11 June 1940

11 June 1940

Nine Hawker Hurricanes take off from Kenley at 13h30 for an offensive patrol over the Fécamp – Le Tréport sector with the No.111 (RAF) Squadron [1]. A German formation was encountered shortly after and during the ensuing fight, Flying Officer Anthony Eyre claimed two Bf.109, one of which was probable, about 8 km north-west of Le Havre [2]. During the confrontation, one of the pilots seems to have separated as he landed at Kenley, unlike the others who land on Manston.

According to the combat report of Flying Officer Anthony Eyre:

« I participate in a patrol with eleven aircraft from the No.111 (RAF) Squadron and eight from our squadron over the French coast (between Dieppe and Le Havre). I fly in position of n ° 2 on the right of the formation. We are flying at approximately 4 800 – 5 500 meters above sea level when we see what appear to be enemy aircraft. Our formation is quickly dispersed when the fight begins, and I find myself alone. I see, then, to the south (about 6,700 meters) the Bf 109 below me. I immediately dive on the first and shoot a burst at around 6 000 meters. When he realizes the attack, he dives and sharply turns which allows me to touch him three more times. I then see two other Hurricanes who engage him at about 3 000 meters, while he continues to dive towards the ground. I see, then, another Bf 109 on my left and I immediately engage it. He, too, dives after my attack »[3].

As usual, it is difficult to determine the exact opponent due to the lack of more precise documentation. However, Peter D. Cornwell [4] reports a confrontation between aircrafts of No.111 (RAF) Squadron against a formation of the Luftwaffe composed of Dornier Do.17M of KG 28 and Bf 109 of 2 / JG 3 in the Le Havre sector around 14h15. Two Bf 109 E-1 of 2./JG 3 were badly damaged, while a third crashed between Berneval-le-Grand and Belleville-sur-Mer (Unteroffizier Lutz Uth killed). In view of the report of Flight Lieutnant Anthony Eyre, one can legitimately think that the pilots of No.615 Squadron faced the same opponent.

A second patrol is carried out, from Manston, above Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, at 20h00. There are no events to report, even if one of the Hurricanes must return to Manston prematurely at 20h20. The other pilots returned to Kenley at 21h15[5]. The flight time is 03h00 for the whole day.

Pilots and Aircrafts : Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll (P2871) ; Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo (P2963) ; Flying Officer John R.H. Gayner (P2768) ; Flight Lieutenant Lionel M. Gaunce (P2966) ; Pilot Officer Cecil R. Montgomery (L1584) ; Pilot Officer Keith T. Lofts (P3487) ; Pilot Officer Ralph Roberts (L1983) ; Flying Officer Herbert S. Giddings (P2801) ; Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (P2793).

Claims : Flying Officer Anthony Eyre, two Bf 109 including one likely (2./JG 3?) northwest of Le Havre around 14h30.

[1] No.11 (Fighter) Group ORB. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 25/193.

[2] Note that the ORB of No.615 Squadron mentions a destroyed Bf 109 (inconclusive), as well as a second Bf 109 and a Ju.87 probably damaged. For his part, John Foreman mentions the claim for a destroyed Bf 109 and a damaged Bf 110 (FOREMAN, John. RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims of World War Two: Part One 1939 – 1940. Walton-on-Thames: Red Kite, 2003, p.86). Its combat report (AIR AIR 50/175/6) mentions the claim of two Bf.109.

[3] Combat Reports. Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (11/06/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/6.

[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.459.

[5] No.11 (Fighter) Group ORB. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 25/193.

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