View Full Version : Whirlwind attacks! Transcript of BBC recording

6th December 2009, 17:19
I am a nephew of the late W/Cmdr Thomas P Pugh, DFC who served with 263 Squadron between June 1940 and February 1942 and as S/Ldr was Commanding Officer from August 1941.

I have a BBC recording from January 1942 of Uncle Tom giving an account of a sortie to a German airfield in coastal France. This describes his flight strafing and destroying a number of JU-88's on the ground. I thought this might be of interest to Forum members and have made a transcript of the recording as set out below;

Transcript of BBC 78 R.P.M Recording Number 7.M38 dated 27.1.42
S/L. Pugh DFC “Low-level aerodrome attacks”

“On this particular occasion two aerodromes were selected for us. The two targets were to be attacked simultaneously and as there was no cloud cover we were given an escort of Spitfires.

We cruised at an altitude of about fifty feet, well throttled back to save petrol. After about thirty minutes the French coast appeared as a long, low, shapeless smudge on the horizon and as we were flying very low the first recognisable features was a lighthouse. These aids are really invaluable as it is impossible to recognise the coastline when approaching it at high speed. We might easily be coming in sight of any part of the French coast within five miles one side or the other without knowing it until you are smack over land.

As we reached the coast our formation of Whirlwinds tightened up and the escorting fighters climbed a few hundred feet and began to weave as they kept a sharp look-out for enemy fighters.

The coastline of this particular part of France is dotted with a maze of small, rocky, sandy islands, and this certainly didn’t help me to identify my position. As we flew over these islands and the beach, only a few feet above the ground, we could see some Frenchmen on the shore and in small sailing vessels in the channels, they were waving frantically. I hadn’t time to watch them and really noticed them sub-consciously because, at that moment, I was concentrating everything whilst I was trying to pick up a very small river, which I knew from my map led straight to the target.

I had almost made up my mind that I had lost myself and was going to make a complete mess of the whole show, when the river appeared as a narrow, winding, muddy stream between very steep banks. I turned left and as I kept down between the banks I knew that I would be over the target in less than a minute. As I rounded a bend in the river I saw the town with it’s tall church steeple, there was no sign of life anywhere and everything seemed very peaceful.

Turning sharply to the left onto the dispersal points on the West-side of the aerodrome I had no difficulty in picking out the large twin-engined JU-88’s scattered around and about it. I was then about four hundred feet and begun a shallow dive, when, right in front of me I saw two 88’s parked very close together in line-astern. I drew a bead on the first one and opened fire. There seemed to be a split-second lag before I saw my shells burst on the wings and fuselage of this machine. Almost immediately there was an explosion between the starboard engine and the fuselage. I quickly shifted my sight onto the second machine and this one too went up in flames, just like the first one.

There were two or three other machines scattered about and as I was looking at one I saw another Whirlwind, my Number Two, carry out an attack. I could see the lines of tracer darting in and around this machine but the Whirlwind went over the top of it without apparently causing any damage. At first I thought he had missed it completely but suddenly the aircraft began smoking fiercely and in an instant the engine had burst into flames. Just about then I noticed one burst of flak a few hundred feet above us and well to one side. There was no doubt the Huns had been caught napping and before they could put up any real defence, we were gone.

The actual raid across the aerodrome didn’t last more than fifteen seconds. We were back at base exactly one hour and fifteen minutes after leaving it. When we landed the Intelligence Officer collected our reports. Later he told us our Whirlwinds had claimed to have set on fire and destroyed five German aircraft of the Junker-88 type and the Spitfires were claiming four. My Flight Commander who had raided the other aerodrome had equally good luck. They between them had managed to destroy or damage eight German Stukas and one ME-109. That made a total score of seventeen Hun aircraft for both raids. “

From Squadron records posted on Jeff Beaumont’s excellent website dedicated to 263 Squadron (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/laurieburley/jeff/index.html) I have identified that this sortie was against a German aerodrome at Lannion and took place on 26 August 1941. The second aerodrome attacked at the same time was located at Maupertus.