14 May 1940

14 May 1940

Several reinforcements arrive in No.615 (County of Surrey) Squadron when the RAF decides to detach several Flights to reinforce the units in France. These are pilots from B Flight No.229 (RAF) Squadron : Pilot Officer John E.M. Collins [1], Malcolm Ravenhill [2] and Victor B.S. Verity [3], as well as Pilot Officer Cecil R. Young [4] from No.601 (County of London) Squadron.

A group of pilots, probably of No.615 Squadron in France. Pilot Officer Cecil R. Young (second from left). Collection Drew Davidson.

Once again the events of the day are more confused. According to the ORB, several patrols are carried out, without further details, from the aerodromes of Abbeville, Vitry-en-Artois and Douai where B Flight spends the night.

We know some details about one mission of the day, a clash between a section of Hawker Hurricane Mk I and a German bomber in the morning (around 06h00). A victory is then claimed by Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler [5].

Once again this event raises more questions than it offers an answer. Thus, there is no combat report, and it is therefore difficult to confirm or not this victory. In addition, sources differ on the potential victim. Arnaud Gillet reported a Dornier Do.17, while questioning its veracity for lack of confirmation in the archives [6]. For his part, Brian Cull refers to the Junkers Ju.88 A-1 7A + BH of 1. (F) / 121 (Oberleutnant Heinz Spillmann, Oberfeldwebel Richard Schnegotzki, Unteroffizier Wilhelm Colleseus and Walter Gers, all killed) conducting a reconnaissance of Brussels – Kortrijk – Ghent – Antwerp [7]. The plane crashed at Winkel-Sainte-Croix, north-east of Ghent, at 06h00. Finally, Peter Conrwell provides another interpretation. For him, a 1. (F) / 121 aircraft would have been the victim of No.504 (RAF) Squadron, while it is Junkers Ju.88 A-1 F6 + BL of the 3. (F) / 123 which would be related to the claim of Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler. The German aircraft carried out a reconnaissance along the French North coast, when it would have been intercepted by British fighters. Engine damaged, the Junkers Ju.88 is forced to a forced landing at Aalst, at 06h15. Unteroffizier Willi Reissmann is killed and the rest of the crew captured (Feldwebel Friedrich Küttner and Eugen Lauterbach, Unteroffizier Erwin Maxrath) [ 8].

[1] John Edward Collins (n° 41830).

[2] He joined the RAF (No. 40750) in March 1938 and joined No.229 (RAF) Squadron, on 9 March 1940. The Battle of Britain London Monument – F/O M Ravenhill : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Ravenhill.htm ; One of the Few – Flying Officer Malcom Ravenhill : http://www.oneofthefew.co.uk/pilots/mravenhill/mravenhill.php

[3] Victor Bosanquet Strachen Verity, born on 5 November 1919 in Timaru, New Zealand. He joined the RAF in 1938, then No.229 (RAF) Squadron in November 1939. The Battle of Britain London Monument – P/O V B S Verity : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Verity.htm

[4] For more informations : Aircrew Remembered – Cecil R. Young : http://www.aircrewremembered.com/young-cecil-reginald.html

[5] FOREMAN, John. RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims of World War Two : Part One 1939 – 1940. Walton-on-Thames : Red Kite, 2003. p.42.

[6] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.408.

[7] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.117. ; ROBA, Jean-Louis. La RAF en France — 2e partie : Hurricane sur le contient — Tome 1 : du 9 septembre 1939 au 14 mai 1940. Batailles Aériennes, n°68 (Avril – Juin 2014). p. 80.

[8] 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.276.

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