On this day: Adlertag (Eagle Day) saw the German Luftwaffe fly 1,786 sorties, especially against RAF bases, preparing for the planned invasion of Britain. The Germans lost 75 aircraft, the RAF, 32. The British had cracked the Enigma code, in which German operational plans were transmitted, which proved of vital assistance to Britain and the pilots, famously named by Churchill, in the House of Commons on 20th August, as 'The Few'.
Also on this day: Helle, a Greek cruiser, was torpedoed and sunk by an Italian submarine.
|Croydon Aerodrome location from 1930s 'The Air Pilot'. (Click to enlarge.)|
Blog reader Fred Brewer was a teenager living in the same area and has sent these notes... Uncle Fred mentions the attack on Croydon, on 15th August 1940. I remember this well, and stood in the doorway of Meredith's shop (505 Kingston Road, newsagent and general stores). The ensuing air battle was quite visible from that distance, because it took place very high up, and could be followed by the vapour trails, which criss-crossed the sky. According to The Luftwaffe War Diaries, compiled by Cajus Bekker, first printed in German in 1964, and in English in 1966, Group 210, under Captain Walter Rubensdorffer were headed for Kenley and Biggin Hill airfields. The group split into two, with a number of Dornier 17s bound for Biggin Hill, and 15 Me110s and 9 Me109s headed for Kenley, the important Group 11 field. The Captain decided to perplex the defence, by taking a wide loop to the north, and then attacking Kenley from the south. Unexpectedly, they found themselves over the southern counties, and moved in for the attack. Captain Rubensdorffer had made a serious navigational error. The Dorniers attacked West Malling, and the Messerschmitts were over Croydon. The RAF gave their loses as 34, and the Germans admittted to 55, and dubbed it Black Thursday. Captain Rubensdorffer also failed to return.
Also see BBC material on Battle of Britain at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/battle_of_britain