11 June 1940

Nine Hawker Hurricane take off from Kenley at 13:30 for an offensive patrol over the Fécamp – Le Tréport area with No.111 (RAF) Squadron. A German formation is met shortly thereafter and during the ensuing fight, Flying Officer Anthony Eyre claims two Bf.109, of which one probable, about 8 km north-west of Le Havre [1]. During the confrontation one of the pilots seems to have separated since he lands at Kenley, unlike the others who land on Manston. According to Fighter Officer Anthony Eyre’s combat report:

“I am participating in a patrol with eleven No.111 (RAF) Squadron aircraft and eight of our squadron over the French coast (between Dieppe and Le Havre). I fly in position n °2 to the right of the formation. We fly at about 4,800-5,500 meters when we see what appears to be enemy aircraft. Our Squadron is quickly dispersed when the fight begins, and I find myself alone. I see, then, to the south (about 6 700 meters) the Bf 109 below me. I immediately dive on the first and shoot at about 6,000 meters. When he sees the attack, he goes into a dive and turns suddenly which allows me to touch it three more times. I then see two other Hurricanes who engage him at about 3,000 meters, while he continues towards the ground. I see, then, another Bf 109 to my left and I engage immediately. He is going on a dive, too, following my attack “[2].

As usual, it is difficult to determine the opponent for lack of more accurate documentation. However, Peter D. Cornwell [3] reports a clash between No.111 (RAF) Squadron and a Luftwaffe formation consisting of Dornier Do.17M of KG 28 and Bf 109 of 2 / JG 3 in the sector of Le Havre around 14:15. Two Bf 109 E-1 of 2./JG 3 are seriously damaged, while a third crashes between Berneval-le-Grand and Belleville-sur-Mer (Unteroffizier Lutz Uth killed). In view of Flight Lieutnant Anthony Eyre’s report, it is reasonable to assume that No.615 Squadron pilots faced the same adversary.

A second patrol is conducted from Manston, above Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, at 20:00. No special event to report and all pilots return in Kenley at 21:15. The flight time is 03:00 for the whole day.

Pilots and Aircrafts : Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll (P2871) ; Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo (P2963) ; Flying Officer John R.H. Gayner (P2768) ; Flight Lieutnant Lionel M. Gaunce (P2966) ; Pilot Officer Cecil R. Montgomery (L1584) ; Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts (P3487) ; Pilot Officer Ralph Roberts (L1983) ; Flying Officer Herbert S. Giddings (P2801) ; Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (P2793).

Claims : Flying Officer Anthony Eyre, two Bf 109 (one probable) (2./JG 3 ?), north-west LeHavre at14h30.

[1] Note that the No.615 Squadron ORB mentions one destroyed Bf 109 (inconclusive), as well as a second Bf 109 probable and a possibly damaged Ju.87. John Foreman mentions the claim of a destroyed Bf 109 and a damaged Bf 110 (FOREMAN, John RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims of World War Two: Part One 1939 – 1940. Walton-on-Thames: Red Kite, 2003, p.86). His combat report (AIR AIR 50/175/6) reports the claim of two Bf.109 (one probable).

[2] Combat Reports. Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (11/06/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/6.

[3] 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.459.

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