Stuart tried to contact control to see if the relief section was on its way but could not raise them. He then ‘turned and headed for convoy climbing to get into sun’. When he was 5 miles from the vessels, he saw bombs exploding around the escorting destroyer. Despite being alone, he ‘pulled the plug and went after the enemy aircraft which had turned southwards’.
When he was southeast of the convoy, at 10000 feet, he saw ‘three Me 109s ﬂying in wide vic at about 9000 feet’. He dived and attacked the machine on the left, opening ﬁre at 200 yards and ﬁring two rapid 2—second bursts as he closed to astern at approximately 50 yards.
It was impossible to look at those young men, who might within a matter of minutes be fighting and dying to save us, without mingled emotions of wonder, gratitude, and humility. The physical and mental strain of the long hours at dispersal, the constant flying at high altitudes (two or three sorties a day were normal, six or seven not uncommon), must have been prodigious.
And yet they were so cheerful, so confident, and so obviously dedicated. They were always thrilled to see Churchill, and they gave me a kindly welcome.