32 Squadron activity timeline

Reconstruction of activity from 32 Sqn Form 541 (AIR/27/360/24).

Aircraft Time 09:00 09:45 13:00 13:05 13:25 14:00 14:20 14:30 15:30 15:45 16:05 16:15 16:25 16:30 16:45 17:05 17:10 17:30 19:10 19:20 19:40
N2458 Biggin Hill Whitehouse Hawkinge Whitehouse Hawkinge Whitehouse Biggin Hill Unknown
N2524 Biggin Hill Aslin Hawkinge Aslin Hawkinge Aslin Hawkinge Aslin Biggin Hill Aslin Biggin Hill
N2755 Unknown Biggin Hill Eckford Biggin Hill
N2921 Biggin Hill Brothers Hawkinge Brothers Hawkinge Brothers Hawkinge Brothers Biggin Hill Barton Biggin Hill
P3481 Biggin Hill Flinders Hawkinge1 Unknown Biggin Hill Crossley Hawkinge Crossley Hawkinge Crossley Crashed
P3679 Biggin Hill Pearce2 Hawkinge Higgins Hawkinge Higgins Hawkinge Higgins Biggin Hill Higgins Biggin Hill
P3936 Biggin Hill Eckford Hawkinge Eckford Hawkinge Eckford Hawkinge Eckford Biggin Hill
V6546 Biggin Hill Higgins Hawkinge Unknown3 Biggin Hill Brothers Biggin Hill
V6547 Biggin Hill Wlasnowalski Hawkinge Wlasnowalski Hawkinge Wlasnowalski Hawkinge Wlasnowalski Biggin Hill Wlasnowalski Biggin Hill
V6565 Biggin Hill Gillman Hawkinge1 Biggin Hill Gillman Hawkinge Gillman Hawkinge Gillman Hawkinge Unknown
V6566 Biggin Hill Barton Hawkinge Barton Hawkinge Barton Hawkinge Barton Biggin Hill Whitehouse Biggin Hill
V6567 Biggin Hill Seghers Hawkinge Seghers Hawkinge Seghers Crashed
V6568 Biggin Hill Smythe Hawkinge Smythe4 Crashed
V6572 Biggin Hill Pniak Hawkinge Pniak5 Bailed out Pniak Crashed Unknown Hawkinge Pniak Biggin Hill Unknown

Key

Meaning Cell
Aircraft at Biggin Hill Biggin Hill
Aircraft at Hawkinge Hawkinge
Aircraft in the air with pilot's name Smith
No information Unknown
Aircraft unserviceable with reason Bailed out
Last mention of a pilot Bold text
Information assumed from circumstantial evidence Italic text

Footnotes

  1. It would make more sense if this was a patrol that landed back at Biggin Hill as both aircraft are next recorded as going from Biggin to Hawkinge. ^,^
  2. Sgt. Pearce does not appear again in the record book again during August. ^
  3. It would fit if Sgt. Pearce flew this plane back to Biggin Hill.^
  4. P/O Smythe is recorded as having crashed on this sortie but is not recorded as having participated The casualty report gives the time of his aircraft crashing as approximately 1600. ^
  5. The record for P/O Pinak contains several inconsitencies and is covered in more detail. ^

S/Ldr Michael Crossley

S/Ldr. Michael Crossley is unhurt after he crash lands Hurricane P3481 skidding across a field near Valley Farm, Skeete, Lyminge. The aircraft is classed as Cat 3, destroyed. At the time he is the RAF's leading ace, having been credited with 18 or 20 victories, depending on the source.

He was awarded the D.S.O on 30 Aug 1940. The London Gazette records:

Acting Squadron Leader Michael Nicholson Crossley, D.F.C. (37554)
This officer has lead his section, flight and squadron with skill and courage and has flown almost continuously since the commencement of hostilities. Since May, he has participated in engagements against the enemy over Holland, Belgium and France, including patrols over Dunkirk and St. Valery during the evacuation operations. In August he destroyed two Junkers 88 over Portsmouth and assisted in the destruction of another over Croydon. During the latter engagement he encountered another Junkers 88 and, having expended all this ammunition, acted as above guard until two of his section finally destroyed it. The next day he destroyed three enemy aircraft. Squadron Leader Crossley has now destroyed a total of eighteen enemy aircraft and possibly another five. He has displayed rare qualities as a leader; his example of courage and tenacity of purpose have proved an inspiration to other members of his squadron.

Valley Farm, Skeete in April 2020.
Valley Farm, Skeete, Lyminge - April 2020
Valley Farm, Skeete, Lyminge - April 2020
Valley Farm, Skeete, Lyminge - April 2020

P/O Eugene Seghers

Belgian P/O Eugene George Achilles Seghers (82162, dob 7/4/10, Ledeberg) of 32 Sqn. is shot down and his aircraft lands at Tedders Lees on the valley road.

The casualty record for P/O Seghers (AIR 81/2760) contains the following telegrams:

EJB
6519

Telegram en clair.

To :- A.M. (C.1. Accidents) and P.4.(Cas), Repeated H.Q.F.C, 11 Group, 43 Group, Belgian Embassy.

From:- 32 Squadron. Biggin Admin

Received A.M.C.S. 2329 hours. 24.8.40

Biggin Admin NR10 IMEDIATE SECRET NOT WT
AM WHI=
Pass to AM (C1 Acc and P4 Cas) and Belgian Embassy.
GR76

A.357. 24/8.

FB
(A) Hurricane 6567
(B) 32 Squadron
(C) Over Hawkinge area at approx. 1600 hours 24/8. Aircraft on Elham and Lyminge road
(D) P/O E G A Seghers (Belgian) Broken Arm
(E) Name of hospital unknown
(F) N/A
(G) Enemy action
(H) Cat three.
(J) N/A.

Time of Origin:- 2220 hours 24.8.80

Crash Circulation. D.A.A.C. (for Belgian Embassy)
Advance copies passed to :- P.4.Cas. D.R.M. (M.A.P. Millbank.)

DF B PIP
AM -.8,KK. - .8WWHI H+
R2310 . CORF . VA .

6702

Telegram en clair.

ADDRESSED TO A.M. (C.1. Accidents) and P.4.(Cas) = RPTD = H.Q.F.C = 11 Group = Belgian Embassy.

FROM 32 Squadron.

STN Z NR42 ''IMEDIATE SECRET NOT WT''
AM WHI
GP36

A261 25/8.

REF THIS UNITS SIGNAL A457 24/8 P/O AEGG SEGHERS NOW REPORTED UNINJURED AND RETURNING BIGGIN HILL
==1425

Crash Circulation. D.A.A.C. (for Belgian Embassy)
Advance copies passed to :- P.4.Cas. D.R.M. (M.A.P. Millbank.)

WD B1 R 1608 H.W.N. K.K.

P35H160

The next mention of Seghers in the 32 Sqn. Form 541 (AIR 27/360/24) is on 31/08/1940 where he is recorded as taking part in a fighting patrol of the Farne Islands.

32 Sqn patrol Hawkinge - combat over Folkestone

Oblt. Kurt Ruppert of 3./JG26 Clams his third kill, a 32 Sqn. Hurricane NE of Dover at 16:05.

Fw. W. Mueller of 3./JG26 claims an unknown Hurricane NE of Manston and Uffz. B. Adam of 2./JG26 claims an unknown Hurricane W of Dover.

32 Squadron Intelligence Report

Ten Hurricanes of 32 Squadron left Hawkinge at 15.49 hours to patrol round Dover, they intercepted approximately 15 Me109s who were flying at 10,000 feet off Folkestone at 16.00 hours. Each pilot selected an enemy and a dog fight ensued.
P/O Gillman in his report to the Intelligence Officer at Hawkinge stated that he had fired at an Me109 which blew up and fell into the sea. He was missing next day to it was not possible to get a combat report from him.
P/O Barton, Yellow section, after the initial attack had been in progress about 5 minutes, chased on of the Me109s across the channel, he was diving and came down from 15,000 feet to 7,000 feet when he began to catch up with the e/a/ He was taking fairly skilful avoiding action, but he was able to get in four bursts of 2 seconds at from 300 to 200 yards range. When his ammunition was exhausted the Me109 was flying straight and level at 150 m.p.h. at 1,000 feet. He flew round him but he showed no interest. He left him before he crossed the French coast. Only four of P/O Barton's guns were firing the remainder were stopped with separated cases.
P/O Seghers was shot up and bailed out but was uninjured. Aircraft landed at Hawkinge between 16.00 and 16.33 hours.

Quoted in Battle of Britain Combat Archive v.6

Continue reading "32 Sqn patrol Hawkinge - combat over Folkestone"

F/O Rupert Smythe

F/O Rupert Frederick Smythe (40436, dob 11/6/16, Killiney) of 32 Sqn. is shot down and his aircraft lands near Lyminge.

The casualty record for P/O Smythe (AIR 81/2756) contains the following:

1A & 1B

6514

AM WHI

Biggin Admin NR9 IMEDIATE SECRET NOT WT

Pass to AM (C1 Acc and P4 Cas)
GR73

To:- A.M. (C.I. Accidents), and P.4. (cas), repeated H.Q.F.C, 11 Group, 43 Group.

From:- 32 Squadron.

Received A.M.C.S. 2252hrs. 24.8.40

A.358 3 24/8. F/B.

(A) Hurricane V.6568.
(B) 32 Squadron.
(C) Over Hawkinge area at approx 1600 hours 24/8. Aircraft near Lyminge exact location unknown.
(D) 40436 F/O Smythe wounded in leg.
(E) Returning to Biggin Hill
(F) N/A
(G) Enemy action.
(H) Cat three.
(J) N/A

Time of Origin:- 2222hrs 24.8.40

DF B PIP

R....2252....R.A....K+

Casualty Verification Sheet
A 32014
Name of officer SMYTHE Rupert Frederich
Rank & No. F/O 40436
Date of birth 11/6/16
Place of birth Killiney Co Dublin
Unit 32 Sqd
Type of commission SSC
Date of casualty 24/8
Date and reference of report
Name & address of wife (if any)
If to be informed of casualties
Particulars of next-of-kin (other than wife) Father Lt Col. Rupert Ceasar Smythe G.M.G. D.S.O. J.P. Late 1st Batt R.I.F
Augher Castle, Augher, Co Tyrone
Any other persons to be informed of casualties Miss S. West
Osborne House
East Cowes
I of W

2A

Ext.1930

Dept. Q.J.

26 August, 1940.

P/354156/40/P.4. Cas.

Sir,

I am directed to inform you that your son, Flying Officer Rupert Frederick Smythe, is suffering from a wound in the leg as a result of air operations on 24th August, 1940

As his condition is not serious, no further reports are expected but should any be received you will be informed as quickly as possible.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

(Sgd.) R. HALL

for Director of Personal Services

Lt.Col. R.C. Smythe, C.M.G., D.S.O., J.P.,

Augher Castle,
Augher,
Co. Tyrone.

At Elham post office the Smiths came out to watch the air battles. Suddenly there was excited shouting: "Look! there’s one going down … Yes, I can see it, look—he’s baled out!" Arthur Wootten, standing in front of his petrol station, saw a parachute blossom behind a descending Hurricane. Jumping into his Austin Ten, he raced along the lanes until he arrived on the hillside at Shuttlesfield. There he found an officer with a small sandy moustache suffering from cannon shell splinters in his shoulder and legs. Dr Hunter-Smith soon arrived with his medicine bag and, after examining the pilot, established that his wounds were rather more painful than serious. Surgery was necessary to remove all the little slivers of metal and the doctor could do no more than apply sterile dressings.

For F/O Rupert Smythe, it was the fourth time he’d been shot down over the district, but on previous occasions he had managed to reach Hawkinge. He cheerfully accepted a little hospitality at Lower Court, where Martin Constant was famed for his generosity with whisky, However, the wounded pilot made it quite clear that wasn't going to be taken back to Hawkinge: he felt much safer in the cockpit of a fighter than on the ground at the aerodrome. His benefactors were sympathetic and by nightfall he was being made comfortable at the Royal Masonic Hospital in London.

He did not return to operational flying and was awarded the D.F.C. on 30 Aug 1940. The London Gazette records:

Flying Officer Rupert Frederick Smythe (40426)
In July, 1940, this officer, whilst leading his section, broke up a formation of six Messerchmitt 109's near Folkestone, and succeeded in destroying one. Flying Officer Smythe has displayed great courage and set an excellent example to all.

P/O Karol Pniak

Polish P/O Karol "Cognac" Pniak (76707, born 26/1/10 Szczakowa) of 32 Sqn flying from Hawkinge bails out of his burning Hurricane after it is shot down by a Bf 109. The aircraft lands on Longage Hill between Lyminge and Rhodes Minnis and Pniak lands nearby with injuries to his ankle and knee.

He may have been in combat with Bf 109s from III./JG 3 escorting 20 Ju 88s from III./KG 4 on their way to attack Hornchurch.

There are many sources that state he was shot down twice in one day but the evidence I have found does not support this account.

His combat record contains the following (AIR 50/16/25):

Sector Serial No (A)
Serial No. of order detailing patrol (B)
Date (C) 24/8/40
Flight, Squadron (D) Flight: B Sqdn.: 32
No. of Enemy Aircraft (E) 12
Type of Enemy Aircraft (F) Me. 109
Time Attack was delivered (G) 1?001 hrs
Place attack was delivered (H) near Dover
Height of Enemy (J) 20,000'
Enemy Casualties (K) 1 Me 109, probable
Our Casualties Aircraft (L) 1 Hurricane
Personnel (M) 1 Slightly injured
Searchlights: (Did they illuminate enemy if not, were they in front or behind?) (N.1) N/A
A.A. Guns: (Did shell bursts assist Pilot intercepting enemy?) (N.2)

N/A
Range at which fire was opened in in each attack delivered, together with estimated length of bursts. (P) 150 yds.
4 two second bursts.
Total No. of Rounds fired --

1280
Name of Pilot (Block Letters) -

P/O Pniak.
General Report (R) See Over.
Signature Pniak P/O
Section
O.C. Flight
Squadron
blue
B.
Squadron No.32
I was flying No 3 of Blue Section when we met 12 Me. 109's at about 2000' they were above us and attacked us. I was attacked by a Me 109 from head on and above. I circled round on this tail and closing to 150 yards gave him 2 two second bursts, he started to smoke from the engine, I followed him and gave him two more bursts, much black smoke came from the aircraft and he was diving. Just after this I felt my machine vibrating and saw smoke coming from the engine and right wing, flames also appeared from the right wing, I switched everything off and put my aircraft into a dive to land, but when I reached 5,000' the flames were so big, that I turned my plane on one side and jumped. I landed very fast because my parachute was not properly open and full of big holes, I landed 3 miles N.W. of Hawkinge, my ankle and knee were injured and I was taken to hospital.

1. On the original this is a 5 and 6 overtyped.

The casualty record for P/o Pniak (AIR 81/257) contains two telegrams - one from Hawkinge and one from 32 Sqn. at Biggin Hill:

NME
6559

Telegram en clair.

To: A.M. (C.1.Accidents and P.4.Cas.), A.M. (D.M.D.) Repeated H.Q.F.C., 11 Group, 43 Group, and Biggin Hill.

From: Hawkinge

Received M.M.C.S. 0210 hrs. 25.8.40

Z NR16 NOT W/T
AM WHI
Pass to AM Depts
GR68
A.256 24/8.
F.B. Casualty.
(A) Hurricane number unknown
(B) 32 Squadron
(C) Sibton Park, Lyminge 585605 24/8/40. Approx 1530 hours.
(D) P/O Pniac (Polish) slight foot injury after bailing out
(E) Unknown
(F) N/A
(G) N/A.
(H) Cat. three.

Time of Origin 2010 hrs. 24.8.40

Advance copies passed to:- P.4.Cas. D.R.M. M.A.P. Millbank.

Crash Circulation.. + D.A.A.C.

HPP B
GR68?? CC R0132 DT KK

CGN
6512

Telegram en clair.

To :- A.M. (C.1.Accidents, P.4.Cas) Repeated H.Q.F.C, 11 Group, 43 Group, Polish Embassy.

From:- 32 Squadron. Biggin Admin

Received A.M.C.S. 2310 hours.
24.8.40

Biggin Admin NR8 IMEDIATE SECRET NOT WT
AM WHI
Pass to (C1 Acc and P4 Cas) Polish Embassy.
GR77

A.359. 24/8.

FB
(A) Hurricane V.6572
(B) 32 Squadron
(C) Over Hswkineg Hawkinge area at approx. 1600 hours 24/8. Aircraft one mile north of Lyminge
(D) P/O K.Pniak (Polish) slight foot injury after bailing out
(E) Returning to Biggin Hill
(F) N/A
(G) Enemy action
(H) Cat three.
(J) N/A.

Time of Origin:- 2224 hours 24.8.80

Crash Circulation. D.A.A.C. (for Polish Emb:)
Advance copies passed to :- P.4.Cas. D.R.M., M.A.P. Millbank.

DF B PIP
IMI WA OVER (C) CC WA OVER ...HAWKINGE +
R....2250....R.A....AV+....K+

Local resident Arthur Wootten said of the incident:

It was one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen.

The pilot hit the ground heavily in a corn field near Ottinge, the silk canopy settling over the prostrate figure. After a pause, the hump sprang into life and a flailing man, cursing in Polish, struggled to get into the sunlight. Being Sunday, people appeared very quickly until there were about a hundred attending the tall Pole who spoke very little English and gesticulated wildly in an endeavour to explain that he'd baled out over the district the previous day. When a car came to take him back to Hawkinge, the local people formed a passage for him to reach the car and spontaneous clapping broke out - just as if he were a batsman returning to the pavilion after a spirited innings.

Shot down twice in one day

The Battle of Britain - Then and Now records the following details:

Huricane [unknown serial no]. Shot down in combat with Bf 109s and believed crashed in Dover Harbour 3.15pm. Pilot officer K. Pniak bailed out slightly injured. Aircraft lost.

Hurricane V6572. Shot down in combat with Bf 109s over Folkestone 4.20pm. Crashed at Rhodes Minnis near Lyminge. Pilot officer K. Pniak bailed out and injured ankle and knee in heavy landing. Admitted to hospital. Aircraft a write-off.

Excavated in October 1979 by the Brenzett Aeronautical Museum, which recovered a propeller boss and reduction gear and other minor components.

Hawkinge 1912-1961 records a story of Pinak being shot down into Dover harbour:

Plt Off Pniak was shot up by a Bf 109 and was forced to abandon his Hurricane over the town [Dover]. His aircraft dived into the sea just outside the breakwater. He floated down to splash into the harbour, where he was found by the crew of a naval launch, calmly sitting astride a buoy. An extremely confident and determined young man, Pniak, a Polish pilot who had joined the squadron only sixteen days before, was back at Hawkinge within the hour and was flying that afternoon when the squadron scrambled. By 16.20 hrs he had been shot up again over Lyminge and fell out of his inverted Hurricane before it crashed on the outskirts of the village. But this time he was wounded and spent the remainder of the month in hospital.

Counter arguments

His combat record only has an account of one combat on 24 August in which he was shot down. However, not all combats in which pilots participated are in the archives so the lack of a second combat is not conclusive.

Karol Pinak RAF

Subsequent actions

32 Sqn patrol Hawkinge - combat over Dover

32 Squadron Intelligence Report

12 Hurricanes of 32 Squadron took off from Hawkinge at 14.40 hours to patrol; they were attacked by 12 Me109s who were flying at 20,000 feet north of Dover. As the patrol climbed after them the Me109s climbed away, then when an opportune moment arrived they dived on to the Hurricanes. F/Lt Brothers DFC shot one down into the sea. Sgt Aslin saw an Me 109 heading out to sea with smoke pouring from it but does not claim it. F/O Smythe DFC was shot down and crashed - he is in hospital (Royal Masonic) wounded. P/O Pniak was also shot up and bailed out and is injured in hospital.
10 aircraft landed at Hawkinge at 15.41 hours. The other two crashed.
F/Lt Brothers was leading Blue Section when the Me109s dived on them. He fired several short bursts at tow or three and then lost them through 'blacking out'. Climbing up to 20,000 feet he engaged them again and getting on the tail of one gave him two 3 second bursts. Part of the starboard wing came away and he dived into the sea about 10 miles south-east of Dover. F/Lt Brothers followed the e/a down and then returned to base. 1 Me109 destroyed.
P/O Pniak was flying No.3 of Blue Section. He was attacked head on by one of the 12 Me109s from above. Circling round he got on the e/a's tail and gave him two more bursts of 2 seconds; much black smoke poured out. This was probably the Me109 seen by Sgt Aslin. At this moment he was himself attacked and set on fire; he put his aircraft into a dive to land but had to bale out at 5,000 feet. He landed very fast as his parachute did not open properly and was full of large holes. His knee and ankle were injured and he was taken to hospital but has now returned. One Me109 probably destroyed.

Quoted in Battle of Britain Combat Archive v.6

Continue reading "32 Sqn patrol Hawkinge - combat over Dover"