JG 26 Arrive in the Pas-de-Calais

JG 26 Stab and First Gruppe arrive at a former grain field at Audembert on the Channel coast near Calais.

They are equipped with Bf 109E-4s but many older Bf 109E-1s with additional seat and back armour are still on strength.

The remainder of JG 26 arrive in the Pas-de-Calais

The remaining two Gruppen of JG 26 join the Geschwader in the Pas-de-Calais. The Second Gruppe is based at Marquise and the Third Gruppe is at Caffiers - both former British airbases during WWI. Whilst they have no permanent installations, they have large, well drained landing fields. As there are no revetments the aircraft are dispersed under trees or under netting. Maintenance is handled outside, operations are conducted from trailers and men are quartered in tents or nearby towns.

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.

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.

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.

JG 26 bounce 501 Sqn. as they try to gain height over Canterbury

Twelve Hurricanes of 501 Sqn. are gaining height over Canterbury when they are sighted by III/JG 26 in their Bf 109s.

With the rest of the Bf 109s covering from above, Oberleutnant Gerhart Shöpfel, leading the Gruppe in the absence of Adolf Galland, closed in on the formation of Hurricanes. The two weavers are dispatched with one quick burst each from close range, he then slides into position behind the rear vic and dispatches two more before debris from his fourth victim (P/O Kenneth Lee) causes him to break off his attack. The rest of the Bf 109s, which had been covering from above, now join in and an inconclusive dog fight ensues.

Shöpfel recalls:

They were using the English tactics of that period, flying in close formation of threes, climbing up in a wide spiral. About 1,000m above, I turned with them and managed to get behind the two covering Hurricanes which were weaving continuously. I waited until they were once more heading away from Folkestone and had turned northwest and then pulled round out of the sun and attacked from below. The Englishmen continued on, having noticed nothing. So I pulled in behind a forth machine and took care of him but this time I went in too close. When I pressed the firing button the Englishman was so close in front of my nose that pieces of wreckage struck my propeller.

The 501 Squadron Intelligence Report states:

Engagement of No 501 Squadron with large force of Me 109s and Me 100s on the 18th August, 1940 at 13:00 hours.

No 501 Squadron, consisting of 12 Hurricanes, took off from Hawkinge at 12:30 approximately, and patrolled the east Kent area at 12,000 feet. When flying north-west near Sandwich they sighted a large force of bombers with and escort of Me 110s and 109s (about 20 plus) approaching from the east. 'A' Flight on the left attempted to attack the fighters, while 'B' Flight became involved in a general dog-fight with the Me 109s and 110s. P/O Zenker in Green Section managed to damadge the Me 109s which was straggling. Enemy casualties were 1 Me 109 damaged. Our own losses were K N T Lee bailed out (wounded). P/O F.Kzłowski (Polish) baled out (seriously wounded). Sgt D A S Mc Kay baled out (slightly wounded). P/O J W Bland killed.

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 501 Squadron.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
Gravesend 1940 AUGUST
18.
PM The squadron was at 15 mins[?]. Available from Dawn to 0830 hours when the aircraft took off for Hawkinge. An engagement took place in the Canterbury area in broken cloud and haze. The engagement developed into a general dog-fight and the following casualties were sustained - P/O.K.N.T.Lee wounded in the leg; P/O.Kozlowski seriously injured; Sgt.McKay slight burns; P/O.J.W.Bland killed. The Squadron returned to Gravesend. All aircraft were ordered off the ground. They were vectored to Biggin Hill which was being attacked. Pilot Officer Dafforn bailed out but was injured.
Seven Hurricanes took off for Hawkinge at 1650 hours to patrol forward Base. An enemy force of 50 bombers and fighters was encountered. Red section attacked 2 Me 110's were shot down. Flight Lieutenant G.E.B.Stonay was killed in this engagement. Red Section were ordered to Night Readiness.

Ramsgate airfield bombed

20 He 111 (or 30+ Do 17) drop 13 tons of bombs onto Ramsgate's civilian airfield, a quater of the estimated 210 bombs fall on the airfield - the rest causing extensive damage to the town.

151 Sqn. (Hurricanes) intercept the Bf 109 escorts from III./JG 26 on the right flank over Manston and 610 Sqn. (Spirfires) engage the left flank escorts of III./(J)LG 2 over Ramsgate. The bombers are not engaged.

"To Defeat the Few" says it was He 111 but the "Battle of Britain Combat Archive" says Do 17s.

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 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

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