But for the following few days the natural enemy of both sides, the weather, was to delay any major assault on Britain until August 13th, but even then, no commencement could be made until midday when the weather cleared enough. It was not until August 15th that any major attack could be made, and Goering send across the Channel the concentrated numbers of bombers and fighters that he wanted to open what was to be known as "Adler Tag" Eagle Day.
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The quiet of the last few days helped both Dowding and Keith Park as well as the pilots, it enabled the necessary repairs to be made to the many damaged aircraft sustained during the months of June and July. The aircrew enjoyed a more relaxed and enjoyable period of peace and tranquility, no doubt either in the mess or down at the 'local'. Park told Dowding " A saying that Park often used. Across the Channel, the story was very much the same, as the German pilots rested and relished the quiet, almost balmy situation that precede the orders that were soon to come through from Luftwaffe HQ.
Close to the Normandy coast, the Luftwaffe No.
During the previous month we had all been engaged in heavy combat, but by the end of the month all operational missions became few and far between, many squadrons were only going out on spasmodic attacks. We enjoyed the comfort and relaxation of that first week of August, we almost behaved as if there was no war on, although many were asking the question Many trucks were seen arriving at the base and we could only assume that they were bringing in fresh supplies of fuel and ammunition, everyone seemed to know that the planned invasion of England was near.
When we were given orders to stand down for 24 hours, we then knew that it must be the next day that the invasion was to start". Everyone, from Hitler down to the Luftwaffe aircrew had their own opinion as to how long it would take to knock out the British and how soon it would be before we could see contingents of German personnel walking the country lanes of the English countryside. Germany had a swift and easy victory in France and it was felt that they would have a similar ambition and success in Britain.
Goering spoke with his Chief of Air Staff Hans Jeschonnek, a forty-two years old who had a sarcastic and facetious attitude that infuriated Generals and officers alike in the Luftwaffe. Jeschonnek was confident of a victory against England and Goering asked him if in his opinion that all out attacks on Britain would be successful and how long he thought it would take to achieve victory. Jeschonnek replied that with the Luftwaffe proven air superiority, the immense strength of the German Panzer Divisions and the combined strength of the German armies that the he though that the air attacks would be successful and that it would only be a matter of about six or seven weeks to complete the invasion.
Goering knew and understood the British, he knew of their courage and determination and he knew only too well that their strategy must not be underestimated. He replied to Jeschonnek that he very much doubted that they would be walking on English soil with six weeks. Had Adolph Hitler devoted more time and interest into the intended invasion of Britain, it outcome may have had different consequences. Instead Hitler seemed more intent on what was going on in Eastern Europe.
Other than his maniacal ideas on driving out all Jews from the face of the earth, he was afraid that communism would take over and destroy him and his power. In reality it was left to Herman Goering and other Luftwaffe Generals to figure out a way in which Britain could be invaded. But Goering was not a strategic genius, he had ideas, he laid down plans, and even his major plans was discarded as being strategically impossible by Hitler. When Hitler finally issued his Directive No. The problem was the Channel, a large expanse of water that separated the French coast from England.
It was at its narrowest at the Straights of Dover, just 21 miles across, but as one went westwards the Channel got wider and wider. The task was easier on the European mainland when Germany could use the might of their Panzer Divisions backed up by Luftwaffe aerial attacks and the hundreds of German Infantry Divisions that could march into such countries as Poland, Belgium and France.
This method of invasion could not be used against Britain. The idea of using thousands of landing craft with Luftwaffe protection could also not be used as Britain had a powerful navy and as up till now the Germans had realized the RAF were not to be taken lightly. The possibility of using paratroopers although it had merit because one of the plans was a mass paratroop landing all across southern England and into the midlands, but the large aircraft needed to take the paratroopers across would have been slow and cumbersome and the fighters of Fighter Command would be able to pick them off like flies, Germany could ill afford to do that as each German troop carrier shot down would have cost at least a hundred military personnel that would have been on board.
Germany, must, before any thought be given to any planned invasion of England get control of the skies, they must reduce the RAF to shreds. They had tried it up until the July of but had not succeeded, now after a few weeks of only spasmodic attacks with the Luftwaffe almost in relaxed holiday mood, Germany had managed to rest and refresh its aircrew and at the same time build up its strength of airpower. Germany's intention now was to repeat the combat missions as they had done previously, but this time they would do it with advanced numbers and attack much harder than before.
The Battle of Britain - / August 1st - August 10th
We still did not want to engage in aerial combat over English soil because that would mean a shorter stay in actual combat, and we had to make sure that we had enough fuel to get back to our bases. By engaging combat in mid channel it meant that we could dogfight for more than twice the time and not only was it only a short distance back to base, but if we ditched, our rescue would be guaranteed. If we attacked in large numbers, then we know that the RAF would detect this and we would draw greater numbers of fighters from their bases, then we would bring in a second wave that would give us an absolute advantage.
Adolph Galland speaking on the onslaught of the August attacks. So, was Keith Park correct when he said " Little did he know that this time he was to be proved correct. The lull of the last few days was not to happen for a long while to come, but like the Luftwaffe the pilots and aircrew had been rested and aircraft production had been increased and Park had now many planes at his disposal. Soon, on this day August 8th , the first day of the second phase of the battle, seven squadrons from 11 Group and two from 10 Group would be engaged in fierce combat that would prove costly to the RAF, said by many as the first day of the 'real Battle of Britain'.
On August 7th Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring had earlier called a top level meeting at his headquarters. But any plans for an attack on British airfields on August 8th were thrown out of the window. One of the reasons for a period of lull in the last few weeks was because of the lack of British shipping in the Channel. But the 8th of August saw a huge British shipping convoy of about 25 merchant ships with armed Royal Navy escort being detected coming through the Straits of Dover and heading westwards towards the Atlantic Ocean.
This was to be the first time for two weeks that a merchant convoy was going to attempt passage through the English Channel. The convoy had assembled at Southend the previous evening ready to pass through the Dover Straits during the hours of darkness en route for Swanage in Dorset.
But the German radar Freya had picked them up, and it was a gift that was not to be missed. German torpedo boats attacked first in the half light of dawn, then out went the order to the 8th Flying Corps at Abbeville to send out all available Ju87 Stuka dive-bombers and the fighters based at the Luftwaffe 27 Group at Carquebut and Crepon and all aircraft to set course for the British convoy CW9 codenamed "Peewit" by the RAF. In all, some Ju87's and Bfs took to the air and planned to attack the convoy during the early morning.
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The British sailors who died this day were the victims of two aspects of stupidity. Secondly, the Admiralty, in spite of endless evidence, refused to allow for the fact that the Germans might have excellent radar. Fighter Command of the RAF could see what was happening through the 'eyes of the defence system' the radar. On the large table that lay before them, Dowding and Park could see that something was 'brewing', the number that the girl in WAAF uniform placed a large number next to the position in the channel off the French coast.
It was a larger number than usual, "I wonder what the bastards are up to" came the remark, "Alert Kenley and Biggin" said Park with enthusiastic authority "we need at least four or five squadrons at least". So the nerve centre at Fighter Command became the height of activity and under the circumstances we shall disturb them no further. The torpedo boats had sank three ships and damaged another three before full light of the morning.
The RAF managed to meet the Luftwaffe onslaught before they reached the convoy, and the ensuing dogfight cost the RAF four Spitfires with all pilots killed except one who managed to bale out, two others were damaged and were forced to return to base while another is reported to have crash landed on the Kent coast. The German losses were only one Bf shot down and its pilot failing to bail out, four others tried to make it back to base but crash landed in Northern France while another did manage to get back to its base but with considerable damage.
Only one ship received damage by one of the Ju87 Stukas that managed to get through, but with the onset of low cloud and the defences of the Royal Navy and the Spitfires that circled above the 70, ton convoy "Peewit" continued its journey.
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Further down the coast, the convoy ran into better weather, the low cloud had dispersed and the waters of the Channel were bathed in brilliant sunshine. The order went out to attack, and the Ju87's caused severe damage to the large convoy. By the time that the RAF fighters arrived, the Stukas were low on fuel and ammunition and had to return to their bases, but in the ensuing dogfight that followed between the Bf's and the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF was intense. We climbed to 16, feet, and looking down, saw a large formation of Ju 87s approaching from the South with Me S stepped up behind to 20, feet.
We approached unobserved out of the sun and went in to attack the rear Ju 87s before the enemy fighters could interfere. I gave a five-second burst to one bomber and broke off to engage two Me s. There was a dog-fight. The enemy fighters, which were painted silver, were half rolling, diving and zooming in climbing turns. I fired two five-second bursts at one and saw it dive into the sea. Then I followed another up in a zoom and got him as he stalled. Many of the pilots that took to the skies that day could only be classed as 'green', once upon a time it took at least six months to train a fighter pilot, in these hard fought days when Dowding needed every pilot and aircraft that he could lay his hands on, a pilot training period was just four weeks.
Many missed out on essential training in navigation, hence after many a dogfight they became so disorientated that they didn't know which way was the way home. Others had no proper training as to take off's and landings and were ridiculed by the more experienced pilots.
This was typical of Squadron based at Middle Wallop who were scrambled to intercept the "Peewit" mission, the Squadron was formed so quickly and with much haste that the pilots had never even flown a training flight together and this was to be their inauguration into fighter combat, that's being thrown in at the deep end for sure.
What happened was that as soon as the German formation was spotted over the Channel, they immediately opened fire and dashed in guns blazing, yet the enemy was still three quarters of a mile away. The waters of the Channel were fast coming towards me, I knew that the situation was hopeless. I managed to throw back the cockpit hood and took all the necessary precautions for a crash landing in the water. It was my good fortune that I was approaching the water at an angle so as to make a belly landing, had I been diving straight down, it would have not been possible to survive.
I prepared myself for the impact, then suddenly I was pushed forwards and my arms cushioned the impact as a wall of white water engulfed my and the icy waters seemed to cut me in half. I jumped from the aircraft almost before it had come to a standstill, and within one minute the tail of the aircraft rose dramatically and the Bf slid head first to the bottom.
By the time I was hit, I estimated my position at about thirty miles to the north west of Cherbourg, so I fumbled for the fluorescine marker dye that would disperse a yellow green dye around me making it easy to see for our rescue craft. Hauptmann Werner Andres No. But by this time at about hrs , more than 89 Ju87 Stukas had arrived on the scene that were escorted by 70 Bf's and Me's to destroy "Peewit".
Goering was now true to his word, he would be sending aircraft in vast numbers to attack, and to draw out the RAF. With some aircraft of Squadron returning to base to refuel and rearm, they were again scrambled along with 43 squadron Tangmere Hurricanes and headed to the south of the Isle of Wight to engage the reassembled Stukas and fighters.
Although the RAF had sent out more aircraft than usual, they had not put into the air the amount of aircraft that Goering had expected, in fact for every two German planes, there was only one RAF fighter. For the Merchant Navy, it was a disastrous result, as the Spitfires and Hurricanes were forced to dogfight with the Bf's, only the occasional one managing to make an attack on a Stuka. Therefore, the Ju87's constantly bombarded the convoy almost at will.
Debris from the convoy scattered the Channel for miles, burnt out hulks of the merchantmen bellowing palls of thick black smoke that could be seen for miles. Further explosions came from the ships as they were left to die where they were, life jackets bobbed up and down in the chilly waters and many men, clinging to pieces of debris, life jackets and life rafts tried desperately to avoid the many slicks of burning oil that lay on the surface.
The RAF had lost 13 Hurricanes in defending "Peewit", five others suffered damage including one that was to make a forced landing. Only one Spitfire was destroyed while two others sustained damage.
Convoy Peewit : August 8, 1940 : the first day of the Battle of Britain?
But the action saw 13 RAF pilots killed with three sustaining severe injuries. The Luftwaffe fared no better, they too had a high attrition rate. They lost a total of 8 Bf's, one Bf, and 7 Ju87 Stukas although two s, five s, and eleven Ju87's sustained damage many of them being past repair and they became spare parts for the Luftwaffe. But it was the convoy Peewit that had suffered most. Of the 23 ships that had commenced the journey the previous night, only four had managed to limp into either Poole and Portsmouth harbours without damage.
It was a costly business for both sides in the "Peewit" battle, especially as it was an unplanned battle, it was really just that "Peewit" was a target of opportunity that the Luftwaffe could not resist and that Fighter Command were obligated to respond. Thursday August 1st - Saturday August 10th John Ray Dowding and Headquarters Fighter Command Airlife Publishing p The outline of the air attack against England was given by Goering as early as July 21st, when Hitler had placed all his confidence in the Reichmarschall in the destruction of the RAF prior to the invasion at a date yet to be fixed.
Shot down by gunfire from Hs and crashed into Channel hrs. Shot down on bomber escort by ground fire hrs. Similar to the previous day, fine in the north and west but low cloud persisting over the Channel with rain and mist in the Thames Estuary and Dover areas. It was a very quiet day for both sides. Aircraft destroyed Sgt J. Fine, with light high cloud and much warmer. Aircraft lost Sgt L. Presumed shot down by Bf over Channel. This day was almost a repeat performance of the previous day. The weather was of strong winds, and fairly heavy low cloud that even the Luftwaffe decided to stay at home.
Crashed and exploded during night flying exercise The quiet of the last few days was an uncanny quiet. Cloudy in the morning with the possibility of showers in the south-east. Cloudy inland but remaining dry. Cloud cover should break up during the afternoon.
Visibility good with cloudy periods with bright intervals in the west. When we were given orders to stand down for 24 hours, we then knew that it must be the next day that the invasion was to start" Hans Joachim Jabs No. Their morale is expected to deteriorate in consequence" Reich Marshal Herman Goering Goering spoke with his Chief of Air Staff Hans Jeschonnek, a forty-two years old who had a sarcastic and facetious attitude that infuriated Generals and officers alike in the Luftwaffe. An Englishman is like a wounded bull, he is most dangerous when he is injured" Reich Marshal Herman Goering to Luftwaffe Chief of Staff Hans Jeschonnek Had Adolph Hitler devoted more time and interest into the intended invasion of Britain, it outcome may have had different consequences.
A Peel Squadron Westhampnett describing the action off the Isle of Wight Many of the pilots that took to the skies that day could only be classed as 'green', once upon a time it took at least six months to train a fighter pilot, in these hard fought days when Dowding needed every pilot and aircraft that he could lay his hands on, a pilot training period was just four weeks. Sth of Isle of Wight.
Last seen in combat with Bf's, failed to return to base hrs. Crashed in Channel Sgt E. Last seen in combat with Ju87's and Me's, failed to return to base hrs. Aircraft destroyed Sgt D.
Hit by gunfire from Bf and crashed in flames near airfield hrs. Shot down by Bf and crashed in flames hrs. All killed after pilot avoided town and crashed into sea hrs. Presumed crashed into Channel Sgt K. Failed to return to base after action over Channel protecting convoy CW9 hrs. Hit by gunfire from Bf, crashed into sea hrs.
Kennard-Davies Died of Injuries. Hit by enemy gunfire, baled out but sustained serious burns hrs. The E-mail Address es you entered is are not in a valid format. Please re-enter recipient e-mail address es. You may send this item to up to five recipients. The name field is required. Please enter your name. The E-mail message field is required. Please enter the message. Please verify that you are not a robot. Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item.
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