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Thread: 8 May 41 609 Squadron

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    Default 8 May 41 609 Squadron

    Hello all,

    I am looking for details on the 609 Squadron mission on 8 May 41 - better known as the battle of the dinghy. Info, like combat reports etc, are most wellcome. Thanks for your help.

    Best regards,
    Rob

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    Default

    Rob

    pp184-186 The Story of 609 Sq. - Under The White Rose Frank H. Ziegler

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    Hello,

    Here's the text of the form 540 of No. 609 (WR) Squadron ORB :

    Biggin Hill. May. 1941. Though May was still a season of winter underwear, and the last week's weather prevented any operational flying at all, it produced a few swallows to herald the summer of Biggin fame, and one very notable day when 609, who had not Destroyed a Hun for many moons, amazed itself by Destroying 6 and 2 Probables without loss. By the end of this transitional month there were few new pilots who had not fired their guns, and the Belgian reinforcements had settled down into an integral part of the Squadron. One of them - the Count de Grunne - was lost, as was Sgt Mercer.

    8th. After a night at the Suivi and several convoy patrols the Squadron little thought, as it took off at 16.49 with the usual 'stooge' instructions to patrol Maidstone - 15,000 feet, that it was about to have the most successful combat any fighter Squadron had endured since the Battle of Britain. Nor has any Squadron Leader ever celebrated his birthday quite so heartily. It all started with a little dinghy floating in mid-Channel containing a German aviator. If he was not the very important German aviator that it is suspected he was then (perhaps Ace Moulders), he must have felt very important by the time boats from both sides had competed to rescue him and by the time 609 Squadron finished battling with the Luftwaffe over him. Whether important or not, his joy at being eventually rescued by his own side must have been severely tempered after witnessing 6, and probably 8, of his own fighters splashing into the surrounding sea, and not a single Spitfire. What happened was briefly as follows:
    609 in 3 Sections of 4, spied a rescue boat (ours) on fire with a couple of Me.109's circling over it. Leaving Blue Section as top cover, the rest dived, but were too late. Blue Section meanwhile was attacked and Blue 3 (Sgt Mercer) hit. Undismayed he attacked one of 2 E/A which shot past him, and it dived down vertically emitting smoke. Reforming, Red and Yellow Sections found a second rescue boat, with more Me.109's. Yellow Section now remained as cover while Red Section, joined by Blue 1 and Yellow 4, dived. Red 1 (S/Ldr Robinson) shot the nearest into the sea. Red 2 (Flt. Curchin) fired at 2 others in quick succession, and one dived into the sea, the other was finished off by Yellow 4 (Sgt Hughes-Rees). A cannon shell then hit Curchins wing from behind, and he came home with a blocked aileron and a Spitfire covered with enemy oil. Two further E/A were shot down in quick succession by Blue 1 (Sgt Rigler) from point blank range - his first combat. Meanwhile Blue 2 (Sgt Palmer) had chased two E/A to within 5 miles of Calais. He then heard on the R/T: 'Beauty leader being fired on'. S/Ldr Robinson had pursued his second 109 also to the French coast, and had just shot it down into the surf when he was attacked by 9 others from all directions. He had used all his ammunition, and came back at 0 feet, taking superb evasive action by turning towards each E/A as it fired and at times doing a complete circle. He emerged unscathed, helped by the loyal Sgt Palmer, who saw a Spitfire with a 109 on his tail. He immediately hopped on to the tail of the 109 and gave him a 2 second burst from point blank range. The E/A's propeller appeared to slow down but as he was also being dived on by 109's, he had no opportunity to see anything more except that it was gliding downwards and sideways apparently out of control. Final praise must go to Yellow Section led by F/Lt Richey, who did good work as top cover and were themselves attacked. They also confirmed Riglers second victory for him. There was quite a party to greet the victors, and while the CO's twin victory rolls seemed to confirm the news from Ops up drove the Group Captain and the Wing Commander, their shining cars contrasting strangely with the drab, battle worn planes with gun-canvasses shot away. As each pilot emerged from his plane, a little procession would move towards him wearing smiles ever more surprised, while the Intelligence Officer, busy sifting claims, would ever and anon be asked, "How many do you make it now?” In the end he made it as follows:
    S/Ldr Robinson 2 Me.109’s Destroyed. Appendix B
    F/L. Curchin 1½ Me.109’s Destroyed. " B1
    Sgt Rigler 2 Me.109’s Destroyed. " B2
    Sgt Hughes-Rees ½ Me.109 Destroyed. " B3
    Sgt Palmer 1 Me.109 Probably Destroyed. " B4
    Sgt Mercer 1 Me.109 Probably Destroyed. " B5
    Our losses 1 Spitfire….Cat 2. Appendix B6
    Curchins and Mercer's machines were both Damaged, especially the latter's in which (among other things) a cannon shell exploded in the fuselage, splintering the Perspex, one hole being an inch above Mercer's head. Alas! Sgt Mercer was to lose his life next day, but no one could know it then; and so after a further uneventful sweep, the day terminated in due celebration. Telegram next day said: "Congratulations on a good day's work well done" "Leigh Mallory AOC"

    At Kew the ORB is in AIR 27/2102 and 609's Combat Reports are in AIR 50/171. I have the form 541s from June 1941, so can't tell the planes flown by each pilots.

    From S/L M.L. ROBINSON's log-book (AIR 4/62), this flight lasted 1 hour 5 minutes and he was flying Spitfire II P7881. He was born 8th May 1917.

    Joss

    PS : Rob, do you have a specific interest in 609 ? Informations to share ?

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    Default 8 May 41

    Hello John and Joss,

    Thanks for your replies.

    Joss, can you please contact me at robvdn(at)planet.nl where (at) is @

    Looking forward to yours.

    Best regards,
    Rob

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