It was on 26 May that JG 2 ‘Richthofen’ first clashed with UK-based RAF Spitfires. That indefatigable diarist Paul Temme takes up the story;
Stuka attack against the citadel at Calais and shipping offshore. I am to fly cover with 2. Staffel. It’s 220 km (136 miles) from Signy to the Channel coast! There won’t be much time left for dogfighting when we get there. Over Calais we bump into a Blenheim, which is immediately despatched by Leutnant Hoffmann.
Just as the Stukas begin to dive on the ships, English Spitfires appear in great numbers. We are eight against 20. A vicious free-for-all develops. Time and again the Spitfires try to get at the Stukas, but Oberleutnant Bethke, leader of the attack Schwarm, keeps them well at bay.
I also get in a few bursts, the only result being that the Spitfire I am aiming at quickly sheers away and disappears from sight. Then I am attacked by two more Spitfires. One gets on my tail. But he’s a lousy shot. I let him sit there while I call up my wingman, Feldwebel Leipelt, on the R/T. He bores in to close range and sends the Spitfire down in flames. Bravo Leipelt!
The dogfight against the Tommies lasts a little while longer and then our fuel situation forces us to break off the action. We and the Stukas all reach home safely. Five kills! Including one to me!
I./JG 2’s likely opponents, No 19 Sqn, did indeed lose four Spitfires in the Calais area on this date, with a fifth force-landing on the Kent coast.
19 Squadron Intelligence Report
19 Squadron patrolling over Dunkirk at 10,000 feet sighted 18 Junkers 87, in vics of 3 spread over sky. Ahead of them and above were 30 Me109s in seven vics of 5. 19 Squadron attacked Junkers singly and caused considerable damage before Me109s came up. These did not attempt any definiate attack, but tried to cut our pilots off the Junkers.
Some of the Junkers were equipped with cannon and they used the usual evasive tactics of stalling in attempt to make our Spitfires overtake. This is usually successful but affords excellent target for short period. In two cases the Junkers formed a circel of 3 tull Me109s came, then dived for the ground and hedge hopped away.
The Me109s approached in lines of 5 astern and when remainder of Junkers had escaped, disappeared as rapidly as possible in all directions. Our aircraft returned with only 5 gallons of petrol.
Our caualties - 1 pilot bailed out, plane in flames. 1 pilot smoke from engine last seen in a dive over french soil. Names S/Ldr Stephenson and P/O Watson. No confirmation of who was in which plane. Two, P/O Sinclair and F/Sgt Irwin, landed Manston short of petrol.
Pilots: S/Ldr Stephenson, F/Sgt Clouston, F/Sgt Lane, F/O Brinsden, F/O Call, F/O Petre, F/O Sinclair, P/O Lyne, P/O Watson, F/Sgt Potter, F/Sgt Steere, F/Sgt IRwin.
(Quoted in Dunkirk Air Combat Archive.)