5th Abteilung produces a summary of the RAF

5th Abteilung (Air Intelligence Department of the Luftwaffe General Staff under 'Beppo' Schmid) report fails to mention radar, although 3rd Abteilung (Luftwaffe Signals and Cypher service under Wolfgang Martini) were aware of its existence and - before the war - had attempted to determine the frequencies used.

GERMAN INTELLIGENCE APPRECIATION OF THE R.A.F. AND COMPARISON WITH CURRENT LUFTWAFFE STRENGTH

Oberkommando der Luftwaffe
Operations Staff IC
16th July 1940. 7

I. THE MILITARY VALUE OF THE R.A.F

A. Strength and Equipment

1. Fighter Formations

With 50 fighter squadrons each having about 18 aircraft, there are 900 first line fighters available of which approximately 675 (75 per cent) may be regarded as serviceable.

About 40 per cent of the fighters are Spitfires and about 60 per cent are Hurricanes. Of these types the Spitfire is regarded as the better.

In view of their combat performance and the fact that they are not yet equipped with cannon guns both types are inferior to the Bf 109, while the individual Bf 110 is inferior to skilfully handled Spitfires.

In addition to the above formations Blenheim squadrons are available for night fighter tasks as auxiliary heavy fighters and operate in cohesion with particularly intense searchlight defence.

2. Bombing Formations

Assuming the average squadron strength to be 20 aircraft, the 55 to 60 bomber squadrons contain about 1,150 first line bombers of which about 860 (75 per cent) may be regarded as serviceable.

This strength is divided among four types of aircraft of various series, approximately as follows:

Hampden 400
Wellington 350
Whitley 300
Lockheed Hudson 100

Comparison of these types shows that the Hampden has the best qualities as a bomber.

In addition, there is a large number of Blenheim bombers available. Most of these are in training schools but there are also some in operational units. However, in view of its performance, this type can no longer be considered a first line aircraft.

In comparison with German bombers all these types have inadequate armour, and poor bomb-aiming equipment. However, they usually have strong defensive armament.

3. Other Formations

These include coastal formations equipped with Lockheed Hudsons (reconnaissance) and flying-boats and various obsolescent types of aircraft — close reconnaissance and low-level attack aircraft designed for co-operation with the army.
These need not be taken into consideration in this report.

4. Anti-aircraft Artillery

In view of the island’s extreme vulnerability to air attack and the comparatively limited amount of modern equipment the number of heavy and light A.A. guns available (1,194 plus 1,114) is by no means adequate to ensure the protection of the island by ground defences.

The large number of efficient searchlights available (3,200) constitutes an advantageous factor in defence at night.

Only limited importance should be attributed to the numerous barrage balloons, as these can be used only at low altitudes (1,000 to 2,000 metres) owing to the medium wind velocities prevailing over the island. The balloons cannot be raised at all at appreciable wind velocities.

B. Personnel and Training

At present there are no difficulties regarding the number of men available.

From the outset the training is concentrated on the production of good pilots and the great majority of the officers in particular are trained solely as such. By comparison tactical training is left far in the background. For this reason the R.A.F. has comparatively well-trained fighter pilots while bomber crews are not up to modern tactical standards. This applies to the bomb-aimers in particular, most of whom are N.C.O.s and men with little service experience. Although there are deficiencies in equipment the comparatively low standard of bombing accuracy may be attributed to this factor.

C. Airfields

In the ground organisation there is a considerable number of air-strips in the southern part of the island and in some areas in the north. However, only a limited number can be considered as operational airfields with modern maintenance and supply installations.

In general, the well-equipped operational airfields are used as take-off and landing bases, while the numerous smaller airfields located in the vicinity serve as alternative landing grounds and rest bases.

There is little strategic flexibility in operations as ground personnel are usually permanently stationed at home bases.

D. Supply Situation

  1. As regards aircraft, the R.A.F. is at present almost entirely dependent on home production. American deliveries will not make any important contribution before the beginning of 1941.

    If deliveries arriving in Britain in the immediate future are supplemented by French orders these aircraft may be ready for operations by the autumn.

    At present the British aircraft industry produces about 180 to 300 first line fighters and 140 first line bombers a month. In view of the present conditions relating to production (the appearance of raw material difficulties, the disruption or breakdown of production at factories owing to air attacks, the increased vulnerability to air attack owing to the fundamental reorganisation of the aircraft industry now in progress) it is believed that for the time being output will decrease rather than increase.

    In the event of an intensification of air warfare it is expected that the present strength of the R.A.F. will fall and this decline will be aggravated by the continued decrease in production.

  2. Unless an appreciable proportion of present stocks is destroyed, the fuel situation can be regarded as secure.
  3. Bombs. Bomb production is limited by the method of manufacture (cast casings). However there will be no difficulty in the supplies of bombs so long as present stocks are not used and operations continue on a moderate scale. It is believed that these stocks will be adequate for intensive operations lasting several weeks.

    Most of the bombs available are of medium calibre (112 and 224 kilogrammes), of which a large proportion are of an obsolete pattern with unfavourable ballistic qualities (bombs with fins).

E. Command

The Command at high level is inflexible in its organisation and strategy. As formations are rigidly attached to their home bases, command at medium level suffers mainly from operations being controlled in most cases by officers no longer accustomed to flying (station commanders). Command at low level is generally energetic but lacks tactical skill.

II. THE OPERATIONAL SCOPE OF THE RAF.

  1. For its operations the R.A.F. has at its disposal an area of only 200 to 300 kilometres in depth. This corresponds approximately to an area the size of the Netherlands and Belgium.

    There is little possibility of Ireland being used in the system of depth owing to the lack of ground organisation and the fact that once R.A.F. units have been transferred there they cannot restore their serviceability.

    In contrast the Luftwaffe has at its disposal an area extending from Trondheim, across Heligoland Bay and along the North Sea and Channel coasts to Brest with a practically unlimited zone in depth.

  2. In view of the inferiority of British fighters to German fighters, enemy bomber formations even with fighter escort are not capable of carrying out effective daylight attacks regularly, particularly as escort operations are in any case limited by the lack of long-range single-engine or heavy fighters.

    The R.A.F. will therefore be obliged to limit its activity primarily to night operations even in the advent of intensified air warfare. These operations will undoubtedly achieve a nuisance value but will in no way be decisive.

    In contrast, the Luftwaffe is in a position to go over to decisive daylight operations owing to the inadequate air defences of the island.

III. CONCLUSION

The Luftwaffe is clearly superior to the R.A.F. as regards strength, equipment, training, command and location of bases. In the event of an intensification of air warfare the Luftwaffe, unlike the R.A.F., will be in a position in every respect to achieve a decisive effect this year if the time for the start of large-scale operations is set early enough to allow advantage to be taken of the months with relatively favourable weather conditions (July to the beginning of October).

(Quoted in Battle over Britain; Appendix K.)

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

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 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.

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