15 Do 17 Bomb Lympne

15 Do 17s from I/KG 2 escorted by JG 54 come in low over Romney Marsh and rise up over the escarpment and drop 50kg bombs which explode in straight lines, the landing ground is cratered and a hanger is damaged.

Crews report dropping 90 110-lb bombs on hangars and buildings, although they also state that the full effect of their attack could not be gauged due to mist.

54 Sqn Spitfires are scrambled from Manston but are intercepted by JG 54's Bf 109s out of the sun - possibly over Dover - before they can reach the bombers. Two Spitfires force land at Lympne and are forced to swerve to avoid the craters.

All the Do 17s return home 45 minutes later, without radar Fighter Command are unable to find them.

This raid is intended to keep Lympne based interceptors on the ground and not interfere with the attacks on the radar stations.

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) R.A.F. STATION, LYMPNE.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
LYMPNE. AUGUST
12TH.
Weather. Fair. 0800 HRS. STATION attacked by enemy aircraft. 141 Bombs dropped in a few seconds. Damage caused to hangers, offices and landing ground. NO CASUALTIES.

Do 17 of I/KG 2 take off from Épinoy

EprGr 210 Take off from Calais-Mark

16 aircraft, comprised of Bf 110C-6/D-0 and Bf 109E-4/B Jabos, take off to try and disable the British radar network with precision strikes.

III/JG 53 take off from Guînes

These are the Bf 109 escorts for EprGr 210.

EprGr 210 attack four radar stations

Visibility is perfect with Dungeness being visible from Dover.

The Bf 110s of EprGr 210 lead by Swiss born Hptm Rübensdörffer come in at low level to attack the radar network. Lacking azimuth tracking and confusing range information by passing abeam the radar sites, the Filter Room at Fighter Command assigns the plot an 'X' code (doubtful origin).

Oberleutnant Otto Hintze leads 3 Staffel's eight Bf 109E-1/B Jabos - carrying one SC250 bomb each - attacking Dover. They approach the Dover radar at right angles to make them harder to detect but are picked up by the Rye Radar. The towers are slightly damaged and huts are smashed. Hintze reports seeing the towers clearly swaying.

Two minutes later Lieutenant Rössinger leads 2 Staffel's Bf 110s attacking Rye. Almost every building is hit, except the transmitting and receiving block. The Filter Room repeatedly tries to contact them eventually being told by a WAFF that "Your X raid is bombing us."

Hauptman Rübensdörffer leads the attack on Dunkirk. One 500kg bomb moves the concrete transmitter building several inches.

The final element of 1 Staffel's Bf 110s hit Pevensy with eight 500kg bombs, one of which cuts the power line taking the station off line.

A breach of 160 km has been opened in the radar coverage.

151 Sqn and 501 Sqn attack IV StG 1 off Margate

15 Hurricanes attack 22 Ju 87s returning after attacking convoys Arena and Agent north of Margate. One Stuka is shot down before Adolf Galland's III/JG 26 arrive shooting down two Hurricanes and damaging two more.

Margate motor lifeboat J. B. Proudfoot is launched to pick up the survivors of Admiralty trawlers Pyrope and Tamarisk.

KG 51 bomb Ventnor radar and Portsmouth harbour

Escorted by 120 Bf 110s of III/ZG 76 and 25 Bf 109s of JG 53 as top cover are picked up by Polling radar at noon: a large formation approaching Brighton from due south before crossing the coast they turn west. As they cross in front of Polling and behind Ventor they are tracked by the ROC, splitting as they come to Spithead.

15 specially selected crews (II/KG 51) dive bomb droping 500kg bombs on Ventnor radar station taking it out of action for three days.  15 of the 74 bombs land in the complex.

A second formation of 70(68?) Ju 88s attacks Portsmouth harbour with horizontal and diving bomb runs in the face of 50 barrage balloons and intensive AA fire from guns on shore and ships. The bombers take advantage of the corridor through the barrage balloons at the harbour entrance.

The Hurricanes and Spitfires of 10 Group (152 , 213 & 609 Sqns) scrambled to intercept are vectored in by controllers in small groups and focus on the bombers whilst their escort, circling at 3,000m, wait for a large fighter group to arrive. As more and more bombers are shot down the escort realise that no large formation is going to present itself as a target and engages in the combat.

In the ensuing melee - that involved nearly 300 fighters in total - 13 RAF fighters are shot down and four are damaged, and five Bf 110s and two Bf 109s are lost.

More Bf 109s - the escort for the return leg - are seen heading west but Fighter Command vectors 615 Sqn's Hurricanes between them and the battle over the Isle of Wight.

12(9?) Do 17s were lost including that of the Geschwaderkommodore Oberst Dr Johnan-Volkmar Fisser who lead the attack on Ventnor.

Later German reconnaissance of Ventnor reports craters in the vicinity of the masts and station quarters on fire.

Manston attacked

20 Bf 110s and Bf 109s of EprGr bomb and strafe then, 20 minutes later, 18 I/KG 2 Do 17s come in at low level and drop 150 250kg and fragmentation bombs cratering the airfield, destroying the workshops and damaging two hangers.

Crews involved from KG2 state that considerable damage has been inflicted on the target.

54 Sqn had tried to intercept the bombers but hadn't been able to get past the Bf 109 escorts.

65 Sqn (Spitfires) were taxiing out for take off when the bombs started falling. Most managed to get airborne and joined 54 Sqn's melee with the escort fighters.

With the escort tied up the bombers were unprotected as they returned and faced determined attack from 56 Sqn's Hurricanes.

A thin layer of chalk dust lies across the airfield which is declared out of action for more than a day.

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) R.A.F. Station MANSTON

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
MANSTON. 12.8.40 1250. The aerodrome was heavily attacked by approximately 15 M.E.110's and some HEINKELS and bombed at low altitude. Some 150 H.E. bombs were dropped. The aerodrome was pitted with approximately 100 craters, and rendered temporarily unserviceable.
Two handers were damaged, and Workshops were destroyed. In the latter building a civilian clerk was killed, this being the only fatal casualty.
The raid lasted approximately five minutes.

II/KG 2 bomb Canterbury airfield

54 Sqn and 56 Sqn Hurricanes are vectored towards the 24 Do 17s of II/KG 2, lead by Kommodore Oberst Johannes Fink, who it is assessed are heading for Manston after crossing the Channel from Calais to North Forland. The 30 Bf 109 escorts of I and III/JG 54 fail to see the camoflaged Hurricanes climbing to intercept the bombers.

The bombers throw out confetti, toilet paper and handgrenades to confuse the attacking fighters.

The ensuing combat between the fighters continues back across the Channel with 32 Sqn and 64 Sqn joining in.

Oberleutnant Albert Dressel of III/JG 54's Stabsschwarm belly lands his Bf 109 near Margate and is taken prisoner.

Luftwaffe records state that ‘Canterbury airfield’ and another reported as being west of Manston received a total of five 500kg, four 250kg and 439 50kg bombs. The bombs fall around Bekesbourne and Patrixbourne.

Bekesbourne was a WWI RAF airfield and had been used in May and June 1940 by Lysanders of 2 and 13 Sqns. supporting Operation Dynamo. They were widthdrawn on 8 June and the aifield obstructed by stakes to prevent it being used by invading forces.

Sorces: Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust

German intelligence summary

German intelligence reports 71 aircraft destroyed - including all of 65 Sqn on the ground at Manston. (Actual RAF losses were 22 from 732 sorties.)

Luftwaffe signals chief Martini assesses that all radar stations are still operational. (Ventnor appeared on line as it is transmitting powered by a backup generator but it is unable to receive any echoes so is actually not functioning.) Conclusion is that operations rooms must be well protected underground and it is only possible to shut down radar coverage for short periods.

Reichsmarscahll Göring gives the order to launch Adler Tag the following day - this is intercepted by the British Ultra.

Detling bombed and strafed by Stukas

Ops room, cookhouse, messes are destroyed; hangers are wrecked at set on fire. Casualties from the messes where people are having tea were very high and the Station Commander was killed. Stukas return without loss. (preceded by a fighter sweep)

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