III./JG 52 escort Ju 87s attacking convoy CW.8 in the Straights of Dover

Attacked by 610 Sqn. (Spitfires) which come out of the clouds they lose four more Bf 109s.

Three disappear into the Channel are Oberleutnant Willy Bielefeld - the interim Staffelführer of 7./JG 52, Fermer’s designated replacement Oberleutnant Wilhelm Keidel and Ltn Hans Schmidt of Stab III./JG 52.

8./JG 52's Unteroffizier Max Reiss' Bf 109 E-1 6 + ~ takes a hit to the radiator and about twenty bullet strikes to the fuselage and starboard wing. He makes a good forced landing at Elvington Court, Deal.

7./JG 52 Unteroffizier Edmund Rossmann's claim for a French Breguet Bre 690 east of Margate is disallowed.

In 24 hours III./JG 52 has lost its Gruppenkommandeur and the equivalent of four Staffelkapitäne.

Whirlwind P6966 Crashes

263 Sqn's P6966 flown by Canadian PO Irving McDermott crashes at Lanton farm near Stenhousemuir after a burst tyre on takeoff jams the undercarriage leg. As advised by ground control McDermott bails out between Grangemouth and Stirling, sprains his ankle on landing or is uninjured (depending on the account), and is arrested by the Stenhousemuir home guard - only being released when Sqn Ldr Eels vouched for him.

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) 263 Squadron

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
Grangemouth 7/8/40 P/O Mc Dermott, taking off in ? Whirlwind, burst the port tyre and damaged the undercarriage. After circling for some time the pilot bailed out between Grangemouth and Stirling. The aircraft was a total loss. The pilot was uninjured
Flight Lieut. A.T.Williams, F[?]/O E.F.?.??? and P/O L.H.J?????? have been awarded the D.F.C. Sargeant Pilot ?.?.???????? has been awarded the D.F.M.
Squadron Leader J.G.Munro posted to 263 Squadron from Air Ministry.
Normal training.

The plane was excavated in October 1979. Both engines and all major components were recovered. This was the first production Whirlwind.

Big dogfight over Elham

Nine Bf 109s of II/JG 52 pass over Dover and steer the fight with 12 of 610 Sqn's Spitfires east to clear the way for ErprGr 210.

Harvest of Messerschmitts:

One Squadron of 1/JG 26's Bf 109s crossed the coast wast of Dungeness and circled round nort-east of Dover. They are intercepted by Spitfires of 54 Sqn. One of the Bf 109E-1s with lowered undercarriage, whose pilot Oblt. Friedrich Butterweck - later found dead six miles away - had bailed out, flew in circles over the village chased by Spitfires. It finally zoomed low over the village before crashing into Running hill. Over the next few days the unguarded wreck was a source of souvenirs for locals. The kill was claimed by P/O HKF Matthews of A Flt, 54 Sqn.

Battle of Britain - Then and Now and JG 26 War Diary:

Shot down over Ashford and exploded over Standard Hill Farm, Elham.

P/O Matthews Form "F" combat report reads:

Sector Serial No (A) D.1
Serial No. of order detailing patrol (B)
Date (C) 12/8/40.
Flight, Squadron (D) "A" Flt. 54 Sqn.
No. of Enemy Aircraft (E) 12
Type of Enemy Aircraft (F) Me. 109's
Time Attack was delivered (G) 0830 - 0840 hours approx
Place attack was delivered (H) 5-6 Miles South of Dover
7-8 Miles N.W. of Dover
Height of Enemy (J) 16,000-17000 feet
Enemy Casualties (K) Confirmed. destroyed 1 Me.109
Unconfirmed -
Probably destroyed 1 Me.109
Our Casualties Aircraft (L) Nil
Personnel (M) Nil
Searchlights (N) (i) N/a
A.A. Guns Assistance (ii) Slight A.A. over Dover
Fire for Fighters
(Measured or Estimated)
(P) Range opened. 250 - 150 yards
Length of Burst 7-8 secs 6-7 secs
Rage closed 200 yds.
No. of rounds per gun fired 2358
General Report (R)
The squadron was patrolling Manston and was ordered to investigate aircraft in the Dungeness area. I saw about 12 aircraft at between 1300 and 1500 feet West of Dungeness. There were in Sections (4) line astern, as as we approached the whole enemy Squadron went into line astern.

They came inland and circled round North East of Dover, going into the sun which was very strong. AS we went into attack we became split up owing to this strong sun, and I got on to the tail of one 109 over the sea and gave it a 7 to 8 second burst from astern opening at 250 yards. I saw my bullets entering and the 109 made a very steep dive from about 1200 feet towards the sea. I think mulst out of control although I did not actually see it crash. I then came across 3 or 4 109's in a scattered vic formation. I got on the tail of the rear one and from dead astern opened fire at 250 yards, closing to 150 yards using deflection. This machine went straight down and crashed into the water land about ten miles North West of Dover. The enemy aircraft was camouflaged in the usual way and took no special evasive action.

The pilot of the a/c bailed out.

The destruction of this 109 is confirmed by the guns who reported the crash.

H Matthews. P/O

Mary Smith records in her diary:

Raids nearly all day. Nazi plane down on Running Hill about 8.30am. Horrid add AA bangs all morning.

A Bf 109 was also shot down over New Romney. (Possibly Oblt. H-Werner Regenauer, Bf 109E-4 of 2/JG 26 @ 1220)

Obltn Frieidrich Butterweck

Wreckage of Bf 109, Standard Hill Farm, Elham

Wreckage of Bf 109, Standard Hill Farm, Elham

Wreckage of Bf 109, Standard Hill Farm, Elham

From the pilot's Ausweis it was established that he was probably from JG26, although his pay-book showed he was with I/JG26 on 26th September 1939. He had been in the GAF for two years, previously serving in the German Army

AW: white, Dortmund, 15/1/40, FP: L 35464 Münster.

Frieidrich Butterweck (60014/3) was born on 28/1/1916 in Breslau. He had one known victory, a French Potez 63 at Poppel, south of Tilburg in the Netherlands, 13 May, 1940. He is burred in grave 15 of row 1 of the German section of Hawkinge cemetery.

Grave of Oblt. Friedrich Butterweck, Hawkinge

In August 2018 I took a trip up to Standard Hill farm, which sits on the high ground to the east of the Elham Valley. However, as there are no clear landmarks in the photos so, absent of more information, I was not able to definitively identify the crash site. However, in the photo of the remains of the fuselage from the starboard side the west edge of the valley is visible in the distance which means it must be close to east edge of the valley.

Standard Hill farm, Elham, Kent

The Brenzett Aeronautical Museum investigated the site and recovered many small parts.

Do 17 crashes at Barham

Oblt. Heinz Schlegel's 'Holtzhammer' Do 17Z (U5+KA) comes down the Elham valley on one engine before crashing on the railway line near Barham school, bouncing and slewing into woodland next to the track, the latter being blocked by the separated tail. All the crew survived.

Attacked over the Thames Estuary by a 'Spitfire' that came out of the sun hitting the tail and one engine. Aircraft forced landed and broke in half across the Elham Valley railway line at "Pherbec Bridge", also referenced as Dr. Long's bridge over Greenhill Lane.

The starboard wing clipped a tree, the tail section broke away whilst the fuselage slewed into the scrub and woodland where it came to rest.

Accounts of the crew's capture vary. The Kentish Gazette reports the school cook being startled upon seeing a wounded German airman hobbling down the road towards her whereupon, just as she was wondering what to do, two soldiers suddenly appear and grab him. The newspaper claims the first person to reach the wreckage is Tom Arter who finds the pilot waiting with his hands up and greeting him "Kamerad". Sidney Heathfield (son of Fred) releives the airman of his gun. Schlegel commenting in English: "The Spitfires were much too good for us".

Sergeant Ronald Swann (115th Field Regt. Royal Artillery) was stationed at Beechwood, close to the crash and in charge of the camp guard. Taking the guard with him was first on the scene, disarming and capturing the crew (Obit Schlegal, Obit Oswald (Staffel Füher) Oberfw Babbe and Oberfw Holz) who were extremely dazed and lucky to have survived. Soldiers of the London Scottish Regiment arrived on the scene very soon with fixed bayonets and the aircrew were taken into custody. They are later transferred to a prisoner or war camp.

Pilot: Oberleutnant. Heinz Schlegel. – Captured.
Observer: Oberleutnant. Gerhard Osswald. (Staffelfuehrer) – Captured injured.
Observer 2: Oberfeldwebel. Ernst Holtz. – Captured injured.
Radio/Op: Oberfeldwebel. Gustav Babbe. – Captured injured.

At Barham station Fred Heathfield telephones station master George Caple to report the blockage. At Elham the station master is informed by the railway's factotums, Jack Heathfield and Joe Fox, that an enemy aircraft is blocking the line. The 7.7am [sic] Dover Priory to Canterbury West is terminated at Lyminge on arrival at 7.54, whilst the 7.13 from Canterbury runs as far as Bishopsbourne. Passengers are taken past the closed section of line by bus replacement. The wreckage is removed by 9.15 whilst the district engineer oversaw repairs to the slight damage to the permanent way and the line is reopened at 9.35.

Markings: K in green. Shield: bomb falling from a cloud with man sitting on it, holding a telescope. ID: 58205, AW: grey, Kitzingen, 30/1/40, signed Gamar, FP: -.

Spitfires in action were 74 Sqn but 111 Sqn (Hurricanes) Blue 1 (Sqn Ldr Thompson) is likely to be responsible as his account on page two of his Form "F" combat report (AIR 50/43/85) of damaging both engines of a Dornier that then climbed into the cloud matches that of Schlegel's post war recollection:

Sector Serial No (A)
Serial No. of order detailing patrol (B)
Date (C) 13th August 1940
Flight, Squadron (D) Flight: 'B' Sqdn. No.: 111.
No. of Enemy Aircraft (E) 24
Type of Enemy Aircraft (F) Dornier 215 r17.[?]
Time Attack was delivered (G) 0710
Place attack was delivered (H) EASTCHURCH s. Eastwards.
Height of Enemy (J) 3,000'
Enemy Casualties (K) 1 Dornier 215 dest )
1 Dornier damaged )
Our Casualties Aircraft (L) Nil.
Personnel (M) Nil.
General Report (R)
At 0550 hours N.111 Squadron took off on a vector of 125° height 12,000'. After 12 minutes we were told to orbit. Shortly after we were ordered to patrol forward base. (HAWKINGE) below clouds and look for enemy aircraft returning from the direction of the ISLE of SHEPPY. No enemy aircraft were seen on this course. On arrival over EASTCHURCH I was unable to contact the ground station by R/T and, owing to poor visibility I went above the clouds. At approximately 0710 hours a formation was observed approaching from the East about 1,000' below us. It was a formation of 3 astern of about 10 aircraft, but owing to the distance they could not be identified. I instructed 'A' Flight leader to remain where he was whilst I took my flight past these aircraft on the port beam to identify them. When I identified them as Dorniers I instructed 'A' Flight leader to carry out a head on attack whilst I took my flight round to the rear. At that moment I observed another formation astern of the first one, so I carried on and executed a head on attack on this from below. Little return fire was observed until the break away. These head on attacks had the effect of breaking up the enemy formation. I then attacked the formation from the rear closing to within 200 yards of the right hand aeroplane. I broke away from this attack and observed another enemy aircraft (Dornier 215) alone over SITTINGBOURNE flying East.(Continued overleaf) / I carried ...
Signature J M Thumpson
Sq/Ldr Blue 1
O.C. Flight
111 Squadron No.
Page 2.
I carried out a full deflection attack on this aircraft closing to astern at about 50 yards range. Both engines of this enemy aircraft emitted clouds of white vapour but the pilot pulled up into the clouds which were about 50' above. This enemy aircraft could not possibly have flown more than a few miles. On the return to base over W. MALLING a Dornier 215 appeared out of the clouds ahead of me and I gave him a 2 second burst from about 400 yards dead astern but he immediately went back into the clouds again. Then owing to shortage for fuel I retuned to base and landed.

It is also believed that the aircraft had been attacked by Canadian pilot, and future ace, Flg Off James Walker of No 111 Sqn. As he was also in Blue section he may have also attacked this aircraft but his combat report (AIR 50/43/88) doesn't match as closely as Thompson's.

Sector Serial No (A)
Serial No. of order detailing patrol (B)
Date (C) 13th August 1940.
Flight, Squadron (D) Flight: 'B' Sqdn. No.: 111.
No. of Enemy Aircraft (E) 24
Type of Enemy Aircraft (F) Dornier 215.
Time Attack was delivered (G) 0710
Place attack was delivered (H) HERNE BAY
Height of Enemy (J) 3,000'
Enemy Casualties (K) 1 Dornier 215.dest )
1 Dornier damaged )
Our Casualties Aircraft (L) Nil.
Personnel (M) Nil.
General Report (R)
I was flying Blue 2, and broke away to intercept a Dornier which was diving under the clouds. I lost this one and returned above cloud and saw enemy aircraft trying to reform, and mad a half and half attack and he disappeared into the cloud. I made a head on attack closing to point blank range and he pulled up sharply and fell away to port. I followed him down but lost him in the haze at about 1500' I noticed rear gunner fire cannon at me as I passed over the top.
Signature JG. D. Walker P/O
Section Blue
O.C. FlightB
111 Squadron No.

Do 17 U5+KA fuselage by the side of the Elham Valley Railway with Home-guardsmen inspecting the cockpit.

Do 17 U5+KA wing and tail by the side of the Elham Valley Railway guarded by Police Constable 88 of the Kent Constabulary.

Do 17 U5+KA tail by the side of the Elham Valley Railway. A worker with a fishplate spanner stands beside it.

The incident is recorded in the Barham School diary.

Barham school diary extract from 1940

13th August 1940:
German bomber crashed on railway embankment at top of School Garden at 7.30am.
As there were still live bombs in the plane the Police advised that the school be closed for the day.

16th August 1940:
School closed on Police instructions 13th, 14th, 15th & closed by managers 16th & 19th pending receipt of reply from KEC to representations of parents, that school was no longer to be considered in a safe area and should be closed forthwith and remain closed till suitable air-raid shelters had been provided.

Mary Smith records in her diary:

Nazi bomber overhead about 7:15 a.m. Very sharp AA. It came down across railway just behind Barham Station.

After the war Oblt Heiz Schlegal recalls:

So KG 2 [less I. Gruppe] flew towards the Thames Estuary longing to see a Zerstörer escort. After reaching the Channel, the formation flew into a thick layer of cloud. A single Zerstörer, which presumably was there to draw out attention to the fact that the mission had been cancelled, circled us and disappeared again. It was obviously mistaken for our escort. When, in our estimation, we had reached the target, the clouds became thinner but the target could still not be seen so the formation flew in a wide turn towards London, where we turned around again. Now the formation was on an easterly course.

If I can remember our (Stab) Kette was flying behind the rest of the Geschwader. In the very first plane was a Staffelkapitän who was in radio contact with the Kommodore in our Kette to receive further orders. The whole unit had switched to this wavelength which was the reason that nobody had heard the attack had been cancelled because of bad weather.

The target airfield (Eastchurch) was spotted through a hole in the cloud which was at 800m height - we were flying at 1,500m. After flying another 180° turn, we attacked descending though this hole and dropped our bombs quite accurately. But then, the British fighters came from the east from the direction of the sea where the rising sun prevented us from seeing them. So it came as a complete surprise when their salvoes hit us. Neither the Bordfunker not the Bordmechaniker [flight mechanic] had a chance to shoot. Both were wounded, specifically in their forearms. The aircraft was hit in the fuselage and engines. I succeed in pulling the plane into the thin layer of cloud but soon the port then the starboard engine seized.

I realised that we could not fly back across the Channel again and I did not know if the wounded crew members could operate their parachutes, so the only thing to do was to make a force landing. An open meadow appeared, or it seemed to be open, so was the obvious place. But everywhere in southern Britain, the inhabitants had done things to prevent these meadows from being used by aircraft. Ditches had been dug, earth piled up in ramparts and poles had been rammed into the ground so this friendly meadow turned out to be quite bumpy. The aircraft landed heavily and came to a standstill at a big tree. After we got out and had a look around, some unarmed soldiers appeared. They asked for our pistols – there was no way we could have conquered England with those pistols anyway!

This 1936 aerial photo of Barham station shows the railway bridge over the sunken Greenhills road at the top. Notably it is surrounded by woodland. The school is where Greenhills road meets the Valley road (just off the right of this picture).
Aerial view of Barham station, 1936

Google street view of Greenhills road shows the bridge abutments still remaining and they appear to match the bridge visible behind the Policeman in the photo of the crashed aircraft.

Greenhills road bridge, Barham Kent

Greenhills road bridge, Barham Kent

Pherbec Bridge no longer shows up in the records but there is a mortgage deed from 1997 for "Pherbec Bridge" and a subsequent deed dated 2005 for "Bridge House" - both for the same land certificate title number. Street view shows "Bridge House" next to the old railway bridge on Greenhills:
Bridge House, Green Hills, Barham, Kent

In August 2018 I took a trip to Barham and had a look at the site.

The bridge's ELR is EVL 2056.

Greehnills railway bridge, Barham Kent, with the railway identifier EVL 2056

The tops of the bridge abutments, where the line ran, are now private property so it wasn't possible to closely inspect them, added to which the north side is heavily overgrown. However, the brickwork matches that seen in the contemporary photo with the policeman.

Bridge abutment, Greenhills, Barham, Kent

The line ran in a north-south direction and was singled in 1931 with the removal of the west track. In the above photos the single track is visible indicating that the Policeman is standing on the south west corner of the bride.

As far as I can make out, the picture of the fuselage is skewed - to match the angle of the starboard wing in the picture with the policeman the fuselage would have been on the downslope of the embankment. The stance of the onlookers, and in particular their feet, also support this - as do the tree trunks visible in the background.
Corrected angle of Do 17 U5+KA fuselage by the side of the Elham Valley Railway

It seems from the photos that there was some damage to the south west bridge abutment so linking that with the line being blocked by the severed tail, the obliterated port side of the empennage, the position of the fuselage down the embankment pointing southward, the starboard wing clipping a tree, the approach from the south and I think it's likely the aircraft was spinning when it hit the bridge and that's what removed the tail as shown in this animation:

Barham Do 17 crash animation
Map data taken from the 1939 Ordanance Survey County Series map.

An officer's forage cap and Luftwaffe gravity knife recovered from this aircraft can now be viewed at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge.

Bf 109 crashes near Denton

Uffz Hans Wemhöner of II/JG 26 (Unit 5) Bails out of his Bf 109E-1 over Elham landing near Henbury, with a wounded (broken) leg. His Bf 109 crashes outside Denton. Shot down by a "Spitfire" over Folkestone which opened up at 500 yards scoring a lucky hit in the engine. JG 26 were intercepted by 56 Sqn. (Hurricanes).

Mary Smith records in her diary:

Air battle at 4pm. Nazi airman down at Parker's by parachute. Leg wound.

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)

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 --

Name of Pilot (Block Letters) -

P/O Pniak.
General Report (R) See Over.
Signature Pniak P/O
O.C. Flight
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:


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

Pass to AM Depts
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.

GR68?? CC R0132 DT KK


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.

Pass to (C1 Acc and P4 Cas) Polish Embassy.

A.359. 24/8.

(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.


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




Pass to AM (C1 Acc and P4 Cas)

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



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



Dept. Q.J.

26 August, 1940.

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


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,
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:


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

Pass to AM (C1 Acc and P4 Cas) and Belgian Embassy.

A.357. 24/8.

(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.)

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


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.


A261 25/8.


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.


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

Bf 109 crash lands near Lyminge

Fw Fritz Schewser, white 6 (5327) of 7/JG 54 crash lands his Bf 109E-4 on the south outskirts of Lyminge parish ("Meridan Farm") having had the oil radiator pierced by F/O Eric Thomas of 222 Sqn. He skids across the grass banging his head off the cockpit and armour plate.

As farm workers and troops enter the field he opens a fuel cock and soaks his his maps and papers before lighting a match in cupped hands and throwing the burning papers into the cockpit. He then moves a safe distance from the aircraft and waves a white handkerchief over his head. Thomas, circling overhead, witnesses the entire proceedings.

Reverand Williams later writes in the parish magazine:

Last month I watched a British airman force down a German fighter plane on the outskirts of the parish. The Englishman was merciful, as it seemed to me. He could have blown to pices the German pilot, but he withheld his fire when the Nazi was obviously beaten and was coming down. He afterwards circled round for some time to make sure of his 'bad', and then did something which fairly took my breath away - he quickly rolled his plane over in the air, as you might spin a tennis racket in your hand! It is, I believe, what the RAF call 'The Victory Roll'.

Well, it struck me as typical of the national spirit which is overcoming all kinds of dangers and difficulties with courage and endurance in the full ardour of youth, until its efforts are crowned in Victory.