The Chronology: Page-47
Today, like most mornings the pilots on all the forward sector and forward aerodromes woke up wondering just what the day would bring. The day previous was exceptionally quiet, but this did not place anybody into a sense of false security. Yesterday, operations were relatively easy, spasmodic attacks by lone aircraft during the day while more concentrated attacks occurred after dark as would be expected. But even though the Luftwaffe only lost some six or seven aircraft, Fighter Command did not lose a single aircraft or pilot which shows the inactivity of the day.
The morning would be reasonably fair with scattered cloud with showers expected by midday and these would continue throughout the day.
1050hrs: The quiet of the early morning was broken at 1030hrs when radar had picked up a German formation that was coming across the Channel from the direction of Calais and by 1100hrs a formation of 20 plus Bf109s at 15,000 feet crossed the coast at Dungeness, with other formations of 50 plus Bf109 aircraft crossing the coast in the region of Dover. The radar at Foreness picked up another formation that had stayed out to sea and came in through the Thames Estuary. This was another change of tactic by the Luftwaffe, although it was not the first time that they had sent in Bf109s en masse on daytime attacking raids.
Fighter Command released fifteen squadrons including 72 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires), 92 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires), 222 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 253 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) and 605 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes). The Luftwaffe in this attack had the upper hand by sheer weight of numbers.
Is was a possibility that both waves of German fighters were targeting London, but over the Kentish countryside, what the RAF fighter pilots lacked in numbers they made up for in skill even if they did sustain many casualties. The combat action was sustained over the fields of Kent and at the mouth of the Thames near Southend and Sheppy with neither formation making much progress towards their objective.
One of the first aircraft of Fighter Command to go down was the Spitfire of P/O H.L. Whitbread of 222 Squadron Hornchurch at 1115hrs. A Bf109 came from above and took him by surprise and the Spitfire crashed at Higham near Rochester killing the pilot. At about 1130hrs, 253 Squadron Kenley had three Hurricanes shot down between Ashford and Maidstone. All three pilots, P/O A.R.H. Barton, Sgt A.R. Innes and an unnamed pilot all escaped serious injury. P/O W.J. Glowacki was unhurt as his Hurricane of 605 Squadron Croydon was hit by gunfire from a Bf109 but was one of the lucky ones in being able to return to base. By 1135hrs, 92 Squadron Biggin Hill lost two pilots when they became seriously involved in combat in the Dover/Dungeness area. One Spitfire crashed at West Hougham and another crashed in the Channel, both the victims of Major Moelders.
It should be noted here that although mass daylight attacks had occurred with the use of Bf109 fighters only, they were causing more than a headache for Fighter Command. The sheer weight of numbers were causing all sorts of headaches for both Hurricane and Spitfire squadrons. The techniques involved when fighter was against fighter and were quite different to those when the German Bf109s were involved with providing escort.
The mornings attack was the only main combat of the day. But is had been a terrible blow to Fighter Command. Of the five pilots killed in the attack, four of them at least were experienced seasoned pilots, pilots that were still badly needed. The Bf109 pilots, whether experienced or not had this day gained a slight advantage by downing more British fighters than they had lost themselves. Maybe the Luftwaffe would learn by this result, and that in the days to follow, more Geschwaders of Bf109s would make the daylight attacks and try to make up for the disastrous losses that they had so far they experienced. We will have to wait and see.