Saturday 27th July 1940
Day: Raids on shipping and naval units in Dover harbour and Straits
Night: Attacks on south-west England
Weather: Fair Straits, cloudy in Channel. Slight rain in the midlands and the North Sea
Richthofen’s Fliegerkorps started operations at 9.45 a.m. with an attack on a convoy off
Swanage. Simultaneously two convoys off the estuary and Harwich were bombed. The
destroyer H.M.S. Wren was sunk. In two attacks on Dover four high-explosive bombs dropped on the harbour and five fell on the barracks. In the second attack the destroyer Codrington was hit. A second destroyer was sunk off the east coast and another was damaged, with the result that the Admiralty applied the policy of withdrawing the target. Dover was abandoned as an advanced base for anti-invasion destroyers which relieved Fighter Command of the burden of protecting them. This meant, however, that the defence of the Straits now depended more than ever on the R.A.F. One of the Dover attacks was carried out by six Me 109Es carrying bombs on centre-racks. This was the first report of 109s being used in this role. German attacks on Dover were becoming so serious that the Air Ministry issued special instructions to Fighter Command to engage them approaching the port with superior forces whenever possible. To secure this concentration in the south-east meant increasing the number of squadrons to twenty eight and making more use of Hawkinge and Manston.
Accidents were putting a strain on the repair organisation. To reduce them Dowding ordered the posting of two flying disciplinary flight lieutenants to each station to keep an eye on aircraft handling. At the same time he ordered that pilots were not only to take physical exercise, but to take at least eight hours off a day and twenty-four hours’ leave a week. Early that afternoon Belfast was raided and at about 6 p.m. planes were reported near Wick and Plymouth. The weather deteriorated to such an extent in the south East of England, however, that those fighters protecting the convoy Agent’ had to be recalled. Nine Thames barrage balloons were
struck by lightning. During the night several raids were flown over the Bristol Channel and there was some minelaying between Portland and the Lizard, and along the east coast. By midnight British fighters had flown 496 sorties and destroyed four raiders at a cost of one fighter.
Luftwaffe attacks concentrated on Dover at 14.35, 17.55 and 18.47, which resulted in the loss of two escort destroyers and withdrawal of the Dover Flotilla whilst protecting the ‘Bacon’ convoy.
Friday 26th July 1940
Day: Shipping off south coast attacked
Night: Minelaying in Thames Estuary and off Norfolk coast and Bristol area
Weather: Heavy cloud with rain and poor visibility
Fliegerkorps VIII took the initiative with attacks on shipping near the Isle of Wight. Two of the convoy raiders were shot down near Portland in the course of 581 sorties by British fighter planes. Two British planes were destroyed. The motor lifeboats Rosa Wood and Phyllis Lunn went out after survivors of three steamers sunk in the Channel. The pattern of German flying during the night pointed to mine-laying in the Thames Estuary, Norfolk and the Bristol Channel.
The Luftwaffe bombing was conducted during both the day and night concentrating North East London, Weymouth, Bristol and East Coast of Scotland which resulted in 2 killed and 17 injuries.
He 111H-4 5J+AH of 1/KG4 shot down at 00.55 whilst engaged in minelaying over the Bristol Channel by Pilot Officer J.R. Cock of 87 Squadron. The aircraft crashed at Longfield Farm, Smeatharpe, Oberfw H. Kessler, Uffz W. Sommer, Uffz G. Hahnel and Uffz H. Grabke were all killed. Uffz G. Strickstrock baled out and landed at Middle Luxton Farm and captured.
Thursday 25th July 1940
Day: Convoys and shipping in the Channel raided
Night: Minelaying in Firth of Forth and Thames Estuary Reconnaissance over Bristol and Channel area
Weather: Fine day with haze in the Straits of Dover Winds north-westerly and light
The Luftwaffe concentrated again on shipping and in one attack sank five small vessels and damaged another five in the same convoy. The bombers numbered about sixty and they co-ordinated their efforts with nine E.boats which were engaged by the British destroyers Boreas and Brilliant. The two destroyers were dive-bombed and one had to be towed into Dover. Because the Germans were operating from bases close to their objectives, they were much better placed than the defending squadrons to concentrate their planes above any target, for the British fighters had to rely on continuous patrols in small numbers to find the enemy before calling for reinforcements. These patrols invariably attacked on their own without waiting for help which took some time to arrive.
Fighter Command squadrons flew 641 sorties on the 25th, and destroyed sixteen raiders and lost seven fighters. A curious claim in German records was for a French Breguet 690!
During the night of July 25th-26th mines were laid along the south and east coasts. One raid penetrated to the Forth Bridge and some bombs were dropped in raids on Northern Scotland.
Luftwaffe attacks started at 12.20 and finished by 23.45, which concentrated on convoys, resulting in 1 person injured. Stukas were deployed with considerable fighter cover against ships in convoys travelling through the Dover Straits.
He 111H-3 T5+AL of Wettererkundungsstaffel was shot down by Flying Officer D.A.E. Jones and Pilot Officer J. Lonsdale of 3 Squadron at 08.30. The aircraft crashed into the Sea near Pentland Firth, Gefr P. Muller’s body was recovered from the Sea on 1 August 1940 and buried at Kirkwall in the Orkneys. Uffz A. Bauch, Uffz R. Freitag and Uffz E. Loch were missing believed killed. Reg Rat E. Franken was rescued by the Royal Navy off Rora Head.
Bf 109E 6+1 of 8/JG52 was shot down at 18.40 at Elvington Court near Deal and Uffz M. Reiss was captured.
Ju88A 9K+GN of 5/KG51 collided with a Miles Master of 5 FTS at 14.25 and crashed at Lower Weir Farm, Oakridge Lynch near Chalfont, see image. The bomber had been briefed to attack the Gloster Factory at Hucclecot. Sergeant G.H. Bell was on approach to South Cerney aerodrome. Uffz F. Dorner, Uffz W. Hugelschafer and Gefr G. Treue baled out and were captured. Uffz W. Theiner also baled out but his parachute didn’t open and died.
Do 17M A5+EA of Stab StG 1 was shot down by 152 Squadron comprising of Flight Lieutenant E.C. Deanesley, Pilot Officers R.M. Hogg, F.H. Holmes and Sergeant R. Wolton at 11.15 whilst engaged on a photo-reconnaissance mission. The aircraft crashed at East Fleet Farm near Fleet with Fw B. Erdmann and Fw E. Grossmann were captured but Uffz K. Lingenbrink was killed.
Wednesday 24th July 1940
Day: Convoys and shipping in the channel attacked
Weather: Channel and Straits of Dover cloudy. Coastal and hill fog in western districts spreading east. Rain in most districts
A sudden break in the weather brought a co-ordinated attack by two bomber formations heavily escorted by fighters – the first against a convoy steaming into the Thames Estuary, and the other against one off Dover. It was 8.15 a.m. when No. 54 Squadron scrambled from Rochford. They climbed to 20,000 feet and were just about to intercept the first raid when Deere, leading
Red Section, was warned of the second This formation [he said], the largest I had seen up to that time, consisted of about 18 Dorniers protected by a considerable number of escort fighters weaving and criss-crossing above and behind the bombers. I reported the unpleasant facts to control and requested immediate assistance Heavily outnumbered, the squadron split half taking on one raid, the other half taking on the next. In the fierce fighting one pilot was killed.
There were several more engagements that day and at the end of it eight German and three British aircraft were destroyed. Fighter Command flew 561 sorties. Among the targets attacked in Britain that day was Brooklands. A Ju 88 circled it for seven minutes, and then, after lowering its undercarriage, followed several friendly machines going in to land. The moment it was over the airfield buildings it dropped twelve bombs and flew off. Despite the ruse, there was surprisingly little damage. While only five French pilots took part in the Battle of Britain the Free French Air Force was beginning to appear at St. Athan, Wales. There, a number of French pilots were given clearance to keep in practice with the aircraft in which they had escaped from France, subject to British markings being carried and the planes being painted yellow underneath. The aircraft were two Potez 63, three Dewoitine D 520s, three Caudron Simoun, a Caudron 440 and a Farman F222.
Luftwaffe attacks concentrated on convoys, Weybridge/Walton-on-Thames and Hillington Estate in Glasgow between 15.15 and 18.20, resulting in 4 injuries.
Bf 109E-1 (6296) <I+I of Stab III/JG26 was shot down at 13.00 and force landed at Northdown near Margate. Oberlt W. Bartels captured but seriously wounded.
Bf 109E-4 of 8/JG26 shot down at 13.05 and the aircraft crashed into Byron Avenue, Margate, see image. Lt J. Schauff bailed out but his parachute didn’t open and died, buried in Manston Road Cemetery in Margate.
Fw 200C F8+BH of 1/KG40 crashed into the Sea, North East of Belfast at 03.40. The aircraft was engaged in minelaying in Belfast Lough but engine failure brought them down. Hptm V. Zenker, Uffz H.O. Hocker and Gefr L. Hohmann were rescued but Fw W. Andreas and Uffz R. Wagner were both missing believed killed.
Ju 88A L1+DL was shot down by Red Section of 92 Squadron comprising of Flight Lieutenants C.B.F. Kingcombe, J.A. Paterson, Pilot Officer J.S. Bryson and Pilot Officer of R.P. Beaumont of 87 Squadron at 07.40. The aircraft crashed in flames on Martinhoe Common, Lynton. Hptmn D. Von Maltitz, Fw G. Pliefke and Fw P. Weilmaier were all captured but Fw W. Wachholz was killed when he bailed out too low.
Tuesday 23rd July 1940
Day: East coast shipping raided.
Night: Minelaying from Dover to the Tyne and Forth Estuary
Weather: Slight haze in Straits of Dover. Cloudy with occasional rain in other districts.
With prospects of a hard fight ahead, a new situation had arisen as a result of the abolition
of the western approaches and the transfer ofthe country’s main trade artery to the North
Channel. The result of this (Dowding said in a letter to the Chief of the Air Staff) was
that convoys would be navigating around the entire coast of Great Britain. During the winter months, when it would only be necessary to protect convoys on the east coast, the resources of Fighter Command would be strained to the limit in providing standing patrols, even at section strength for these convoys. At that time, attacks were made by one or two bombers at the most and a section was an ample escort.
It was the policy for the Germans to attack convoys with strong formations of bombers escorted by fighters whenever possible. Defensive measures had to be on a much larger scale if they were not to have sections frequently overwhelmed by sudden attacks in greatly superior numbers. Bearing in mind the fact that enemy bombers were active almost every night and
that units were detailed in every sector for night flying, it appeared that three squadrons per sector were about the minimum requirement to safeguard the passage of convoys off the east coast of England, and that this number would be inadequate north of the Tay and west of the Isle of Wight.Dowding had about twenty sectors, not counting Northolt, Sumburgh and Coltishall (the latter because he was already counting the sectors behind); and on this basis he
should have had about sixty squadrons to cover the coast from the Orkneys to the north shore of the Bristol Channel.
He had now to expand from St. David’s Head to Greenock besides meeting a possible demand for five squadrons in Ireland. In addition to the above, he could not afford to distribute his squadrons evenly along the front but had to keep some extra strength in the neighbourhood of London to guard against the possibility of invasion in East Anglia or Kent. It became obvious, then, that the creation of new squadrons should be pressed on with as rapidly as possible to guard against the possibility of invasion.
The Admiralty, said Dowding, had to co-operate with him if any but casual protection was to be afforded to the convoys. They had to start their journeys at definite times and channels had to be swept as close as possible to the coast-lines. Since it was impossible for some time to be
strong everywhere he would have to consider some form of additional mobility within groups so that a sector opposite whose front a convoy was travelling at any time might be temporarily strengthened for the occasion.
German activity during this day was reduced. Concentration being centered on shipping off the east coast. Fighter Command flew 470 sorties and destroyed three enemy machines at no cost to itself.
Luftwaffe attacked three main areas of Britain, Kent and Sussex between 08.38 and 09.55, Norfolk and particularly RAF Pulham which received a severe attack at 16.48 and Scotland between 00.00 and 02.00.
Monday 22nd July 1940
Day: Shipping off the south coast attacked.
Night: Minelaying the whole length of eastern seaboard.
Weather: Straits fair; Channel cloudy. Light westerly winds in both. Bright intervals between showers in the East.
Although British fighters flew 611 sorties, hostile aircraft were elusive and in the course
of the day only one was shot down, the score was even. At Wick, Sea Gladiators of No. 804 Squadron Fleet Air Arm flew their first Battle of Britain sortie under the control of No. 13 Group.
German bombing commenced at 09.27 at Banff on a German Prisoner of War Camp which resulted in 6 Germans being killed and 1 British guard, 18 Germans and 18 British troops were injured. The Luftwaffe raids finished at 04.27 on 23 July with the bombing of Swansea.
Do 17P (3598) 7A+DM of 4(F)/121 was shot down by Blue Section of 145 Squadron comprising Flight Lieutenant A.H. Boyd, Flying Officer P.W. Dunning-White and Pilot Officer A.N.C. Weir at 07.40, South of Selsey. Lt E. Reichardt and Fw R. Rowe were both missing believed killed, Lt G. Bormann was rescued by a British MTB.
Sunday 21st July 1940
Day: Raids on Convoys in Channel and Straits of Dover
Night: Targets chiefly at Merseyside.
Weather: Fine and fair early, clouding over during the morning. Fair in the evening.
The morning of the 21st followed the usual pattern until after 9 a.m. when three British
squadrons intercepted twenty German planes over the convoy ‘Peewit’. An Me 109 was
shot down. Later a Hawker Hector biplane was shot down by a Me 110 which, in turn, was
destroyed by No. 238 Squadron. Fighter Command sorties numbered 571, and their losses six. German losses totalled seven.
Control rooms were largely dependent on the W.A.A.F. In the heat of battle they were
100 brave and their services were invaluable. When the fighting began to get tough and
the language of the pilots started to match it, senior officers tried moving the girls beyond earshot of the control room loud-speakers. It was not idle swearing, however, but the
voices of men fighting for their lives. The girls refused to leave their jobs and said they did
not mind the language as much as the men thought.
Luftwaffe bombing started at 23.30 and finished at 01.54 the next day, attacks resulted in 1 killed and 8 injured. German activity included reconnaissance of industrial targets in South West England and South Wales.
Bf 110C (2177) 5F+CM of 4(F)/14 shot down by Red Section of 238 Squadron compromising Flight Lieutenant D.E. Turner, Flying Officer C.T. Davis and Pilot Officer J.S. Wigglesworth at 10.25. The aircraft crash landed at Goodwood Home Farm near Chichester. Oberlt F-K. Runde and Fw W. Baden were both captured.
Do 17M 5F+OM of 4F/14 was shot down by A Flight of 238 Squadron at 15.00. The aircraft landed in flames at Nutford Farm near Blandford, see image. Obertlt G. Thiel, Fw F. Bohnen and Uffz A. Werner were all captured.
Saturday 20th July 1940
Day: Convoys and shipping at Dover attacked
Night: Widespread minelaying from the Needles, Isle of Wight, to Land’s End; Bristol Channel and eastern coastal waters
Weather: Occasional thunderstorms. Straits of Dover cloudy clearing to bright intervals
There was now so much activity around Dover that it was beginning to get the nickname ‘Hellfire Corner’. In the afternoon a convoy appeared off Dover guarded by two sections of No. 32 Squadron Hurricanes taking turns at escort duty. At 5.40 p.m. it was attacked by Stukas
escorted by Me 109s. Two Hurricanes were lost and two damaged. An hour later forty-eight Messerschmitts clashed with about forty Hurricanes and Spitfires. There was again a lively engagement. In operations round Britain the R.A.F. lost three and the Germans nine. The Luftwaffe losses included five Me 109s, a Ju 88, and a Do 17. The following was the strength of the Luftwaffe on July 20th:
LUFTFLOTTEN 2 AND 3
Available Bombers 1131
Single-engine fighters 809
Twin-engine fighters 246
Long-range reconnaissance 67
Single-engine fighters 84
Twin-engine fighters 34
Long-range reconnaissance 67
KG 40 of Luftflotten 2 and 3 is not included but of its eleven planes only two
were serviceable for mine-laying. KGr. 100 with twelve serviceable aircraft out of forty-
two is also not included. Though subordinated to Luftflotte 2 it had moved out of the area.
Luftwaffe bombing commenced at 13.33 at Dover and continued throughout the afternoon and focused on the ”Bosom’ convoy as it went through the Straits of Dover. The Luftwaffe lost 12 aircraft and 6 damaged, including 2 He 59s of the Seenotflug-kommando. The bombing concluded in Bristol at 03.16 on the following day, all attacks cost 7 civilian deaths and 12 injured.
Ju 88A-1 F6+BM of 4(F)/122 was shot down by Blue Section of 56 Squadron comprising Flight Lieutenant E.J. Gracie, Flying Officer P.S. Weaver and Pilot Officer A.G. Page at 05.50 whilst conducting a photo-reconnaissance mission. The aircraft crashed at Cockett Wick Farm, St Osyth, Oberfw H-E. Prolsz, Uffz T. Hermsen, Obergefr W. Plock and Flgr R. Von Hase were all captured.
Friday 19th July 1940
Day: Dover raided. Defiant squadron largely destroyed
Night: Some activity between Isle of Wight and
Plymouth, Thames Estuary and Harwich
Weather: Showery with bright intervals in most cases,
Channel winds light – fair
No. 141 Squadron, newly arrived from Edinburgh with their Defiant two-seater turret-
fighters took off from Hawkinge on their first patrol at 12.32. They were assigned to a
height of 5,000 feet on a line south of Folkestone. The nine Defiants had not long been
airborne when they were attacked by twenty Me 109s diving out of the sun. Within
minutes five Defiants had gone into the Channel, a sixth crashed at Dover. The
remaining three would have shared the same fate but for the timely intervention of No. 111
Squadron with Hurricanes. The Germans claimed twelve Defiants shot down. They lost one Me 109 in the engagement. The remains of No. 141 were removed to Prestwick, in Ayrshire, where they could still do good work against unescorted bombers.
The other Defiant squadron, No. 264, moved temporarily to Kirton-in-Lindsey and then to
Ringway for the defence of Manchester. Inexplicably, No. 264 was later sent to the
Hornchurch sector and for a few days was in the thick of the day fighting.
Radar warned of a big gathering of aircraft over Calais at 4 p.m. on the 19th. Dover was
their objective, and Nos. 64, 32 and 74 squadrons were scrambled to intercept. Out-
numbered nearly two to one, the thirty-five British fighters did not score.
Fighter Command was more heavily committed than ever before; 701 sorties were
flown. Total losses for the day were eight machines. The Germans lost two, a reconnaissance Do 17 and a He 111 bomber – the ratio of victories contributing to German confidence as Hitler made his ‘last appeal to reason’ speech at the Reichstag.
German bombing began at 06.06 at Norwich and 03.14 the following day at Peterhead which resulted in 4 dead and 78 injured. Fierce air battles near Dover resulted in the decimation of 141 Squadron’s Boulton Paul Defiants. The Luftwaffe lost 5 aircraft and a further 5 damaged during operations over Kent, Cornwall, South Wales, Glasgow and Plymouth.
Fw 200C F8+EH of 1/KG40 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire during a minelaying sortie between Hartlepool and Sunderland at 23.55. Fw H. Kulken and Fw K. Nicolai were both captured, Fw W. Meyer’s body was washed ashore and buried at Driffield, Hptmn R. Stesszyn, Gefr S. Zaunig and Gefr J. Perl were missing believed killed.
Thursday 18th July 1940
Day: Shipping off south and east coasts attacked
Night: Very little activity
Weather: Occasional rain in southern districts. Straits of
Dover cloudy. Cool.
Sporadic raids against the Channel ports (1) and shipping kept Fighter Command busy. Only
one major dog-fight developed – off Deal, where fifteen Spitfires engaged twenty-eight
Me 109. Three British fighters were destroyed in the course of the day, but two Ju 88s, one
Do 17 and a Me 109 were lost to the Germans. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. the coast guard
station at St Margaret’s Bay was bombed and the Goodwin lightship sunk.
In the north No. 232 Hurricane Squadron stationed at Wick detached a flight to Sum-
burgh in the Shetlands to replace No. 247 Squadron Gladiators sent to Plymouth.
(1) Luftwaffe bombing started at 11.46 in Newport and finished at Norwich by 06.00 the following morning. This resulted in 7 deaths, 33 injuries, water main and houses damaged in Penarth and the Norwich Civil Aero Clubhouse was burnt out.
Wednesday July 17th 1940
Day: Search for shipping off the Scottish and East coasts
Night: Targets attacked in the South west (1) and minelaying
Weather: Dull with occasional rain
Early recon was impeded by the weather, but it cleared sufficently later for ops against shipping to begin.
The scale of ops today was small, Fighter command only flying 253 sorties, during which one fighter was lost and a JU88 and He111 shot down.
By nightfall Fliegerdivision IX minelayers were flying to the Thames estuary, Cardiff, and Swansea.
In Germany the Army high command allocated the forces for Sealowe and ordered thirteen picked divisions to embarkation points on the Channel coast for the first wave of invasion.
General Von Brauchitsch told Admiral Reader the whole operation would be relatively easy and over in a month…..
(1) Bombing commenced in Banstead at 11.55 and concluded in Bristol at 02.00 the next day. This resulted in 7 dead and 28 injured.
Tuesday July 16th 1940
Day: Very little activity
Night: Minelaying off theNorth East coast
Weather: Fog in Northern France, the straights, and South East England
In his ‘Directive no.16’ Hitler said of the Invasion:
“The landing operation must be a surprise crossing on a broad front”
As with all his plans, the Fuhrer chose to ignor the obvious – that a clandestine crossing of the Channel was impossible… OR, did his statement reflect Gorings conviction that the RAF would be destroyed before the invasion fleet set sail?
Later on the 16th the weather cleared sufficiently for the Luftwaffe to release a few aircraft. Again, they went for shipping, and again the RAF attempted to beat them off. It was not until 1600 that the first successful interception took place – twenty five miles off of Fraserburgh, Scotland, where an He111 of III/KG26 was shot down (1).
Two hours later 601 Sqn from Tangmere destroyed a JU88, the German aircraft crashing into the Solent (2).
Fighter comman flew 313 sorties on this day and lost two aircraft. The Luftwaffe losses totalled five.
(1) He 111H-3 1H+KT of 9/KG26 was shot down East of Fraserburgh at 16.12 by Red Section of 603 Squadron comprising of Flying Officer I.S. Ritchie, Pilot Officers J.S. Morton and D. Stewart-Clark. Oberlt G. Lorenz, Uffz H. Beer were rescued by RAF launch, Uffz K. Liedtke and Gefr Heinbach were both missing believed killed.
(2) Ju 88A B3+GP of 6/KG54 shot down over the Isle of Wight at 16.00 by Blue Section of 601 Squadron made up of Flying Officers W.H. Rhodes-Moorhouse, T.E. Hubbard and Pilot Officer T. Grier. Fw R. Fortmann and Gefr H. Augustin were both captured but Obergefr H. Vetter and Gefr O. Marb were both killed.
Monday July 15th 1940
Day: Shipping attacked off Norfolk coast and the Channel
Weather: Low cloud
Each day German recon planes would fly at least two patrols, but the use to which the information was put leads to the conclusion that the Germans had to much faith in their intelligence efficiency. Had they fully reconed the arfields, aircraft factories, and other vital targets in Britian in July and August they would have been able to concentrate more of their attacks on important objectives instead of wasting time on training stations like Detling.
Luftwaffe activity on this monday morning was devoted entirely to recon. Alerted to some intense shipping movements in the Channel, II Fliegerkorps decided to brave teh low cloud and heavy rain, and sent 15 Do17’s of KG2 into action.
The 17’s reached the convoy ‘Pilot’ at 14:13, but their attacks were thwarted by Hurricanes of 56 and 151 Sqns, but neither side lost any aircraft during the engagements.
Whilst KG2 were busy in the Channel, Luftflotte 3 despatched a small force of bombers to attack the Westland aircraft works at Yeovil, Somerset, and other targets in the West of England and Wales. A hangar and the runway at Yeovil were slightly damaged, and bombs also fell on the railway at Avonmouth, and the airfield at St Athan, Wales.
The RAF flew 449 sorties with the loss of one Hurricane of 213 Sqn.
P/O Holland of 92 Sqn attacked a JU88 and used all his ammunition trying to shoot it down. All he would claim after landing at Pembury was a probable, but II/LG1 did lose an 88 in that area.
The Luftwaffe lost three machines on this day, including an He111 of 2./KG26 off the Scottish coast.
Sunday July 14th 1940
Day: Shipping attacks off Dover and Swanage
Night: Bristol area, Isle of Wight, Kent, and Suffolk raided
Weather: Fair all day
German forces attacked the airfield at Ramsgate and a convoy off Dover. To the West, a destroyer off Swanage was ineffectually bombed, and during the afternoon an attack was directed against the convoy ‘Bread’. The Germans inflicted some damage on the convoy, which was guarded by a No.11 group patrol.
Fighter command tried to counter every incursion and flew 593 sorties in the attempt. Four Hurricanes were lost in a fight off Deal, while German losses totalled two.
Two days had now elapsed since the He59 sea plane had been forced down and beached near Deal. The Government decided that they could not recognise the right of the 59’s to bear the red cross, since it was probable that the planes were being used to report movements of British convoys. On the 14th British pilots were instructed to shoot them down on sight…
Saturday July 13th 1940
Day: Shipping attacks off Dover and Portland
Night: Mine laying in the Thames estuary
Weather: Early morning fog in Southern England clearing by mid-morning
Before the battle, Park and Brand expressed the view that once the Germans began their offensive it would be as much asthey could do to provide enough planes to guard the convoys. The first three days confirmed ther fears…
Dowding resisted the temptation to strengthen the South East sectors at the expense of others, foreseeing that to do so would invite a flank attackhe would be ill prepared to meet. Such changes as he did make were designed chiefly to strengthen the West country and No.11 groups right flank rather than the more obviously threatened centre. Thus he moved 152 Sqn with Spitfires from Acklington, Northumberland to Middle Wallop, Hants on July 12th. He also moved a flight of 247 Sqn Gladiators from Sumburgh in the Shetlands to Roborough, Devon on the 18th July. Roborough, a small grass strip on the outskirts of Plymouth, was to small for Spitfires and Hurricanes, but was no problem for the Biplane Gladiators whose main task was the defence of Plymouth.
Park and Brand therefore had to make do with what they had – Park with seven Spitfire, thirteen Hurricane, and three Blenheim squadrons. Brand with two Spitfire and two Hurricane squdrons, and a flight of Gladiators directed from 10 group’s new HQ at Rudloe Manor, Box, Wilts which was inaugurated on this day.
German generals had by now reached Berchtesgaden to confer with Hitler who was still baffled by the British. General Halder wrote in his diary: “The fuhrer is obsessed with the question why England does not want to take the road to peace”. Hitler, he said, was reluctant to smash Britain because it would lead to the disintegration of the Empire which would benefit America, Japan, and other countries at the cost of German blood.
That evening Hitler wrote to Mussolini, declining Duce’s offer to send Italian troops and aircraft for the invasion of Britain.
Pressure on the two groups was much reduced on the 13th owing to the deteriation in weather. German bombers were, however, out after shipping,and two convoys were attacked off Harwich. There were two engagements today off Dover in which the Germans claimed two Spitfires and six Hurricanes and admitted a loss of five. In actual fact, one British fighter was destroyed whilst the Germans lost seven aircraft including a FW200 of I/KG40.
At this time pilots reported being fired on by ‘old and dirty’ Hurricanes which bore no roundels or lettering and had two blade wooden airscrews. no official records exist, but it is possible that the Luftwaffe used one or two Belgium Hurricanes repaired after the fighting in May.