was some classroom basic training as to addressing rank, personal hygiene and conduct conducive to an RAF Pilot. Upon completing basic, the cadets were whisked away for pictures in front of the Coniston Hotel, all was grand as each cadet wanted eagerly to serve their island home of Britain. During Chris's Initial Training Syllabus at No.10 Elementary Flying Training School at Yatesbury, the hours of study and instruction were long and rigorous, unrelenting and demanding with almost nil tolerance for failure. “Educating ourselves in the applied science of aeroplanes and rudimentary physics of actually flying a machine, a fighter aeroplane, was exhausting, even in my youth. The classes, and classes,.... and more classes, drilled the basics of flying and its requirements into our brains until we could recite the principles and practicalities of the No.10 Initial EFTS Syllabus without hesitation.” Do to the urgent need for RAF Pilots, this Initial EFTS phase of training was shortened from 8 to 6 weeks and led immediately into the second stage of training which was the Elementary Flying Training School Syllabus. Now all of the classroom studies and aeroplane mechanical internship would be put into practical application in the first trainer plane the cadets had been issued.
During the first few weeks of the EFTS the cadets were introduced to The De Havilland Tiger Moth. Each cadet was instructed on operation and complete mechanical upkeep. Chris was assigned Tiger Moth 39, number N9503, and she was a beginning pilots dream. She flew smoothly, had good power and her stall, sometimes as low as 25 knots, was gentle and easily recovered to controlled flight. Many a beginner pilot had learned the ways of taking off, proper climbing, navigation and of course the hardest and most important part of flying, the landing. She was perfect for beginning to get the feeling of flight, and the Cadets had extensive time in them to learn to strap the Tiger Moth on and become one with her. There were aerobatic barrel rolls, Immelmanns, dives, loops, stalls and inversion reversals to learn and each cadet was expected to become proficient in all areas of flight technique and aerobatics. The cadets were tested on their conclusive knowledge in each area concerning the De Havilland Tiger Moth's operation and upkeep, and each cadet had to pass all areas of testing for any hope of progressing forward to the next phase of the syllabus.
With just 3 weeks left in the EFTS there was only one true test remaining for each of the cadets. Soloing! It was a cold morning on the 7th of January 1940 when Chris's Flight instructor, Flt Lt Richard Collinsworth, gave him final instructions on his initial solo flight. “Wedns old boy, mind your training, treat her like a proper lady for two rotations of the pattern about the Aerodrome and set her down nice and easy minding the windsock old chap.” Upon turning to walk away Collinsworth paused,.. cocked his head to the side and said, “Oh and Wednsforth,... ....do try not to cock it up and get yourself killed mate!” Chris made a perfect solo flight and had the confidence of a true aviator after his initial lone flight. There was only one problem with the De Havilland Tiger Moth which Chris had come to realize,..... she was slow and under powered. The average cruising speeds were between 95 and 110 knots. She was nimble and fully acrobatic, but even at that, one was not to exceed 140 knots or risk chancing structural failure. All of the cadets wanted more power, just as any young man would desire from any machine of propulsion. To learn more aggressive maneuvers and to achieve their end goal of flying a Hawker Hurricane or possibly one of the few Supermarine Spitfires, they knew they needed an aeroplane with a stronger engine, greater strength and a mono wing design. Ten weeks had been trimmed to eight weeks for EFTS training as Fighter Command knew that Hitler's pride would not allow him to stop at the Western European shores of France.
Three more weeks of daily and sometimes twice daily solos, navigating the English countryside and touch and go landings in the Tiger Moth facilitated a move to No. 2 SFTS based at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. The elementary phase of training had come to an end for the cadets, whom like Chris, had passed their exams and the final flying test. On the 30th of January 1940 , Chris began his next phase of training, Service Flying Training School. With the move came new classes and familiarization with the cadet's new trainer,... .. the North American Harvard Mk I. She was a two seat low wing cantilever aluminum-alloy stressed skin monoplane trainer. She had a 550-hp Pratt and Whitney 'Wasp' S3H1 nine-cylinder radial air cooled engine that would pull her along at 206 mph at 5,000 ft. altitude. She could dive at 226 mph! She was the next step in Chris's dream to becoming an RAF Pilot! The downside was that the Harvard was not known for its docile handling characteristics. Stalls were abrupt, ground loops are not uncommon for the unwary and even taxiing can present challenges for the inexperienced pilot. This presented each cadet with a challenge to master the Harvard in lieu of a proper fighter such as the Hawker Hurricane. Harvard was certainly an appropriate title for this plane of higher flight learning. Chris noted that he came to love the Harvard even with her tricky handling manners. During one check out flight Chris's instructor informed him that he was the top of his group in mastery of the Harvard and that his aeroplane handling knowledge and skills were spot on among the best he had ever experienced as an instructor.
About half way through SFTS Chris was given the chance to test one of only three new Harvard BC-2 air frames, FX-352. The main revisions were new outer wing panels with a swept forward leading edge, removal of the previous leading edge wing slats design and the redesigned triangular tail and rudder. These new design changes helped the Harvard BC-2 perform much better with improved roll rate and a much improved high speed and low speed stall characteristic. Chris could outmaneuver any cadet or Instructor in the BC-2 model of the Harvard! The training continued and Chris had almost 98 hours of flight time in late March of 1940.
During this time of training each cadet used a rather primitive training device. The Fitters and Riggers Training School had reclaimed a Hawker Hurricane Cockpit section and provided it to the SFTS. The Hurricane had been rather roughly belly landed and was slated to be scrapped. Chris noted, “it was a scrap fuselage from a Hurricane wreck which each cadet would sit in to receive instruction. The cockpit was intact, the controls and instruments did nothing, but we had to memorize the position and function of each instrument so that we could lay hands on it blindfolded, recite the instruments proper name and operating details.” Chris also wrote of a new experimental training mechanism which sounded quite odd yet quite futuristic for the times of 1940 . It was originally primarily used for bomber pilot training but was now being introduced into the fighter pilot training syllabus also. “The Link Simulator was the first to fit instruments inside of a trainer to teach pilots too trust the essential readings of instruments while flying. Designed by Edwin Link, it used pneumatic bellows to control pitch and roll and a small motor-driven device to produce disturbances as the pilots navigational skills were recorded by a mechanized drawing arm onto a map located on top of the instructors desk.” It looked rather like an automated Ouija Board to me but also appeared quite helpful in learning to trust and rely upon the gauge readouts and navigation readings during poor visual conditions. Chris later wrote, “The Edmondes simulator was newly introduced to instruct a fighter pilot in deflection shooting combined with aircraft recognition and range judgment. Using a modified Link trainer the Edmondes was fitted with a reflector sight and a spotlight triggered by a firing a button on the control column. At the required distance from the Link, a scale model aircraft was positioned 6.5 ft from the ground and mounted on a castored trolley.” Chris noted, “the trainee flew the Link to simulate attacking the model which then moved to mimic an aircraft under attack. When the pilot considered he was in range and had the correct deflection, he pressed his trigger in short bursts and the beam of light from the spotlight registered on the graph. On the floor in front of the simulator were painted a number of arcs which represented ranges from 150 yds to 600 yds. The Instructor was in communication with the pilot through a mic and headphones. After the Instructor read the range from the arcs on the floor and the results showed on the graph, he would quickly formulate a solution and then radio his observations to correct the trainee's aim throughout the simulation until the pilot could make the correct range and deflection adjustments himself.” It was all quite advanced for the times and Chris excelled in this simulated piloting.
The training went on at a roiled pace and the cadets could not quite understand why as Germany seemed quite content to occupy Poland and the Sudetenland through the winter of 1939 and early into 1940. Within just a few months it would become clear that the Nazis aim was to conquer all of Europe. In April 1940 the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway. By May 10th the Nazis had invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. On this same day Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of the British people. By the 15th of May Holland surrendered to Germany and on the 26th of May Churchill ordered Operation Dynamo, the Maritime evacuation of the British Troops from Dunkirk. Three Hundred and Seventy Eight thousand British Troops were trapped within the Dunkirk perimeter and all but Forty One thousand French and British Troops would be evacuated using a massive flotilla of British Naval, commercial and even personal ships, boats and yachts . Tragically many of the Forty One thousand left behind would be taken as prisoners of war over the next few days. On the 28th of May 1940 Belguim surrendered. As Chris continued to train he saw Hitler's War inching closer to Britain day by day.
The standards for becoming an RAF Pilot were determination, persistence and the pinnacle of excellence in all forms of powered flight! In the study halls, in the simulators and in the trainers one must prove his mastery of the theories and physics of aerial flight. The RAF's arduous study of Fighting Area Attacks would enable the pilots of the new generation of fast 8-gun monoplane fighters to ensure that the bomber would not always get through.
The end goal, earn the patch, the wings of the RAF Pilot. On the 30th of May Nineteen Hundred and Forty, Chris Patrick Wednsforth II completed his provisional training and received his Wings as an RAF Pilot Officer. The very next day Chris was posted to No. 238 Squadron, Fighter Command, Tangmere, England. Chris notes that he will be flying a Hawker Hurricane out of Tangmere Aerodrome. Not a week later he found out that RAF No. 238 flew Supermarine Spitfires up until just three days prior to his being posted to No. 238 Squadron. It was every cadet's dream to fly the Supermarine Spitfire and Chris had just missed out on this opportunity. By this time at the end of May the majority of the Fighter Command's Squadrons were fitted with Hurricanes as the Spitfire production was ramping up. Chris wrote, “Bugger, just missed the Spitfire here at Tangmere, the Hawker Hurricane it will be! Tally Ho!” The task at hand, defend Britain from the most probable assault of Goering's Lufwaffe, defend the pursuit of Liberty and the right to live in Freedom! “At last it feels official”, Chris wrote.
Diary entry Sunday, June 2nd, 1940, The train travel to Chichester, West Sussex, which is just over 200 miles from my home in Swansea, was uneventful, but it left me with a 3 mile walk to RAF Tangmere Aerodrome on a blistering hot day which was unusual this early in June. After arriving and being shown to my quarters, I stowed my gear. I along with another brand new Plt Off, Archie Braxton Lacey, looked over the Aerodrome. We met the CO and the Adjutant at 1200 hours and were at once posted to 'A' Flight, Red Section. We were then introduced to our new Flight Leader and Sqaudron Commander, Flt Lt Colin Alexander Payne, who seemed a fine fellow and had fought with No. 73 Squadron in France. Payne detailed us for a familiarization flight at sparrow chirp tomorrow. He wants to see what we're made of, no doubt, as well as show us the lie of the land here in West Sussex. Payne whom seemed a rather quiet chap at first meeting, showed out to be a stickler for observance of regulation. One button on my shirt sleeve was of a different shade, as I had replaced it for a lost one, from the standard issue buttons. He let me have it in no uncertain terms that I was to repair the situation post haste! Payne asked me, “how many hours have you in a Hawker Hurricane Wednsforth?” I stood there at attention dumbfounded and unable to answer as I gazed straight ahead not knowing what to say. “Well Wednsforth, answer the question? Hurry man!” said Payne. “Sir,.... ..... I have only ever seen one Hawker Hurricane at No. 2 SFTS and it was in disrepair Sir.” “Well Pilot Officers Wednsforth and Lacey, I suggest you boys hustle over to the flight line and have a look at your new mounts. Wednsforth you will fly Hurricane VK-B, and Lacey you will be in VK-G. Dismissed Pilot Officers!” said Payne. Archie and I came to attention, saluted, and turned about face and left for the flight line to make our first walk around of the Hawker Hurricanes each of us would be flying. “This was the defining moment in my enlistment so far. All of my study, training, struggle and all of the time spent had landed me here in 238 Squadron at Tangmere Aerodrome. It seems surreal to me as I have not even turned Nineteen yet.”
As we walked out of Flt Lt Payne's office we were met by Alfred Harold Pippard, the fitter for Hurricane VK-B of No. 238 Squadron. Pippard offered to drive Archie and I over to the flight line and we accepted. As we pulled up, there was Hurricane VK-B sitting in front of an open hanger. As I got out of the Bedford I was quite excited, somewhat filled with wonderment and a little scared.
As I slowly walked up to the Hurricane I thought to myself, what a beautiful lass to conceal such murderous weapons. I wondered if I could tame this beast and make Goering's Luftwaffe dread her.
As I got closer I could see the masterful engineering which was used to construct her. She was sleek and exuded speed and her weaponry elicited respect. In the hands of the right RAF Pilot, she would be the terror of the skies.
As I sat in Hawker Hurricane VK-B for the first time, I knew I was home. I strapped myself into her and wondered where she would take me and how long our relationship would last. I quietly said to her, “take good care of me Lass as I am a part of you now.” As I looked up Flt Lt Payne was climbing up on the wing. Payne went though the taps and drills of the Hurricane controls and procedures with me. As he stepped off the wing to go find Lacey and run through the drill with him, I was very thankful for the dummy cockpit training I had received at SFTS. Long after Payne left, I stayed and went over every gauge, control and procedure to reassure myself that I was prepared to make my first flight tomorrow morning.
This is Chris's account of Flight one as an RAF Fighter pilot for No. 238 Squadron Tangmere: Diary entry Monday, June 3rd 1940, 0455 hours: Flt Lt Payne briefed Lacey and myself of our planned flight route, times and expected radio procedures during our checkout mission in A Flight, Red Section. We were to keep the chatter to an absolute minimum barring an emergency. This was to keep the one operational voice radio frequency open for other more important Squadron chatter than our training mission. Payne told us to stay alert with our attention focused on him because he was going to use hand signals as much as possible to communicate with Lacey and I. As Payne and I took off from Tangmere we heard Plt Off Archie Lacey's call come over the blower. “Hello Red Leader, Red Two calling, I am having a spot of trouble with my fuel pressure. My fitter is on it and says he will have me off in a hurry. Permission to catch up and rejoin once I am sorted, over to you.” “Hello Red Two, this is Red Leader answering, received and understood , we will hold on heading one-eight-zero angels one saunter for twelve minutes. We will then come starboard to heading two-eight-three saunter until you rejoin Red Section. Carry on and tell your fitter to ratchet it up! over to you.” Lacey's call came, “Hello Red Leader, Red Two answering, received and understood, listening out.” So much for no radio chatter.
The roar of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the resounding feel of power and the integrity of the Hawker Hurricane's sturdy construction were all bound together to give one the utmost feeling of championing the world. All of these sensations along with the beauty of the English sunrise here in West Sussex permanently cemented the first moments of my RAF piloting career into the strongholds of my minds most treasured memories. As I looked to my starboard I was pulled back to reality as I realized I was overtaking Flt Lt Payne upon climbing out of Tangmere and I eased my throttle off to fall back into my assumed position as number three in our section.
I quickly positioned my Hurricane as I should have in the first place.
As we hurtled across the English countryside, upon looking closer, I noticed Payne feverishly waving me closer into a tighter formation position. As I closed in I thought I could read his lips as saying, “tighten up man!!!” Regardless if this was what he was saying, he looked none too happy with my performance so far.
I slid over closer to Payne and set myself at ease with the setting of the throttle in my Hurricane while trying to trim her out for a ten degree climb.
As we made the coast Payne eased us into a starboard turn to vector us onto a West-Northwest heading of two-eight-three. Lacey called on the RT, “Hello Red Leader, Red Two calling, I can see you now, permission to join section formation, over to you.” “Hello Red Two, Red Leader answering, received and understood, go ahead and rejoin formation now, over.” “Hello Red Leader, Red Two answering, received and understood, out.”
As Payne straightened out our course Lacey rejoined and overshot our flight moving into the wrong position between my Hurricane and Payne's. As I looked starboard I could see Payne moving right and throttling back as Lacey must have rattled a nerve with him. “Hello Red Two, Red Leader calling,...what in the Bloody Hell are you doing? I should rip your patch for that cock up! Get back in bloody formation Red Two! over.” “Hello Red Leader, Red Two answering, received and understood, out.”
Lacey came low under my nose from my starboard to my port side and began throttling back to maneuver into what he thought was the correct section position. Lacey seemed a bit unnerved at the moment and was completely arsing it up. I tried to hand signal Lacey to move to the correct position when Payne came on the R/T again, “Hello Red Two, Red Leader calling, your correct position is to my starboard wing! What in the bloody hell are you doing Red Two? Get in position NOW! over to you.” “Hello Red Leader, Red Two answering, received and understood, listening out.”
Payne began to throttle up and move back into the number one position and put us on a heading to return to the 'drome'. I think Flt Lt Payne had just about seen enough of our inexperience and undisciplined formation flying for one morning.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and as we came back into sight of Tangmere I began to be concerned for my landing. I had not considered it before but there is a stand of trees running the length of the base leg of Tangmere's runway. Of course procedure was that I would land first, Red two second and Red Leader would land last. As Red Section nearly completed the downwind leg I concluded the brief assessment of how I needed to approach this landing and I turned onto base leg. As I came across I slowly turned onto final and descended over the trees.
One had to cross that tree line and then chop the throttle and descend quickly to level and then flare to perform a three point touch down in the Hawker Hurricane. Luckily with the Hurricane in proper landing configuration, full flaps down and trimmed correctly, she flew beautifully at 85 mph and was a dream to pancake.
I set her down on the first third of the runway and had her slowed by it's end and headed back to where I could see my fitter Pippard waving me over to a hangar. Later Pipps would scold me for not raising the flaps on his Hurricane once my landing was complete. It seems leaving the flaps down while taxing back to the revetment can lead to stones or other debris being thrown up and damaging them, or worse jamming the flaps in the down position. Pipps assured me that it was nil a small task to clear the landing flaps of trash when a pilot bollocks them up while taxiing all about without lifting them!
Engine and brakes off, my trusty rigger and fitter grabbed a wingtip each and guided me into the hangar, where VK-B was due some attention she couldn't receive at dispersal. Thus my first flight as an RAF Hawker Hurricane pilot of Fighter Command's No. 238 Squadron concluded.... Spectacular!
Diary Entry: Tuesday, June 4th 1940, 1440 hours: I knew it was coming,.. I knew it as we returned to Tangmere yesterday from our initial checkout flight as Red Section with Flt Lt Payne, …. it was just a matter of when. The reason I was sure of it is thanks to our debriefing. It went something along this account on June 3rd. After each of the three of us finished the required paperwork for our fitters and riggers, Payne walked to the Squadron's Intelligence Officer's office followed by Lacey and myself. As he entered, Payne preceded to ask Sgt Hughes if he knew the proper lay out for 'A' flight Red Section's aircraft when in the air? Hughes affirmed that he did. Payne turned his glance to Lacey and I and said, “SIT!” He inquired if Hughes possessed the training pictures for the different formations which were standard for all RAF Fighter Squadrons training syllabuses. Hughes pulled out a rather large picture of 'A' Flight with each section in 'Vic' Formation. “Would this be the one you are looking for Sir?” asked Sgt Hughes with a subtle amount of sarcasm about his tone. Payne nodded affirmatively and snatched the large picture rather briskly and taped it to the grand sized chalkboard which the Sargent used for debriefings. He then asked Hughes , “would you care to label 'A' flight Red Section with our names beneath the appropriate planes depicted in the picture Sgt. Hughes.” As Sgt Hughes went about writing each of our names under the proper crate using a grease pencil, Lacey and I looked at one another as each of us knew we were about to receive a rather stern barking at. As Hughes accomplished the task, Payne said, “that will be all Sargent, would you lend me your office for the next few minutes?” “Of course Sir,” Hughes countered. As he stepped out quietly he gave Lacey and I a notice of sympathy while closing the door behind himself. Hughes also perceived what was looming, and I am quite positive he and the Adjutant were enjoying quite a chuckle just about now. Payne stepped up to the chalkboard and drew three large 'X's over the aircraft in Yellow Section. “Forget Yellow Section! They don't exist,.... yet! Do You Blokes Understand?” We both responded affirmatively. “Good!” Payne said. He then proceeded to bark at us,...... “Learn It!,.... Memorize It!,...... DO NOT FORGET IT!” Then he wrote on the picture, Learn it or I will send you to fly for the Huns! He marked heavily over each letter several times in the name 'Huns' to cause each of them to appear bold and then underlined the word to emphasize his message to us. “Do You Blokes Understand That?” Payne said. Again Lacey and I both acknowledged affirmatively. “Good,.... Because If I Ever Again See Either Of You Fly As Poorly Or As Dangerously As You Did Today,..... IT'S OFF TO FRANCE WITH YOU BOTH! Formation Training at sparrow chirp tomorrow!!! Remove yourselves from my sight and be at the ready in the morning!” Lacey and I stood to our feet at attention, saluted, turned about face together and proceeded to paraded out of the office. As we did, neither Sgt Hughes nor the Adjutant would look us in the eye and each appeared to be attempting to cover their smirks, but this was a serious matter for Lacey and I! I found positively nil humor regarding this state of affairs!
June 4th, 0500 hours! Red Section Formation Training initialized for Lacey and I under the Squadron Leader, Flt Lt Payne. Our fitters had each of our Hurricanes on the end of the runway Line Abreast. As dawn broke over Tangmere we each started our engines and fire and smoke rolled over the noses of our aircraft and confused our sight through the canopy glass for a few moments. Roll out was at ten second intervals, throttle at full power, with my Hurricane VK-B presenting everything she could muster to climb and chase down Lacey and Payne.
Once Lacey caught up to Payne, it was my turn to catch up to both of them. We assumed our positions in the 'Vic', and it was jolly hard to hold my distance from Payne and keep an eye on Lacey. Payne cued the R/T, “Red Section this is Red Leader calling, each of you, eyes on me only, hold your distance and maintain altitude accordingly, listening out.” Payne had us practice staying with him and gradually he had us close up the distance from our Hurricanes to his as Lacey and I started to feel a bit less uneasy about the whole business. The sun rising over West Sussex was rather stunning.
Over the coming days during this week Lacey and I found our confidence in flying the tight 'Vic'. Mostly through Payne's insistence and constant R/T instruction were each us to learn that Red Leader was our focus. Nothing Else! Our complete Squadron depended on tight 'Vic' formations to survive. Otherwise each of us might end up some Hun's breakfast! Those stunning sunrises became a dangerous distraction and Payne flew Red Section directly into them purposely on each session to train us to engage the blinding glare and fight through it to do our job. “Hold the 'Vic'! out”, as Payne would bellow over the R/T. Payne confided that while fighting over France he had come to realize that the Huns loved to attack from out of the sun. It was imperative that Lacey and I must remain vigilant to this Jerry tactic as this situation would assuredly present itself as a threat to our very survival as RAF pilots in the near future.
We had our moments, for instance when Lacey found himself flying directly on top of Payne's position. Honestly it was a rather gusty day and we each had a great deal of difficulty with movement in accordance with that wind. As Payne led us into a rather sharp starboard turn, Lacey had lost sight of both of us under his port wing and I had drifted much to far to the port side of the formation. Payne broke in on the Blower, “Hello Red Two, Red Leader calling,............. Why am I looking at the bottom of Hurricane VK-G, which is positioned merely twenty feet above me? Pilot Officer, get in formation, ...NOW! Red Three tighten up your position, out.” All in all I would venture to say we were getting the feel of it, and a majority of the time our 'Vic' was as tight as one could expect. Payne acknowledged as much but counseled us with, “never take your eyes off of your Section Leader as he is your life chaps!”
As Red Section had been dogging on to perfect the 'Vic', so had Yellow Section under Flt Lt Lenny Alsford Marshall. Marshall's number two was Flg Off Arthur Chandler Chamberlain and his number three was, Plt Off Lloyd Billingsworth Clough. Marshall had flown a Hurricane in No. 1 Squadron in France during the 'Phony War' and was shot down but safely belly landed near Vassincourt. Payne had decided it was time to marry both Red Section with Yellow Section to fly as 'A' Flight. As we fired our engines Payne cut in on the Blower, “Hello Red Section this is Red leader calling, Yellow Section now exists. Keep your focus soley on me Red Section and let Yellow Section handle their own business! Listening Out.” It was a stormy day, but later in the flight as we climbed out towards the Channel the sky cleared off somewhat and all of 'A' Flight joined together and we each flew with great precision. It was all beginning to come together.
It was rather startling to have Yellow Section directly off my Port wing. Yellow section flew quite a tight 'Vic' giving reason for Lacey and I to tighten our positions even more. This took a while to adapt to, but we adjusted soon enough. We flew a fair amount of training over the wetlands of Bosham, Thorney Island and also Hayling Island. We were not allowed to train over Portsmouth and had not ventured down to The Isle of Wight as of yet. Our formation was commencing to aspire each pilot to a high level of confidence in our abilities as RAF Fighter Pilots, yet many of us had not seen any action as of the present day.
Our Training moved to the end of our second week and we were operating efficiently now, moving as a Flight and anticipating each movement of our respective Section Leaders. As formation maneuvers became second nature to my abilities as a pilot I began to realize and take in the beauty of West Sussex and the Southern English coast. The unspoiled wetlands of the islands, the waterways and the sunrises and cloud formations. These were some of the Blessings of the British Island, that which we would fight to preserve and deliver from the plans of invasion that Adolf Hitler looked to recklessly commit the German Military to.
The beauty was astounding, but for England to be on the brink of such a tragedy as war, was unconscionable. We must defend our British Island home at all costs. And that we would with no regret!
I quickly looked to my right, while still closing my canopy, to see Plt Off Lacey waving his gloved hand briskly for me to release my brake and let my Hurricane roll.
I freed my brake and my Hurricane powered down the runway chasing Payne's. Lacey did not wait the accepted ten seconds but immediately charged off beside me. With little crosswind, holding my lane so that Lacey and I would not collide was routine. Payne's Hurricane was leaving the runway, undercarriage folding away and he was off leaving me behind. As I raced down the runway I trimmed nose down two degrees and not so gently shoved my hand against the throttle again to make sure it was through the gate. Lacey was right beside me tearing along the runway knowing we had to catch Payne or he would soon be on the blower giving us a severe barking. Behind Lacey and I, Marshall, Chamberlain, and Clogh were now rolling. The next line back of Coburn, Thayer and Pierce were surely at high rpm and champing at the bit to ease off their brakes and let their Hurricanes loose.
Once off the runway and climbing away with Lacey closely behind me I shuttered my radiator looking to gain every bit of speed which I could muster. I then began to trim for a climb to match Payne's. As my Hurricane stabilized into a power climb, I quickly look back to see the last man, Plt Off Pierce, was rolling middle way along the strip. As each Hurricane leapt off the runway, Lacey and I were already beginning to overhaul Payne. As Payne had not briefed any of the pilots as to where this mission was heading, we relied on our initial rule of formation flying,when in difficulty, ones watch is solely on ones section leader. We would have followed Payne into the ground should he have led us there. As he broke port side and we started to gather him in, I opened my radiator by half and glanced back to see that everyone had made it into the air and each of the boys was feverishly chasing the rabbit. Once Payne had loosely circled Tangmere he vectored us South towards Portsmouth. He popped on the blower, “Hello Rupert Sections, Red Leader calling, maintain radio silence until further notice, listening out” All pilots acknowledged Red Leader, starting with mysellf by effecting two clicks of the mic until each pilot had silently acknowledged the order.
As we gathered in Payne, A Flight and Blue Section were forming up to display 3 rather tight Vics. It took a spot of time to gather all the boys in and as we did the early morning sun rose above the Channel behind us. Payne was not vectoring us directly into the sun, as was his usual custom, for some unknown reason. Maybe returning the past day from 48 hours leave had something to do with it. We made Portsmouth in little time and then came port side to head East on towards Brighton and finally up the southern coast to Dungeness.
I always rather fancied flying over the Channel at this time of day. The early morning sun bristling off the water like a million jewels had been strewn down upon it to pave a highway. A perfect day for flying, lazy clouds, a very light wind and one could see ten miles in any direction. We displayed an exceptional formation this Friday morning, all the boys high an tight just like we were taught back at Uxbridge while square bashing on the Parade Grounds. Payne made Dungeness and brought us port side again to make the turn and head back for Tangmere. Now the sun was at our eleven o'clock nevertheless we had it more manageable than we often do. As we came back into the Portsmouth's vicinity, Payne lead off to a starboard swing as we commenced our trek inland to cascade into the pattern at Tangmere before pancaking.
Once headed inland the whole formation was moving along nicely when Plt Off Lloyd Clough broke in on the R/T, “Hello Red Leader, Yellow Three calling,I have steam filling my cockpit, lower legs burning, sorry,... I am afraid I should bailout! over to you.” “Hello Yellow Three, Red Leader answering, received and understood, get out of there Pilot Officer!!! listening out.” Our Flight had descended to 600 feet of altitude and this was not an acceptable height to bail out from so Clough pulled up at a 45 degree angle and gained the loftiness he needed, popped his belts, rolled back his canopy, pushed up slightly and was sucked out of his failing Hurricane like a cork from a champagne bottle!
Payne initiated an easy port side turn and while I should not have, I looked quickly and saw Clough's chute open. His Hurricane was inverted and hastily rushing down.
I observed the steam bellowing out of the cockpit as the Hurricane drew away and approached the countryside.
As Clough's Hurricane clashed with the landscape there was a great flash of fire, then billowing smoke and steam. It seamed unreal, like a toy exploding, while viewing it from 600 feet. I saw Clough floating down on his cream colored parachute into a forested area. I said a short Prayer for his safe keeping upon landing.
Once Payne was contented Clough would make it down in relative safety, he rounded us one more time and vectored us for Tangmere as our Petrol was dipping rather low at this point.
Later that evening, Lloyd told us about his experience upon landing in his parachute. As he was floating down within two hundred feet of the countryside he said he heard a pop. Looking around he couldn't see anything and he knew in mere seconds he was going to land in a tall wooded section of the forest. As he spun around and floated downward in his parachute he heard another pop but with a deeper resonance and a whoosh sounding by him this time. He now saw what looked like a very old abandoned two story building that might have been from the Great War times. Clough saw a horse and a couple of cows about. As he came within 50 feet of the trees he saw two men and a young chap scurrying to the area where he was soon to come down. He saw what looked to be one of the men aiming a gun at him to attempt to shoot him. Lloyd now knew they had already taken two shots at him. This time nothing fired from the old man's gun and as he lowered it Lloyd came down and his chute snagged in the tallest tree around right on the edge of the woods. The whole of England being on edge for the expected Jerry invasion, this was nil a time for Clough's present quandary. He was spinning back and forth from his parachute cords, but Lloyd dare not to release the harness as he was 40 feet up in the air. As he spun around he could hear the two men yell heatedly at him as they ran over to where he was hanging. “Are you a Hun pilot? Is this the first of the invasion?” One man sent the young chap running off. He could see the other man reloading a double barrel over and under shotgun and Lloyd said he began to yell at the top of his lungs, “don't shoot I am RAF, a pilot of 238 Squadron Tangmere, I fly a Hawker Hurricane! Don't shoot, God Save The King!!!,... God Save The King!!!” At first they did not believe him and asked him who the King of England is, all the while they pointed their shotguns at him. Lloyd yelled, “King George the VI! ,.....King George the VI! Stop pointing those blimey shotguns at me and bloody help me get down!” It was just then that he looked up and noticed the smoke from his Hurricane off in the distance. He said he remembered hoping it had not hit some poor sod's home. Lloyd yelled at the men, “did you already bloody fire off at me twice?” The young chap came running back carrying a rope and managed to cinch a fair size rock to it. After striking Lloyd in the leg with the rock and rope on the first throw, eliciting a few choice words from him, the young lad managed to toss it over a limb nearby him. One of the men answered Lloyd, “of course laddy, we thought you were a Jerry!” “ Possibly first of the invasion mate”, the other said. By swinging a bit, Lloyd managed to grab the rope. Then he tied it to his harness and while the farmers hoisted him up a mite, he released himself from his parachute and they lowered him down. All the while the young lad had retrieved one of the shotguns and held it aimed at Lloyd until all were satisfied he was not a Hun. “You old buggars nearly killed me!”, said Lloyd. “Right 'o, if not for dreadful sight we would have mate!” said one of the old men. The other then said, “The Good Lord must be watching over you this day 'mucker'.” Lloyd shook his head and asked where was the nearest Tele. “Have to walk 2 miles that direction to the nearest farm house that has one Sir”, said the young lad. Lloyd started on his way not to sure if he should be thankful to these blokes or ring their necks before leaving. He surmised the former was more prudent considering they still possessed the shotguns. Shortly after 1000 hours that morning, the call came in from Plt Off Clough to the Duty Hut, hence Payne dispersed one of the Riggers to fetch him up in a Bedford. Back at the Officers Mess in the evening I bought a round of Irish Whiskey for each of our pilots. All of us were thankful for the first successful bail out of what was surely to become a war with Jerry. The dangerous business at hand of being an RAF pilot was felt far to close to home on this day!
Diary entry for Tuesday, June 18th, 0800 hours: Late last Friday, after all of the ballyhoo of Lloyd 's bailout and before we lit up the Officer's Mess, Payne conveyed a directive he had just received. The word came straight from the top to the CO at Tangmere Aerodrome, “paint those hangars and support buildings with camouflage at once.” The CO said, “while I distaste doing it, all weekend leave for any fitter, rigger or armorer is canceled until the painting is finished.” Upon hearing this Flt Lt Payne asked for volunteers to help them master the task at hand. Luckily for Plt Off Fletcher, he was already on 48 hours leave, but the rest of us pilots threw our lot in to help out. These boys charged with this task, our fitters, riggers and armorers, they keep our kites in the air and in tip top shape. How could we refuse to pitch in and help? As camouflage paint colors were in short supply, our Procurement Officer managed to scrounge 120 gallons of earthen tone paints in Tangmere at a supply warehouse. For the next four days we painted,...and painted, ….... and......PAINTED! I am not sure if we managed to get more paint on ourselves, or on the sheds and buildings. It was not pretty but it was a sight better than the tin sheds we had prior to this assignment. I hope above all hopes that I never see another bucket of paint or a paint brush again!!! Plt Off Lacey managed to fall off a ladder and break his leg rather badly. A couple of the boys placed him in a Bedford and they carted him off to the medical shack. The Doc applied a splint to Lacey's leg and sent him off to the Hospital in Tangmere for proper traction. Payne will have to perform a quick shuffle of pilots to fill Lacey's spot in Red Section.
Diary entry for Thursday, June 20th, 0445 hours: As we entered our 4th week of formation training, Flt Lt Payne determinately brought our Squadron together collectively. Red and Yellow Sections of A Flight, together with Blue and Green Sections of B Flight, which comprise RAF 238 Fighter Squadron Tangmere. Another stellar morning at Tangmere Aerodrome, but this morning is painted with a brush of steel, fire and raw man made power. The sights, sounds and smells of twelve Hawker Hurricanes overshadowed the prevailing natural beauty of the Southern English countryside. This morning, that supremacy of nature over all things yielded to the dominant machinery of the day for just a few hours after which she again will overwhelm with her superiority when mans machines must rest.
The power and beauty of theses machines we take wing on is hard to reconcile with the destructive strength which they were designed to make profit of. Pitting one man against another in these beautiful machines in a duel to the death seems such a paradox. The frightful truth,..... this paradox will truly inhabit our future until we collide with that revelation head on. This coming of violence is destined to occur and each of the Squadrons over this Empire are charged with fulfilling their principle character in the Salvation of Britain. Each pilot must play his supporting role, fore written in this theatrical script of conflict, relinquishing the opportunity to step aside from this horrifying drama. He must take up his cross and carry it, portraying excellence in his performance until this undertaking is finished. We as the British Empire must stand alone and fight the good fight! Plt Off Lacey would be nil cheerful if he knew reserve pilot Sargent Terry Patrick Stapleton was flying his Hurricane, VK-G, today as Red 3 in his stead. Terry was from a very affluent aristocratic family and he never let that be forgotten. The whispers were that his Father had bought his way into the RAF Reserves to keep him from serving in the infantry. He is rather fond of himself and is under the assumption that he should lead the Squadron, yet there is not one chap in 238 Squadron that would agree with this pretentiousness nor follow him into combat should he have his way.
As the smoke began to clear from the runway and our Squadron Leader commenced his takeoff roll, I could only think back to just a few months ago,... to when I was taking my first Solo flight in my Tiger Moth at EFTS. Flt Lt Richard Collinsworth said to me, "Oh and Wednsforth,... ....do try not to cock it up and get yourself killed mate!" My resolve has been just that ever since, and I think I shall carry that resolve into this Battle For Britain. When it arrives, I will make good on all of the training I have completed and exude the excellence ingrained in me. I will dole out to the Huns what they have served up to our European Allies, even to our boys over France, and then I will mete out a wee extra just for good allowance!
While I was feeling particularly chivalrous and patriotic this morning and most optimistic, I was not quite certain that the peoples of Tangmere felt so adoring as we climbed twelve Hurricanes off the runway directly over their homes. After all, it was 5 A.M., surely they could not be pleased. I can only think to myself, but we will truly see how pleased they are if the Luftwaffe do come to England for a battle in these skies.
As I cleared Tangmere the sun cracked the horizon and another day was spinning its' toil. I was excited to see how RAF 238 would operate as a Squadron. We had endured much labor in practicing for this day and I anticipated good results and tight Vics. During these weeks each Section had also been learning and practicing the RAF Fighting Area Attacks and these tight vics were the keystone to our flights winning in the encounters surely to come. Each pilot in each Section, in each Flight and in our entire Squadron depended on the next pilot, as each of those pilots depended on him! Not one of us wanted to let the others down and thus we strove for excellence in all which we did.
Always a tradition on our departure from Tangmere, which most of us see as a Blessing, is immediately upon crossing the Tangmere Church we offered up a short Prayer, asking The Man Upstairs to deliver us through this day.
As we began to gather, each pilot discovered his position and soon we were on the wing as a complete Squadron. A dozen Hawker Hurricanes flying in complete unison. We shouldered the firepower of untold destruction, and only time will tell if we will meet the Luftwaffe in these skies to decide Britain's, and the world's fate.
Payne showed the way North and we began approaching the Western edge of London in a short while.
Our Squadron took wing at 200mph, but as I peered straightforward through the canopy it scarcely seemed we were advancing in the least. We roared along in a pleasantly steady formation as we crossed over an immense reservoir. This is the Queen Mary Reservoir, a mainstay of fresh water for North Western London.
Payne vectored 238 Squadron North of London and then came starboard to shadow the Northern outskirts of London proper.
Payne again vectored us starboard and we came to a heading of due South as 238 Squadron prepared to display its' precision formation to all those Londoners whom were on guard at the crack of dawn.
As we came across the Western side of London we could see the docks of the Isle of Dogs in the outlying distance. The mighty Thames River divided London into separate measures with her bristling flow of water.
It was a great display of our flying skills and Britain’s great air power as we stormed across London and came out the South boundary. We traveled across the English countryside on course for Tangmere once again.
We prepared to sort ourselves to enter the pattern at Tangmere, but first the welcome site of Tangmere Church and a Prayer answered. Thank you Lord for safe returns! Soon we would be rotating in a single column forming the landing pattern while two at a time broke off to find their way onto final and pancake at our Tangmere home.
“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 a 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.”
On the 24th of May, 1940, Directive No. 13 was issued by Adolf Hitler. 3. Tasks Of The Air Force. (a) Apart from operations in France, the Air Force is authorized to attack the English homeland in the fullest manner, as soon as sufficient forces are available. This attack will be opened by an annihilating reprisal for English attacks on the Ruhr Basin.
By June 25th Göring began 'Störangriffe', or harassing attacks. From Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the Commanding Air Officers to every Group of Fighter Command all the way down to the COs at every RAF Squadron at each Aerodrome, every soul knew that the full force attacks of the Luftwaffe would quite certainly commence rather soon. Probing raids of small groups of Luftwaffe aircraft were testing Britain's defenses, trying to strike her Chain Home stations, Aerodromes, or dropping mines near British ports. While these incursions were sporadic and mostly nil effective, they none the less were the precursors of the coming storm to which Chris Adison Wednsforth had pointed just two years earlier. These were the opening acts of what would soon be affectionately know as 'The Battle of Britain!'
On June 27th 238 Squadron moved from Tangmere Aerodrome to Middle Wallop Aerodrome.
Diary entry, Tuesday July 1st 1940. The boys moved from Fighter Command's 11 Group to 10 Group, Sector 'Y'. Middle Wallop is still a Sector HQ, but 238 Squadron will be removed a few miles North West of Tangmere and a piece further from the mounting brawl. The fitters, riggers and armorers had to work some rather ungainly hours to maintain their Kites here at Tangmere, and then put in more punishing hours each day after riding 54 miles in Bedfords loaded with everything they could carry to Middle Wallop. Once finished they traveled back to Tangmere in the middle of the night. It was a tricky balance for them to keep Tangmere operational while preparing to receive the Squadron at their new facility. The Pilots had the elementary task of solely flying their crates over on the 27th. Our new Controller call sign 'Starlight' was a bit of a miff for sometime as we had all been so accustomed to 'Shortjack'.
Diary entry, Tuesday July 2nd 1940. We have become fairly well suited at Middle Wallop. Yellow Section flew out on Patrol at 0745 hours this morning but did not crossed Jerry during their mission. Upon their safe arrival back to Middle Wallop at 1030 hours, Red Section was now at 'Readiness State'. The phone rang in the Dispersal hut at 1043 hours, and we were ordered to 'Standby' which meant we were to be in our crates, engines warmed, and ready to take off. Pips, my fitter, helped strap me in and assured me his VK-B was ready to fight! “Treat her like a proper lady Sir and she will serve you well. God Speed Sir”, he said. I said a quick Prayer just as I heard the phone ringing again. The duty erk shouted, “Red Section, Scramble! Vector one-five-zero, Angels ten!” We had not even fired off our Merlins yet! This was our first Operational Mission. Red Section was comprised of Flt Lt Colin Payne, Red One, our Squadron and Section Leader, myself, Plt Off Chris Wednsforth II, Red Two and Plt Off Lenny Marshall, Red Three. I had been bumped to Red 2 as Lacey was still at the Hospital in Tangmere mending his broken leg. Marshall had been moved up to Red 3 and Plt Off Lloyd Clough had replaced him at Yellow 1 Section Leader. Sgt Stapleton moved to Yellow 3 and Plt Off Arthur Chandler Chamberlain had joined our ranks at Yellow 2 position as a transfer from 111 Squadron Northolt. Treble One had joined 253 Squadron to form one of three composite squadrons formed in an attempt to reinforce the RAF in France. These units were based in Britain, but one half of each Squadron would operate from a French airfield for half of each day while the other half of each Squadron operated from Britain. Chamberlain's A Flight Yellow Section was based at the French Aerodrome, Lille/ Marcq, and he claimed a Bf 110 and a Dornier Do 17 on the 17th of May before returning to Britain that evening. Others in his Flight accounted for three more Bf 110s and another Do 17. All claims were approved and 111 Squadron was known for its' bravery in the face of overwhelming odds against the Luftwaffe. I felt sure Chamberlain would be moved to a Section or Flight Leader position soon, but for now Payne was not willing to stir up the Squadron anymore. As 'Pipps' stepped off the wing we each started our Merlin engines in our lasses. 'A' Flight Red Section was airborne into the patchy low lying clouds off Hampshire just minutes later. It was a beautiful day with big white scattered clouds all about, with heavy thunderheads South in the direction of Lymington.
The Controller came on the blower, “Hello Rupert Leader, Starlight calling. Vector one-five-zero, Angels ten, Buster, patrol the line Bembridge to Dover at Angels Ten. Bandits reported in mid-Channel off Brighton, course three-five-zero. Shipping off Beachy Head and may be the target, listening out.” Betraying no sign of nerves, Payne replied coolly “Hello Starlight, Rupert Leader answering, received and understood, out.” “Hello Red Section, Red Leader calling, Vector one-five-zero, Angels ten, Buster, stay on me chaps, over.” Both Marshall and I acknowledged Payne's message. The distance was a little over one hundred Seventy two miles from Middle Wallop to Bembridge to the Strait of Dover. Just recently Fl Off Coburn and I had discussed this as he had led Blue Section on two Patrols on this line earlier in the week. This was a first for Red section to ever venture out to the Strait. We had flown to Dungeness with the Squadron on formation training, but never through the Strait. I quite missed Plt Off Lacey in Red two position. Come to find out he had a compound fracture from his fall at Tangmere. I have visited him twice but do not expect we will see him return any time soon. Marshall and I were both excited with great hopes of encountering Jerry along the way. This was quite improbable, but alas he and I were young and full of vinegar and reckoned on coming across a tussle. Payne was much more subdued as he had tasted aerial combat over France against the Huns and he knew quite well that it was a tricky business. He had downed one Ju87 Stuka while flying in 73 Squadron against the opening Luftwaffe attacks on Northern France. As we plowed through the low lying clouds it was touch and go trying to form up. Normally Payne would have addressed us both for not flying in tight formation, but I think he knew that we might both have a case of the nerves and the patchy clouds were hindering the situation on our first operational mission. As we each pulled free of an enormous cloud I saw that I had drifted far out of position and just like clockwork Payne came on the blower, “Hello Red Two, Red Leader calling, do you care to join us Red Two?...... Get in position! over to you.” “Hello Red Leader, Red Two answering, received and understood, out.”
I eased over towards Payne as we prepared to enter the next cloud set. We flew through these clouds and came out the other side in about seven minutes. Marshall was now on my right. This was in particularly bad form for either of us and we both knew it. We managed to arrange our Hurricanes in proper form and soon we began to catch glimpses of the Isle of Wight about 10 miles out in front of our section, just off the starboard nose of my Hurricane.
Our Section approached The Isle of Wight and as we reached Bembridge Payne came on the R/T, “Hello Red Section, Red Leader calling I am coming port wing to Vector zero-seven-five, Angels ten, Liner, out.” We were now entering the massive thunderheads which we had seen upon our departure from Middle Wallop. Payne keyed the R/T again, “Hello Red Section, Red Leader calling we will fly a wide Vic formation until we pass these thunderheads boys, out.” He seemed to know that the wall of clouds we were entering could be treacherous for any section to fly through in a tight Vic. Payne told us to hold fast to Vector zero-seven-five, Angels ten until we broke out the other side. Our controller came on the Blower and directed us, “ Hello Rupert Leader, Starlight calling, maintain Vector zero-seven-five, over.” Payne rang up the controller, “Hello, Starlight, Red Leader answering, received and understood. Starlight, we are entering heavy weather conditions, with limited visibility, over to you.” Starlight confirmed Payne's transmission. The turbulence was incredible. It was all I could do to muddle through holding the control column of my Hurricane steady. For as heavy and powerful as the Hawker Hurricane is,... she was no match for the power of the winds which this storm was wielding. We could see neither the coast nor the Channel below us.
I was being tossed about like a trawler in a Northern Irish Autumn swell. I struggled to retain reasonable command of my fighter! We could have flown above it, alas Payne was strictly maintaining angels ten as our controller had ordered. I prayed that each of us would carry through to the other side of this squall all in one piece and satisfied to not collect one another somewhere within it!
We broke into another brief clearing and somehow I ended up on Payne's left side. After flying for 23 minutes through these large thunderheads we briefly saw Beachy Head, but we were not able to see any shipping convoys nor the Channel to any degree. This state of affairs was ever becoming highly dangerous! Marshall was absent and Payne used the blower, “Hello Red Three, Red Leader calling, are you still with us Red Three? Maintain Vector zero-seven-five, over to you.” Marshall answered moments later, “Hello Read Leader, Red Three answering, received and understood, Vector zero-seven-five, out.”
Our controller came on the Blower, “ Hello Rupert Leader, Starlight calling, Vector zero-seven-five, climb to Angels fifteen, Buster, Bandits 12 o'clock reported in your sector, over.” “Hello Starlight, Red Leader answering, received and understood, out.” “Hello Red Section, Red Leader calling, maintain heading zero seven five, climb to Angels fifteen, Buster, Bandits 12 o'clock in our sector, over.” Marshall and I both confirmed Payne's order and began climbing. As we continued our flight I maneuvered back into my correct position and gave plenty of space as we entered another wall of thunderheads and climbed steeply. After ten minutes of blind climbing,........
We finally broke through the front at angels14. I did not believe what I saw,............. I shook my head to regain my senses. As a result of my rattled nerves from flying through those thunderheads, I undoubtedly was observing unnatural sights! Payne broke in on the R/T, “Hello Starlight, this is Rupert Leader calling, Tally Ho! Three bombers with a few Snappers ahead. Red Section - attacking now - stick with me! listening out.” And as of that moment, Red section was stalking Jerries in God only knows where over the Strait Of Dover. This would be a turkey shoot, or so I thought,......
I am quite sure not one of the Huns had noticed us as we observed every one of the four Messerschmitt escorts, who were barely visible, rolling off to our starboard wing in the direction of France. I would only speculate that they must have been low on petrol and heading for home.
A furtherance of my Diary entry, Tuesday July 2nd 1940. As our section closed the distance on the Heinkels, Marshall plunged down from above my Hurricane with superior speed resulting in nearly 2oo yards lead to my twelve o'clock. Conceding each of our presently uncoordinated Vic formation positions, Payne extemporaneously forged ahead with an accommodating tatic. He cut in on the R/T, “Hello Red Section, Red Leader calling, I will attack the Heinkel to the starboard - Red three, attack the Hun to your twelve o'clock - Red two, look after our six's – Go! over.” Marshall and I acknowledged Red Leader's instruction. As a rule, Payne normally would have ordered Red section into a column formation for an initial attack run, but in this instance, these Jerries were presenting themselves properly for a staggered line abreast assault. He recognized a gainful profit in attacking individually, and we proceeded to do so. With our enemy's ignorance to our presence, we possessed the trump hand. This was our cardinal combat intercept and we were barreling in to extend the Huns quite a momentous British reception! “Allow me to bestow upon you a King's ovation with a sampling of my heralded gifts, beginning with my .303 Brownings' extending a short burst for popping by! Welcome to Jolly Ole' England Jerry!” I said aloud to myself. How dare these Huns encroach upon our Island, arrogantly and aggressively endangering the English people, I thought to myself. I was intensely bothered by this vulgar display of discourtesy! For the moment I would have to abide in my assignment to look after Payne's and Marshall's defense, but soon enough I would extend my introductory greeting. Neither Marshall nor I had combat incidence prior to this hour in our RAF careers, nevertheless, heretofore, no longer would this be of any distinction concerning either of us.
Curiously, I think the Heinkel's rearward gunners reasoned that we were the Escorts, or they were asleep, as not one round was discharged as we approached. Marshall was positioned almost 300 yards in the lead of Payne and more than 200 yards to his port. I withdrew to 400 yards astern Marshall's port wing and was searching the blue for any snappers about.
As Marshall approached 150 yards astern the center Heinkel, he let loose a long burst of possibly five seconds, which lead to the port engine of the bomber beginning to smoke and display a trace of flames! The Heinkel was falling away unbridled as a single crew member withdrew from the burning bomber, his silk canvasing the sky over The Strait of Dover. This opening assault mangled the gun tape of Marshal's wing and blood was in the water.
As the Heinkel pressed on toward the Strait, the port engine and wing erupted into flames!!! Marshall had just scored his first victory. “I've got him!” Marshall cried excitedly over the blower.
As Payne now sighted the Heinkel to his twelve o'clock, his betrothed target jinked to the port side, and the rearward gunner began discharging defensive rounds.
Next the Heinkel jinked to the starboard attempting to elude Payne's .303s. The rearward gunner surely sustained a jam as the tracers ceased to discharge from his gun.
Payne collared the Hun on the next maneuver, sent a long burst and straightaway the port engine was smoking. Marshall was sliding over to defend Payne's tail as he attacked the Heinkel. I guarded my pursuit of the third Heinkel, which was 500 yards to my twelve o'clock, as I continued to search for any snappers in the area.
Payne was now in harmony with the Heinkel and his consequent burst caught the port engine ablaze.
Payne eased off to the starboard side of the Heinkel as we each watched two crew members hit the silk as the Jerry bomber slowly dropped down through the woolpack into the drink. I rather painfully fancied Payne ordering me to quickly attack the remaining Heinkel as I was now 400 yards astern the last Hun and closing rather quickly.......
The conclusion of my Diary entry, Tuesday July 2nd 1940. “Hello Red Two, Red Leader calling, take that bloody Hun down mate! I have your six Wedns, over.” “Hello Red Leader, Red Two answering, received and understood! listening out.” As I initiated my attack upon the Jerry bomber the rearward gunner lit up the sky with rounds. I witnessed numerous hits on the Hun as I made this intercepting run.
My Hurricane took some hits as I was almost on top of the Heinkel now. The return fire ceased and I withdrew my throttle a measure to stay on Jerry's tail. I hammered on my eight .303s scoring countless punishing hits on the bomber.
I must have damaged the elevator controls as the Jerry bomber nosed over and fell away to my starboard side. Glycol and fuel appeared to vent from both the port and starboard wings as the Heinkel took leave in its' descending spiral.
The Huns careened downward in an almost vertical plummet.
There would be no recovery from this free fall as the engines screamed onward pulling the Heinkel faster toward The Strait of Dover. Something caught my eye off of to my starboard side. It was one of the Huns whom had bailed out from the Heinkel which Payne had just shot down, yet we had seen two hit the silk just minutes before. I thought of the fate of the poor Jerry whom must have struggled with a failed chute, thus plunging to his death in the Strait! A horrible state in which to perish.
Finally the port wing and engine were engulfed in flames and the Heinkel was doomed to incinerate all along its' nosedive into the brisk waters of The Strait!
The mounting speed of the falling Heinkel subdued the flames as it had only seconds until it would spectacularly impact the water.
Once the bomber was in the drink I began to survey about in an attempt to spot my section. I observed Payne and Marshall to my starboard and rang up the R/T, “Hello Red Leader, Red Two calling, there is one less Jerry bomber to travel home today! over.” Payne keyed the Blower, “Hello Red Two, Red Leader answering, received and understood, good show old chap! out.”
Payne reported in to our Controller, “Hello Starlight, Rupert Leader calling, we have three Heinkel 111s which we have dispatched into the Strait of Dover! Over to you.” “Hello Rupert Leader, Starlight calling, Smashing Good Show Rupert Leader!!! Jolly Good Show Men!!! Come to Vector two-eight-seven, Angels eight, Liner and we will bring you home Rupert Leader, over.” Payne acknowledged the call and I eased back into my flight position just off Payne's starboard wing and we flew on for Middle Wallop. I believe each of us was asking ourselves in our own minds, had that intercept actually happened? Was I dreaming? I pinched myself to make sure, and then I noticed it rather clearly,.... my hands were shaking, heart racing and my mind was on it's keenest edge. Not from fear, but from pure excitement, pure animalistic instinct of having just stalked and been victorious over my prey. It is the same feeling, which I remember vividly, from hunting Pheasant in early November as a sixteen year old on the Isle of Illaunmore on Lough Derg in Whitegate. That primal instinct of survival of the fittest!
Once landed and shut down at Middle Wallop , Pips jumped up on the wing and helped me unhook my harness asking, “what happened Sir? Your gun tape, it is shredded! Did you bag a Hun? Looks like someone took target practice on your roundel! They almost made a bulls eye! Don't worry Sir, I will have her patched up in no time!,” he said with a chuckle. Pip's questions were rapid fired at me as fast as my 303s had clobbered that Heinkel,.... I was simply without words. Pips would have not believed me if I had told him of all that had come to pass. No,.....he could not have been convinced, so I waited until Flt Lt Payne recounted the events of our mission at our debriefing, knowing that he would be received seriously. As we entered the Intelligence Officer's office in the CO's shack we each knew that we faced a lengthy debriefing. I imagine each of us actually would rather have not attended but instead taken a brisk walk straight to the Officers' Mess for a whiskey first. We did celebrate our victories that evening and all seemed calm again in Britain. Little did we know what was coming,......
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: April 16, 2018 Through these many years I have researched the Battle of Britain along the lines of Chris's journey, the more evident it is that this undertaking was massive. Churchill's War Ministry was attempting to leverage every possible angle to bolster the war effort and further the advantage of RAF Fighter Command's defense of the island. For instance, it seems by March of 1940 Fighter Command had created a unique unit, Y Service, for listening to R/T traffic on the 40 megacycle radio band. England did not manufacture suitable radios for this purpose so Hallicrafter 510s were purchased from the United States of America. In May of 1940 they constructed a trial facility which was situated in Hawkinge. Early on a message transmitted by a Luftwaffe pilot was intercepted in the German language. This was celebrated by Y Service personnel, yet there was a stumper, no one in the unit spoke German! A German speaking soldier was rather expeditiously found, and subsequently a makeshift translation report of a reconnaissance flight over North Foreland's coast was haphazardly complied. The intercept was transmitted to RAF Fighter Command 11 Group, and a section of Hurricanes was scrambled but the boys never spotted the Hun. Within the next weeks Fighter Command searched for service members whom had resided in Germany and possessed a command of the common German language and its' idioms. On June 15th Six WAAF airwoman were recruited and posted to the new listening site at Fairlight near Hastings. Experienced RAF R/T operators searched for radio transmissions, once intercepted the WAAF soldiers translated the German Luftwaffe R/T calls to English and the message was sent along hastily to Fighter Command's appropriate Group HQ. The WAAF airwomen were quite adept at this work and demonstrated clearly higher caliber returns in achievements from performing this task then men did. This resulted in women interpreters, almost exclusively, at each Y Service Unit. The information Y Services deciphered proved to be invaluable and augmented the knowledge of coming attacks greatly. Tying together the information coming from the Chain Home RDF stations, Chain Home Low RDF stations, Y Service and the Observer Corps led to a tightly knit Air Defense Operation. This helped Fighter Command and the pilots themselves considerably by not only knowing their adversaries better, but also by helping them to anticipate their tactics more intelligently and counteract them.
Diary entry for Tuesday July 16th 1940: The war has absolutely warmed to a boiling point, one might say. After two weeks, following our first encounter with Jerry, 238 Squadron had been scrambled a bakers dozen worth of intercepts. We had never once again seen a Hun whilst patrolling over coastal convoys or on the occasional scramble against Bandits whom never bothered to show up. Chiefly we were working the shipping lanes and general area West of The Isle of Wight. The raids were happening more frequently but 238 Squadron was not fortunate enough to intercept any as of late. The last six days have been rather bustling for Fighter Command. Sorties nearing 600 per day, and some Squadrons in 11 Group are sending up four and five flights a day. Operations generally commenced around 0445 hours and could possibly run at times until 2230 hours, with Sections, Flights or whole Squadrons landing only to refuel, rearm and climb right back up and into the fight. With some pilots taking only 4 hours of sleep before awakening to undertake the next day, the pressure was beginning to heighten. The main spot of fighting being reported was out over the more Easterly region of The Channel or in The Strait, with the Jerries always attacking the shipping or the harbors at best. The Huns rarely dared to attack inland as of yet. Now it appears we are beginning to realize the full extent of Göring's boldness to force the RAF to its knees. We will have nil of it!
“Always Patrolling Convoys, why won't HQ let us carry the fight to the Huns across The Channel?”.....I thought to myself. The Sector Operations Room set aside each Section of 238 Squadron in an 'Available' state throughout the day. In this way our controller, Starlight, can ring up a Section, a Flight or a whole Squadron as required. It was all becoming rather mundane, except for the matter of being clobbered if you did not keep your head about you whilst up there. Yellow Section had already been scrambled at 0645 hours with the menace of bandits about, but with nil Jerries lerking, the boys were patrolling over several shipping convoys in the area of Dover Port Docks. This was the first action of any measure for 238 Squadron in this area since July 2nd. It seems Plt Off Chamberlain of Yellow Section had a fuel gauge go on the blink and had to return to Middle Wallop prematurely. Flt Lt Marshall, Yellow Leader and Sg Stapleton, Yellow 3, continued on their Patrol over the Dover area. A second message of Bandits in the area had been reported by Starlight, but Yellow section had not found them. The overcast weather in the area made it difficult for Yellow section to hunt the reported Jerries. Later that morning, around 0820 hours as I recall, Starlight ordered Red Section to scramble and patrol the line from Bembridge through The Strait of Dover. Fighter Command had spotted a raid starting across The Straight vectored toward the Dover area. We had not patrolled this line since our initial combat with the Huns and I was hopeful we would deliver the Luftwaffe another blow today. As Yellow Section headed home, Red Section was on the way from Middle Wallop and Starlight vectored us to zero-nine-five, Angels fifteen, Buster. Payne winged us up to Angels fifteen and off we soared trying to spot Convoy Zulu as she was sailing North East through The Strait and moving towards The Thames Estuary. The weather looked to again make it rather difficult to spot ships for our Section. All seemed quiet thus far today,..... But,....... Jerry was out early this morning! As we later came to learn, the first attacking group of Huns had already accomplished their deadly work involving Convoy Topaz as she was just outside of Dover's port docks. Sargent Hughes later allowed me to study this days Naval reports which are shared with Fighter Command and all RAF Squadron COs in order that we may better understand Royal Naval tactics and operations. This cooperation is exercised in the hopes of preforming better RAF aerial protection for Naval Convoys. I am entering this additional information to my original July 16th entries on, July 23rd, 1940.
As the Luftwaffe attack group, a Staffel plus an additional Kette, left France the weather was fair but overcast and cloudy. By all appearances the Luftwaffe pilots would have an easy run at one of the convoys nearing Dover. This would only be true if the S-boat accounts of spotting the Convoy was accurate. The German S-boots, standing for Schnellboot, or E-boat, E for enemy as was the English designation, were used heavily in The English Channel, The Strait of Dover and in limited capacity within the Southern reaches of The North Sea. The German S-100 was 35m long and 5.1m wide. They were heavily armed, including torpedo tubes, and could sustain speeds up to 43.5 knots with a range of 700 nmi. E-boats were responsible for claiming several Merchant vessels and sinking 1 destroyer. The Kriegsmarine Schnellboots were also a highly successful asset used to patrol The Channel and intercept shipping convoy headings, which the Luftwaffe could use to direct aerial attacks against these convoys.
Crossing The Strait, the Staffel encountered foul weather, and only by luck did the group happen upon convoy Topaz. This was now a risky affair for the Luftwaffe pilots this morning with the weather as sorted and unsure as it was shaping up to be. The Stuka pilots always flew past their target, turned, and lined themselves up so they could dive bomb the ship then pull out with a head of speed as they were already heading in the correct vector for home.
The dive bombers lumbered along at 190 mph or slower, usually carrying one 250kg bomb center line of the fuselage and four 50kg bombs, two under each wing mounting. The Ju 87 also included two internal wing mounted 7.9mm machine guns and one rearward facing 7.9mm machine gun operated by the rear facing gunner. She was a rugged crate and could take a load of punishment, but her slow speed meant she was plum pudding for any RAF pilot worth his salt. She was a devastating dive bomber and delivered a punishing blow to anyone unfortunate enough to be her target! Her sirens instilled fear and panic in anyone's heart which had heard them screaming down in approach.
We knew all about how the Stukas approached their business from a briefing we had received from Officer Hughes, our Squadron Intelligence liaison. The Jerry pilot would have his floor window cover slid open so he could look down through his floor panel, line up the target and then begin the attack ritual. Initially he engaged the dive brakes manually which lowered the dive trim tab automatically, reduced the throttle, closed the coolant louvers and finally switched on the sirens.
Now roll over, or more commonly push the nose down, dive at 500kmh, sirens screaming, line up their target, release their bombs at 600m and initiate the automatic pullout button on the column. The pressure on the Stuka pilot upon pullout from his dive was enough to possibly force his uncontrollable blackout. Engaging the system on the column would then allow the Ju 87 to perform an automatic pullout in case of blackout. Increasingly the AA boys came to recognize this pattern, and soon became much more adept at aiming their low level 20 and 40mm Bofors. This caused many Luftwaffe pilots to disconnect their automatic pullout mechanism. By making this disconnection the pilot, as long as he didn't blackout, could vary his pullout and thus increase his chances of a safe escape back to France.
Bombs released, now all depended on how well this pilot had lined up the Merchant Marine vessel, The Port Slade, on his approach run. Normally the Stuka pilot would line up from stern to bow, but then again the pilot usually took into account which direction France was for their escape dash as it seemed Fighter Command did not take very kindly to the Huns destroying the Royal Navy Convoy ships. A Stuka pilot's chances of survival were a crap shoot for each mission he was assigned to. A role of the bones, a little luck and one might make it home for a hearty serving of Sauerbraten!
The Lead Ju 87 dove to commence the attack on the The Port Slade but never made the pullout and hit The Channel very closely missing the ship. Had this Stuka hit the deck it would have been deadly for any Merchant Marines top side. Aircraft petrol burns profusely and at a very high temperature, engulfing anything it comes in contact with in flames! The boys on board knew they had dodged a bullet on this round, but thus far they did not know that the worst had yet to arrive.
All but one of the 50 kg bombs from the unlucky lead Stuka pilot missed the mark. The second Ju 87 made his release, the pullout and was now headed for France. Several of his eggs hit the Port Slade. She took at least four bombs to the central controlling tower of the ship, with the third Ju 87 of the Kette presenting nil help by delivering all of his eggs into The Strait.
What looked to be minimal damage from top side was actually a largely uncontainable raging fire several decks below. Within one hour the controlling tower would be consumed with fire and render The Port Slade unmanageable.
After two hours all of the crew had abandoned ship, been rescued and then The Port Slade slid to the bottom of The Dover Strait.
The bombs did the dirty work. In the attack on Convoy Topaz, two of the dive bombers ganged up on another unfortunate Merchant Marine ship, The New Minster, at the rear of the convoy. The pair of Stukas made their run in while diving in a column attack against the Merchant Marine vessel. As the lead Stuka made his release, all of his eggs narrowly missed astern the ship. Even at this, if the bombs detonated, they could still cause immense damage to the rudder or propellers rendering the ship uncontrollable.
The second Stuka pilot composed a deadlier aim and the next group of eggs were a direct hit on the ship's stern. The impact of the explosion rocked The New Minster and the ship was in trouble. The two Stuka pilots had pulled out and were already heading for France as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds for a time. A lone Hurricane, which was separated from his Section and was returning home from a fruitless intercept, witnessed the explosion. With not one round expended from his Browning's, nor a Hun in sight, he felt helpless. He knew the poor blokes on board were done for, so he did what he could and offered up a prayer to The Man Upstairs for the lost sailors' safe journey beyond.
Initially she was on fire, but was still limping along, then a flash......
A huge explosion and debris was flying all about.
The New Minster was sinking behind the enormous fireball never to be seen again as two of her sister ships sailed on in the distance.
These Merchant ships played a deadly match of cat and mouse with the Luftwaffe almost daily. The heavy weather was a welcome sight as it ordinarily meant relative impunity from the dive bombers. Today it was not enough as another of the sister ships sank below the Channel waves taking almost fifty of our boys with her. Before the morning attack was complete, The New Minster was taken from Convoy Topaz and would not make it into Dover Docks.
The devastation was unforgettable. The sailors on the next ship could only look on in horror as the Channel claimed another ship.
The sailors on the remaining ships knew the fate of The New Minster could happen to them as well. They knew the cargo holds were full of munitions. They carried sea mines and artillery shells for the coastal guns of Britain. For Winnie, and Pooh which were finish fitted in March and now able to bombard targets in The Strait of Dover. These 14 inch barrels were taken from spares manufactured for the battleship HMS King George V. Massive pivoting mounts were constructed and the big guns sat on the hills outside of Dover behind St Margret’s. They were Britain's answer to Hitler's big rail guns being readied in France. Once these massive artillery pieces were completed, the Royal Marine Siege Regiment could hurl shells almost 18 miles! These British coastal guns would be the first to lob shells on to the Continent later in August, but that is getting ahead of things at hand.
Footnote: Paton Wednsforth: April 16, 2018 To clarify, these three photos were stuck in Chris's diary between these two pages and I, Chris's grandson, am surmising he visited these two Coastal Guns in early 1941. The handwriting in grease pencil on the photos was fading away, but it matches his journal handwriting so I know Chris wrote these captions. I can only imagine the thunderous noise produced when a round was set off.
The final two ships of Convoy Topaz were steaming along ready to enter the relative safety of Dover Harbor within the hour.
Footnote: Paton Wednsforth: April 16, 2018 Chris chronicled the correspondence below from a leave in London which he took during the weekend of August 3-4, 1940. He referred to the events of this date, July 16th 1940. I thought it pertinent to match this dialogue with the events of this day.
“I heard this story later on August 3rd, from a Merchant Marine Officer and a couple more deck hands from two ships in Convoy Topaz, while in a Pub on leave in London. The Officer on the Jolly Knights said he turned his attention overhead to the struggle happening high up in the sky off the Starboard side of their Merchant vessel,............Just minutes after The New Minster sinking it seems a single patrolling Hurricane made a low dead six pass against one of the fleeing Stukas, unleashing a long burst until his ammunition seemed to be expended entirely! Noting a plethora of hits the Officer said he felt some adulation as the RAF pilot took some retribution for the sinking of The New Minster. The two deck hands on board the last ship in the Convoy, the Arctic Pioneer, jumped in the air, cheered and yelled at the top of their lungs for the hurricane pilot. One wing of the Stuka was blown off and the fuselage was cut in half near the tail section. The Hurricane then immediately turned for England while only two of this Kette of Ju 87s headed home for France as the Huns observed their comrades fall to a watery grave.”
“The Hurricane pilot was later confirmed as 238 Squadron's own Flt Lt Lenny Marshall flying VK-D. 'Len' had been shifted back to Yellow Leader after Lloyd Clough was transferred to another Squadron. It was his second victory, and the celebration in the Officers Mess for his triumph that evening was quite heavy.”
Diary entry for Tuesday July 16th 1940, 0820 hours: As the devastation in my previous Diary entry occurred far below and to the East of us, in our unbeknownst ignorance, we flew on patrolling the line to The Strait of Dover. Flt Lt Payne led Red Section to just off of Eastbourne when he experienced a problem. “Hello Starlight, Rupert Leader calling, I have a malfunction with my oxygen system, request vector to nearest aerodrome, over to you.” “Hello Rupert Leader, Starlight calling, received and understood, make vector two-seven-two, ninety miles for an emergency pancake. I will advise Shortjack of your situation to prepare a familiar airstrip, over.” “Hello Starlight, Rupert Leader calling, received and understood. Starlight, Red Two will assume Section Lead with Red Three as concomitant to complete Red Section's task, over.” “Hello Rupert Leader Starlight calling, received and understood, out.” As Payne rolled out to our port side he dove down to lower his altitude and hit up the R/T, “Red two this is Red Leader calling, take the Section Lead Wedns, make me proud, you know what to do old bean. God Speed!, over.” I acknowledged Payne's call. An oxygen system leakage could be a deadly quandary in the wrong circumstance. Pure oxygen leaking into the cockpit could be ignited by a single spark from any one of the multitude of electronic switches or gauges. I quickly said a prayer for Payne's safe return to Tangmere, as I knew the vector and distance indicated the fore mentioned. He would be able to visit with the boys of 43 Squadron whom were still conducting the battle from our old Aerodrome. My rigger Pip's cousin is also a rigger for 43 Squadron at Tangmere, and he would take good care of Payne's lass before shipping him home to Middle Wallop.
As we approached The Straight, just West of Hastings, it still had not impressed upon me that I was the acting Red Section Leader. Myself and Red Three, Flt Lt Samuel Eric Monroe, a keen but inexperienced recent arrival from a Fairey Battle Squadron, would carry on with the original mission. Monroe had served in No. 98 Squadron from April through June of 1940 and was based at Nantes, France. No. 98 Squadron did not engage in any combat missions and was evacuated back to England during the Battle of France. The Squadron lost ninety of its personnel when the RMS Lancastria was bombed and sunk off Saint Nazaier on 17 June 1940. Monroe was picked up by another returning vessel which rendered assistance to the sinking RMS Lancastria. I had become quite well acquainted with Monroe over the last few weeks since his arrival to 238 Squadron, and he seemed to be a good bloke. “Hello Rupert Leader Starlight calling, maintain heading zero seven five, descend to Angels ten, Gate, bandits in your sector, over.” My mind was still aimlessly processing my changed status concerning Flight Lead and R/T procedures and I faltered to answer Starlight. A spot of nerves I am afraid. After quite a few seconds Payne jumped on the blower, “Rupert Leader this is Red Leader calling, bloody hell Rupert Leader, respond to Starlight you sod! Listening out!” As soon as I heard Payne's rather annoyed voice on the R/T I snapped out of my confusion and broke in on the blower, “Hello Starlight, Rupert Leader calling, received and understood, out.” “Red Three this is Red Leader calling, descending to angels ten, stay on me Sammy! Over.” Monroe acknowledged my call and we descended to angels ten just off the coast at Dungeness as we traveled East at around two hundred forty miles per hour. As I and next Monroe pulled free of a cloud, I sighted them. “Starlight this is Rupert Leader calling, Tally Ho, multiple dive bombers, attacking now! Out.” “Red Three this is Red Leader calling, line astern, GO!. At 300 yards split port side and we will try to scatter them, over.” Monroe confirmed. We could not engage each of the Ju87s, so we would try to induce panic and hope these Stuka pilots would drop their eggs and head for France.
As I approached the gaggle of Stukas I attempted to line up the two on the starboard side at the rear of the Hun's formation. I saw Red Three split off to my port as instructed. I overshot the first Stuka and was lining up on his leader when he suddenly pulled up in a violent maneuver to slip away.
It seems we caught the Huns napping, as only this one pilot reacted to my incursion within their formation. I lined up another to assail as I pulled my throttle out of gate. At 220 miles per hour I could only push on through and try to place a burst on the ensuing Stuka. Had I endeavored to pull into the vertical with the current Jerry at this close range, the likelihood we would have collided was rather considerable.
Surely the gunner was screaming wildly to jink as he looked certain death in the eye. I had waited until to late to open fire, but the sheer speed of our attack was beginning to offer the desired reaction. The formation was coming apart and eggs were dropping in my vicinity as the Huns most certainly soiled there flight suits.
As I let loose my first long burst I would never know how close I had come to having my starboard wing blown off by the rear gunner as I overtook this Stuka. The Hun's sluggish reaction along with the added force of that crushing pull, initiated by the pilot, saved me from collecting many more rounds which the gunner unleashed within the proximity of my Hurricane. One Stuka had already doubled back for France and was running for home, tail tucked betwixt his legs.
My Hurricane did absorb some of the Jerry's rounds. I could feel a slight vibration and my oil pressure gauge was flickering wildly. Our Merlin engines were quite tough and could endure a lot of punishment. A number of the rearward gunners had awakened and were firing recklessly as I flew through their formation.
I hit the Stuka in front of me and was now passing over it and lining up the leader as my next target. I never saw Flt Lt Monroe again during this attacking pass.
I had taken more hits as I pressed my gun button to fire another long burst at the leader! As my Brownings unloaded there was a huge splash off my starboard wing which caught my eye, but what it's origination was I had nil understanding. I was bloody on the deck now, no more than 100 feet above The Strait and barreling ahead at 200 mph!
My Hurricane commenced running in quite disheveled fashion at this juncture. She was was shaking violently and I could feel the disturbance through the seat on my pants. The Hun before me jinked to the starboard direction provoking my rounds to miscarry.
I quickly pulled the control column to line up one more shot as I closed rapidly to within 50 yards of the Ju 87. My Hurricane was notably damaged now as she was slowing rather alarmingly. I found dark heavy smoke in the rear viewing mirror, which I observed as a bad foreshadowing of the looming decline of my Merlin engine.
I lined up the Hun exquisitely in my reflector sight and again pressed my gun button to fire, and........... nothing,..... my rounds were exhausted! At that express moment the most deafening clatter which I had ever heard left me in shock. The ringing in my ears was slowing my reaction to what was happening! I noticed a faint blur of red as I hurriedly pulled the control column full back.
I had taken a hard burst from the Jerry gunner, and as I pulled up I noted the rpms fluctuated violently as I climbed. I needed adequate altitude to securely bail out of my now crippled Hurricane. I made Angels two rather quickly and scouted my surroundings with urgency, hoping to find my island home for a dry pancaking. The carpenter residing within my engine was fiercely knocking to warn me that internally my Merlin engine was going to pieces rather hastily! There was nil salvaging my old lass this time as it seemed she would be going down for the final time quite soon. I mumbled a quick Prayer asking The Man Upstairs to help deliver me from this position of dyer need. As VK-B slowed to 190 mph, I was a wee bit over Angels two and had to make a decision expeditiously!.................................
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: August 27, 2018. Through some extensive research, I discovered that Flt Lt Monroe had completed his mission and returned to Middle Wallop, not knowing what had happened to Chris. Monroe had witnessed one victory which Chris had scored as he saw it splash into The Strait. He last saw Chris barreling through the middle of at least six Ju87s, firing wildly as if a madman. It appeared as if Chris and Sammy had driven off all twelve of the Stukas, halting them from completing their intended bombing runs on Convoy Zulu. Monroe scored countless hits on three separate Ju 87s, claiming one probable, and he had witnessed several of the Stukas cast off their eggs in a panic as the Jerry pilots turned for home.
All of the Merchant ships of Convoy Zulu entered The Thames Estuary and made their journey up The River Thames to the Docklands. Under the cover of barrage balloons, off loading of the sorely needed supplies commenced immediately. The Channel, The Dover Strait and The North Sea approach to The Strait were life lines for British shipping. At all costs these lanes had to be protected and remain viable to sustain The Island’s demand for war materials and provisions for the people of Southern England. Though Dowding and Fighter Command were somewhat reserved to be drawn to far out over The Channel or The Strait, between the efforts of the Royal Navy and the RAF these shipping routes were kept operational. The waterways were not without their own dangers or loss, but none the less, enough of the ships were accomplishing the mission in spite of the threat.
Completion of my Diary entry from Tuesday July 16th 1940, 0948 hours: Having pulled up and over the Hun who had ravaged my lass, I maintained Angels two. The R/T was undone and I had nil reckoning of Sammy's state of affairs. Unable to ring Starlight up, I pulled port wing and fortuitously sighted Hythe straightaway through a clearing in the clouds. Having come around, I had to remain particularly mindful of my altitude and pace, as my Merlin was in distress. To compound the matters at hand, petrol and glycol were venting directly from my starboard wing. My rubber band was coming unwound and I had little occasion, nor petrol in all reasonableness, to prolong my flight.
I knew the grassy field at Lympne Aerodrome was scarcely any distance due East beyond Hythe. It was no longer HQ of 51 Wing, but the airfield was still kept in quite accessible condition. Subsequently, Lympne had not been home to any RAF Squadrons since June 8th but was used as a forward staging base and satellite airfield for the stations of 11 Group. Provided my lass was accommodating, I was hoping to pancake her at Lympne!
Either a Jerry round or a bit of shrapnel had wounded me upstairs in a rather ghastly fashion, or so it seemed, bleeding as it was. It reminded me of the time I tripped and took a tumble as a child opening my thinker in what appeared to be an unhealthy manner. After my Father attended to it with a soaked rag, the damage was actually quite minor. I am given to the impression that one simply bleeds from the crown as a stuck pig would, sacked at the hand of Cavalrymen. Scads of blood vessels up there I suppose. Aiming to clear my view, I only managed to dash blood from here till Sunday it seemed.
The Hun gunner had clobbered my hydraulics, thus my landing gear was inoperable, so the only alternative I had was to manually pump the emergency gear release in order to lower my landing gear. Only her starboard wheel fastened in the acceptable position. It gave me a green lamp confirming the locked condition, however the port side gear was not exhibiting the lamp, indicating the gear would not lock down correctly. While again attempting to clear my vision, I simply managed to sully the mess on my goggles even more. This in nil way helped my vision as I was nearing the approach to the airstrip. I spoke another Prayer to The Man Upstairs that He and my lass might deliver me less for bother from this plight. If my port gear foundered upon pancaking, it would be the horrific end. VK-B and myself would cartwheel down the airstrip and most assuredly end up a ball of twisted metal and fire. Bloody well not the way this RAF pilot cared to step off!
I had not pancaked on a grassy airstrip in some weeks, but luckily Lympne Aerodrome had quite an unimpeded approach except for a small stand of trees just prior to the outset of the strip. This would be rather simple compared to Tangmere. I made a splendid treble wheel set down and was quite found of myself as this was a greatly under powered, almost gliding, pancake.
There was only one particular left to cap off this disheveled mission. I gripped the column tightly by the all aluminum AH2040 Dunlop Spade grip with both hands, pulled full back firmly and squeezed the bicycle style binder lever to slow my lass down, but there was merely one hitch involved,...........
I had no Binders!!! BOLLOCKS!!!!! BOLLOCKS!!!!! BOLLOCKS!!!!!!
As I ripped across the airfield at Lympne, the sole option for me was to hold straight using the rudder of my Hurricane as best I could. I sensed a bit more starboard rudder was prescribed than on my previous pancakes. Possibly my lass had her posterior partially shot away?
Once again, a singular Prayer to The Man Upstairs. Please! Please! Please! Stop this crate before I end off the airstrip and am implicated in something rather unsavory.
I fathomed the Jerry gunner had hit me hard, but as of yet I could not know how bothered my old VK-B was.
My Merlin was operating highly irregularly and I could still see steam spewing out from the rear of my old girl.
As I rolled out with less and less airstrip remaining, I felt a significant port side pull now.
I countered with right rudder and my girl began to slow, I could feel this pull in an even more pronounced manner as I approached the far end of the airstrip.
I drifted port side quite far on the grass runway, almost bearing off the left border. My Hurricane slowed rather quickly now with this dragging acting as a brake. I was approaching the perimeter road at the end of the airstrip and had to hope I would stop before crossing over into the softer unprepared field just beyond it.
As I came to a stop I shut down old VK-B not knowing if I would ever hear her run again. Upon exiting my lass I was shocked at the damage which I discovered. Besides the smashed hydraulics, I counted over 60 holes where Jerry rounds had struck my Hurricane. One of my prop blades was shot up. A portion of the front right lower engine cover had been blown off, and that dragging I had felt? Well that was a flat tire caused by the landing gear not being properly locked in the lowered position. This rugged old Hurricane had just saved my arse! She had taken all the comeuppance that the Huns could mete out and still she delivered me to Lympne! From this moment on I would be inclined to never want for a Spitfire once more! It is a Hurricane solely for me! Yes indeed Sir!!! After a quick walk over to the CO's shack, I found there was not a telephone to be had. It seems when No. 26 Squadron left last month the CO had commandeered the telephone. I feel rather certain he was not fond of the thought of any invading Fallschirmjägers ringing up The Queen at all hours of the night to inform her of their arrival! So, I began my brief stroll to find a telephone. I marched southeast one half a mile right up onto a ridge. From the top of the rise I saw a Steeple not far off and I headed directly for it.
Diary entry July 18th, 0800hours: The former two days have been the most eventful, noteworthy and compelling days of my RAF career thus far. After such harrowing combat on July 16th with the Hun dive bombers, subsequently rendering my Hurricane inoperable, I secured VK-B, and off I trotted on a short stroll to what I would soon discover was the town of West Hythe. In search of medical assistance and a telephone, I promptly came upon a local Church. The Padre, Father O'Brien, whom was originally from The Isle of Mann, was quite hospitable and concerned over the gash on my head. After cleaning my wound and applying a crude bandage, he rang the telephone to Gravesend Aerodrome. He held the telephone half cocked so I could hear the conversation along with him. Once connected, with a slight chuckle and in a rather urgent heavy Irish accent, Father O'Brien vigorously asked the CO if he was admitting wayward orphaned RAF pilots for the night. All the while the Padre was grinning as we both knew the CO was struggling to make clear what he had just been asked. After quite a few seconds of befuddlement, the CO sternly inquired as to what in the blazes Father O'Brien was jabbering on about. Once the Padre unhurriedly related my state of affairs, all was sorted and the CO sent a staff car to gather me up. Within the hour I was offering my thanks to Father O'Brien for his reception of me and the care of my wound. He suddenly offered a Prayer of Blessings over me and over my Squadron, and then sent me on my way with the chap from Gravesend. Once I arrived at Gravesend, Wing Commander Evans, placed a call to my CO at Middle Wallop and informed him that one of his Hurricanes was stranded at Lympne and that he was in possession of its pilot. He spoke quite loudly now looking directly at me, in jest I suppose, “names Wednsforth, ring a bell? It might be a rather lengthy walk back to Middle Wallop for him Sir, would it be to much of a bother to send a man round tomorrow to gather him up?” I had to grin to myself at Wing Commander Evans evident good spirited character, but in the end arrangements were confirmed regarding my repatriation to Middle Wallop the following day.
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: August 16th, 2018. In the beginning months of the war, Fighter Command's RAF No. 604 Squadron operated originally from North Weald Aerodrome and later from Northolt Aerodrome as they oversaw defensive patrols in these respective areas. Also during this time period No. 604 Squadron was tapped for conducting experiments with early Airborne Interception Radio Direction Finding, or AI for short. Soon the situation changed when the Germans invaded the Low Countries of France in May 1940. No. 604 Squadron moved to Manston Aerodrome as a result, and in early May the squadron was tasked to fly night patrols over the Pas de Calais. In June 604 Squadron began to fly night patrols over German occupied Aerodromes in France, in the hope of intercepting returning German bombers. The Squadron then transferred to and is presently operating from Gravesend Aerodrome. They presently fly the Bristol Blenheim night fighter at this juncture in the Air War.
Continuation of Chris's Diary entry from July 18th concerning the events dated July 16th & 17th: I arrived at Gravesend just in time for the Doc on station to sew me up in the medical tent. He managed to close my wound with only five stitches and made the estimation that I was one lucky chap. “One inch to the left and you might not be among us old boy!” he said. I had not even pondered the notion that I might have been killed during that combat. After thanking the Doc, I then headed off for a spot of tea and regalement in the Officers Mess. The pilots were a jolly bunch and after our meal they showed me the Blenheims which they flew, and a few of the pilots discussed with me the operational procedures used during night missions. I observed that the four .303 Brownings incorporated into the self contained gun pack was quite impressive. This unit was designed to fit into the bomb bay of the Blenheim with very little engineering modification. All four Brownings were tightly grouped together and mounted on the center line of the Blenheim's fuselage. If under the cover of night one of these Blenheims moved onto a Hun's close quarter six o'clock position, this gun pack would bring that Jerry bomber down rather quickly I surmised.
Upon my surprise, I spotted whom I certainly presumed was Air Chief Marshal Keith Park. One of the 604 pilots confirmed my suspicion, and as a result I was a bit uneasy as his stature loomed large in Fighter Command as compared to us pilots. He inquired of me as he noted I was not one of No. 604 Squadron's pilots, and promptly thereafter we were introduced to one another. He sought to hear the particulars of my combat from this morning and of the past few weeks. I told him of my ordeal this morning with the Ju87s and of my previous exchanges with the Huns since the onset of the War. He was a very polite gentlemen and set me at ease as he conveyed the feeling of genuine interest in my combat experiences. A short while later I asked one of the fellows what Park's visit to Gravesend was regarding, and I was advised that he had personally taken charge of the night intercept flights of No. 604 Squadron. ACM Park made it known that he had a suspicion that in the coming months Göring's Luftwaffe would institute nightly bombings of London and other major southern English cities. He made it clear that Fighter Command's 11 Group must be in a state of readiness to defend and combat any night time assaults which the Luftwaffe might wage against England.
After frittering about with the other pilots for the afternoon, and learning all I could of the Blenheim's operation, we strolled to the Officers Mess and partook in the dinner fare. When our meal was complete I decided to look in on the briefing for that night’s training mission. As I understood it the Blenheims were sent up in pairs and would take off near dusk. Just as all of the pilots were filing out of the briefing room I ended up walking out directly behind Air Chief Marshal Park. Upon clearing the door, Park quickly turned cornering me in the doorway and said, “Pilot Officer Wednsforth, would you fancy a ride in one of these chaps Blenheim Mk IVFs this evening? Would you like to experience firsthand the difficulties my crews endure to fight in the pitch dark? It is a totally different challenge than what you do in the broad daylight son!” The night fighter version did not require a bombardier, so I could easily be accommodated. I had never really considered flying an intercept mission at night, so I accepted ACM Park's challenging invitation. I will have to detail this night training mission in a later Diary entry as this has been a long day for me. Later in the evening, upon returning from the night flight, the pilot from our flight prepared a rack for me. I lauded his gesture and upon laying my head on the pillow I was, as they say, out like a light.
In the morning following breakfast I was invited to sit in on the debriefing from the previous night's Training Mission. It was interesting to witness how contrasting No. 604's Night Fighting Tactics were compared to daylight Fighting Area Tactics. I thanked Air Chief Marshal Park for the experience and then spent the rest of the day observing the boys of No. 604 practicing scrambles, takeoffs, touch and gos and landings in their Blenheims. The rigger which Payne had dispatched from Middle Wallop to collect me arrived at Gravesend around 1530 hours. After a long slow and painful journey back in the Bedford, we arrived at Middle Wallop at 1855 hours. I crawled in my rack, worn out from all of the adventures of the last two days, and I slept like a log.
Diary entry for Thursday July 18th 1940, 1100 hours, flight operations: After reporting to Flt Lt Payne's office at 1030 hours, I was detailed to perform a check out flight at 1100 hours in a Hurricane from the reserve pool. I was to fly this mission with a newly arrived pilot, Plt Off Paul Alan Davies, as my wing man. Payne opened his office door and told Davies to step in, which he did and came to a standing rest position by my side. My Hurricane, VK-B, would be transported back to Middle Wallop by truck, but as I had earlier recounted the damage incurred on the 16th to Pipps, which he was nil to happy about, he said she would most probably be dismantled and used as spares. The results of heavy attrition in the past few weeks had diminished our Squadron's operational capability to eleven Hurricanes. No. 238 Squadron's Adjutant made the urgent request to Maintenance Unit No.5, RAF Kemble for three additional Hurricanes on the very day I was forced down by the Huns. They expedited the replacement order but could only deliver a lone Hurricane at the time. It was flown in just yesterday, and Pipps had not found the time to paint the appropriate Squadron identity letters on her as of yet.
Payne detailed me with the check out flight including flying to The Channel while showing Davies the lay of the land, engaging in a fighting area drill with Davies and testing the Brownings out over the water in this new crate. Payne needed this plane to be cleared for operations as No. 238 Squadron was scheduled to be on 'Readiness Status' tomorrow, July 19th. As we came to attention to salute and exit Payne's office he spoke up with an almost indistinguishable smirk on his face and said, “and Wedns, by no means are you to try out your Brownings on Davies old boy!” I instantly cut a glance towards Davies and noted a look of trepidation on his face as he looked straight forward. I cracked a slight smile at Payne, said, “Yes Sir!”, as we saluted and Davies and I both turned about face and marched out of Payne's office. I did not speak a word to Davies as we walked to our kites. I would let him stew for the moment in the insecurity of what Payne meant by that closing comment.
Davies and I took off from Middle Wallop at 1100 hours and came to vector one-nine-zero which put us on course for the town of Christchurch near The Channel coast. We would fly my check out mission directly off the coast over The English Channel. I checked in with Starlight and advised him of my mission and he acknowledged our vector and assigned us Angels five Liner as our cruising altitude and speed. Flt Lt. Payne had briefed Davies and I that the Chain Home Low station at Worth Matravers was unserviceable due to routine maintenance and upgrades. Also at this time the Army Chain Home Low station at Culver Battery was being prepared to move 1500 yards back into Fort Bembridge. Thus it also was unserviceable during this time and would not begin operations again until July 30th. RAF No. 152 Squadron from Warmwell had two flights of Spitfires tasked to patrolling the line from just off the coast of Portland Bill to Bembridge on the Eastern coast of The Isle of Wight. These Patrols were being used to plug the hole in the Chain Home Low RDF for the time being. “Be advised No. 152 Squadron will be patrolling at 8,000 feet, so keep your head on a pivot and Do Not, I repeat, Do Not get into a scrap with them Wedns! This is not a training mission against them! Understood?” Payne told us. I acknowledged knowing what he was alluding to. Hurricane and Spitfire pilots vehemently disagreed about who's fighter was superior and each looked for any chance he could garner to do a spot of tail chasing and have a case to claim the top slot of who flies the prominent RAF fighter.
Davies and I cruised at 180 mph, and were closing on Christchurch when Starlight came on the Blower, “Hello Rupert Leader, this is Starlight calling............ At that very moment three Do17s of the German Luftwaffe, flying at low altitude, were about to cross the coast just East of Bournemouth. The Observer Corps. at Swanage called in identifying the intruding Huns to Ten Group HQ just five minutes earlier, and The Observer Corps. at Bournemouth were on the telephone calling the raid in at this time! The boys at Bournemouth observed that the bomb bay doors were open on each of the three Dorniers, annoucing that the preparation for dropping their eggs was nearing completion. The Bombenschützs were finalizing the adjustments of their bomb sights as they each performed the final navigation to properly approach their target.
Within minutes the Jerries would be in sight of the town of Hurn, home of their intended target . The four brick towers of the smoke stacks at the factory were now in view as the Bombenschützs lined up their final run into the target. The factory was less than two miles inland from The Channel and the Jerries would be able to perform a quick escape once their bomb loads had been dispersed.
As the rear gunner in the lead Do17 watched his two comrades sail along smoothly, he noted what a beautiful day it was to his Captain over the R/T. The Captain scolded him over the blower, “Keep your eyes looking and your mouth shut, those Hurricanes may come out of anywhere! Those Tommies in the Spitfires will drop from the sun and strike us before you even realize! Concentrate on the mission Dummkoph!”
On this day the lucky stars aligned for the Huns as they flew in over the coast thinking it strange that nil Ack Ack was coming up to announce their presence to what should be intercepting RAF fighters. They had no idea that today Fighter Command was solely counting on The Observation Corps. to identify incoming air raids. Bomben weg! Cried the lead Do17s bombadier as his eggs began their journey down to wraught havoc upon the factory.
The Luftwaffe bomber crews had been informed as to the importance of this mission early this morning in their briefing. A week ago a Nazi informant living near the town of Hurn had learned from a local bloke of the importance of the Royal Naval equipment produced at this factory. Returning to France two days ago by boat under the cover of darkness, the informant turned over the coordinates of the installation to his superiors. This factory manufactured key components of the sighting instruments for the Royal Navy's fire control systems aboard British battle cruisers. The often chuckled about wartime poster, 'Loose Lips Might Sink Ships', was twisted in a totally different direction by this naive local sod's ignorance.
As the bombs dropped, the skies above were clear of the Spitfires and Hurricanes which normally the Jerry bomber crews were forced to engage. Each was wondering where the enemy was, and considering to themselves, if this persisted all would make it back to France undamaged.
The eggs now began to walk across the factory site causing utter destruction!
The Engineers buildings, the material sheds and the great brick towers of the smoke stacks from the production and assembly buildings were now under assault! The Ack Ack crews were never allowed time to make it to their Bofors, so the Huns soared along unmolested.
The third and final Do17 let her bomb load drop as all three lumbered on there way seeding the destruction of the facility. These were the fastest Luftwaffe bombers and the pilots intended to leave the hostile English Island with the greatest haste that their machines could muster.
The Huns had lined up the Do17s so that they each would lay a path of destruction right through the heart of the complex. The full impact of the Huns assault was now punishing the factory and many of her workers.
The devastation on the ground was unimaginable! The fire, the heat and the force of the explosions decimated all in their path. Very few buildings managed to avoid damage or complete destruction. Only one of the great brick smoke stack towers was left standing. The factory looked to be an utter loss. The Huns had executed their mission with great precision, and brutal force, but,........... they were not home yet!
Diary entry for Thursday July 18th 1940, 1100 hours: the continuation oy my tasked flight. ….............“Hello Rupert Leader, this is Starlight calling, come to Vector two-niner-five, Angels two, gate, ten miles, we have 3 big babies attacking inland targets near Hurn. No help available for you at present, listening over.” “ Hello Starlight, Rupert leader calling, received and understood, out.” Hello Red Two, this is Red Leader calling, line astern, gate, ten miles, stay with me Davies, bandits ahead! I discovered later in the afternoon of this same day that A Flight of No. 152 Squadron was taking on petrol at Warmwell after exhausting their resources on their first Patrol, and B Flight was well over 45 miles away near Bembridge. This left Davies and I to intercept the Hun bombers alone. As we flew along the Channel coast and soon moved inland, I could see the bombs detonating on what appeared to be a factory roughly North East of Hurn. I swung starboard and could scarcely make out several contacts four miles ahead on the deck to our one o'clock low.
As I crossed the bombed out site I witnessed the fires and heavy smoke as the factory continued to burn. It appeared as though most of the buildings at the site were destroyed. They must have had almost nil warning of this incoming low level attack. If this were true, the loss of life in the factory would most probably be considerable.
I directly confirmed visual to Starlight of several German Do17s heading North Northeast. I began a modest dive, running down to one thousand feet and gaining speed to roughly 250 mph. I observed the first Ack Ack bursts mushrooming around the bombers and became cocksure that it was high time to level the tally for what Jerry had just brought to pass!
“Hello Starlight, Rupert leader calling, Tally ho! out.” “Red Two, Red Leader calling, close up on me Davies, watch my tail! Follow my lead and assualt the Hun I am attacking, over.” Davies acknowledged, but I was troubled because he was lagging much too far in the rears. If any snappers were about we would be split up and both quite thin skinned to any attack they might embark upon. As I approached 250 yards I let off a short burst, but I waited to draw closer for the next squeeze as I was running this Hun down rather quickly. I offered another short burst at 150 yards.
I was drawing closer at an alarming rate and the Do17s rearward gunner was patiently delaying his defensive response until I was near enough at hand for him to assault my Hurricane. Again I pushed my gun button to fire a short burst, thus clobbering his starboard engine for the second time.
As I approached 100 yards I noticed a single Ack Ack cloud appear and directly let loose another series of short bursts. My rounds were beginning to take their toll on the Dornier as I glimpsed the rear gunner's tracers moving towards me. It all happened rather quickly, yet it appeared to transpire in slow motion in my mind as I slid to the starboard and watched the tracers stream by my canopy narrowly missing my lass.
I was within the rear gunner's range but as I weaved side to side a mite I beat up the Hun bomber quite badly. This Jerry gunner was rather slow in his reactions and could not get a bead on me as I moved around. The starboard engine was beginning to smoke when I saw several Ack Ack rounds rip into the port side wing near the engine, setting it on fire.
I dropped down a few feet and then quickly pulled back up lightly while firing my eight Browning machine guns, and this storm of rounds silenced the ventral gunner. Once hit, he surely must have slumped over the escape door latch releasing it, as I witnessed the door fall open. The hatch remained open but not one Jerry bailed out. At 800 feet altitude I am not sure anyone would have survived if they did manage to get out. I pulled up quickly to retake my position of advantage and survey what maneuvers would be required to establish my next attack. The Hun I had attacked was billowing smoke badly at this juncture of the battle. As I climbed and rolled to my starboard Davies was just approaching the badly damaged bomber and offered a short burst while roaring past and then pulling up and to his port wing.
Just now Ack Ack rounds clobbered the Hun bomber which I had damaged ruthlessly. Each wing directly gave way folding upward, then sheared off and the bomber began to dive off toward the fields below. The Jerry was engulfed in flames and falling hurriedly. The remaining two Do17s hauled themselves strongly to their starboard wing as I was beginning to emerge from my barrel roll. I could still see the burning bomber plummeting towards the island below as I prepared to climb once again in expectation of my coming attack upon the closest Dornier.
Not one Jerry escaped as the Do17 burned on it's way into the English countryside. Thinking of all of those that laborered at the factory in Hurn who were either injured or lost their life, I felt some solace in their stead as this bomber crew would no longer bring destruction to my countrymen. That judgment alone reconciled any feelings of sorrow I might have felt towards those now falling to their death. War is a messy business and one must separate oneself from questioning his righteous position to take a man's life while in combat. Evil is evil and must be harshly dealt with at it's appointed time if Peace is to conquer it!
As I straightened up and plotted my next attack, the Jerry I was eying could not have situated himself in any better position for my ensuing attack. I simply rolled inverted, pulled my nose down and rolled right into a dive which established me directly on course for his six o'clock. As I dived in I gave several short burst and witnessed both Do17 engines shut off. As I observed this I eased off to my port wing as I knew this Hun was dropping into the Channel. As I soared around to my port wing I viewed Plt Off Davies composing his dawning attack run on the final bomber.
“Red Two, Red Leader calling, carry on with your weaving during your attack run old bean! That Jerry gunner will rip you to shreds if you assualt him in a lifeless pursuit, listening out.” I did not expect a response as I knew Davies had his hands full trying to bring down this bomber.
At what looked to be 250 yards Davies began to unleash short bursts just as the RAF Fighting Area Tactics had been taught to us. Smoke started to boil from one of the engines as Davies pressed the attack. The Do17 was now descending in a manner which would bring him to wave top altitude in mere moments. This was a common tactic employed by the Huns in an attempt to cause an RAF pilot to think he was doomed and flying into the drink, when actually the Jerry would level out at the last moment just on top of the Channel and then press on to run for France. I could see Davies was having none it and gave chase right on the Jerry's tail firing burst after burst into the bomber. He must have silenced the rearward crown gunner as there was no return engagement coming from the Dornier.
Just as I anticipated the Jerry leveling out, he slid violently into the Channel displaying an appalling crash which was promptly taken from our view as the water engulfed the bomber and it sank below the surface! “I got him!” cried out Plt Off Davies over the R/T. As he pulled his hurricane from it's dive he flew directly through the spray which erupted two hundred feet above the impact. “Good show mate! Jolly good show!” I chimed in. “Form up and we will make for home.” “Hello Starlight, Rupert leader calling, three Huns dispatched, coming home now, listening out!” “Hello Red Leader, Starlight calling, Smashing Show you two, Wonderful, really wonderful work chaps! The mates at Hurn will be happy to learn of this!” Yes they would I thought to myself, the ones that are still alive would be, but what of the ones who did not survive the assault? The monumental amount of missions, the death toll, the destruction, where was this War taking us and when would it end? My mind was beginning to waver a trace from the stress of it all, and........ none of it looked to let up at all presently. Press on, I simply have no choice but to press on for King and Country! I kept telling myself that! I must continue convincing myself of that and keep my head about me!
My Grandfather addressed this struggle in a poetic oeuvre which hearkens the likes of Tennyson, Owen or Sassoon. The love of a schoolboy for Literature then transposed sensibly through a blank verse poem. This, so one may understand the sense of inevitability and foreboding, in words as well as in beat, during this ominous moment within The Battle of Britain!
We knew they were coming! After all they were late They were assembling their pawns Calling to arms their mighty knights Awaiting a gathering exchange To ruin a stalwart Empire
We knew they were coming! Taking the other by force Seizing it with their might Using their great numbers Relying upon their scheme But they forgot one word In this blind ambition Hope! Which will mount A defiant mighty stand Even if, We knew they were coming!
We knew they were coming! High above the coasts Forming up their murderous mob Soaring along undaunted Knowing their foe would falter In no time he would fall
We knew they were coming! An Empire would be crushed Under this heavy stone In time chivalrous knights Would vanish in thin air But they forgot one word The other held all along Hope! Is all which was needed Even if, We knew they were coming!
We knew they were coming! Generals watching over mighty flights As each lumbering aloft Across the wide expanse Their burdens heavy laden Coming to make the scene
We knew they were coming! Their formations very proud Four fingers of a cover For the waves of raiders A menacing display to all Whom gaze upon this pageant But they forgot one word The other held so tight Hope! Was Victories Faith Even if, We knew they were coming!
We knew they were coming! The gaggle of executioners They carry death and destruction The enemy care for none Yet blind faith carries them on For Fatherland and Leader
We knew they were coming! For pride and prejudice Combatants soldier on They carry on obliteration To their neighbors sons The bombs which they carry Flung far and near But they fight an Empire Whom shed off their despair The other laid the bedrock For an everlasting stand It comes from the word An enemy had forgotten Hope! Is the final command For, We knew they were coming!
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: September 23, 2018. My Grandfather would have been 97 years old this day, God rest his Soul. After canvassing his Diary intrinsically for 16 years, and just as importantly The Battle of Britain, I have reached the resolve that Chris's Diary is painting a rather fine stroke of the actual enormity of the struggle at hand. Sharing my Grandfather's Diary is altogether endearing to me, yet his Squadron was but one of dozens who were laboring every day to preclude the rise of tyranny in England. I am enrolling myself to bring forward a much broader stroke of Fighter Command's RAF engagements on the 25th of July 1940. I will include, without exception, each one of the RAF encounters which occurred on the 25th of July, interspersed within Chris's original Diary entries of 238 Squadron's skirmishes for this day. Please regard in observance, this is 'One' out of 68 days, with kindred RAF undertakings, in the course of The Battle of Britain. Alas, all the while The RAF were measurably disadvantaged by the Luftwaffe's preeminent numbers of fighter and bomber aircraft which were resolved to break the British Empire.
0650-0730 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements off Lincolnshire: The three Spitfires of Red Section No. 222 Squadron were ordered to take off from Kirton-in-Lindsey at 0538 hours to investigate raid X34 but were soon diverted to patrol a Convoy 35 miles East of the Lincolnshire coast at 10,000 feet. Forty minutes into the patrol Red Leader, Plt Off Vigors, spotted two He111s at 5,000 feet heading Westward towards the Convoy off of the Mablethorpe Coast. The He 111s dived Eastward to sea level and Red Section gave chase in a Column Formation. Vigors attacked striking the lead bomber and was himself hit by the rear gunner while Red Two, Plt Off Cutts, and Red Three, Plt Off Assheton, followed through attacking as well. On the second attack Vigors silenced the rearward gunner and stopped one engine before Assheton expended all of his ammunition into the He111 and both turned for home owing to Petrol shortage. Cutts repeatedly attacked the second He 111, disabled the rear gunner and in one subsequent attack forced the Heinkel's landing gear to lower. He broke off also owing to low Petrol and was forced to land in a field short of Kirton-in-Lindsey. Cutts returned to Kirton-in-Lindsey shortly thereafter by car and his Spitfire was returned to the Aerodrome a few days later by truck. No claims were recorded but it was believed that both He 111s were brought down owing to the severe damage inflicted by these three lethal RAF pilots. This was the initial RAF air combat mission of July 25th, 1940.
0725-0755 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Northern Scotland: Two Spitfires from Red Section No. 3 Squadron scrambled from Wick Aerodrome at 0711 hours to intercept one Heinkel He111. As Red One, Fl Off D A E Jones, and Red Two, Pl Off J Lonsdale broke through the complete overcast at 9,000 feet they spotted the Heinkel roughly 8 miles ahead of their current position. They used the cloud cover in addition to the sun being located at their backs to smuggle themselves into position behind the He111. Jones used one short burst to knock out the rearward gunner, then closed to 200 feet and assaulted the starboard engine knocking the cowling off and setting the engine ablaze. He then attacked the port engine with the same result. Lonsdale further attacked the starboard engine and witnessed the landing gear lowering. Through subsequent attacks the Heinkel departed into the clouds in a slow dive, starboard engine stopped, port engine damaged, wheels down, presumably crashing into the North Sea. No claims were submitted owing to the fact that the He 111 disappeared into the clouds and was not seen again. This was the second RAF air combat mission of July 25th, 1940.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country: No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Chris's account would be the RAF's third air combat mission of July 25th, 1940. My lass, VK-B, was shipped back to Middle Wallop two days prior, and the Squadron Engineering Officer, Cecil Chadsworth Williams, had since determined that Hurricane VK-B's extensive combat damage did not warrant the effort nor expense of repair. Pipps, my rigger, had to relay the decision to me. He had already harvested her starter for one of the other Hurricanes which needed a replacement rather badly. While I was a bit put off hearing the final assessment from Pipps, and he was nil to happy either, I was quite thankful as I walked out to see her for one last time. She had served me well and delivered me from each mission to continue the fight. It is a funny thing that a big inanimate object such as a fighter aeroplane can grow on you as a sort of friend. She had taken care of me from my first check out flight back at Tangemere right up to our final precarious landing at Lympne. Maybe it was the stress and raised emotions from the almost constant aerial combat and lack of sleep, but I felt a bit of a quiver in my lower lip as I said goodbye to my beat up old lass. “Thank You,” I said to her now knowing her war was accomplished.
The sky over the Western share of The English Channel seemed fairly quiet throughout the early morning on the 25th. That completely changed in just a few waning hours! At 1045 hours, No. 238 Squadron was scrambled from Middle Wallop, vectored to two-two-zero, Angels fifteen, Buster to Swanage on the Isle of Purbek. All twelve Hurricanes formed up hastily en route and entered The Isle of Portland's shipping lanes on The English Channel in a touch less than 25 minutes. Pipps had finally found time to paint the call letters on my new Hurricane. So begins the story of VK-B II I chuckled to myself. I had days earlier already asked her to take good care of me just as I had done in my original Hurricane. From Swanage we were to come to vector two-four-five and intercept Bandits. About forty bombers and several fighter escorts were reported by Starlight on heading two-eight-five in passage to possibly attack shipping off of The Isle of Portland.
At 1100 hours, Payne spotted Bandits to our starboard wing, one o'clock low, and thus began No. 238 Squadron's initial combat of July 25th as he called it in. "Hello Starlight, Rupert Leader calling, Tally Ho! Thirty bombers with eight Snappers, Angels eight. Attacking now! Over." "Hello Rupert Leader, Starlight calling, received and understood. God Speed! Out."
"Hello Blue Leader, Red Leader calling, take those snappers 'Burn'!" Payne hatched pet names for most of us in 238 Squadron over the course of our training, such as 'Burn' for Fl Off Phillip Carlson Coburn. He seemed to fancy using them to bolster our courage and broadcast his confidence in us. To all the boys in 238 Squadron, Flt Lt Payne was simply Rupert Leader or Red Leader. Respect for him within our Squadron was absolute, despite the obvious associations we could come up with involving his last name. Often times we had a little chuckle amongst ourselves with this, such as, at times he was a Royal Payne!, but never anything beyond this inter Squadron banter. We would rally about Squadron Leader Flt Lt. Colin Alexander Payne and accompany him into the pits of hell if called to do so! Coburn affirmed Payne's message and B Flight mounted a slight climb and banked starboard somewhat to initiate their intercept tactics of the Jerry snappers. Payne jumped on the blower once again, “Red Leader to A Flight, Red Section line astern on me, attack port side bombers! Yellow Section, line astern on Marshall, attack starboard side bombers! GO!” As A Flight and B Flight separated to begin their differing attacks on the Jerry fighters and bombers, Fl Lt Samuel Monroe, Red three, spotted a lone Me 109 slightly above us moving across the nose of our flight to the port side. A 'Snooper'! Monroe called it into Payne! Flt Lt Payne replied, “Hello Red Three, Red Leader here, take that snapper out 'Sammy'!” Monroe confirmed, pulled up and banked port side to maneuver onto the Jerry's tail. I did not fancy being that snapper pilot as Flt Lt Samuel Monroe had proved quite savage when dog fighting the Huns as of late.
We were attacking from out of the sun and moments ago I was puzzled as to how these snappers knew we were here and had already started climbing in preparations to defend against our superior attack altitude. At this moment all was suddenly apparent that the Huns had sent one of their comrades up to scout for any Tommies which might be above and about. A Flight turned starboard and assembled our line astern formations to begin the diving descent in approach to attack the Hun bombers. Monroe continued to stalk the snooper and was soon to be embroiled within a fierce dogfight with the Hun. B Flight maneuvered to retain her superior position to cut off the rising snappers, as the boys knew to respect the Me 109 for her superior climbing ability. Burn was waiting for the opportune moment when the 109s were slow and B Flight could dive in and take advantage of Jerry's inferior posture, thus exacting the maximum damage allowable on the Huns.
1245-1325 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Southeast Country: Twelve Spitfires from No. 65 Sqn. , eleven Hurricanes from No. 615 Sqn. and nine Hurricanes from No. 32 Sqn. were scrambled by Fighter Command's 11 Group. They were vectored by their controllers to intercept thirty Ju87 dive bombers and thirty Me 109 fighter escorts crossing The Strait of Dover in the West North Westward direction of the coast of Deal. The Luftwaffe flights were en route to attack shipping Convoy CW.8. Though the RAF fighters and Luftwaffe escorts were almost identical in numbers, the RAF fighters were unable to attack the Ju87s as a result of the Luftwaffe fighter's superior assault altitude upon initial meeting. The RAF fighters managed to reverse the Me 109's advantage and even the playing pitch. Near the conclusion of combat the RAF had taken the upper hand. In little more than forty five minutes the intercept was concluded, and the RAF pilots managed to confirm two Me 109s destroyed and two Me 109s probably destroyed. Only one RAF pilot sustained injury, Plt Off Victor George Daw, 21 years old of No. 32 Sqn. whom suffered a wound in the fleshy portion of the leg and had to land wheels up in a field near Dover. The Me 109 pilots made zero claims while the Ju87 pilots managed only superficial damage upon two of the British Merchant Marine vessels. Convoy CW.8. continued traveling on a South Westward heading through The Strait of Dover. This was the first of two attacks carried out on Convoy CW.8 on the 25th of July in Southeast Country. This was the fourth RAF air combat mission of July 25th, 1940.
Even if the bomber pilots could not see our Hurricanes, they knew their escorts would only climb away in this dramatic fashion if there were a threat from the Tommies. As the Hun bombers watched their escorts rise up to defend against the inevitable attack, a few of the rearward pilots became restless and were loosing there places at the end of the massive formation. Having our backs to the sun was a tremendous edge for our Flight, and we used it to great advantage during our undertaking to assault the Hun bombers.
Thirty bombers is a rather large number to ponder storming into with only five Hurricanes. Where does one begin? As Flt Lt Payne had trained us, focus on your Section Leader and follow your Fighting Area Attack Training Tactics. Payne broke in on the blower, “Hello Red Section,” which consisted only of Payne and myself since Monroe was now fully engaged with his snooper snapper. “Hello Red Section, Red Leader calling, stay with me, steady, watch not to pile into Jerry on your pass through the formation 'Wedns'!” Payne knew I had never encountered such a large formation of bombers and he wanted me to remember my training and use it. “Focus on the Hun I am attacking, storm on ahead and let these bastards have it one time for Jolly Old England mate!” Payne enthusiastically blasted over the R/T. The moment seemed to slow to a crawl, we were diving down and a thought came to mind of a riddle my Father had quizzed me with in my younger years. I could hear Father saying this in a quite spirited manner, “Why Chris, do you know how one dines on an elephant son?” My puzzled look prompted him to say with a chuckle, “Why, one mouthful at a time son, of course!” This memory solicited a smile even now, but more importantly, it was precisely how I was to assail this formation of bombers! One Hun at a time, of course!
Monroe had now gained a favorable position to his Jerry combatant's tail, but he still lacked the altitude of his prey. He fired a short burst, but......
the Jerry pilot was climbing away from Monroe whom was now dropping past 100 mph. He desperately sought to put his reflector sight onto the Me 109 so he could press the gun button to fire. The Hun simply climbed away as Monroe's pace dropped off below 80 mph. His port wing dipped as his Hurricane fell aside trying to recover the speed and control she had frittered away.
1450-1515 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Southeast Country: Nine Spitfires from No. 610 Sqn. , twelve Hurricanes from No. 111 Sqn. , nine Spitfires from No. 54 Sqn. and eleven Spitfires from No. 64 Sqn. were scrambled by Fighter Command's 11 Group. They were vectored by their controllers to intercept twenty Ju87 dive bombers and forty Me 109 fighter escorts whom were crossing The Strait of Dover in the West North Westward direction of the port of Dover. The Luftwaffe flights were en route to attack shipping Convoy CW.8. This would account for the second attack upon this convoy today. The reports from each RAF Squadron varied but the consensus was that the Luftwaffe was at 12,000 feet of altitude. Parts of each RAF Squadron attempted to attack the Ju87s, but were intercepted by the Me 109s. The RAF pilots whom attempted to intercept the Me 109 fighters were badly out numbered and thus the situation devolved into a wildly out of hand dogfight. The order of the day seems to have been head on attacks for the RAF pilots in what could only be described as selflessly courageous offensives in a desperate situation. In little more than 25-35 minutes the combat was concluded. Four Me 109s were destroyed, three probably destroyed, four damaged, and only one Ju87 destroyed. The Luftwaffe pilots claimed five Spitfires destroyed including one by Major Adolf Galland of III./JG26. RAF pilots lost were Flt Lt Basil Hugh 'Wonky' Way, 22, No. 54 Sqn. 8 claims thus far in his career; Fl Off Alistair John Oswald Jeffrey, 22, No. 64 Sqn. 4 claims thus far in his career; and Sqn. Ldr. Andrew Thomas Smith, 34, No. 610 Sqn. 1 claim thus far in his career. These three men gave all in which they could in the desperate defense of The Empire and her people. Convoy CW.8. continued to sail South Westward through The Strait OF Dover sustaining two ships lost to Luftwaffe dive bombing attacks. This was the fifth RAF air combat mission on July 25th, 1940.
As A Flight dove in some of the Hun bombers lost their nerve and dropped their eggs from fear of our impending attack. I can only imagine being in one of those tail end bombers and witnessing five RAF Hurricanes diving in to initiate a strike upon your bomber. I ponder it an episode which would be a frightful sight and exceedingly likely to unnerve most young men.
On our first pass through a small number of Jerrys scattered, but over twenty stayed in a tightly spaced formation. They soldiered on knowing we were pressing in to give them everything we could muster. The fight was now spreading out all over The Channel's sky, wildly writhing about like two opposing wrestlers brawling to establish a dominant hold on the other. Hurricanes and Me 109s were above me battling furiously and Ju88s were in front of me with some diving away cowardly, but,.... I was about to have my opening portion of the elephant!
My cardinal attack run was blisteringly swift. My Browning's were blazing, casings streaming down and I could see the the Ju88 lighting up with debris flying from it. Smoke was beginning to emerge from the starboard engine. I had set off less than one third of my ammunition as I witnessed my target dropping it's starboard wing.............
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: September 24, 2018. Of course each Squadron held a debriefing after any mission and my assumption is that Chris took notes and spoke with the other pilots concerning their experiences during that sortie and then he incorporated these details into his Diary at some point. I believe this was his attempt to convey the complete picture of what No. 238 Squadron experienced in the course of these intercepts. Thus he must have written these entries at opportune moments when time was available. It is hard to keep in mind that the battle was raging around them everyday and there would have been precious little time to do much else beside the intercepts at hand, eating a quick bite here or there and sleeping a few hours each night. I am quite certain their would have been small periods of time where these pilots were at stand down, but for such a young man as Chris to have the discipline and desire to keep such detailed accounts of theses daily actions is remarkable to me. I can only imagine that to maintain all of this effort day in and day out during this battle must have been quite taxing and harsh on one's mind and body. I shall continue to include all of the RAF actions from this day in chronological order interspersed within Chris's continued account of No. 238 Squadron's intercept at 1100 hours from this day, the 25th of July 1940.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. I witnessed nil enemy aircraft rounds being fired as Payne made his opening foray through the formation of Ju88s. As a result, I lagged a short distance astern Payne, maybe 300 yards, and swooped through on a more level attack course. Payne had already plunged straight through the formation landing large numbers of strikes on the last bomber in the group. He was beginning to turn to his port side in preparation for a climb to rise back above the formation and seek a position such that he could consider his next attack. I was now certain these aeroplanes were Ju88s, and my short bursts of .303 rounds shredded the Hun's bomber directly ahead of me. My target still had his full load of eggs as did his comrades surrounding him. He never saw me approaching and my charge was a shock to each of the Ju88's crew at the rearward end of the formation. Payne's incursion was a lightning strike, tearing right through the bombers like a flash, whereas my offensive was the rolling thunder which came thereafter the lightening strike with a deafening rumble and shaking. My prey was departing to my starboard side as I was constrained to continue my assault straightforward through the Jerries formation while moving at breakneck pace.
As I rushed past I saw a quick flash of the Hun bomber I had just assaulted, starboard wingtip dipped downward toward The Straight, and for a fleeting moment I had the notion that this Jerry might be going down. Refocusing, I directed my attention back to my attack run as I rushed beneath another Ju88. I was unable to unload a burst into this Hun as I narrowly avoided a spectacular collision with the lumbering behemoth. Once clear of this Jerry I rose up marginally while firing short bursts at the next bomber ahead of my lass. This Hun broke formation, he climbed somewhat higher and turned slightly to my starboard side in an attempt to avert my stampede. I never witnessed the Jerry pilot, whom I had previously attacked, flipping onto his back and falling away to The Strait below. The blower came to life, “Red Two, Red Leader here, nice shot old boy, you got him Wedns!” I had not the opportunity to reply as I was still in the thick of it. Payne, whom was above the gaggle at this time, would later relive all of these events for me. He was inverted while rolling over to survey his next bidding, and he witnessed the Hun spiraling down towards The Straight utterly out of control. Flt Lt. Payne would later confirm my victory.
Payne witnessed the Hun bomber's outer starboard wing violently ripped off from the damage I had exacted just moments ago. This exposed the two main wing spars of the Ju88, and two of the starboard wing mounted bombs detached wildly, careening down towards the drink. The Junker now spun downward in what appeared to be an unrecoverable highly accelerated erratic manner. Flames appeared to stream from the starboard wing petrol tank as the bomber was slowly taken apart in her death spiral. Payne said the black smoke was gloriously thick and filled the sky to signal the bomber's defeat. Rolling upright, he canvassed the sky about him and spotted another Hurricane quite some distance off to his starboard side attacking a bomber which had separated from the main formation. Payne observed that this Ju88 was beginning to smoke profusely and the Hun pilot appeared to be wildly maneuvering in an attempt to fend off the aggressive assault of the Hurricane in pursuit. Flt Lt Payne was directly above the gaggle of bombers which I was in the midst of, and he proceeded to roll his Hurricane onto her back and pull on the control column to once more begin his ensuing offensive attack dive.
My last rounds were well placed and damaged the Ju88 which I was assaulting, but as I flew through the bomber formation I foresaw nil chance to attempt any more strikes. As a result I slowly pulled up and slightly toward my port side checking my mirror to spot any possible snappers about. Startled, I at once pulled starboard as the Hun gunners surrounding me were coming to life. As I climbed to distance myself from the Jerry gunner's lethalness, I could not help but think that B Flight must have been clobbering those snappers we spotted earlier. As of yet I had not espied one snapper within the gaggle of Junker bombers down here. As I rose up to orchestrate my next attack, I could see another Hurricane dropping into the fray once more! As we passed I saw that it was Payne diving down in VK-A to clobber another Hun.
1500-1530 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements Over the West Country: Plt Off C A Bird and Plt Off R G Manlove were detailed as defense pilots for the No. 5 Maintenance Unit Kemble, Gloucestershire. At approximately 1445 hours an aircraft was spotted from the ground traveling Northwards, and Bird and Manlove climbed in their Hurricanes and lifted off traveling northwards in pursuit. Climbing to 12,000 feet, nil aircraft were spotted until the pair turned southwards and espied one airplane 5,000 feet above them. Together they turned and climbed after the visually confirmed He 111. Plt Off Bird out climbed Plt Off Manlove as Bird's Hurricane had the newly updated Rotol air screw. The Junker was observed to drop a stick of 6 bombs and turn south southwest. Now at approximately 18,000 feet the Ack Ack guns opened up and Bird pursued his attack of the bomber. Plt Off Manlove witnessed Plt Off Bird close in and deliver his assault from very close range then break away climbing to the port side of the Hun when finally his Hurricane went into a spin. As the enemy turned on his Side Manlove delivered a long range attack and crippled the starboard engine. The Junker went into a flat spin, and Plt Off Manlove witnessed both the Hurricane and the He 111 spinning towards the ground. Manlove at that time observed a Flight of Spitfires circling Plt Off Bird's Hurricane as it plummeted towards the ground in a spin. Plt Off Manlove followed Bird's spiraling Hurricane lower and lower until it was quite apparent that he would not pull out. Plt Off C A Bird gave his life defending his Island Home on the 25th of July and was later awarded the Victory over the He 111 posthumously. This was the sixth RAF air combat mission on July 25th, 1940.
*photo captured from page 170 #2 Battle of Britain Combat Archive, Simon W Parry
As I declared earlier, all of us came to understand later during our debriefing all matters which transpired amid this intercept. Plt Off David Franklin Pierce was the Hurricane Pilot which Payne had witnessed earlier assaulting the lone Ju88 off in the distance. Pierce, or 'Fran', the monicker Payne had assigned him, was actually from B Flight. He piloted his beloved VK-F in the No. 3 position of Blue Section. At this time 'Fran' should have been fighting the snappers, but he revealed this recollection which told of the circumstances surrounding his state of affairs during this fight. 'Fran' had first been part of the attack on the two Schwarms of Me 109 fighter escorts. His Flight Leader, Blue 1, Fg Off Phillip Carlson Coburn, again 'Burn' as Payne elicited, led B Flight in it's offensive against the snappers. As the two Jerry Schwarms split up to defend against the Tommies altitude advantage, 'Burn' showed Blue Section the way against the port side Schwarm as Plt Off Robert Eric Fletcher commanded Green Section against the starboard side Schwarm. 'Burn' attacked and the Jerries split again into two Rotte. A Rotte was the basic flying unit of the Luftwaffe escorts which consisted of two fighter aircraft flying in support of one another. Burn and Fg Off Paul Sebastian Thayer, whom Payne called 'Seb', assaulted the Port side Rotte. 'Fran' found himself attacking the Starboard side Rotte alone as the Schwarm split and he had lost site of 'Burn' and 'Seb'. He pressed the gun button to fire a very short burst and hit the lead Me 109. Immediately both Huns rolled inverted and dove away towards The Channel. 'Fran' followed suit, but as he dove a short distance he knew these two Jerries were leaving him behind as a result of the superior diving speed of their Me 109s as compared to his Hurricane. After pulling out of his dive and banking to the starboard side to clear his tail, 'Fran' observed a lone Ju88 on the wing straight and level almost magically presented before his Hurricane. Not one to pass up a target of opportunity he pressed the attack. 'Fran' fired one short burst and it sailed directly by the canopy of the bomber and made a few hits on the starboard wing. As a result the Hun pilot quickly broke into a shallow Port turn. “Outstanding,” 'Fran' said aloud to himself. He now was in perfect form to clobber this bomber with his eight .303 Brownings.
As 'Fran' attacked this Ju88 it was seemingly disassembling before his eyes. The harmonization pattern of his Browning .303 machine guns was set to 250 yards, discarding the old “Dowding Spread' which cast a 12 ft. by 8 ft. pattern at 250 yards. The boys in our Squadron had heard rumblings of complaints from the likes of Colin Falkland Grey of New Zealand, No 54 Squadron and Adolph 'Sailor' Malan from South Africa, No. 74 Squadron. It seemed the argument was that the 'Dowding Spread' was converging at an actual distance of 350 yards or even further. The thought was that harmonizing all eight .303s at 250 yards would concentrate all rounds to one point and perform the maximum possible damage when the target was attacked within this range. Every pilot in No. 238 Squadron had requested their Armourers to set their Hurricane's harmonization to mimic these two pilots, whom each already had achieved multiple victories. As the Hun pilot lost control his Ju88 rolled inverted and 'Fran' noted that their eggs had been discarded earlier.
This assault was finished and the Hun crew was falling away. Dissatisfied, 'Fran' reflected to himself that none of the boys were about to confirm his victory. As he pulled off to his Port side he watched the Ju88 descend in a billowing cloud of smoke. In that instant it occurred to him that not one Jerry had bailed out.
1545-1600 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements Off The Isle of Wight: The three Hurricanes from No. 1 Squadron's Blue Section took off at 1508 hours to patrol 10 miles south of St Catherine's Point off of The Isle of Wight. Once the three aircraft had climbed to Angels ten, Blue 3 spotted three Rotte of Me 109s flying in formation at four thousand feet. Blue Leader positioned the Section to the enemy’s six o'clock, and the Huns observed the Hurricanes and proceeded to to split up as they continued to run for France. Blue Leader then proceeded to dive in to attack one of the now singled out fighters. Neither of the three RAF pilots would see each other again during this combat as it was conducted in spotty cloud cover. Blue Two, Fl Off H N E Salmon, mounted a diving attack on a Me109 also falling away. At close to two thousand feet, Salmon was tipping 400 mph and had to crank his elevator trim actuating gear to pull out of the dive as the Me 109 was fixed in his dive seemingly unable to recover. Fl Off Salmon blacked out for an appreciable time and did not see the Me 109 hit the water, but he did manage to recover controlled flight of his Hurricane. Blue 3, Plt Off GE Goodman, was involved with three Me109s when one attempted a quarter beam attack. The Me 109 pilot came within one wings span distance before pulling up and starboard to narrowly miss colliding with Goodman's Hurricane. Once past his Hurricane, Pit Off Goodman witnessed this Me 109 fall into a spin and careen into The Channel while the other two Me 109s climbed away into the safety of the clouds. All of Squadron No. 1 Blue Section returned to Tangmere Aerodrome. Plt Off Goodmn was awarded one Me 109 destroyed, while Fl Off Salmon was awarded one Me 109 probably destroyed. Goodman reported that the Jerry pilots were not of the same caliber he had met in France. In fact he stated that they were uncoordinated as a unit and seemed to get into the way of one another while in combat. This was the seventh RAF air combat mission on July 25th, 1940.
Meanwhile the air battle was raging far off in the distance and beckoned 'Fran' to rejoin it, but the slow spiraling descent of the Junker, which he had just overcome, was a mesmerizing as well as an agonizing sight to behold. This bomber crew's war was over as not one Jerry had gotten out of the Ju88. This was 'Fran's' first victory, and he was ill over the loss of life he had just evoked. Knowing it was him or them did not reckon this situation any less painful to stomach. For the first time he regretted being in this position of holding power over the life of another, he felt as if dragged down by a heavy stone. As 'Fran' shook off the crushing weight he felt upon himself, he gazed down at his gauges and sighed with relief. He had no choice but to make a heading for home as he was light on Petrol and could in no ways rejoin the fight and make it back to Middle Wallop.
As the now bereft of life bomber plummeted away it slowly gathered speed. German engineers assemble robust well-founded aircraft, but even this mighty bomber was exceeding it's formative stability. The port side wing of the severely damage Ju88 tore off under the heavy stress load. With the Cap Blanc Nez in the distance, she would usher her crew into The Channel unto their final resting place within just a short span of time.
It would be some days later, but we came to find the truth about what happened to Plt Off William Nathan Murray. It seems after fighting with the snappers, 'Nat', as christened by Payne, also found himself being lured to dive lower and forfeit the altitude advantage he enjoyed. 'Nat' thought against following the Me 109 any further down and pulled out to regain his bearings and retain his advantage. Scouting the skies about him, 'Nat' did not see another plane in the vicinity. As he began easing his control column to the starboard side 'Nat' suddenly saw one Ju88 slightly lower than himself and flying abroad all alone. The bomber must have been hidden by his lass's big whiffer. Regardless, 'Nat' pulled back to his port side and aligned his reflector sight in preparation to assail the Huns.
Once aligned he directed all of his concentration on clobbering the crew of Jerries within this Junker. 'Nat' silenced the top gunner with a short swift single burst. As the bomber pilot helplessly maneuvered to defend his Ju88, 'Nat' proceeded to set up the large bomber for a proper assault. He delivered a long burst and the Jerry was now letting off smoke at the port side engine as a result of the many impacts of rounds upon this Ju88. Just as 'Nat' was readying himself to count this as a victory......................
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. …....he promptly had the instinctive feeling that something quite paramount was about to go amiss. Was this conundrum simply something 'Nat' overlooked unknowingly? Quite doubtful! Was this possibly the result of an overwrought inattentive moment? Considerably more likely as he envisioned this victory while simultaneously presenting himself in a naive manner to the peril surrounding his Hurricane. No matter which, the argument stood, 'Nat' had most undoubtedly breached the most cardinal RAF pilot precedents taught to young officers assigned to Operational Training Units. Plt Off William Nathan Murray had arrived at Middle Wallop to join No. 238 Squadron hardly three weeks prior to this mission. He scarcely had twelve flight hours in a Hawker Hurricane and nil aerial combat experience. It was true, he had over eighty training hours in his log book, but those hours were spent in Tiger Moths and Harvards. Each of these aeroplanes were splendid for training purposes, but once 'Nat' strapped on his first Hurricane for his inaugural hop, the young pilot immediately appreciated the fact that he had grasped a tiger by the tail. Directly upon completing this initial flight he concluded that a mountain of experience would be needed before he could truly master this lass's tremendous power and deadly armaments. A fighter pilot's adaptation to proficiently operating a Hurricane takes time.............. Thwack, Thwack,................................Thwack, Thwack Thwack!!! …....which at this very moment, as he heard the initial hits upon his lass, 'Nat' no longer had the luxury of! His initial reaction was to move his control column to the starboard side and pull back steadily.
Sailor Malan's Ten Air Fighting Rules.
He checked the rearward facing mirror above the outside of his canopy but noted nil enemy as VK-Z continued to climb in a slow starboard turn. Looking to his starboard high side, he saw naught! 'Nat' then considered his five o'clock low where he at last espied the snapper which was assaulting his Hurricane. Now the scenario was apparent, he had crossed the red line on at least a couple of the primary principles when involved in an aerial combat action. There was, “Always Keep A Sharp Lookout! Keep your finger out!” and also “Never Fly Straight And Level For Any More Than 30 Seconds In The Combat Area!” 'Nat' had heard these rules from Flt Lt Payne several dozens of times during his brief tenure with No. 238 Squadron. He pulled harder to the starboard and continued to climb, trying to amend for his initial offense, but this would actually become his second infraction. Again Payne had instructed each of his pilots against this aberration countless times. “Never attempt to out climb an Me 109, unless one has a generous speed advantage! Rolling onto ones back and falling away is most preferred in this instance!” Thwack,......Thwack,.... Thwack,................................Thwack, Thwack Thwack!!!
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: September 29, 2018. The Me 109E was flown from the beginning of WWII as the Luftwaffe's premier single engine fighter. The Me 109E4, introduced in July, was the latest variant and was flown for the entirety of The Battle of Britain. One of the advances pioneered in the E variant was the incorporation of direct fuel injection for the petrol management of the Daimler Benz DB601a engine. This direct fuel injection allowed the Luftwaffe pilots one critical advantage over their rival Tommy pilots, negative Gs. The Jerry pilot could simply push the control column forward and initiate a dive rather quickly without starving the the engine of petrol, unlike it's carburetor equipped British counterparts. The previous 'E3' model's wing-mounted MG-FF 20mm cannons were abandoned in favor of the newly modified FF/M 20 mm cannons. These cannons, which were also wing-mounted, were adapted to fire a new high capacity, high explosive “mine shell”. This shell was called 'Minengeschoss', and the round was developed with a thinner wall projectile, enabling it to house an increased explosive charge and as a result it's lighter weight produced a higher muzzle velocity. These cannons along with the nose mounted MG 17s made the Me 109E4 a deadly adversary in the hands of an Experten Luftwaffe pilot. The E4 proved itself quite equal to the Spitfire and superior to the Hurricane in most situations. However, the Me 109E4 was severely handicapped in a pair of differing areas which would limit the success of the fighter in The Battle of Britain. Do to it's brief loiter period over the combat areas of Southern England, estimated at 15-20 minutes, the Jerry fighter pilot would have to consider returning to their Aerodrome in France if he wanted any likelihood of success in making his way back across The Channel. Another disadvantage for the Me 109E4 was being forced into the role of defensive fighter to protect the lackluster Me 110 Zerstoers as well as the heavy bombers of the Luftwaffe from the Spitfire and Hurricane Squadrons of the RAF. This further reduced the fighter's effectiveness as the Luftwaffe Me109 pilots were no longer able to freely roam and hunt in the fighter sweeps which they were previously so triumphantly executing.
1620 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements off the Welsh Coast: The three Spitfires from No. 92 Squadron, Blue Section, were patrolling the Tenby-Pembroke area when a Ju88 was spotted at 21,00 feet heading northeast. As Blue Section approached the bomber it turned north into some clouds followed by Flt Lt R R S Tuck. He managed to give a two second burst from 200 yards before pulling off. Plt Off Mottram attacked from a Port beam position and fired a long burst at 200 yards. Following through he finished his run in with a stern attack and another long burst from 80 yards. Plt Off R H Holland made a head on assault at 200 yards giving a 5 second burst before pulling away to his Port Side. Further attacks were made as the Ju88 dipped in and out of the clouds until finally Blue Section lost contact when the bomber disappeared in a heavy cloud. This was the eighth air combat mission for the RAF on July 25th, 1940.
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 3, 2018. Several weeks later Chris found out that this ME 109E4 was part of 6.JG51 and Yellow 10 was piloted by Ofw. Fritz Beeck. This was not the last time the Boys in No. 238 Squadron would hear of him! I will relate this story later where it will present itself more naturally in the context of Chris's Diary.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. In the flash of aerial combat, one's training may slip to the side making way for the sheer terror of the moment. This is not a cowardly statement but the truth of the matter at hand when you find yourself alone in your fighter aircraft facing off against another man in his fighter aircraft. Ones enemy dearly holds the equivalent determination to survive as you do, it is primordial in both men. The advantage or disadvantage of position and the strengths or weaknesses of your aircraft do figure in to the equation, but the final struggle comes down to pitting one's skill at utilizing the fighter aeroplane in which you are flying against another pilot's skills in the machine he is flying. If one believes in such a thing as luck, it can play into the mind of the beholder, but I see no reason to grasp at such a straw of emptiness. On July 28th I visited 'Nat' in the Hospital, three days after this mission had concluded. From his Hospital bed he told me of the struggle for his life on that fateful day, July 25th 1940, recounting our intercept mission against the Luftwaffe.
This Jerry, who was presently hunting 'Nat', was ruthless in his pursuit of victory over the young Tommy pilot. His Hurricane was beaten up rather badly by this time. Thwack, Thwack, Thwack, the cannon shells wracked his hearing as this Hun pushed on to bring down 'Nat's' lass. Tracers flew by in greyish white streaks, Thwack, Thwack, and shrapnel was ricocheting around in his cockpit. As 'Nat' pulled back the canopy, he could simultaneously see and smell the smoke emanating from an incendiary round which was lodged in the side panel of his cockpit. He attempted to roll his lass over to dive her away, but the column was not responding! The control cables must have been severely damaged or cut completely. His rudder pedals flopped back and forth, to no use, under the heavy pressure of his boots. VK-Z climbed on slowly towards a higher altitude as 'Nat' had now completely lost all control of her. The moment he reached to pull the pin that secured his seat straps, he saw an incendiary round flash by his leg and enter the petrol tank in front of his feet. Thwack, Thwack, Thwack!!! More rounds broke up the instrument panel, then a searing pain in his right leg and now the low part of his back. He remembered a small red flame licking up the side of his leg from somewhere under the side panel and then more flames about his boots! The cockpit was becoming a furnace and he knew this was the last chance to get out! Everything was happening so quickly now, no time to think just pure instinct to survive! 'Nat' had gone through the motions of bailing out a thousand times before, but he was scared now as this time it was for real! No turning back now! While in great pain, he pulled the pin which freed the seat straps! He pushed with all of his might using mostly his left leg and in a split second as his head and shoulders cleared the cockpit he was hurled down the side of the fuselage. As the 120 mph wind caught him, he was freed of the Hurricane in an instant. As 'Nat' was free falling he clambered for the rip-cord and upon finding it he experienced a moments uncertainty, but then pulled the handle and there was a heavy upwards pull. The cream colored silk canopy ended 'Nat's' rapid free fall and he hung safely as the countryside below him slowly drifted up to catch him.
His lass was on her way down, now burning profusely, Merlin running wide open.
'Nat' could see the Hun diving down and turning to port, flying in his direction. He wondered if Jerry was coming to fire upon him while he floated down under his parachute. He and the Boys had heard the rumors of stories from the Polish pilots in No. 303 Squadron. They claimed that while dog fighting in the earliest days of the War over Poland that the Hun pilots would shoot almost all Polish pilots which parachuted from their destroyed aeroplanes. 'Nat', nor any other of the Boys could verify these stories, but they had no reason to doubt the sincerity of the Polish pilots telling of these atrocities.
As 'Nat' floated down he watched the Jerry pilot continue to bank hard to his port side and dive towards The Channel as he began his escape back to France. He knew the water was all set to swallow him completely, so he prepared to inflate his Mae West as he dropped closer to the drink. His pants leg was wringing wet with blood and that limb was throbbing painfully as his back was becoming numb. He could move both legs and feet, but 'Nat' knew something was terribly wrong as his whole back was blood soaked also and he felt slightly dizzy and nauseous. For the first time in his life, 'Nat' was fearful that he might die as a very young man, a casualty of this unrelenting Battle for Britain. He now saw below him a British chase boat in the very close vicinity of where he should land. 'Nat' was hopeful that the rescue team would get to him quickly as he did not want to be floating around in the water, leg and back bleeding badly, hoping that he would not drown or worse yet possibly encounter a shark. Once he hit the water, two mates in the boat quickly pulled him from The Channel. As the speedboat rushed him to shore, a tourniquet was applied to his upper thigh and then the awaiting ambulance transported him quickly to the Hospital in Weymouth. Two days later 'Nat' would be transported to the Hospital in Salisbury. This was close enough to Middle Wallop that the boys and I could go visit him during any down time we might have.
1630 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Southeast Country: Six Spitfires from No. 74 Sqn. and eight Spitfires from No. 64 Sqn. were scrambled by Fighter Command's 11 Group. They were vectored by their controllers to intercept ten Me 109 fighters. The No. 74 Sqn. Spitfires sighted the group of Luftwaffe fighters off of the coast of Folkestone in the middle of The Dover Strait as the Huns appeared to be headed back to Calais. Red Leader of No. 74 Sqn., after an initial shallow dive, was able to unleash one short burst at 150 yards damaging a single Me 109, but the Jerry's Messerschmitts were simply to fast for the Spitfires. The Luftwaffe fighter group altogether ran away from No. 74 Sqn using this superior speed, thus they escaped from the pursuing Flight. Once it was obvious that A Flight would not catch the Huns, Red Leader then turned for home, owing to low petrol. B flight of No. 64 Sqn. was at 10,000 feet and spotted the group of Me 109s below as the Huns had just broken free of No. 74 Squadron's attack. As B Flight dove in to assault the Jerry fighters a short lived dogfight broke out. Blue One, Fl Lt Henstock, damaged one Me 109 which dove away smoking and Henstock himself sustained combat damage while Blue three, Fl Off Wainright, attacked another Me 109 but noted no damage. Blue two, Sub Lt F Dawson-Paul attacked several more Me 109s while shortly later he was observed to be attacked by these Huns in return. As a result his Spitfire was severely damaged from combat with several of the remaining Me 109s. One Me 109 was destroyed and one probably destroyed. Fl Off H J Woodward, No. 64 Sqn., crash landed at Hawkinge due to combat damage. Fl Lt L F Henstock, No. 64 Sqn., suffered a main supercharger bearing failure after combat damage and force pancaked at Lympne. The Luftwaffe made one claim from this attack, and actually had downed one Spitfire into The Strait of Dover. Sub Lt F Dawson-Paul, No. 64 Sqn., bailed out into The Strait, was picked up by a German E-boat and became a prisoner of war in France. Subsequently Sub Lt F Dawson-Paul died on the 30th of July from wounds sustained in combat. He had submitted claims starting on July 1st through just yesterday, July 24th, including two Do17s, five Me 110 Destroyers and one Me 109. Sadly Sub Lt F Dawson-Paul would never come to realize that he was awarded the victory for the single Me 109 confirmed destroyed in this confrontation on July 25th. Once again today a member of Britain's few gave all which he possessed in the line of duty for his beloved England. Convoy CW.8. continued to travel South Westward through The Strait OF Dover. This was a Fighter sweep only, but none the less it was the ninth aerial encounter for the RAF on the 25th of July in Southern England.
The aerial combat raged on just off the coast of The Isle of Portland's skies. The Hurricanes of B Flight No. 238 Squadron were running down the snapper escorts all around. The Huns seemed unable to keep our ravenous fighters at bay on this beautiful Southern English day. Our Flight owning the altitude advantage from the beginning of this intercept seemed to confuse the Jerry pilots, as the roles were normally quite opposite for them. One of the Huns was turning hard to Port in a bid to make a dash for France, as another pair of enemies danced across the sky in a deadly display. To this Jerry's detriment, he was unaware that he was being stalked! Oddly enough, we had not seen any shipping convoys below in the shipping lanes of The Channel on this day. This caused me to ponder whether a German E-boat or a Luftwaffe reconnaissance flight had reported incorrect coordinates as to there proposed target? I would later come to understand that convoy CW.8 was sailing below us, but in all of the business of the action I had never taken notice of any of the ships.
Plt Off Paul Alan Davies was 29 years old this 25th day in the year of 1940, and he presently found himself closing rapidly onto the tail of an unsuspecting Jerry pilot. As he cut the corner to close the distance on his enemy, this Hun showed no signs that he knew 'Papa', Payne's pet name for the oldest man in the Squadron, was about to bounce him. 'Papa' could plainly see the Boys of A Flight attacking the Hun Bombers in the distance. It appeared as a tangled mess of machines carving up the skies above the majestic clouds. Such a vast serene backdrop for a very miniscule fitfully violent struggle.
As 'Papa' followed the Hun in the port side turn the Me109 began to pull away from him. “Papa' attempted to cut off the corner a bit more, but he was bleeding off speed at an alarming rate. The Jerry appeared to ease up on his pull of the control column in preparation to begin to level out and make his final run for France.
It was now or never! 'Papa' unleashed a long burst from just over 200 yards as the Hun continued to pull away. As the Me 109 flattened out to sprint the final miles, the Browning .303s impacted the engine cover with a lethal punch. Sending another long burst, 'Papa' had the Hun in serious trouble at this point. France was now in sight, maybe 2 miles out in front of this wounded Luftwaffe fighter. The Jerry pilot likely thought to himself, “if only I can make it over France, the flak will save my skin.”
After taking one more long burst from his enemy, the German pilot released his canopy, which narrowly missed 'Papa's' Hurricane causing him to pull up a very slight amount.
The Hun Pilot rolled out of his struggling fighter and fell away as 'Papa' watched. He saw the parachute open as the Jerry's plane soared on without him. It was the Huns lucky day as he would most assuredly land on friendly occupied French soil. This pilot would live to fight another day. 'Papa' thought of the stories the Pols told of Luftwaffe pilots shooting men in their parachutes. He rounded the Hun pilot floating down, but determined he could not carry out such an evil agenda. “You are my sworn enemy! Next time you will not be so lucky Sir!” 'Papa' said aloud to himself. After checking his petrol level, and finding it dangerously low, 'Papa' reversed his heading to direct his lass eastward following the coast to Bournemouth where he would track north to fly back to Middle Wallop and pancake after a long and tiring intercept. His R/T had been quiet for some while and 'Papa' wondered how the other boys had fared.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. This fight was now late into the clock, and the chess match which had been contested only needed to reveal its finale. Maybe 30 minutes had elapsed during this entire aerial combat intercept and the sky appeared almost clear and rather quiet . What once were daunting and overwhelming odds against our Squadron, were now diminished as the fight spread out across Southern England's sky. The elephant, in some measure, had been devoured. B Flight pursued what was left of the snappers as A Flight tackled the straggling Ju88s. What remained of the main bomber formation was now returning to France, maybe 19 strong. I moved in, closing at over 250 mph, to assault one of the last disconnected Ju88 dawdlers. The Hun had caught my eye while making his hastened starboard turn to abscond for friendlier skies across The Channel. This Ju88 had lost pace with the main group and was now an easy mark. I cut off his turn and gathered in the distance separating the Jerry bomber from my Hurricane. I closed to within one hundred yards rather quickly, at which point I pressed my gun button to fire. I let go of a short burst, what seemed like a mere dozen rounds, and I was dry. Blimey!!!
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 2, 2018 The Ju88 operated with the quickest pace of any bomber which the Luftwaffe possessed, but thus far in The Battle of Britain this did little to protect it from sustaining the heaviest losses of the three main German bomber types. The Huns had sustained the loss of thirty four Ju88s so far in July alone. Not only did RAF fighters pose a threat to the Ju88 but also contributing to the losses was its poor defensive armament. This weak point was arguably the major factor attributed to the reason why the Tommies were having such success fighting and downing these big bombers. The single dorsal and ventral Mg 15s were simply not enough fire power to ward off the deadly attacks of the Spitfires and Hurricanes. The Zwilling, or twin barrel MG 81Z Mauser machine gun, was capable of firing up to 1600 rounds per minute, and the eventual addition of this extra firepower was a welcome enhancement to the Ju88. This allowed the Jerry gunners a much better opportunity to defend the Ju88's rear hemisphere from the attacks of the Tommies. Supplementary cockpit armor was also fitted to the bomber and helped establish better protection for the German pilots.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. As I overflew the Jerry bomber, quickly banking and pulling the control column to my starboard side, I realized there was no return fire coming from the Ju88. All of this bloody fighting and it appeared the Hun's rounds were exhausted as well.
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 2, 2018 There was another cause which contributed to push the total number of Ju88s destroyed to a higher count than any other Luftwaffe bomber. Training losses over the European mainland which had become a rapidly growing concern. Even now the Luftwaffe commanders were feeling the toll from the heavy losses on their experienced bomber crews and fighter pilots. The new young recruits were feeling the pressure from Reichsmarschall Göring right down to the staffel leaders to become fully trained and operational in shorter and shorter periods of time. Of those thirty four Ju88 losses thus far in July, only eighteen were caused by direct enemy action. The remaining sixteen losses were the combination of training accidents, crashes or technical malfunctions resulting in a loss of the aircraft. Regardless, the Ju88 crews were sustaining the highest loss rate of personnel and aircraft, and the onslaught continued day after day in what was the beginning of the latter half of summer.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. The R/T had remained quiet for some time now, or possibly I was so involved that I did not take in any of the calls. “Hello Red Leader, Red Two calling, I am leaving the combat area to pancake at base, listening over.” I spouted on the blower. My fighting area attacks for this mission were finished and the indicator on my petrol gauge was leaning towards the empty side. I felt I had given a rather good showing today resulting in two Ju88s probably destroyed and one additional damaged Junkers. Quite a few seconds later, Payne came through on the blower, “Red Two, Red Leader here, received and understood, rather busy at the moment old boy! Over.” I wondered where and with whom Payne had got himself stuck in?
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 2, 2018 The Luftwaffe attack at 18:50 hours was one of the two largest attacks of July 25th. I will divide my written narrative of this sizable engagement into separate accounts, each by Squadron, due to the considerable reports filed by each Squadron CO. The overall RAF intercept at 1850 hours was conducted in intermingling parts from its onset to its conclusion by No. 54 Squadron, No. 56 Squadron and No. 610 Squadron. Each Squadron played a vital part in the air defense of the Royal Navy destroyers HMS Boreas and HMS Brilliant which were accompanied by two British MTBs, which themselves were defending a convoy from Kriegsmarine MTBs.
1830-1850 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Southeast Country: No. 54 Squadron Report. Ten aircraft of No. 54 Squadron, A Flight's six Spitfires with the addition of four Spitfires from B Flight, were patrolling over the Dover Coastal area. While patrolling a few miles out over The Strait of Dover, Red Leader spotted nine Kriegsmarine Motor Torpedo Boats, or MTBs, off the coast of Calais stretching down to Cap Gris-Nez. He called it in to his controller as the German MTBs began to attack the westbound Coastal Convoy CW.8 which already had been repeatedly attacked during the afternoon by Luftwaffe aircraft as they made their way through The Strait. Two Royal Navy destroyers, HMS Brilliant and HMS Boreas, were hurriedly dispatched to the area along with two British MTBs. Upon sighting the Royal Navy destroyers the German MTBs retired into Calais Harbor under the cover of a smoke screen laid down by a Kriegsmarine seaplane. HMS Brilliant and HMS Boreas blindly engaged the MTBs through the smoke screen in front of Calais Harbor for fifteen minutes with unknown results. Shortly thereafter the destroyers came under attack by German shore batteries, an estimated initial flight of four Ju88s at 1830 hours, and shortly later at 1850 hours by twenty Ju 87 dive bombers. The ten Spitfires of No. 54 Sqn. were ordered to assist the destroyers. Red Leader organized their attack formation at 11,000 feet by having B Flight's four Spitfires positioned slightly above and astern of Red Section while having Blue Section positioned slightly above and astern of B Flight as an upper guard. Red Leader initiated an attack in echelon port formation against four Ju88 bombers at 12,000 feet which were seen to be bombing the Royal Navy destroyers. On the initial run in to assault the Ju88s, the leader of B Flight spotted multiple Me 109 fighter escorts approaching from the Calais Coastal area with superior altitude to No. 54 Squadron's altitude. After he called it in, Red Leader ordered all Sections to break off the attack, reassemble formations and climb to defend against the twenty four incoming Me 109s. The enemy fighters were poised in a tactically advantageous position to provide intercepting attacks in support of the Ju88s. Simultaneously twenty Ju 87s dive bombers were seen by the lookouts on the destroyers forming together at 7,000 feet slightly under the cloud base over Tramecourt Aerodrome, just two miles southeast of Calais. These Junkers would be approaching the destroyers with an eye to attack the Royal Navy vessels within the next 10 minutes. No. 54 Sqn. was completely overwhelmed by the Luftwaffe's intercepting fighter escorts. The ten Spitfires evaded the Me 109 attacks and attempted to pick off any Me 109 stragglers, but this pursuit was fruitless. Plt Off Archibald Finnie was attacked by multiple Me 109s and shot down, subsequently losing his life as a result of the Luftwaffe escort's crushing presence during the battle. The boys in No. 54 Sqn. made nil claims for this battle, and with the exception of Plt Off A Finnie, all nine remaining Spitfires returned to the Squadron's forward staging base at Manston. These boys were the only defending fighters on scene until the time of their return to Manston at 18:50 hours. Once again, one of Britain's few had sacrificed his life in defense of the The British Empire's citizens and freedom from tyrannical oppression at the hands of Adolf Hitler. This was No. 54 Squadron's lot during the tenth aerial encounter for the RAF on the 25th of July in Southern England.
The two Royal Navy destroyers HMS Boreas and HMS Brilliant each were damaged by the Luftwaffe aerial bombardments. The Boreas was damaged from at least two bombs if not more, one coming from the original assault conducted by the Ju88s, and another bomb dropped by one of the Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers. Fifteen of Boreas's crew were killed with twenty nine wounded, sixteen seriously. The Brilliant's quarter deck was directly hit during the latter attack, but fortunately endured nil casualties. After the aerial attacks subsided the destroyers put out distress calls as both were barely able to make a few knots as they each attempted to retire from the area. It is not certain which of the destroyers laid a smoke screen completely encircling itself, but this acted as a deterrent to buy time for two heavy tugboats to tie on tow lines and pull each destroyer to safety. This being only No. 54 Squadron's report, please be mindful that this Naval battle was raging beneath each Squadron's valiant attempts to assist their Royal Navy brethren. The Naval accounts will not be repeated in the next two Squadron’s reports.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. Flt Lt Samuel Monroe had been hunting and battling the Jerry snooper which he encountered from the initial engagement for over 15 minutes, both gaining and losing advantage to his foe amid this struggle. The fighting area tactics which he employed did not intimidate this Hun fighter pilot in the least manner. This was a matched fight in which 'Sammy', another of Payne's pet names, seemingly could not leverage a dominant position. Contrary to customary Hun fighting style tactics, this Jerry refused to disengage and run for France even after 15 minutes of a stalemate aerial battle. Instead he was determined to see this dog fight through until only one pilot was left flying. As he pressed to gain an advantage, the fight had tempered to a pace which was beginning to favor the turning ability of the Hurricane. One indisputable fact was firmly established, this was without a doubt not a rookie Me 109 pilot operating this fighter aircraft! 'Sammy' had his hands full attempting to line the Hun up for a crack at scoring a victory!
As a result of 'Sammy's' persistence, he had at long last positioned his Hurricane in a favorable position to strike against this wile snooper. As the Hun uncoiled momentarily, seemingly ready to bank the opposite direction or initiate a climb, 'Sammy' let loose a long burst at 150 yards. Smoke belched from the Me 109 as the fighter took damage and instantly the Hun drastically slowed. 'Sammy' was fairly certain that the Jerry had chopped his throttle hoping that his enemy would overshoot his damaged Messerschmitt. If this scenario transpired, an easy assault would present itself to the Jerry pilot as 'Sammy' blew past him in his Hurricane.
'Sammy' felt sure he was onto the Hun's game! It seemed quite certain he had seen this before and this time he wasn't biting. 'Sammy' hastily chopped his own throttle, hauled his lass's nose slightly upward, dropped flaps and then hurriedly pushed her nose back down in line while he raised her flaps and lined up his sight on the Hun once more. Predictably, 'Sammy' knew the result of the negative G force would drive the Merlin engine to gurgle and sputter at the lack of petrol to the carburetor. 'Sammy's' tricky shenanigans slowed his lass forthwith and thus allowed him to remain on the Hun's six o'clock at extremely close quaters. As the Jerry slammed his throttles forward once more, 'Sammy' reciprocated and cautiously throttled back up while he gave another short burst to his adversary. He knew the Jerry was in trouble at this point.
1850 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Southeast Country:Continued. No. 56 Squadron Report. Nine Hurricanes from No. 56 Sqn., the six planes of A Flight plus one section of three planes from B Flight left Hornchurch at 1731 hours to patrol the Dover Dungeness Coastal area when at 1850 hours a group of Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers was spotted at 7,000 feet. The Huns were using the cloud cover to dive from and attack the Royal Navy destroyers in line astern formations. Seven of the Hurricanes attacked the Ju87s directly as two of the Flight remained above to watch out for enemy escorts. Plt Off Page attacked one of the dive bombers with two long bursts and he and Plt Off Sutton witnessed the Hun crash into the water. Plt Off Sutton assaulted three different Ju87s with the final being witnessed by Flg Sgt Cooney as it winged over into the sea. Plt Off Mounsdon was hit by enemy aircraft crossfire when he was attacking a group of Ju87s. He then ended up on the tail of another dive bomber and expended all of his ammunition into it. Seeing the heavy damage he imagined it flew into The Strait, but could not be certain as he was forced to take evasive action as an Me 109 attempted to assault his Hurricane. Fl Lt Gravie attacked another dive bomber at a heavy deflection and witnessed it turn port wing over into the sea. Fl Off Brooker and Plt Off Wicks engaged in a ten minute dog fight with several Me 109s in which they each claimed to damage multiple Me 109s. Plt Off Wicks chased a final Me 109 for five miles inland west of Dover before it turned, dived to 100 feet and made its way east towards the coast once again. Wicks gave chase but lost sight of the Hun, owing to its superior camouflage. He did gain sight of the Jerry pilot once again, but the Hun pulled away from Wicks even while he engaged emergency boost. All nine aircraft landed at North Weald, owing to low petrol, as this was No. 56 Squadron's forward staging base. One Hurricane was lightly damaged upon landing and Sqn Ldr Manton was slightly wounded in the leg and hands by an explosive bullet. Two Ju87s were confirmed destroyed, two Ju87 were probably destroyed and several Me 109s were reported damaged. This was No. 56 Squadron's lot concerning the tenth aerial encounter for the RAF on the 25th of July in Southern England.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. 'Sammy' could smell blood in the water! It was simply a matter of whether he was carrying the magic bullet. A few of the boys in the Squadron had a silly superstition that they must be carrying the magic bullet and unleash it at the designated moment to bring a Hun down. They were boys really, most of them thrust into the roles of men, but their innocence still harbored the thoughts and beliefs of boys.
'Sammy' pummeled the Jerry pilot's fighter relentlessly, finally expending every last round contained in the Hurricane's wing mounted machine guns. The damage shown all over the wrecked Me 109. Then it happened, just what 'Sammy' had been hoping for. The magic bullet, it struck the port elevator and the engine ceased! There was no scientific explanation for what happened. It was the magic bullet! It just stopped running, that Daimler-Benz engine just stop running at that instant!
As 'Sammy' overshot and pulled his control column hard to the port side, he came back around rather quickly, and he flew back at the Me 109 in a mock beam attack. As He drew near, 'Sammy' could plainly see that the prop on his enemy's fighter was motionless. The Hun was pulling up and 'Sammy' knew exactly what he was up to.
'Sammy' came back around for the second time, and he saw the Jerry pilot floating down under his parachute as the Me 109 glided ahead towards France. The Hun pilot would soon have his feet wet and carry the shame of knowing a Hurricane pilot had bested him. If Jerry was honest, he would have to carry that humiliation back to the staffel at the Aerodrome from which he was based. If he was dishonest, a tale would be spun of being assaulted by the highly respected and superior Spitfire and his comrades would respect him for escaping with his life. No matter, 'Sammy' got his snooper at last!
1850 hours, July 25th. RAF Engagements over Southeast Country, Continued: No. 610 Squadron Report. Seven Spitfires from No. 610 Sqn. took off from Hawkinge at 1827 hours tasked to protect a shipping convoy. The Flight observed fifteen Junkers bombing two Destroyers in The Dover Strait and twenty four Me 109s working as escorts to the bombers. Flt Lt Ellis witnessed a group of what appeared to be ten Hurricanes engaged heavily with the Jerry fighters. Ellis immediately took the Spitfires of 610 Sqn. into the midst of the fray. Plt Off Norris shot down one Me 109 into the sea on his first pass, while Sgt Chandler pursued a Hun for 5 minutes until his rounds presented the Jerry a one way ticket into The Straight. Sgt Else was attempting to land at Hawkinge when two enemy fighters raced right across Hawkinge airfield at 500 feet. He gave chase, attacking one of the pair and as he damaged the Me 109 it was witnessed from the ground by soldiers nearby the airfield to have entered the sea off the coast of Folkestone. Sgt Parson gained a dominant position over an Me 109, fired two long burst from 300 yards and witnessed the fighter to have caught on fire and fell from the sky. Fl Off Wilson attacked an Me 109 and after two long bursts from close range the Hun rolled over and plowed into the Strait. This was witnessed by Ellis and Chandler. Flt Lt Ellis then attacked the rearmost enemy in a line astern formation of Me 109s and it spun out of control. He then attacked another Me 109 which ended up belching out thick clouds of black smoke and was last seen burning vigorously losing altitude. Flt Lt E B B Smith attacked yet another Me 109, this time the Jerry was heavily emitting blue smoke as it veered off to the port side diving down towards the deck. The sky was finally clear after this large melee and No. 610 Sqn. had five Me 109s confirmed destroyed and three Me 109s probably destroyed with several more heavily damaged. All seven Spitfires of No. 610 Sqn. returned undamaged to Hawkinge. This was No. 610 Squadron's lot regarding the tenth aerial encounter for the RAF on the 25th of July in Southern England.
Diary entry July 25th. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Continued. Later, during the mission debrief, I came to find out what Fl Lt Payne alluded to earlier during their R/T exchange, “rather busy at the moment old boy!” Payne had already battered one of the last Ju88s to be separated and was now coming back in for another attack when the smoking bomber pushed nose over into an almost vertical dive. As the Hun fell away and gather speed rapidly, Payne half rolled to his starboard side pulled the control column back and entered into a dive as he chased the Jerry down towards The Strait.
As he entered into an abrupt dive, Payne half rolled once again and gathered speed hurriedly. As he watched, the Hun slowly pulled out at around 5000 feet above The Strait. He witnessed two of the crew as they bailed out of the stricken bomber, but the Ju88 had now leveled off and was flying with great speed towards France. As Payne approached 500 mph he began to attempt to pull out of his dive. The control column was quite heavy and his Hurricane was not responding. Immediately Payne knew he was in trouble as he could not persuade his lass, no matter how hard he pulled the control column with both hands, to give up this suicide dive. The force of the air traveling so rapidly over the control surfaces had now overridden his ability to pull out. At near 550 mph, VK-A was now violently lumbering towards the sea . Without delay he began to turn the elevator trim handle to attempt to bring his lass's nose up.
Gradually Payne's Hurricane began to withdraw from the dive, but straightaway he was on the verge of blacking out. The force from the speed combined with the pull out culminated with him seeing through what resembled a small grey tunnel with black surrounding the edges. He had witnessed the lightheaded feelings which he was experiencing at this moment many times before. The boys called it 'riding the edge', and every veteran pilot knew the consequence of pushing this unsustainable strain on ones body past that point. The outcome was lights out, and for the next 7 seconds or thereabouts Payne could hear the engine screaming and the air rushing by his canopy, however he was not able see in the least nor use his extremities. Traveling at over 570 mph, this was terrifying as Payne did not have any control of his lass, not to mention that VK-A was on the verge of tearing herself apart! He was a passenger on this ghastly ride, and as Payne gradually regained conscientiousness he found himself in a two degree nose up howling climb as his lass slowed marginally and the Merlin relaxed from its red line scream. Amazingly, his Hurricane was almost at the same altitude as the Jerry bomber which he was hunting. Hastily, with the great speed built up in the dive, Payne closed on the Ju88 and at 150 yards he let loose with every round left in VK-A. The bomber emitted glorious amounts of smoke and Payne witnessed one final crew member jump from the ravaged Ju88, his parachute blossomed, as the bomber began to list over to the starboard side and descend towards the ground below. The Junkers looked to make landfall in France, but the final Hun would end up in the drink.
A couple of the boys had already found one another, but Flt Lt Payne gathered in as many as he could scare up on the blower and then he proceeded to head home to Middle Wallop.
I had beaten the rest of the mob to the punch and was the first one lined up to pancake. Three of my mates were close behind me and seemed to be racing to get on the airfield as quickly as possible.
As I approached Middle Wallop, I could see the Duty Erk standing outside his shack on the tiny deck, clipboard in hand, counting all of us boys and noting our call letters as he always would when we pancaked. Each of us was coming in willy-nilly as I imagine nigh were returning with more than petrol fumes in their tanks. There would be no circling the field nor victory rolls, but merely straight down to pancake before our lasses fell from the sky. Even through all of the fracas, I always noticed the beauty of the southern English countryside and the delightful weather which we regularly have incurred as of late. It was funny how the war seemed rather removed from the rest of the splendid bits of life which surrounded me.
It was bully to finally be back on the ground at what I soon realized was 1230 hours. One hour and forty five minutes of my life had past me buy. In some regards it had seemed quite like days, but in retrospect it was rather like a few feverishly exhilarated moments surrounded by a lovely flight out and a lovely flight back, if not for the dread of my dubious dwindling petrol supply.
Pipps waved me over in front of the hangars where there was a single Bedford parked. As I shut down my lass he helped me unbuckle and informed me that the armourers were charged with rearming our kites on the double. This was precautionary in case we had to go back up pronto. I was off as nature called urgently, and then I would be back for a cup of tea and a sandwich, as I saw a table with refreshments set up for us in one of the Hangars. Was this a telltale sign of our immediate future?
Diary entry July 25th, 1405 hours, second intercept, Yellow and Blue Sections. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop:
Upon returning to my lass I found three more of the boys had their Hurricanes parked, Merlins shut down and each stepped out of his cockpit. All three bound off the wing of their respective plane, and in a highly contested race, they dashed towards the hangar which housed the sandwiches and tea. I soon joined them as I reflected to myself, one might think it odd that a mission for a wee bit under two hours would leave a mate famished, but in all actuality, it utterly managed to do just that. It was a curious thing to have a mess table set up in the hangar, as we had never been privy to such favor previously. RAF Box, HQ for 10 Group, must have foreseen something manifesting itself over on the continent to warrant assembling this setup to keep their boys fed and watered while they remained at the ready to scramble at a moments notice. Eventually all of the Squadron returned safely to Middle Wallop, save Plt Off William Nathan Murray. Payne was the only one missing from the spread, and the last time I saw him he was trotting to his office. It was unnerving as the clock ticked away, and each of us became increasingly concerned as there was no word of 'Nat's' status thus far. Sgt Terry Patrick Stapleton, 'Dick' as most of the boys called him, affording to his less than enduring character, said he saw what he suspected to be 'Nat's' Hurricane dropping from the sky in flames. Not many of the pilots fancied 'Dick', he was a bothersome bloke, rather heady and a bit of a binder, but to be fair he was quite skilled in a Hurricane. As a result of his insolence, none of the boys paid him much mind. 'Burn' jumped in heatedly with high emotion as he and 'Nat' were inseparable mates, “Oi, you shut your cake hole 'Dick', ee's just aad to pancake out at one of the staging fields you sod! Ee's gone for a Burton, just like ol 'Wedns' done one time before,............. isn't that right Chris?”........... “Wha, ….right then, that's it 'Burnsy', 'Nats' going to be a little late for the celebration tonight mates,....... that's all, he'll be along soon enough, you'll see boys!”, Chris said in a hopeful manner. As we would find out later, 'Nat' had been shot down by one of the fighter escorts accompanying the bomber group, and injured rather severely to boot.
As the fitters and riggers began to pore over each Hurricane, the battle damage was assessed and repair work commenced for these issues as well as any problems with their Merlin engines which the pilots may have noted. As each pilot finished with his crew, we began to file into the Squadron's Intelligence Officer's debriefing room where Sgt Hughes initiated the official debriefing for the morning mission. Each of No. 238's sections sat together during debriefings and as I turned to speak to Flt Lt Payne I was shocked to notice that both of his eyes were blood red. I inquired of this matter and directly he stood up and left the room in haste, apparently to look in the mirror and see for himself. Upon his return he brushed it off as nothing. During our debriefing each pilot recounted his actions and judging by the overall picture painted, No. 238 Squadron had nicely put off the Luftwaffe's attempt to bombard the naval convoy. Some of the boys reported seeing only one Merchant Marine vessel slightly damaged and smoking while many more vessels encountered countless near misses. No. 238 Squadron's morning mission had produced some jolly good numbers! Three Ju88s confirmed destroyed, three additional were submitted as probably destroyed as each was seen smoking badly and losing altitude over The Channel. Two Me109s were confirmed destroyed and a further three were reported severely damaged as they were each seen smoking badly, one catching fire and each losing altitude at a significant rate over the water. There still was no news of 'Nat's' status, which was now becoming quite bothersome as each of us pilots yearned to know if he was safe and where he had gone missing to.
Once dismissed from the debriefing, I encouraged Flt Lt Payne to head off to the medical shack and let the Doc have a look at his eyes. After his initial hesitation and scolding me that I was not his superior officer, I reassuringly convinced him that it would be best for his well being. We strolled over to the medical shack together and I waited outside the examination room door. Sitting directly across from the door, and the door being ajar, I could not help but to overhear the conversation going on inside. Payne relayed the details of his morning mission and the Doc must have given him a quick examination. Then the Doc told Payne, “Flt Lt Payne, the good news is that it seems as though only a blood vessel in each eye has burst, most likely as a result of your pullout and subsequent blackout during the high speed dive while chasing the Jerry bomber. This is a common occurrence although rare to have happen in both eyes at the same time. Terribly sorry old boy, but I am going to have to ground you for at least the next two days.” “See the nurse every four hours, except overnight, to report your condition, and after two days I 'll have a look and see what we can do about getting you back in your crate.” “But Doc I........”Payne started to plead his case, but the Doc cut him off. “Uh! Uh! Be a good sport, its for your own good, and the good of the Squadron mate! Hurry along now, two days will be departed before you've even noticed Flt Lt. As Payne and I walked out of the medical shack, he began to relate the story to me, even though I had already heard the entirety of the conversation, and I could only think to myself that this Doctor must have considerable skills in the expertise of theatrics. As a result, Payne and I walked straight into the Co's office and Flt Lt Payne apprised him of the situation. As my mind wondered, I began to think of the ramifications this might have on me concerning the Squadron.
As stated earlier, we did manage to recover all of our kites except 'Nat's', and the plumbers and riggers had their hands full feeding in the new belts of rounds to feed our chatter boxes, filling the compressed air tanks and patching up our kites from any damage received during the morning mission. The petrol boys filled our tanks to to the brim with gravy in order to button up our Hurrys for the possibility of another mission. The conversation swirled about how Jerry would surely return to mix it up again and try to do their dastardly deeds to our island home. Once back in his office, Payne received a call from the Rigger wrenching on 'Sammy's' plane. He said, “Flt Lt Payne Sir, Flt Lt Monroe has pancaked Hurry VK-I rather harshly and it will be at least two hours before I will have the starboard landing gear righted.” Payne did not mince words when he told that young boy that he wanted that plane in one hour. He sent a runner to fetch me up because he knew, and wanted to tell me in person, that I could not go up alone as Red Section, or even lead Yellow, Blue and Green Sections without injecting confusion into the operation. As soon as I walked into Payne's office he told me that Red Section would stand down pending the repair of 'Sammy's' Hurricane. I protested but he would hear none of it and as we walked out the door to his office, he asked me to back him in the pilots meeting he was soon to deliver. He and I rode over to the hangars and after he spoke with Plt Off Fletcher, Green Leader, Payne felt that his confidence and moral were quite questionable as a result of 'Nats' supposed loss. In all fairness, 'Fletch' was taking it rather hard, and it was plain to see he hadn't got a handle on this as of yet. Payne gathered all the boys together, shared the news the Doc had given him and let them know that for the afternoon, Yellow and Blue Section would toe the line for
RAF No. 238 Squadron!
He told the boys that Flt Lt Lenny Marshall would be leading any needed afternoon intercepts. Payne told the boys that he had the utmost confidence that 'Len' would spearhead the Flight, take the fight to the Huns if needed and ravish the enemy with unrestrained conviction. Immediately there seemed to be an air of uncertainty about the boys as they looked about and conversed in whispers. Payne squelched this low level chatter by saying this, “you boys have the best training of any RAF Squadron in the business. No matter who leads No. 238 Squadron, you are the best and you will perform in the highest degree in defense of your home island! I am with you! If you must go up, then embrace 'Len' as your Squadron Leader, fly to your strength and be wise in your fight against Jerry! But,.... above all else, give no quarter to your foe, for he will show no quarter to you! After Flt Lt Payne was finished, I went to each of the pilots in these two sections and encouraged them and tried to assure them that they were the best pilots for the call.
Payne then rode to the Duty Erk's shack and ordered him to call Group 10 HQ at Box, Wiltshire and inform them that Yellow and Blue Sections were to be on the board for the afternoon, with the likelihood of Red section, at the strength of two Hurricanes, being available after 1600 hours.
Only a short time later, 1405 hours, the phone rang,........ the Duty Erk shouted, …..“Yellow and Blue Sections, 'Readiness State'!” and then he sent up a green flare to let the fitters know to warm up the Hurricanes. By this time the ground crews had each of the six Hurricanes towed to the end of the runway to keep the planes tip top full on gravy. The kites were waiting on the boys, champing at the bit, as the driver made haste hustling the Bedford out to the fighters. While the rest of the boys had piled in the rear of the truck, Payne rode in the front seat with Ft Lt Lenny Marshall and the driver. “If control has you vectored to intercept bombers of any kind, watch the sun 'Len'! The Hun escorts will almost always dive out of the sun,” said Payne. “Right'o Sir,” Lenny acknowledged. The fitters had the Hurricanes warming up and the riggers helped each one of the boys get strapped in! All in under five minutes, a smashing time to be fight ready. Payne was on 'Len's' wing when they saw two green flares rising up in the air above the Duty Erks shack signaling the Flight to scramble! 'Len' now heard Starlight, “Rupert Leader, this is Starlight, vector one-five-zero, angels eight, buster five-zero miles, bandits approaching from heading three-four-five, listening over. 'Len' acknowledged Starlight and Payne asked him what heading and distance. After hearing the vector, farness and speed, Payne told him, “'Len, one-five-zero straight away five-zero miles buster puts you over the Isle of Wight in fifteen minutes. The Huns must be aiming to strike something on the coast in the area of The Isle because that position is well behind the convoy we were patrolling over earlier in The Channel. You know the area 'Len', listen to your controller and watch over your boys. No bravado, just get the job done, take the fight to those Jerry B-astards and bring all the boys home!” Just prior to stepping off the wing Payne Blessed 'Len' with, “God Speed Mate!” As 'Lenny' looked back over his right shoulder from his cockpit, at the rest of the boys he would soon be leading, he asked the man upstairs to go with them and help them to fight valiantly and ravage their enemies. With that it was chocks away and 'Len' took off with the boys in tow, ready to sack as many Huns as they could somewhere over The Isle of Wight.
After their debriefing and many discussions later with 'Len' and some of the other boys about what transpired during the second No. 238 Squadron mission on the 25th of July, I have tried, to the best of my ability, to record their observations here for a lasting record for myself, as I was not among them on this flight.
Flt Lt Lenny Marshall, Yellow Leader, Plt Off Arthur Chamberlain, Yellow two and Sgt Terry Patrick Stapleton, Yellow three, along with Flg Off Phillip Coburn, Blue Leader, Flg Off Paul Thayer, Blue two and Plt Off David Pierce, Blue three, comprised this Flight from No. 238 Squadron. 'Len' keyed up the blower, “Rupert Leader to Rupert Flight, our vector is one-five-zero, climb to angels 8, buster, listening out. Each of the other pilots acknowledged 'Len's' call. He was an excellent pilot, had won two victories and was quite eager to take the fight to the Huns. 'Len' was a natural born leader, and he was the pilot who bravely destroyed one of the Ju87s that had helped bombard and sink the New Minster almost ten days prior to today. What was once a mostly clear sky over Southern England on this 25th day of July, had now deteriorated into a rather hazy muck.
Just as the boys attained angels 8, 'Len' had them in two tight Vics as they barreled along nearing the big Isle. He was trying to work out in his mind what the Huns might desire to attack on, or near to The Isle of Wight. He could not think of anything in the area that was worth,..... wait he thought, RAF Ventnor, part of the coastal defense! That was the target! 'Len' was sure of it.
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 3, 2018: Ventnor was the Chain Home RDF Station .7 miles north east of the town of Ventnor. The Station was on the south east corner of The Isle of Wight, essentially 50 miles from Middle Wallop. RAF Ventnor was one of the original twenty RDF sites constructed during the years of late 1937 and 1938. This Station had been on a war footing since 24 August 1939. While the Chain Home Stations depended on England's National Grid for power, they also incorporated on site power generators which could handle any power supply interruptions.
Diary entry July 25th, 1405 hours, second intercept, Yellow and Blue Sections. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: Hello, Rupert Leader, Starlight calling, maintain one-five-zero, angels 8, Buster. British E boats mid Channel report nine dive bombers at angels 7 heading three-four-five, Ventnor Chain Home possible target, over. 'Len' acknowledged Starlight and conveyed the message to the balance of the Flight. Now he concentrated his visual search more intensely below his altitude. By maintaining angels 8, his flight should have superior altitude and thus hold the advantage if he spotted the dive bombers.
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 3, 2018: Unknown at the time, Flt Lt Lenny Marshall and the boys of Yellow and Blue Sections No. 238 Squadron were about to be bounced by two Schwarm of a most notable Luftwaffe fighter unit which were in the area of The Isle of Wight. Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen was a Luftwaffe Wing named after the most famous German pilot of the First World War, Manfred von Richthofen. Harry von Bülow-Bothkamp, as of April 1st,1940, became Kommodore of Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen just 4 months before The Battle of Britain officially began. Between May and June of 1940, he lead JG2 during the Blitzkrieg against France, Belgium and Holland. Despite being 40 years old, he was quite a tenaciuos opponent against the French and English pilots on the Western front and during The Battle of Britain. He was one of a select few men who ever shot down enemy planes in both World Wars. He was awarded six victories in WWI and ultimately twelve victories by the end of the summer of 1940. On August 22, 1940, with the rank of Oberstleutnant, Harry von Bülow-Bothkamp was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his leadership of that unit. After leaving command of JG 2 on September 1, 1940, Oberst von Bülow-Bothkamp took charge of Nachtjagdschule 1 (School of Night Flight).
Footnotes from Paton Wednsforth: October 3, 2018: Jagdgeschwader 2's Schwarms cruised along at 10 thousand feet unceremoniously in the finger four formations watching over the Stuka dive bombers below. Of course the lumbering Stukas, carrying one center line 250kg and 4 wing mounted 50kg bombs, would only cruise along at 250kph or 160 mph. The Me109s would actually wait until the Ju87s were half way across The Channel before taking off to catch up and escort them the rest of the way. Even at that, the fighters would catch up so quickly that they would have to resort to a zig zag pattern of flight to keep from racing ahead of the dive bombers. Though it was touch and go, the fighters would catch sight of the Ju87s through breaks in the clouds and haze now and again.
Diary entry July 25th, 1405 hours, second intercept, Yellow and Blue Sections. Engagements Over the West Country. No. 238 Squadron, Middle Wallop: It seems as though 'Len' believes he saw the Me109 escorts before they saw him, for the Huns made no move to attack his Flight. He estimated they were at 10 thousand feet and says he caught sight of them just as his Flight cleared a cloud set. Immediately he broke in on the blower, “Bandits 1 o'clock high, Blue 3 Gate on me , climb, attack, GO! 'Burn' take the boys, gate, climbing port side turn, GO! Clocks on, three minutes on gate, we will try to force bandits to break port side, over.” As 'Len' and 'Fran' climbed, only 'Len' was quickly within range to fire at the beginning of the fight. 'Fran' chased him, trying to catch himself up and soon let off a short burst himself hoping to help 'Len' steer the bandits to their port side.
Looking out the top of his canopy, 'Len' could see the Huns were turning to his port side just as he had hoped. “'Burn' here they come mate, out” said 'Len'. As both Hurricanes came to the top of their power climb, they each used their rudders to yaw and dip their port side wing to begin a steep dive to regain some of the speed they had given away. “'Fran', throttle back, combat setting.” advised 'Lenny'. As his Hurricane fell away 'Len' could see they were outnumbered eight to six. “Rupert Leader here, watch your tails boys, they have us in numbers, out.
As the boys were entering the fight with the escorts, not one of the pilots espied the Stukas flying almost directly below. All attention was on the Me109s overhead. Those Ju87s had clear skies as they flew right passed their target and prepared to begin their dive bombing ritual. As soon as they had positioned themselves to run home to France they would make their dive in, sirens screaming, drop their eggs, level out and hastily scamper back home across The Channel.
It seems fighters were traveling every direction. While the main lot of the boys had pulled around and evened the altitude advantage somewhat, Jerry still had all of the speed. To have speed and altitude played into the hand of the victor a very high percentage of the time.
As 'Fran' came over the top, he could see an Me109 with a big yellow number 3 rolling over to dive in on one of the boys. He just barely could make out that the Hurricane's call letters as VK-G. “Yellow 2, starboard break! break! Jerry's diving for your six mate!” 'Art' managed to out turn his opponent and collected none of the Hun's rounds, but as a result of his evasive maneuver, he was now diving away from the fight and out of position to rejoin.
“'Burn', break starboard, Jerry on you!” yelled 'Len' into the blower. 'Burn' was being hammered hard, confetti passing by all around his Hurricane from the Hun which was stalking him. 'Burn' was beginning to feel he was in trouble. Tracers were flying by and then,..... Thwack, Thwack, Thwack!................. “Blue Leader here, I can't shake him,......... anyone, get him off me! Thwack, Thwack,.….he's all over me!” said 'Burn' on the R/T with an utter sound of panic in his voice.
As 'Burn' continued to roll in his Hurricane, the Hun punished him gravely! Thwack, Thwack,..Thwack! The rounds just kept tearing at his kite. The next second, his starboard wingtip had departed. 'Burn' could barely keep his lass from spinning out of control by applying hard port stick and heavy port rudder. It all seemed to slow down for 'Burn' as he saw one of the boys a few hundred feet below and smoking badly. He recognized two Me109s as they hunted that Hurricane down ruthlessly, and wishing that he could have dove in and helped force the Huns off of his mate's tail. One thing stuck out in his mind as he dove away to escape the Jerry on his six, the Huns below had yellow noses. 'Burn' clearly remembered that these Huns higher above in this encounter did not have yellow noses. He thought to himself, was there a second group of escorts now involved? He also was shocked to see his blood on the canopy as he did not know where he had been wounded.
As 'Burn' brought his Hurricane into a shallower dive, he was being hit again, ...Thwack..Thwack... Thwack! The next thing he knew a yellow nosed B-astard with a big yellow number 3 on it's side was racing past. This Hun was so close that 'Burn' could see him grinning like a Cheshire cat all smug with itself after just having bitten its owner. 'Burn' knew he would have to kiss his kite goodbye, so he pushed the canopy back to lock it open, but it would not catch on the stop. He fought to keep it back while he attempted to pull the pin which locked his seat harness straps....
As 'Len' pulled out of his dive with a suitable amount of speed, he witnessed the sight of a 109 just about to fly across his windscreen. As he gave a long burst the Hun flew directly through 'Len's' sights and absorbed a number of rounds from his chatterboxes! Jerry left half of his starboard wing and aileron behind and the Hun was heading down at a hasty rate of speed.
As 'Len' attempted to line up for another shot, he noted the big white number two on the side of the Me109. 'Len' saw his prop was now stationary and knew the Hun's engine had seized. It appeared that Jerry's cockpit glass was jammed as he saw the pilot fighting to eject it, but 'Len' never saw it come off as the 109 plummeted towards The Isle of Wight....