29 October, 2010

Day 112 - Battle of Britain

The first day of the Italian invasion of Greece, and the heavy raids by Bomber Command on the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia, drove news of domestic air fighting from the front pages. Yet significant operations were continuing. Overnight, Birmingham had been heavily bombed again, with New Street Station badly damaged.

The War Cabinet was told that a number of German vessels had been reported in the Channel making eastwards. It was, however, too early to draw the deduction that the risk of invasion had receded. Some sixty good German divisions were ready at short notice, close to the invasion ports.  So long as that situation continued, it would be essential for us to keep a number of divisions in readiness at home. Thus, the Minister of Information was invited to "inculcate the need for continued vigilance in our preparations against invasion".

As to the daylight air war, after early mist, raids had started mid-morning and carried on into the early evening. Four daylight raids on London and two on Portsmouth were recorded, the largest involving forty bombers escorted by Messerschmitt fighters. No. 602 City of Glasgow Sqn distinguished itself by shooting down eleven Me 109s in six minutes, for no loss.

Fifteen Italian BR 20s (type illustrated above), escorted by CR 42 biplanes, attacked Ramsgate. Five were damaged by anti-aircraft fire.  At dusk, RAF airfields in East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire were attacked by Ju 88s and Me 109s. Heavy night bombing of Birmingham and Coventry was recorded. London was again bombed.

On the day, Fighter Command lost ten aircraft, including two Hurricanes caught while taking off from North Weald Airfield during an attack. One pilot was killed there. But Bomber and Coastal Commands lost eight aircraft, including two Sunderland flying boats. The Germans lost twenty-four aircraft, including fifteen Me 109s.

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