18 July 1940

18 July 1940

Twelve Hawker Hurricane [1] take off in the direction of Hawkinge to escort, together with twelve others from No.111 (RAF) Squadron [2], eighteen Bristol Blenheim charged with bombing the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer between 18:20 and 19:25.

According to Brian Cull :

« At 19:30, nine more 2 Group Blenheim escorted by 20 fighters attacked Boulogne under cover of low clouds, five being claimed by flak, as was a Spitfire (according to German records). A Bf 109 of 9./JG 54 carried out an amergency landing nearby with engine damage, possibly a result of friendly fire, though Leutnant Wamdemar Wübke was unhurt. »[3]

The Bristol Blenheim Mk IV belong to No.15 and 40 (RAF) Squadron. At the end of the afternoon (17:00 – 19:43), three sections (eight aircraft) from each of the two squadrons take off to attack ships in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer from an altitude of 1,500 to 2,000 metres. The bombardment was indeed a success, despite a strong anti-aircraft defence (several aircraft were damaged) and the port facilities were reported on fire when the British left. [4]

According to the French documentation: the bombings render the ferry terminal definitively unusable and destroy 3000 m² of hangars in the port.[5] According to the German documentation, the fuel tanks are also severely damaged. Unfortunately, several civilian victims are also to be deplored. Several bombs fell on the Saint-Pierre district, killing the three members of the Galant family: the mother and her two children André (twelve years old) and Pierre (eleven years old). Fifteen other people were also wounded, victims of the bombs or the Flak shells.[6]

According to Flight Lieutenant William H. George of No.15 (RAF) Squadron :

« I led a large formation of two squadrons of Blenheims (XV and 40) with a fighter escort in a high level attack on the harbour at Boulougne, where there was said to be a concentration of shipping, though when we got there this turned out to be duff gen. We plastered the dock installations instead and scored direct hits on a factory. This raid was notable for the fact that I did a lot of no good to a pair of Do 18s which were moored close to one another, by dropping a 250lb bomb between them, having reserved it on the run in for that purpose. This caused much merriment on the way home. This was a daylight raid of three hours including one hour in cloud. »[7]

All aircraft of No.615 Squadron return at 19:25. Note that this is the first operational sortie of Pilot Officer Douglas H. Hone.

Pilots and Aircrafts[8]

Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (P3151) ; Sergeant Derrick W. Halton (P3487) ; Pilot Officer Douglas H. Hone (P2578) ; Flight Lieutenant Herbert S. Giddings (P2801) ; Pilot Officer Ralph Roberts (P3161) ; Pilot Officer David Evans (P3158).

Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll carries out a patrol between 23:45 and 00:35, again without incident. At the same time, several night take-off and landing training sessions take place.

[1] Curiously, the ORB contradicts itself on this point: while the Form 540 indicates that twelve Hawker Hurricanes are joining Hawkinge for this mission, the Form 541 only lists six aircraft of the B Flight. The No.111 (RAF) Squadron is also sending twelve Hawker Hurricanes for this escort, an oversight of the A Flight seems likely.

[2] No.111 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/866.

[3] CULL, Brian. Battle for the Channel: The First Month of the Battle of Britain 10 July – 10 August 1940. Fonthill, 2017. 336 p.

[4] No.15 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/202 ; No.40 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/412.

[5] http://quidnovi62.free.fr/cnrd_2018/calque_martyre.htm

[6] http://www.memorialgenweb.org/memorial3/html/fr/complementter.php?table=bp&id=1895781 ; http://www.memorialgenweb.org/memorial3/html/fr/complementter.php?id=1895780 et http://www.memorialgenweb.org/memorial3/html/fr/complementter.php?id=1895782 ; Lageberichte West (06.07.-04.08.1940) et KTB des Marinebefehlshaber Nordfrankreich.

[7] BINGHAM, Victor. Attack: Blenheim Operations During the Battle of Britain. J&KH Publishing, 2002. p.33.

[8] The From 541 does not seem to list the pilots of A Flight during this mission. Due to the absence of Flight Lieutenant Lionel M. Gaunce and Pilot Officer Cecil R. Montgommery (funeral of Pilot Officer Michael R. Mudie), it is reasonable to assume that the following pilots participated in this mission: Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll, Flying Officer Peter Collard, Pilot Officer Cecil R. Young, Pilot Officer Sydney J. Madle et Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo.

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