Pembrey

Acting Flight Lieutenant Bob Tuck woke the next day, 24 May, to take command of the Squadron, or half a Squadron as only eight machines were serviceable that day. The pilots had got over the previous day’s losses and no one seemed to notice the empty chairs at breakfast, though they had all read the signal received from the Air Officer Commanding 11 Group:

“Congratulations to 92 Squadron on their magnificent fighting and success on the first day of war operations... The AOC sincerely hopes that the Squadron Commander and other missing pilots will turn up later as so many others have in the past fortnight.”

As they were leaving for their flight the Station Commander phoned to say he had asked for Brian Kingcome to be transferred from 65 Squadron - he thought they would get him but probably not for a few days. So Tuck chose Tony Bartley to lead the second flight.

They were airborne at five minutes past eight bound for Dunkirk again. Fuel economy was important on the Dunkirk sorties for the Spitfire 1 carried only an internal capacity of eighty-five gallons. As ‘Tich’ Havercroft recalls: 

“It had no mixture control and a two speed variable pitch propeller – either fully coarse or fully fine. This was before they were modified to infinitely variable pitch with constant speed governors. We were operating at extreme radius of action even when taking off from the coastal stations such as Hornchurch and Martlesham. Once we reached the patrol line we had about twenty minutes before it was necessary to return across the Channel. If we engaged there was no point in staying once the ammunition had been used up. The Spitfire 1 used up all its .303 ammunition in about eleven seconds. When we didn’t engage we put some remarkable advance performances for the Spitfire and its marvellous one thousand horse power Merlin. I have an entry in my logbook for 28 May 1940 of two hours twenty-five minutes (on eighty-five gallons!). My fuel gauge was reading empty for ten to fifteen minutes before I landed at Duxford. As I held off the engine expired for lack of fuel.”

On this occasion it was a wonderful day and they soon found themselves at fifteen thousand feet, above the flames, chaos and struggling men on the beaches.

Tuck instructed all the pilots to spread out and ‘open up’ the formation. This enabled the pilots to spend more time looking for the enemy instead of just formatting on the aircraft next to them. They fanned out until they were sixty to seventy yards apart. It was contrary to what they had been taught in training but they were confident in their leader. Tuck then told them to keep quiet unless they had something important to say, and then to give directions, clock code, range and height properly.

They flew up and down the coast for a while until someone spotted a formation of twenty Dornier 17s at twelve thousand feet. Behind and high above the bombers was a fighter cover of ME ll0s but Tuck knew he had to break up the DO 17s before they could start their bombing run.

As the Spitfires wheeled round to intercept the bombers they noticed a Squadron of Hurricanes diving out of the blue high above and behind the ME ll0s, so luckily they would be occupied in fighting for their own survival.

The DO 17s were flying in wide flat VICs of three. As the Spits came down on their tails they were in a gentle turn to starboard, lining up to start their bombing run. Bartley’s section, on the inside of the Spitfires curving dive, got within range before Tuck’s flight. As Bob recalls it, “Tony did a rather extraordinary thing.”

“He went down the starboard side of the stream, shooting them up one wing and I distinctly saw him leapfrog over one VIC under the next, then up over the third, and so on. He did the whole side of the formation like that and he tumbled at least one – maybe two – as flames at that single pass. It was just about the cheekiest bit of flying I’d seen. The chaps in his section tried to follow him, but they managed only one or two of the ‘jumps’. Tony made every one.”

“Tony was a real goer. In those shaky first days he was a tremendous example – he went at the job beak and claws and he was always bubbling with gaiety. I don’t think his value has ever been fully recognised.”

Tuck’s section attacked the port side of the bomber formation. Tuck himself decided on quite different but equally unorthodox tactics. He closed his throttle and lowered his flaps to act as air brakes and slow him down, so that he would be able to get in a longer burst at the targets. At his speed the flaps could have been ripped off but the aircraft just shuddered and he was thrown forward in his harness.

He stabilised himself at the same speed at four hundred yards behind the hindmost Dornier and fired into its port engine, wing root and fuselage. He kept firing until it started to break up and then rolled away out of the formation. The gunners from other Dorniers on Tuck’s right were firing at him and bullets were rattling around his feet.  He then felt a searing pain from the inside of his right thigh and broke away.

Tuck followed down the DO 17 he had hit and closed until he was underneath it at one hundred yards. Then he put two long bursts into its belly. As he broke away he saw two of the crew bale out and waited for the other two. Suddenly the whole port side burst into flame. The DO 17 turned onto its back and went down.

As Tuck rejoined the fight he noticed the formation of enemy bombers was beginning to split up. He singled out another one and hosed it from four hundred yards dead astern. The rest of the bombers were turning away to fly home but Tuck pursued his victim, checking behind every second or two to make sure he wasn’t being bounced. The Dornier dived at a steady angle. No one baled out and its speed just mounted until it hit sand dunes and exploded.

The Spitfires reformed and flew back to Hornchurch with only one of them missing. When they had landed Tuck had difficulty climbing out of the cockpit as his wounded leg was now very stiff. He saw a tear in his right trouser pocket and feeling inside fished out from his loose change a buckled penny. The coin had stopped a bullet and Tuck still carries it around to this day as a souvenir of that battle. But the pain from his thigh reminded him that another must be lodged there.

Peter Cazenove had also failed to return from his first combat mission. Peter was seen attacking a Dornier 17 and his machine was hit by a bullet from the tail gunner. He force landed his Spitfire P9374 on the beach in Calais, where it was quickly swallowed up by the sand. Now, 71 years later it has been restored and is flying once again. See link>

Havercroft had been crossing the French coast near Calais on his return to the UK when he heard a 92 Squadron Call Sign.  He continues:

“He [Cazenove] said he was forced to land on the beach north of Calais. Flying Officer Cazenove was a huge man well over six feet tall and in excess of fourteen stones in weight. At the time I was five feet two inches tall and weighed about seven stones. I located him where he had done a wheels up landing just off the sand dunes. He was still in the cockpit when he replied to my offer of assistance. I suggested I might land alongside him and pick him up. With the seat fully lowered, Cazenove sitting on the parachute and me sitting on his lap I reckoned we could make the return journey. However, he declined the offer saying he would walk to the harbour and get a lift back with the Navy. I heard later that the Navy gave him a rifle and told him to assist in the defence of Calais. He spent the rest of the war unfortunately as a prisoner.”

“A vast pall of thick black smoke going up to over twelve thousand feet streamed away from the burning oil tanks on the outskirts of Dunkirk. It was thought that the Luftwaffe were approaching the beaches behind the cover of the smoke so we flew through it from time to time to see what was on the other side.  On return my face around the oxygen mask was black with soot.”  

Back at Hornchurch the MO took Tuck to Romford General Hospital where he was told to wait his turn in the waiting room like everyone else. The MO wasn’t having this so he strode to the casualty surgeon’s door, knocked, barged in and had a quick word with him. He beckoned Tuck, who hobbled past the crowd of sniffing children and expectant mothers and in less than two minutes the surgeon had fished out a little piece of metal. It wasn’t a bullet or a piece of shrapnel but a nut from the rudder pedal; it must have been knocked off by one of the bullets rattling around his feet and then sent flying into his thigh. Tuck took it and put it in his pocket with the bent penny.

“A few inches higher my boy,“ said the surgeon, “and they’d have had to transfer you to the WAAF!”

When Tuck got back he heard that in all the Squadron had got seven DO 17s. He was also told that a new Squadron Leader was to arrive the next day to take command and that he himself was off to give the Air Ministry a firsthand account of how things were going.

On the 25th another patrol was flown at 0830 by Tuck and Havercroft who were vectored onto an Anson Trainer on a navigational exercise. When they landed they found that Brian Kingcome had arrived, so together they briefed him and waited to be scrambled.

At 1130 they were off with the same order as before ‘Offensive Patrol, Dunkirk – Calais – Boulogne’, this time with only seven aircraft.

They flew up and down at twenty thousand feet for an hour without seeing anything when Kingcome spotted a DO 17 on reconnaissance work coming out to photograph the beaches.

The Dornier turned back east, put his nose down and dashed for home but the whole Squadron raced after it. Tuck and Kingcome, almost line abreast, were leading the chase. The bomber didn’t evade and the rear gunner took shots, at first one of them, then the other.

Tuck hit the bomber first, killed the gunner then Brian had a go, then Bob had another go and bits started to fly off. They broke off their attack as they saw the remaining crew bale out.

Tuck followed, hosing lead into it, but it wouldn’t blow up - he could see his bullets passing clear through it. He drew up alongside and had a look. Between the cabin and the tail there was more daylight than fuselage. This really was a flying sieve. He heard Kingcome laughing and looking over his shoulder he saw the entire squadron strung out in echelon behind him.

 

“G’on Skip!” someone shouted, “Throw your boots at it!” He had a strong suspicion it was Havercroft.

 

He slipped back into line astern of the bomber, gave another blast from 150 yards then broke off and flew back to base. As they turned they saw a bright flash as the bomber crashed well to the north.

 

At seven o’clock that evening the Squadron was moved to Duxford to rest and re-equip. For the next few days, while the last of the evacuation craft limped back from France and the Wehrmacht moved in, 92 was out of the fight.

 

On May 27th Squadron Leader Sandy Sanders the new CO arrived and inspected what was left of the Squadron. Two of the Squadron’s new pilots, Pilot Officers Wade and Wellum, did their first solos in Spitfires. That evening, so as to get over the past events, they started a party that went on to 2:00 am. when the Adjutant forcibly closed the bar.

 

At 5:15 am on the 28th they were ordered to Martlesham Heath, ‘To rendezvous for offensive patrol’. This meant that they were to operate with another squadron and it turned out to be 222 led by Squadron Leader ‘Tubby’ Mermagen, with Flight Lieutenant Douglas Bader as a Flight Commander. Bader’s biographer, Paul Brickhill, in Reach for the Sky states that 222 were led by ‘Tubby’ Mermagen, Tuck’s biographer, Larry Forester, in Fly for your Life states that they operated as a wing led by Bob Tuck. One point they do agree on is that ‘the whole show was a wash out, and they paraded up and down the French coast for a hundred and twenty humiliating minutes, encountering not a single German’.

 

On the following day the pilots kept their hand in with some practise ‘Dog-Fights’ and some spent some time working out the best means of evasion and attack. In the evening the following message was received:

 

“His Majesty the King, on the recommendation of the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Fighter Command, has been graciously pleased to make the following award. Distinguished Flying Cross to Acting Flight Lieutenant R.R.S. Tuck No 92 Squadron. The Air Officer Commanding No 11 Group desires his heartiest congratulations conveyed to the above named personnel.”

 

On the 30th the new pilots Pilot Officers Stewart, Wellum and Wade, and the CO, continued their training, and little other flying was carried out. At dusk the Squadron was ordered to disperse to a nearby field. Safe landings were made and the ground crew and pilots slept the night in a nearby hayloft.

 

Soon after dawn they moved back to Duxford. It was a hot and sultry day and most of the aircraft were unserviceable so very little flying was done.  However, ‘A’ Flight flew up to Coltishall to ‘Guard the sector’.

 

On the 1st June, the Squadron received an Intelligence Officer by the name of Pilot Officer Tom Weize, the only Norwegian in the Royal Air Force. ‘A’ Flight at Coltishall were scrambled to intercept a false raid and made no encounter with the enemy.

On the 2nd, 92 were ordered to Martlesham Heath again and soon after 7:00 am the Wing of Spitfires flew to the Calais area and spotted eight Heinkel III’s. They had an escort of about twenty-five ME 109s but they were a long way behind the Heinkels. The Squadron was able to get in a quick beam attack on the Heinkels and break them up on the first pass.

 

Bob Holland, flying as Tuck’s wingman, suddenly yelled, “Watch it – 109s above you!” just as Tuck was shooting down a Heinkel. He broke off the attack and saw six ME 109s ‘dropping in’ on him. In the process, one of them passed straight in front of Holland who shot its tail off.

 

At the end of the day 92 had shot down fourteen enemy bombers and four fighters without loss, and the first ‘big formation’ led by twenty-three year old Bob Tuck had been an outstanding success. 92 now had over fifty enemy machines to its credit but nearly all their own machines were damaged. The Squadron was ordered to remain at Northolt to re-equip.

 

This was the end of the first round. In the nine days since 26th May the Royal Air Force had destroyed three hundred and seventy-seven enemy aircraft for the loss of eighty-seven. A ratio of four and one third to one or, since the majority of the enemy aircraft had multiple crews, about nine dead or captured Germans for every British fighter pilot who did not return.

 

For the next week 92 remained at Northolt on operational readiness but there were no scrambles. The weather was wonderful every day and the pilots lounged by their aircraft in the sun.

 

On June 9th the Squadron was posted to Hornchurch where 54, 65 and 74 Squadrons were already based. They continued to bask in the flaming June sun until 16th when the CO, Tuck, Holland and Allan Wright were sent on a reconnaissance patrol over the sector of Abbeville, Amiens, Doullens.

 

Each Spitfire had now been fitted with armour plating and as they flew low over German occupied France it was most comforting to know that there was a large sheet of British steel behind the seat. It was late in the evening and dusk was approaching when they were flying near Doulon. Bob Holland spotted streaks of flak being sent up at them and had just called out when Tuck was hit. About two feet of his starboard wing tip was shot off. The Spitfire continued to fly but the formation was split up. The CO and Wright continued their recce patrol separately while Tuck and Holland set course for home.

 

They were flying at about thirty feet when a gun in a barn on a ridge ahead opened up at them. Tuck opened fire in reply and Holland saw the uniformed gunners fall and the interior of the barn start to glow, probably the hay catching alight.

 

A little later they spotted a convoy and pulled up to three hundred feet for a dive on it. Side by side they straffed the whole length of it and saw trucks swerving into the ditch spilling out soldiers. They then flew back to Hornchurch having been air borne for over two hours.

 

Their mission had been something of an experiment because attacks by low flying Spitfires on enemy ground targets wasn’t part of the Air Ministry policy. Limited low level reconnaissance was permitted, however, and the Station Commander, Bouchier, had taken advantage of this loop hole to send some fighters over. It was a very successful experiment and the CO and Wright had returned with much information regarding French Aerodromes now in enemy hands.

 

Two days later they were ordered to move to Pembrey in South Wales. They were furious for it was like being taken out of the front line in disgrace. After all, they had already proved that they were a first class Squadron.

 

The Germans were just beginning their first large scale raids on Britain by night. Several aerodromes in the South were attacked and many people up and down the east coast had been killed. Churchill had said, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds”, but 92 weren’t being allowed to fight in the air.

 

The evenings were often spent at the Stepney Hotel in nearby Llanelly where the landlord had the unlikely name of William Maloney. (This name amused the pilots on 92 as most of them had started flying before the war when the ‘Maloney Boys’ were that mythical band of pixies who were blamed for all small accidents from engine failures to wheels-up landings. These mythical creatures were the predecessors of the wartime ‘Gremlins’ which were made well known by the press and radio comedians.) Maloney promised them a free bottle of champagne for every Hun they shot down and the pilots didn’t expect to see much of either whilst stuck in Wales.

 

Within a few days they realised that the move to Carmarthenshire had got some purpose. There were several recce machines and odd bombers trying to sneak into the busy ports of Cardiff and Swansea. Along the coast of the neutral Irish Republic there were some long range bombers and flying boats to be found. Their job was probably to find quiet places to drop spies who would then make their way via Ulster to England.

On several occasions the ground controller vectored them onto targets only a mile or two from Dublin, Wicklow or Tranmore. The Irish guns sometimes fired a half-hearted inaccurate shot at the Squadron but the only man who lost his temper was an Irishman, himself from County Cork. At the moment when the flak puffs appeared over a mile away he could even see his Aunt’s house near Rosslare. Then he was heard to shout:

 

“Holy Mother! Now is that the best yez can do? Are yez out to shame us or what?”

 

The station at Pembrey was very poorly equipped when the Squadron arrived; there was no operations headquarters or Station Intelligence but the weather was superb and the Squadron settled down quite quickly. Tich Havercroft recalls what life was like.

 

“92 had lost five pilots (one killed and four prisoners) in the five days at Dunkirk and time was needed to receive the replacement aircraft and train the new arrivals. At Pembrey, we were under the control of 13 Group. Unfortunately we were far from the rising scale of activity along the south coast but Pembrey was ideal in the warm summer weather for training and other pleasant pursuits after duty hours. The beaches and pubs and local talent were ours to exploit.  Nevertheless we maintained the normal readiness state (one section on immediate readiness at dispersal, one section at fifteen minutes, one section at thirty minutes and one released). 

 

13 Group was at Filton near Bristol and land-line communication was tenuous. R/T contact, even from over base, was rarely possible. VHF had not yet been introduced and the TR9 HF sets could rarely receive at more than forty miles distance. The result was that we had to resort to standing patrols along the South Wales coast if we were to be of any use in backing up the 13 Group Squadrons on the south coast, that is, west of about Southampton. We spent many hours going up and down the Bristol Channel without being called upon the assist. Bob Tuck used to smoke in the cockpit, occasionally throwing back the hood to let out the fug. Sometimes he would put us into line astern and we’d practice tail chasing and barrel rolls in line astern.

 

There were a couple of minor accidents when one aircraft was taxied into a starter trolley and the propeller was broken, and Pilot Officers Wright and Williams had to force land the magister trainer and damaged the left wing. The Squadron also obtained a Hampden for practise flying.

 

On the 25th Flight Lieutenant Tuck flew to Hornchurch to receive his DFC from His Majesty the King and although the rest of the Squadron had to stay at Pembrey, all their congratulations and best wishes went with him.

 

Just five minutes before the monarch’s car arrived, and with the whole parade drawn up in perfect order, someone noticed that Tuck hadn’t sewn a little hook on his tunic on which the cross could be hung.

 

He sprinted off to the Orderly Room, where the staff were working as usual and explained his predicament. A WAAF typist scurried to the washroom and reappeared, blushing, with a small hook snipped from her undies. It wasn’t the recommended size or colour, but it would serve. Someone found a needle and thread, but the little WAAF’s hands shook so much with excitement that the job took all of three minutes. He got back on parade, breathless and perspiring, just as the Royal car swung onto the tarmac.

 

One by one the pilots flew their aircraft back to Hornchurch for a day to have the new Constant Speed propellers fitted. For the remainder of the Squadron there was nothing to do but wait in the sun for the scramble telephone to ring.

 

It rang on the afternoon of July 4th and “Yellow” section, consisting of Pilot Officers Edwards and Saunders and Sergeant Fokes, shot down a Heinkel III in the area of Weston. Edwards and Fokes landed beside the crashed German aircraft and took the pilot, who was wounded in the foot, prisoner. The other three of the German crew were killed in the crash. They set off to find someone to take care of their prisoner; meanwhile Saunders was firing at another HE III which crashed into the sea.

 

Tony Bartley was sent up after an enemy raider at 2300 hours but found nothing.  That same evening John Bryson returned from Hornchurch but was immediately placed under open arrest for having ‘Beat-up’ a Dutch camp on his way to Hornchurch.

 

On the following day Eddie Edwards returned from the aerodrome at Filton with several souvenirs and trophies from the Heinkel. “Red” section chased a HE III down the coast in the afternoon but he sneaked away. On the way back, while showing off his slow roll, Tony Bartley’s engine stopped and he had to force land. Unfortunately his choice of field turned out to be a bog and that evening the aircraft was still sinking slowly.

 

At this stage the different stages of air raid warning were used. A Yellow warning meant that an attack was probable within the next hour or so and a Red warning meant an attack was likely any minute. There were Yellow warnings every other day but seldom any Red. A section was usually scrambled when a Yellow warning took place but often no enemy aircraft were seen. When the Squadron only sent up one or two sections of aircraft at a time, a section consisting of three aircraft, they were usually given the name Red or Yellow section. This was nothing to do with the types of Air Raid warning but the colours referred to the Squadron colours which are red and yellow. If more than two sections were scrambled at once this presented a problem but the ground crew slang for the Squadron Number ‘Ninety Blue’ solved that one.

 

On July 8th Tuck was leading ‘Blue’ section with Bobbie Holland and Titch Havercroft when they were vectored onto a single Dornier 17 on reconnaissance south of Bristol. Tuck and Holland opened up from five hundred yards and saw their fire striking home on the wings and fuselage but it got away in cloud. On returning to Pembrey they were cursing the .303 ammunition which seemed so ineffective, and claimed they would never get to drink Maloney’s bubbly unless they were given the new 20 mm cannon. In fact the DO 17 crashed just south of Bristol but their point had been made.

 

Pilot Officer Saunders, one of the new replacements, contacted a Junkers 88 over Bristol on the 17th. He used up all his ammunition seventeen seconds worth, but although he hit it many times it got away.

 

John Bryson was up in front of the AOC the next day, in connection with his low flying at the Dutch camp and was lucky to receive only a reprimand.

 

‘Red’ section was scrambled early on the 24th to intercept an enemy raider over Porthcawl. Led by Brian Kingcome, John Bryson and a new arrival Flying Officer Paterson encountered a JU 88. They chased it all the way to Ilfracombe on the north Devon coast firing at it alternately. One German baled out at a height of fifty feet and was killed.  The burning machine crashed, injuring one of the crew.

 

At around this time a couple of aircraft were written off while landing. Sergeant Fokes overshot the flare path while bringing his aircraft into land one night and Sergeant Barraclough crashed also whilst landing at night due to a tyre, which unnoticed must have burst on takeoff.

 

The ‘Red’ warnings were now becoming more and more frequent and nearly always occurred between 23:30 and half past midnight. On one such raid, which hit Kidwelly brickworks just next to Pembrey, a section of three went up. Night interception and gun attacks against unlit targets were still an unproven skill. ‘Sailor’ Malan was the only person so far who had any claims at night, and the Squadron usually found nothing to report. On this particular night Pilot Officer Wade’s radio failed just after takeoff. Without being able to use this aid for direction finding he got lost and flew up and down searching for the coast. The total blackout defeated him and after several hours he was forced to bale out over Exeter.  He got down safely but his machine was lost.

 

After dark one rainy evening Flight Lieutenant Tuck stalked a lone JU 88 for nearly half an hour. The enemy pilot knew he was being hunted and stuck to the cloud as far as possible. At one point he came into a clear patch and Tuck was able to get a quick burst as the enemy bomber was lit up by the moonlight.

 

There was only time for one quick squirt from about 1,000 yards but as he broke he thought he saw the bombs fall from the aircraft’s belly. He knew he couldn’t have done much damage from that range but at least he had made it jettison its bombs – probably intended for Cardiff or Swansea, he was getting very low on fuel so he returned to Pembrey.

 

The following day he heard that, by some unlucky blow of fate, his sister’s husband John, a private in the Queen’s Westminster’s, had been killed. The odds against it were a million to one but the astounding fact was that of all the millions of people in Britain, those bombs that he had prevented failing on a major city, had killed his own brother-in-law.

 

About this time the wonderful news reached the Squadron that Roger Bushell, the first CO, was a prisoner of war, unwounded.  And – typical of the man! – somehow he’d managed to have a report of his May 23rd combat, in his own hand writing, smuggled through underground channels in occupied Europe back to London!  Air Ministry sent the Squadron a copy of this:

 

“I was shot down by Messerschmitt 110s but managed to get two of them first. As soon as the battle started about four or five of the Messerschmitts fell on me and  Boy! did I start dodging. My first I got with a full deflection shot underneath. He went down in a long glide with his port engine pouring smoke. I went into a spin as two others were firing at me from my aft quarter. I only did one turn of the spin and pulled out left and up. I then saw a Messerschmitt below me, and trying to fire up at me, so I went head-on at him and he came head-on at me. We were both firing and everything was red flashes. I know I killed the pilot, because suddenly he pulled right up at me and missed me by inches. I went over the top of him and as I turned I saw him rear right up in a stall and go down with his engine smoking. I hadn’t got long to watch, but he was out of control and half on his back. My engine was badly shot up and caught fire. My machine was pouring glycol. I don’t quite know what happened, but I turned things off and was out of control for a while but got straight at about 5,000 feet.”

 

“I shut everything off and the fire went out and I glided down. I landed just to the east of Boulogne and, of course, imagined I had come down in a friendly territory. The machine was blazing but I had a look at it and could see some pretty hefty holes.”

 

“I sat by my machine and when a motor bike came down the road I thought it was French. It wasn’t, and there was nothing to be done about it. There after I had a long journey here. This is an Air Force Camp, where we are treated very well indeed.”

 

The old gang that Roger had led into battle for the first time, Tuck, Bartley, Havercroft, Howard-Hill, Holland, Wright, Roy Mottram, Johnie Bryson and Eddie Edwards, held a terrific party that night at the Stepney. Even Maloney was pleased and thought it worth a bottle of champagne.

 

From the middle of July the Luftwaffe had been stepping up their attacks against shipping in the Channel. Few people realised that Hitler would soon concentrate his attacks on the airfields and then the towns and cities, and that Britain was perhaps entering the most important chapter in her history. Only a few stood to protect the island from Nazi occupation, and in an even fight they were hopelessly outnumbered.

  

On July 26th six Hurricanes of No 43 Squadron, led by Caesar Hull, took on a horde of forty DO 17s escorted by forty Messerschmitts. They shot down five, possibly more and broke up the entire bomber formation without loss. Throughout Fighter Command morale rocketed except on 92. They were still kept in Wales chasing only elusive recce machines that usually managed to get away in the light summer clouds over Wales. It was not until after the 12th August when Hitler sent about two hundred bombers in eleven waves against Dover, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight that 92 were brought back into the fight, and ordered to patrol over the Channel and Southern Counties. From then on they were in the thick of the greatest air battle in history which was to become known as The Battle of Britain.

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