JG 26 bounce 501 Sqn. as they try to gain height over Canterbury

Twelve Hurricanes of 501 Sqn. are gaining height over Canterbury when they are sighted by III/JG 26 in their Bf 109s.

With the rest of the Bf 109s covering from above, Oberleutnant Gerhart Shöpfel, leading the Gruppe in the absence of Adolf Galland, closed in on the formation of Hurricanes. The two weavers are dispatched with one quick burst each from close range, he then slides into position behind the rear vic and dispatches two more before debris from his fourth victim (P/O Kenneth Lee) causes him to break off his attack. The rest of the Bf 109s, which had been covering from above, now join in and an inconclusive dog fight ensues.

Shöpfel recalls:

They were using the English tactics of that period, flying in close formation of threes, climbing up in a wide spiral. About 1,000m above, I turned with them and managed to get behind the two covering Hurricanes which were weaving continuously. I waited until they were once more heading away from Folkestone and had turned northwest and then pulled round out of the sun and attacked from below. The Englishmen continued on, having noticed nothing. So I pulled in behind a forth machine and took care of him but this time I went in too close. When I pressed the firing button the Englishman was so close in front of my nose that pieces of wreckage struck my propeller.

The 501 Squadron Intelligence Report states:

Engagement of No 501 Squadron with large force of Me 109s and Me 100s on the 18th August, 1940 at 13:00 hours.

No 501 Squadron, consisting of 12 Hurricanes, took off from Hawkinge at 12:30 approximately, and patrolled the east Kent area at 12,000 feet. When flying north-west near Sandwich they sighted a large force of bombers with and escort of Me 110s and 109s (about 20 plus) approaching from the east. 'A' Flight on the left attempted to attack the fighters, while 'B' Flight became involved in a general dog-fight with the Me 109s and 110s. P/O Zenker in Green Section managed to damadge the Me 109s which was straggling. Enemy casualties were 1 Me 109 damaged. Our own losses were K N T Lee bailed out (wounded). P/O F.Kzłowski (Polish) baled out (seriously wounded). Sgt D A S Mc Kay baled out (slightly wounded). P/O J W Bland killed.

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 501 Squadron.

PlaceDateTimeSummary of EventsReferences to Appendices
Gravesend 1940 AUGUST
PM The squadron was at 15 mins[?]. Available from Dawn to 0830 hours when the aircraft took off for Hawkinge. An engagement took place in the Canterbury area in broken cloud and haze. The engagement developed into a general dog-fight and the following casualties were sustained - P/O.K.N.T.Lee wounded in the leg; P/O.Kozlowski seriously injured; Sgt.McKay slight burns; P/O.J.W.Bland killed. The Squadron returned to Gravesend. All aircraft were ordered off the ground. They were vectored to Biggin Hill which was being attacked. Pilot Officer Dafforn bailed out but was injured. Seven Hurricanes took off for Hawkinge at 1650 hours to patrol forward Base. An enemy force of 50 bombers and fighters was encountered. Red section attacked 2 Me 110's were shot down. Flight Lieutenant G.E.B.Stonay was killed in this engagement. Red Section were ordered to Night Readiness.


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