10 May 1940

The pilots of A Flight, based in Le Touquet, are awakened very early in the morning because of a bombardment by He.111 (II./KG 27). Three Hawker Hurricane Mk I [1] are damaged, two of which are quickly repaired [2], while the Leading Aircraftman Alan Brooks is burned to the hands while trying to extinguish the fire. [3]

According to Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll : 

“We were bombed very early in the morning. The pilots were billeted at an unoccupied château a few miles from the aerodrome and we were woken up by bombs. As we had received no warning of any kind we assumed that it was the French practising. It wasn’t until we received a call from the aerodrome that we realised the war had started”. [4]

According to Pilot Officer Thomas C. Jackson :

“Woke at dawn to huge thumps. Looked out of hotel window and saw smoke from airfield half a mile away. Leapt out of bed and put uniform over pyjamas. Commandeered a car and drove back to hotel but others did not join me, so drove to the airfield and found two aircraft on fire. Got Hurricane started and took off. Saw Heinkel in distance and higher. Chased, but could not get to it. Shot at and felt something on sleeve – thought I’d been hit, but it was oil. Nil oil pressure so returned and landed. We later put the engine from damaged Hurricane into this one and it was soon operational again”. [5]

The entire staff joins the Abbeville airfield in the afternoon to join the rest of the Squadron.

As for B Flight, the awakening in Abbeville is very similar. A formation of He.111 of the LG 1 is responsible for bombing the station and the aerodrome around 4:30. According to a report:

“the airfield was attacked; it is safe to assume that one of the planes (two perhaps) was driven by inexperienced men experiencing difficulties in discovering the objective”.[6]

Indeed, no damage is reported following the attack. This time, however, one of the pilots is able to take off at 05h00 : Flying Officer Levin Fredman. He intercepts the formation of He.111, at about 6,000 meters, and damages the left engine (black smoke) of one of the aircraft. [7] He escapes, however, towards the east. The combat report qualifies the claim as inconclusive.

The situation of No.615 (County of Surrey) is far from ideal with only nine Hawker Hurricane Mk I staffed, but three aircraft are received in the afternoon.


[1] Nous ne disposons, malheureusement, pas d’une liste des appareils en dotation au No.615 Squadron à la veille du 10 mai 1940.

[2] Selon John Foreman, les trois Hawker Hurricane sont détruits. FOREMAN, John. Fighter Command War Diaries (September 1939 to September 1940). Air Research Publications, 1996, p. 53 et 54 ; tandis que Brian Cull fait état d’un seul appareil réparable. CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. Grub Street, 1999. p.44.

[3] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. Grub Street, 1999. p.44.

[4] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. Grub Street, 1999. p.45.

[5] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. Grub Street, 1999. p.45.

[6] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.40.

[7] Levin Fredman – Combat Report 10/05/40. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175. Curieusement, le rapport est signé du nom de Readman… ; CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. Grub Street, 1999. p.45 ; FOREMAN, John. RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims of World War Two : Part one 1939 – 1940. Red Kite, 2003. p.31 ; FOREMAN, John. Fighter Command War Diaries (September 1939 to September 1940). Air Research Publications, 1996, p. 52.

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