22 June 1940

Nine Hawker Hurricane take off from Kenley to join Hawkinge at 05h45. They leave at 07h00 for an offensive reconnaissance of the Abbeville – Poix – Rouen – Dieppe sector. The formation seems to separate during the mission since the ORB indicates that only five pilots meet, near Rouan, a formation of He.111 of the III./KG 1 escorted by Bf.110 of the 7./ZG 26 towards 07h45. The British pilots split in two as Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll claimed two He.111s (an inconclusive claim and a probable one), while Flying Officer Peter Collard also claimed an inconclusive victory over one of the bombers. According to Peter D. Cornwell, one of the He.111 makes a forced landing west of Rouen. [1] At the same time, the other three pilots face the escort. Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders claims two Bf.110 (one conclusive and one inconclusive). It is the same for the Flying Officer Anthony Eyre with another conclusive claim against one of the fighter. 7./ZG 26 does not appear, however, to suffer a loss. Unfortunately the confrontation is also heavy for the No.615 Squadron since Pilot Officer John R. Lloyd is shot down and killed. His Hawker Hurricane Mk I P2764 crashes, around 08:10, near La Mailleraye-sur-Seine. He is probably a victim of Leutnant Kuno-Adalbert Konopka, of 7./ZG 26. He was 30 years old. He will be buried in the municipal cemetery of Mailleraye-sur-Seine, where he still rests today. For his part, Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders is forced to a forced landing, following a fuel outage, on the Isle of Wight. His aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane Mk I P3487 is, however, not damaged.

According to the report of Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll: 

“Over Rouen, at about 2700 m, I see Bf.110 flying from the east at an altitude of about 1800 meters. Five of ours attack, including two for He.111. I attack a He.111 then a second on which I open fire for five seconds. The left engine seems to have difficulty, with a fine smoke escapes”. [2]

Flying Officer Peter Collard brings some clarifications:

“Above Rouen, we see eight He.111 and four Bf.110 approaching from below. I attack a He.111. I observe a smoke escaping from the machine, but I do not see it crashing”. [3]

Regarding the Bf 110 attack, Flying Officer Anthony Eyre reports:

“During a reconnaissance with four other aircraft, I observe a formation of He.111. As I prepare to attack, I see three Bf.110 in escort. I attack one of the three and destroy his right engine. It disappears by losing altitude. I try to do the same with the other two, but they make several turns preventing me from aiming. I can not observe further and I climbing fast with the little ammo I have left to continue my reconnaissance alone before finding the Squadron Leader over Dieppe”. [4]

Curiously, Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts claims an inconclusive victory over a Junkers Ju.52. According to Brian Cull: “According to a report from Zurich, General Fritz Löb, commander of Luftgau Belgien-Nordfrankreich, is shot and killed by a British fighter during a reconnaissance flight.” [5] According to another source, the aircraft carrying General-Major Fritz Löb was reportedly the victim of a fatal collision at the Brussels-Evere aerodrome. At the same time, the KTB of the 9./JG 54 indicates on the Junkers Ju.52 carrying a general would have been victim of an air collision with a Do.17, although with no correspondence for the date. [6]

The battle report of Keith T. Lofts [7], besides being difficult to read, further reinforces the mystery of this claim. Indeed, it indicates that the fight takes place around 08:30 in the vicinity of Forges-les-Eaux, which corresponds more or less to the places where takes place the other confrontation. There is also mention of a “troop transport” identified as a Ju.52 flying at ground level (about 600 meters). The confrontation (diving from the sun) is very short since the pilot abandons his attack, without observing the result, because of the arrival of at least three Bf 110. There is no additional information on this event.

Pilots and Aircrafts : Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll (P2871); Flying Officer Peter Collard (P2768); Flight Lieutnant Lionel M. Gaunce (P2966); Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo (P2963); Pilot Officer Cecil R. Montgomery (P3380); Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders (P3487); Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts (P2578); Pilot Officer John R. Lloyd (P2764); Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (P2801).

Losses: Pilot Officer John Lloyd R. (Hawker Hurricane Mk I P2764). Killed in air combat with Bf 110, around 08:10, in the vicinity of Mailleraye-sur-Seine. Probably a victim of Leutnant Kuno-Adalbert Konopka, 7./ZG 26.

Claims: Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll: two He.111 (one inconclusive claim and one probable) around 8:45; Flying Officer Peter Collard: a He.111 (inconclusive claim) around 08:45; Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders: two Bf.110 (one conclusive and one inconclusive); Flying Officer Anthony Eyre: a Bf 110 (conclusive claim) around 08:40; Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts: a Ju.52 (inconclusive claim).

[1] 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.497. 

[2] Combat Reports. Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll (22/06/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/14.

[3] Combat Reports.  Flying Officer Peter Collard (22/06/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/2.

[4] Combat Reports. Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (22/06/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/6. On ne trouve, malheureusement, pas de rapport pour le Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders.

[5] CULL, Brian. First of The Few : 5 June – 9 July 1940. Fonthill, 2012 ; Flight Magazine, 4 July 4, 1940, p.5 et 11 : https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1940/1940%20-%201887.html?search=Fritz%20L%C3%B6b ;

[6] http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/archive/index.php?t-31810.html

[7] Combat Reports. Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts (22/06/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/17.

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