15 Do 17s from II/KG 76 are observed forming up over the French coast and they cross the channel towards Dungeness at 5,000ft. Three miles out they split into two groups: one heads for Lympne, the other flies along the coast to Sandgate before heading inland to Hawkinge.
At Hawkinge the personnel on the base are taken by surprise as the Do 17s (KG 2 and KG 76) and Bf 110s (EprGr 210) come in over Folkestone at medium height and the AA crews aren't able to man their guns - with the exception of two Hisapnios.
Number three hanger at Hawkinge receives direct hits and the iron doors come off their runners killing one airman and two civilian employees - Brisley and McCaister. Inside the hanger two Spitfires under repair were wrecked and two others seriously damaged. Four airmen are killed and six seriously wounded.
The workshops, clothing store and two married quarters were destroyed and the main store was on fire and the ammunition there was exploding.
Luftwaffe records state that Hawkinge was attacked in two waves, with 280 110-lb bombs being dropped first, followed by 16 1100-lb and eight 551-lb bombs.
64 Sqn's Spitfres engaged the Do 17s over Hawkinge and remarked on the lack of AA fire. American PO Donahue bailed out of his burning Spitfire over Sellinge.
Hurricanes from 32 Sqn returning to the airfield to refuel have to negotiate the 28 craters on the landing field. Flt. Lt. Michael Crossley requests permission to land, the response from the controller being "Hello Jacko Red Leader. We've had a spot of bother here. Permission to pancake granted. Good Luck." Sgt. Lacey's undercarriage collapses and F/Lt Gibson's aircraft ends up on it's nose. PO Barton opts to crash-land in a nearby field. The aircraft are refuelled and returned to Biggin Hill.
Firemen from Folkestone arrive to help out at the airfield. Section Leader R. R. Fry is accompanied by his team of Bill Willis, Percy Sutton, Ted Beeching, George Rumsey and George Kelly are fighting the multiple blazes at No 3 hanger where saving the aircraft isn't possible.
49 MU lost a number of vehicels, including a Ford V8 staff car and a Commer low-loader.
Fry said of the incident:
A chaotic scene greeted our arrival. There were fires in several places. The water tower, supplying pressure for the hydrants, had been holed by splinters in may places and water cascaded from it, reducing our mains supply to a trickle as we watched.
The main priority was getting the landing field operational and soldiers, airmen and civilians worked through the night filling in craters, sustained by a mobile canteen serving tea and sandwiches.
OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) RAF. Station Hawkinge
|Place||Date||Time||Summary of Events||References to Appendices|
|WEATHER. fine. The I.G. of the R.A.F, Sir E.A LUDLOW-HEWITT, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C. inspected the Station. An Enemy Bombing attack by J.U. 88's against the Station was carried out at 17.30 hours and lasted for approximately 10 minutes. One hanger, No. 3, was almost completely wrecked whilst on other, No. 5, was partially wrecked. A number of Bombs of heavy caliber, including incendiary, were dropped. The aerodrome and buildings were machine-gunned during the attack. The main stores were partly damaged by fire, the clothing store almost completely. The fire was quickly brought under control by R.A.F. personnel aided by local A.F.S. The Station Workshops were wrecked. Two houses in the Airmen's Married Quarters , occupied by airmen, were destroyed. Twenty-eight craters were made on the aerodrome, the largest being 76' x 72' x 28' deep, and the smallest 10' x 10' x 8' deep, but the aerodrome was not rendered completely unserviceable. Repairs to the surface were immediately commenced by the R.E.s. already attached for such work. Ground Defenses were surprised and no guns, except two HISPANO were fired. The altitude of the attacking aircraft was such that it was impractical for the P.A.C.U. to be brought into action. Two civilians, MR. BRISLEY and MR. CAISTER, employed by contractors of the Works Directorate, were killed and three airmen, CORPORAL Mc. COLL attached from R.A.F. Station, YEADON, A.C.2. SYMES attached from R.A.F. Station, KENLEY, and A.C.1. LANGDON of R.A.F. Station, HAWKINGE, were killed. Six airmen received severe injuries and were admitted to the KENT and CANTERBURY HOSPITAL, CANTERBURY. TheCasulaties occurred to personnel employed in No 3 hanger. Two SPITFIRE aircraft, under repair, were seriously damaged, whilst one or two others were struck by splinters. The two non-operational aircraft on charge were damaged but repairable. P.O. N.G. DURHAM reporting on posting from R.A.F. Station, WICK for duty at A.M.E.S., DOVER. F.O. J.D. GABB and F.O. J.H. READ reported on posting for operations room duties.
AIR RAID WARNINGS.
RED 08.35, WHITE 09.25, RED 11.38, WHITE 12.37, RED 23.37, WHITE 23.59
The identification of the attackers as Ju 88s seems incorrect.