Battle of Britain - Day 35 - Adler Tag

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Mensagem por Winston Churchill em Seg Ago 19, 2013 8:13 am

Day 35 – August 13th 1940

August 13, 2010 in 19 Squadron, 54 Squadron, August 1940
Adler Tag (Eagle Day)

Weather: Fine; some patchy cloud over Channel.

Adolf Hitler, Directive No. 17 (1st August, 1940)
The Luftwaffe will use all the forces at its disposal to destroy the British air force as quickly as possible. August 5th is the first day on which this intensified air war may begin, but the exact date is to be left to the Luftwaffe and will depend on how soon its preparations are complete, and on the weather situation.
Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

Blenheim – 71
Spitfire – 226
Hurricane – 353
Defiant – 26
Gladiator – 2
Total – 678

There was some mist at first but this later cleared. Early in the morning, a large force of Do17s had taken off under the leadership of Commander Johannes Fink. But the fighters who were meant to accompany the bomber stream had turned back. Goering, back in Karinhall, had been told that the weather wasn’t, after all, all that good. He decided to postpone the opening of the new campaign, that had been scheduled for today, codenamed ‘Adler Tag’, or ‘Eagle Day’.. He personally ordered those aircraft, which had already taken off, to be recalled. The recall signal reached the fighters, but not the bombers. The former turned for home, leaving the bombers to forge on alone.

However, the bombers’ target was an RAF station in Surrey, Eastchurch. This wasn’t a fighter command station at all, as it belonged to Coastal Command, although 266 Squadron Spitfires were there having just been moved down from the Midlands. No fighters were permanently stationed there. The raid on Eastchurch turned out to be very damaging and destructive, wrecking a number of aircraft, killing several personnel, and it gave the impression to Fink and his men that they had completely destroyed a fighter command station, together with 10 Spitfires. In fact, only 1 Spitfire was destroyed, although 16 ground crew were killed and 5 Blenheims were destroyed. Despite this damage, the station was back in service the next day.

On the way home, flying across Kent, five Do17s of Fink’s group were shot down with several more being damaged by 111 and 151 Squadrons. On return to base Fink was furious. What had happened to his fighter escort?

Yet the most serious error made that day was mistaking Eastchurch, a coastal command station for a fighter command one.

A second German group had not received details of Eagle Day’s postponement and a sizeable force of Ju88s was heading for Odiham and the research establishment at Farnborough. But they were intercepted by 601 Squadron and forced to return to their base.

In the afternoon came a series of raids from Luftflotte 3 from the Cherbourg peninsula which were aimed at Portland and other south coast ports including Southampton. Several interceptions were made by RAF squadrons on this latest incursion. However, several German aircraft managed to get through to Southampton and did serious damage.

At the same time, Luftflotte 2 were also in action. Detling was hit and the Commanding Officer was killed. The day had given Fighter Command a taste of the much more intensive battle which was about to take place over the next few weeks. Cumulatively, it was to put the Command under severe strain. The RAF lost 13 aircraft with the Germans losing 45.

That night the Nuffield works near Birmingham were hit.

54 Squadron Operational Record Book, 13 August
A respite with only 1 patrol over Hornchurch for an hour early in the morning.

19 Squadron Operational Record Book – 13 August – Eastchurch
Eastchurch Aerodrome (and “B” Flight) most thoroughly bombed. Approximately 220 bombs dropped in 20 minutes. The personnel were also machine-gunned by low-flying enemy aircraft. Fortunately “B” Flight sustained no damage or injuries. The dispersal of the aircraft would help considerably to this end.

Reported Casualties (RAF Campaign Diary 13th August 1940):

* Enemy: 78 aircraft destroyed, 33 probable, 49 damaged.
* Own: 11 Hurricanes, 2 Spitfires

"Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but in the end, there it is."

"Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be."

"I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and France has suffered even more than we have....the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course."
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

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