fighters

Nov

13

1943

Fighters go all the way as USAAF attacks Bremen

Boeing B-17F radar bombing through clouds over Bremen, Germany, on November 13, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

I bounced these with my wing man, pressing my attack on the second Fw190 to about 50 yards. I saw strikes on the right wing. The e/a had rocket guns and a belly tank. When I pulled up I was 3,000ft above my wing man, and saw that he had 5 Me109’s on his tail. I told him to break over the R/T, which he did, and then I dived through the Me109’s breaking up their formation.

Oct

25

1943

Mosquito night fighter over London AA fire

Mosquito PR Mark IX, LR432 ‘L1’,

But we had dived in a very short time from the Arctic cold of twenty-five thousand feet, and the moisture from the warmer air below began to cake in solid ice on our windscreen. In a few moments it was opaque, and although by the time we had pulled out of our dive the range had closed to two thousand feet we could see nothing through that sheet of ice.

Sep

29

1943

Wounded and lost somewhere over the Eastern front

A captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190A in replicated Luftwaffe insignia, circa 1942-1943.

I had to keep my nerve and try to find an airfield. It was my luck, as mentioned, that no enemy fighters were in the area, so I had to be over our own territory. After flying for 25-30 minutes I flew over a small brook running from right to left, so deduced it was owing from north to south. I turned right and flew along the bed of the stream — somewhere along it there had to be a settlement or airfield. I reckoned I was flying at about 1,000 metres, my wounds had stopped bleeding, everything was sticky, and the engine just ran and ran.

Sep

27

1943

Luftwaffe surprised by USAAF fighters over Germany

P-38F-1-LO over California during factory test flights (U.S. Air Force)

I order all our rockets to be discharged when we are in formation at a range of 2,000 feet. The next moment a simply fantastic scene unfolds before my eyes. My own two rockets both register a perfect bull’s-eye on a Fortress. Thereupon I am confronted with an enormous solid ball of fire. The bomber has blown up in mid-air with its entire load of bombs. The blazing, smoking fragments come fluttering down.

Sep

2

1943

Shot down off Spain and ‘In the drink’

Catalina Mark I, Z2147 ‘AX-L’, of No. 202 Squadron RAF based at Gibraltar, in flight approaching Europa Point on returning from an anti-submarine patrol. While serving with the Squadron, Z2147 was credited with nine successful attacks on enemy submarines.

When we finally got to the surface, all except the skipper and Pat, I suddenly saw daylight and took a deep breath of air. We were appalled to see only one dinghy: the rest had gone down with the aircraft. It wasn’t easy getting seven of us into the two-man dinghy. Our Mae Wests had been riddled and didn’t keep us up. Some could not swim and their wounds made it dicult to hoist them aboard. The sea was rough and we were sick over the side, from swallowing so much salt water. We hadn’t beenin the dinghy more than an hour when we sighted smoke on the horizon. Somebody said, “Surely we’re not saved already,” and started to wave the telescopic flag. The smoke came nearer and we saw the shape of a vessel altering course towards us. We all started talking and cheering like wildfire as we thought we were going to be picked up and saved.

Aug

27

1943

French hero Rene Mouchotte’s last flight

spitfire in flight

I pressed the multiple button and this time fired all my guns at once — two cannon and four machine guns — to have done with it. Two shells exploded simultaneously just behind the engine and the cockpit belched forth a cloud of black smoke. We were only 1,000 feet up. Roads and villages passed below our wings. Flames now gleamed through the smoke — the blow had been mortal. We went on down still further. A church steeple went by on a level with me….

Jul

27

1943

French Spitfire pilot Pierre Closterman opens his score

Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vs banking over Tunisia during a sortie to provide top cover for Allied bombers.

I climbed steeply, did a half-roll and, before they could complete the 180° of their turn, there I was — within easy range this time – behind the second one. A slight pressure on the rudder and I had him in my sights. I could scarcely believe my eyes, only a simple deflection necessary, at less than 200 yards range. Quickly I squeezed the ring-button. Whoopee! Flashes all over his fuselage. My first burst had struck home and no mistake.

Jul

20

1943

A Spitfire ‘rhubarb’ over France ends badly

Spitfire F Mark XII, MB882 ‘EB-B’, of No. 41 Squadron RAF based at Friston, Sussex, in flight over Eastbourne.

On this occasion it didn’t turn out that way: as we crossed the coast there was an almighty bang and everything changed. After the roar and racket of the past quarter of an hour there was suddenly total silence. There was glass everywhere except in the instrument panel where it belonged. My right arm wouldn’t obey my commands but hung loose at my side. Almost every dial, indicator and gauge in front of me had gone haywire. Not a squeak from the radio; not a murmur from the engine; no wind noise; total silence; and around me total chaos. I was stone deaf.

Jun

14

1943

Nightfighter vs nightfighter over Germany

Three Beaufighter Mark IF night fighters of No. 600 Squadron RAF based at Colerne, Wiltshire, flying in starboard echelon formation. The wartime censor has removed the AI Mark IV airborne interception radar aerials from the photograph.

‘Keep a good check on the equipments, Sticks. There arc plenty of Huns about.’ Up ahead was another fire in the sky, gradually sinking lower and lower to crash in a sheet of flame, marking the grave of another aircraft. Things were getting hot. We were close to the flaming ruins of Oberhausen and the sky above us was filled with bursting anti-aircraft shells and the flares released by the Pathfinders to show the main force where the bombs should be dropped.

Jun

6

1943

Random bullet strikes down General Horrocks

A Bren gunner and rifleman take up defensive positions on the beach during combined operations training in the Gulf of Aqaba, 22 June 1943.

I retain only two memories of the next twenty-four hours. The first was when I was lying on the floor of divisional headquarters with a group of people standing round. Recognising the face of the divisional A.D.M.S. – the chief doctor – I asked him if I would be well enough to take the Corps to Salerno. He shook his head. Luckily for my peace of mind it never entered my head that at this time he thought I was going to die.