12 May 1940

Unlike the previous day, No.615 Squadron is experiencing more intense activity. In order to compensate for the deficiencies, A Flight was ordered to join the former Vitry-en-Artois aerodrome in order to cooperate with No.607 (RAF) Squadron. At least three patrols are carried out. [1]

Unfortunately, one of them will end tragically. In this case, Flying Officer Francis Blackadder (P3535 – AF-C) is responsible for conducting a patrol at the helm of five Hawker Hurricane Mk I No.607 (RAF) Squadron, to which are added three other aircraft of No. .615 Squadron, including Flying Officer Hedley N. Fwoler (P2622) and Levin Fredman (P2564).[2] The entire formation took off at 09.30 from Vitry-en-Artois and at 10h00 in the vicinity of Tongres, the British pilots met a formation of Bf 109 from I (J) ./LG 2, and the clash breaks out. If Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler is able to claim a victory [3], his compatriot Levin Fredman does not return. His aircraft crashed at Wihogne, near Liège. His lifeless body is extracted from the carcass of the plane and buried in the nearby cemetery.[4] The German pilots claimed the destruction of three opposing fighters: Oberleutnant Hans-Erwin Jäger (1.Staffel), Leutnant Helmut Mertens (2.Staffel) and Oberfeldwebel Hermann Guhl (1.Staffel). At the same time, a Bf 109 (2.Staffel) is forced to a forced landing west of Tongeren (damaged to 70%). [5] Peter Cornwell, for his part, mentioned that the fighting would also have involved aircrafts of the JG 21 and JG 27, while the loss of Flying Officer Levin Fredman could be due to Feldwebel Erich Schröder (2./JG 27 ). [6]

[1] No.615 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/2123.

[2] Unfortunately, the identity of the third pilots is not known.

[3] While this claim is cited by several authors, including Brian Cull (Twelve days in may) or John Foreman (RAF Fighter Command – Victory Claims), there is no reference to it in the Squadron ORB. In addition, there does not seem to be any corresponding combat report.

[4] DIXON, Robert. 607 Squadron : A Shade of Blue. 2012.

[5] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.90 et 91 ; WATTEEUW, Pierre. Les pertes de la chasse allemande de jour en Belgique (1940 – 1945). Tome 1. Erpe : Editions De Krijger, 2000. p.19.

[6] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.247.

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