On 4 September the Gruppe carried out a daylight raid on the aircraft works at Rochester. Although lasting only 150 minutes (from 1240 hrs until 1510 hrs), it was a tough mission at the target lay at the very limit of our Me 109s' effective escort range.
The Spirfires first attacked from out of the sun, each picking a target before diving away. Some then climbed back up again to make a second attack from below. We were very much reliant on our own collective defensive fire. The few Me 109s that were still hanging on to us could do little. If they became involved in a dogfight they would either be shot down or use up their last remaining fuel and be unable to make it back across the channel.
For us it was most unpleasant to have to watch the English roundels wheeling about at close range right in front of our noses. But we were lucky. The presence alone of our few escorting fighters, however passive their behaviour, seemed to have a deterrent effect and stopped the enemy from mounting a coordinated attack - presumably they were unaware of the Me 109s' problems. Once again we all returned safely to base with nothing but flak damage. But other units were not so fortunate.
"other units" refers to the fighters as the only He 111 casualty was one from 4./KG 26 that was lost over the North Sea.