Author Archives: ajcrou

15 May 1940

Unlike previous days, No.615 Squadron activity is quite intense and relatively well detailed. It is also the occasion of several claims, but also losses.

The day begins with several patrols from the field of Abbeville, without further clarification, according to the ORB.

Later in the morning, six Hawker Hurricane Mk I took off, under the orders of Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll, from Vitry-en-Artois for an escort mission on Dinant along with six other B Flight aircraft from No. 607 (County of Durham) Squadron. The twelve Bristol Blenheim Mk I (three of No.15 Squadron and nine of No.40 Squadron) are responsible for destroying several bridges over the Meuser river. The entire formation is, however, intercepted by several Bf 109 and Bf 110 around 11h00. Pilots seem to have been surprised, and Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler (Hawker Hurricane Mk I P2622), at the rear of the formation, can only scream a warning before being shot by a Bf. 109. As his aircraft begins to catch fire, he is forced to jump in parachute. He managed to join several French soldiers, but they were all captured the next day [1]. The victory could have been claimed by Oberleutnant Franz Eckerle (3./JG76) [2]. One of the few relatively experienced pilots in the Squadron, as proof of his relatively high number of flights last winter, he will make the headlines after his escape from Colditz Castle on 9 September 1942. Dressed up as German officers he managed to join Switzerland (with Dutch Lieutenant Damiaen Joan van Doorninck). Returning to England in April 1944, he received the Military Cross before being posted to the Armament Test Squadron of Boscombe Down. He was killed while testing a Hawker Typhoon on 26 March 1944. He is buried in the Durrington Cemetery. According to Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll: “The formation of Hurricane was attacked by Messerschmitt 110s and 109s simultaneously. I did a head-on attack on the first 110, qhich afterwards force-landed, and a deflection shot on the second 110, which went into a dive and exploded in a wood”[3]. Both claims do not seem conclusive. According to Peter Cornwell, this clash could be linked to that between Bloch MB.152 of GC I / 8 and Bf 110 C 2./ZG 26. Three aircrafts are claimed by the French [4]. If we observe the description of the fight in question, we can not deny concordant elements: the time (10h30 – 12h15), as well as places (above the Meuse, in the vicinity of Mezieres). In addition, Adjudant Michaud indicates the presence of a Hawker Hurricane during the confrontation: “he drops a long shoot, but at this moment an unexpected Hurricane passes between him and his target. He is forced to stop shooting and is falling behind his prey that stings in front of him. The Messerschmitt has his account, a crew member jumps, but the parachute of the unfortunate goes into a torch. The disabled biplane hits and explodes in a clearing northeast of Renwez “[5]. There are several elements consistent with the second part of the report written by Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll. This is a Bf 110 C of 2./ZG 26 (Feldwebel Kurt Friedrich and Gefreiter Willli Neuburger, killed) which crashes, around 11h10, to Sécheval. Obviously, in the absence of more convincing details, this remains of the simple hypothesis. The Germans record the loss of two Bf 109 E-3 from Stab I./JG 52, Hauptman Siegfried von Eschwege and Leutnant Kurt Kirchner (captured), while three British fighters are claimed by Hauptmann Werner Molders, Oberleutnant Heinz Wittenberg and Leutnant Georg Claus of the III./JG 53. No.607 Squadron, Squadron Leader Lance Smith (P2870) is killed during the fight, and two Bf 109 are claimed by Flying Officer Bill Whitty and Pilot Officer Bob Grassick [ 6].

The afternoon is still quite hectic since the A Flight is in charge of a series of three patrols in the vicinity of Wavre. Several Henschel Hs 126 are encountered and a series of confrontations bursts. For example, a section under Flight Lieutnant Leslie Thornley patrolled northwest of Gembloux at 15h00. According to Pilot Officer Thomas C. Jackson: “Flying around, we souddenly saw a Hs.126 but only when it fired at me. Had a go and hit it and believed killed the gunner. I shot past it and the Flight Commander had a go. Turned round and it had gone into the ground. “[7]. According to Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley: “Aicraft first seen by Pilot Officer Jackson at fairly long rang. E/a half-rolled and dived and I followed him down in the dive to 500 feet, firing all the way. E/a landed in ploughed field but did not crash. Assume engine was damaged”[8]. The aircraft could belong to the 4. (H) / 22 (injured Leutnant H. Ricke) [9]. The events seem to be less successful for Pilot Officer David J. Looker (P2554), who is hit by ground fire. As he jumps, he hits the rudder with his left arm. Touching the ground near Waterloo, he was picked up by British soldiers and quickly sent back to England for a hospital stay (Shenley Military Hospital). Another Hs.123 was met at the same time by a second platoon under the command of Flying Officer Peter Collard around 15h00: “Saw Henschel flying low near wood at 100 feet. Diving quarter-attack. One burst from rear gunner at 200 yards. Enemy pulled up and on its back at 500 feet as I went underneath. No sign of aircraft after. (…) Enemy observed coming out of the sun, diving on two Hurricanes below. I came behind it but my reflector sight failed as I opened fire. E/a made a climbing turn to right, banking violently. Attack was broken off owing to running out of ammuniation “[10]. Note that the latter aircraft is mistakenly identified as a Heinkel He.112 (probably a Bf.109). Finally, at 15.30, another Hs.126, probably from the 1. (H) / 23 (Leutnant Hermann Küster and Felix Hack, killed) [11] is intercepted by a third section east of Gembloux. According to Flying Officer Horace E. Horne: “The Henschel staggered after first attack and pancaked in a field. Unable to press home attack due to heavy AA fire. Attempted also to attack a balloon moored on ground but the latter was ringed with defences. Own aicraft hit four times”[12].

Due to the evolution of the events, the No.615 Squadron is ordered to leave Vitry-en-Artois to join the north-west of Belgium. According to Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders: “Joe Kayll and I had to fly up to locate an airfield in Belgium to operate from. I got into a Gladiator and he vent off in a Hurricane. He flew to Moorsele while I went to Evère, on the east side of Brussels. I got into Evère and had just landed when I noticed it was full of Germans, so I rapidly shot off and, keeping on the deck, headed for home”[13]. Unsurprisingly, the final choice is fixed on the Moorsele aerodrome.

 

List of Claims

11h00

Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll

Bf 110 (the aircraft is seen “making a forced landing”)

Dinant

Inconclusive claim.

AIR 50/175/14

11h00

Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll

Bf 110 (the aircraft is seen “take a dive and explode in the woods”)

Dinant

Inconclusive claim [14].

AIR 50/175/14

15h00

Flying Officer Peter Collard

Hs.126 (attacked, then lost to sight)

8 km, N. Gembloux

Inconclusive claim

AIR 50/175/3

15h05

Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley

Hs.126 (the aircraft is seen “landing in a field without crashing, possibly due to a loss of the engine”)

1,5 km, N.W. Gembloux

Conclusive Claim [15]

AIR 50/175/31

15h15

Flying Officer Peter Collard

He.112 (attack interrupted due to lack of ammunition)

Wavre

Inconclusive Claim

AIR 50/175/3

15h30

Flying Officer Horace E. Horne

Hs 126 (the aircraft is seen “perform a belly landing in a field)

3 à 5 km, E. Gembloux.

Inconclusive Claim [16]

AIR 50/175/12

 

List of Losses

11h00

Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler

Hurricane P2622

POW

Air combat with Bf 109 / Bf 110. Parachute jump. Dinant.

14h00

Pilot Officer David J. Looker

Hurricane P2554

Injured

Hit by ground fire, parachute jump ; Wavre – Waterloo.


[1] 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.148.

[2] 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.283.

[3] Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll, Combat Report. The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/14 ; 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.148.

[4] 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.290.

[5] JOANNE, Serge. Le Bloch MB-152. Les éditions Lela Presse, 2003. p.225 à 226.

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

[7] 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.150.

[8] Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley, Combat Report, The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/31 ; 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.150 ; 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.206.

[9] 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.288.

[10] Peter Collard, Combat Report. The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/3 (Curiously, the Flying Officer Peter Collard is identified as P. Collins) ; 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.150 ; 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.206 et 207.

[11] 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.288.

[12] Flying Officer Horace E. Horne, Combat Report, The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/12 ; 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.150 ; 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.206.

[13] 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.151.

[14] It could be a Bf.110 C of the 2./ZG 26 (Feldwebel Kurt Friedrich and Gefreiter Willli Neuburger, killed) which crashes, around 11h10, in Sécheval. The aircraft is claimed destroyed by Adjudant Michaud GC I / 8.

[15] The aircraft could be belonging to the 4. (H) / 22 (Leutnant H. Ricke injured).

[16] Hs.126, probably from 1. (H) / 23 (Leutnant Hermann Küster and Felix Hack, killed).

14 May 1940

Plusieurs renforts arrivent au sein du No.615 (County of Surrey) lorsque la RAF décide de détacher plusieurs Flight pour renforcer les unités en France : Pilot Officer John E. Collins [1], Malcolm Ravenhill [2] and Victor B.S. Verity [3] of No.229 (RAF) Squadron (B Flight) ; and Pilot Officer Cecil R. Young [4] from No.601 (County of London) Squadron.

Once again the events of the day are most confused. According to the ORB several patrols are carried out, without further details, from the airfields of Abbeville, Vitry-en-Artois and Douai where the B Flight passes overnight.

We know some details about one of the day’s sorties, a clash between a section of Hawker Hurricane Mk I and a German bomber in the morning (around 06h00). A victory is then claimed by Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler [5]. Once again this event poses more questions than it offers an answer. Thus, no combat report is found, and it is therefore difficult to confirm or not this victory. In addition, sources diverge about the potential victim. Arnaud Gillet reports a Dornier Do.17 during a mission to defend the grounds, questioning the veracity because of lack of confirmation in the archives. For his part, Brian Cull refers to Junkers Ju.88 A-1 7A + BH of 1. (F) / 121 (Oberleutnant Heinz Spillmann, Oberfeldwebel Richard Schnegotzki, Unteroffizier Wihelm Colleseus and Walter Gers, all killed) doing a reconnaissance of the Brussels – Kortrijk – Ghent – Antwerp sector. [7] The aircraft crashes at Winkel-Sainte-Croix, north-east of Ghent, at 06h00. Finally, Peter Conrwell provided another interpretation. For him, the 1. (F) / 121 aircraft was reportedly the victim of No.504 (RAF) Squadron, while it was a Junkers Ju.88 A-1 of the 3. (F) / 123 F6 + BL which would be related to the claim of Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler. The German aircraft then reconnoitered aerodromes along the French north coast when it was intercepted by British fighters. The engine was damaged and the Junkers Ju.88 was forced to land at Aalst at 06h15 hours. Unteroffizier Willi Reissmann was killed and the rest of the crew captured (Feldwebel Friedrich Küttner and Eugen Lauterbach, Unteroffizier Erwin Maxrath) [8].


[1] John Edward Collins (n° 41830).

[2] Il a rejoint la RAF (n° 40750) en mars 1938 et rejoint le No.229 (RAF) Squadron, le 9 mars 1940. The Battle of Britain London Monument – F/O M Ravenhill : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Ravenhill.htm ; One of the Few – Flying Officer Malcom Ravenhill : http://www.oneofthefew.co.uk/pilots/mravenhill/mravenhill.php

[3] Victor Bosanquet Strachen Verity, né le 5 novembre 1919 à Timaru (Nouvelle-Zélande). Il rejoint la RAF en 1938, puis le No.229 (RAF) Squadron en novembre 1939. The Battle of Britain London Monument – P/O V B S Verity : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Verity.htm

[4] Pour plus d’information, voir : Aircrew Remembered – Cecil R. Young : http://www.aircrewremembered.com/young-cecil-reginald.html

[5] FOREMAN, John. RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims of World War Two : Part One 1939 – 1940. Walton-on-Thames : Red Kite, 2003. p.42.

[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.408.

[7] 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.117. ; ROBA, Jean-Louis. La RAF en France — 2e partie : Hurricane sur le contient — Tome 1 : du 9 septembre 1939 au 14 mai 1940. Batailles Aériennes, n°68 (Avril – Juin 2014). p. 80.

[8] 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.276.


06h00 or 06h15

Flying Officer Hedley N. Fwoler

Ju.88 A-1 7A+BH de la 1.(F)/121 or Ju.88 A-1 de la 3.(F)/123 F6+BL

Winkel-Sainte-Croix, north-east Gand or Aalst

Inconclusive claim, lack of available sources.

13 May 1940

Brian Cull reported the presence of B Flight at Merville Airfield, with a number of training sessions on Hawker Hurricane Mk I[1].

However, the A Flight remains deployed for the day on the Vitry-en-Artois field with No.607 (RAF) Squadron. At least three missions are known.

The first mission is to escort a Bristol Blenheim Mk IV, No.18 (RAF) Squadron, over the Albert Canal to check the condition of the bridges. The take-off is disrupted by the announcement of the arrival of an enemy air formation[2] or due to the Bristol Blenheim maneuvers[3] (the version varies depending on the documents consulted), and only two Hawker Hurricanes Mk I (Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll and Flight Lieutnant Leslie TW Thornley) are able to provide the escort. The mission proceeds without incident, but the Flight Lieutnant aircraft Leslie T.W. Thornley (affected wing spar) and Bristol Blenheim are damaged by ground fire. It is noteworthy that the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV L8866 (Flying Officer D.D. Rogers, Sergeant A.J. Gulliver, Leading Aircraftman D.C. Moore) of the No.18 (RAF) Squadron is damaged during a reconnaissance over the Albert Canal at around 06h45, due to ground fire[4].

According to Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll: « The Squadron waw ordered to escort a Blenheim on a low-level reconnaissance of the Albert Canal, to find out how mant bridges were still standing. A Blenheim at low level was just about as fast as a Hurricane and as he turned sharply several times, the outside aircraft were unable to keep up. Finally only myself and Flight Lieutnant Thornley (in a bullet-damaged aircraft) were left as escort, on on each side. The Blenheim pilot was very skilled as he flew under the bridges when they were intact and the escort flew over the ends. The only trouble occurred on the way back when we flew over a large German Army formation, who shot at us with everything they had. The rear gunner of the Blenheim was wounded and I was saved by the armour plate behind my seat » [5].

A second similar esocrt takes place later in the afternoon, but without any details.

Finally, in the evening several aircraft take off, alongside the No.607 (County of Durham) Squadron[6] for a patrol in the vicinity of Namur. A fight broke out with several Bf 110s, and Flying Officer Peter N. Murton-Neale (L2035) was probably shot down by Leutnant Richard Marchfelder of Stab II./ZG 1, near Courrière[7]. The unfortunate Peter N. Murton-Neale is killed. He was part of the original strength of No.615 (County of Surrey), since he was traced back to November 1937, and briefly served as Flight Commander before the arrival of James G. Sanders. He was 23 years old and is burried in the Courrière cemetery[8].


[1] 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.108.

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

[3] 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.108.

[4] 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.256 et 257.

[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.108 et 109.

[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.154.

[7] No.615 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/2123 ; 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.109 ; 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.257.

[8] Commonwealth War Graves Commission : https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/4001719/murton-neale,-peter-norman/

 

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.

11 May 1940

There is little information regarding the activity of No.615 Squadron during this day except for patrolling between Abbeville and Le Touquet. It is likely that the lack of pilot training on the Hawker Hurricane Mk I and the limited number of aircraft available helped to keep the unit out of the day’s fighting.

Claims

29/12/39

13h50

Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders

He.111 (Wekusta 26 ?)

4 miles S.W. Dover

 

Inconclusive claim

AIR 50/175/28

10/05/40

05h00

Flying Officer Levin Fredman

He.111 (LG 2). Black smoke, left engine.

Abbeville

Inconclusive claim

AIR 50/175/26

12/05/40

10h00

Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler

Bf 109 (I./JG 21, JG 27, I (J)./LG 2 ?).

Tongres

Inconclusive claim, lack of available sources.

14/05/40

06h00 or 06h15

Flying Officer Hedley N. Fwoler

Ju.88 A-1 7A+BH de la 1.(F)/121 or Ju.88 A-1 de la 3.(F)/123 F6+BL

Winkel-Sainte-Croix, north-east Gand or Aalst

Inconclusive claim, lack of available sources.

Alan Brooks

Brooks, Alan (Leading Aircraftman)

He was wounded (hand burns) during the bombardment of the Le Touquet aerodrome on the morning of 10 May 1940[1].


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

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.