Saturday, 13 July 1940

56 Squadron, Dover Straits

At about 6.30 p.m. Flt Lt John Coghlan is flying as No.2 in Red Section, ‘B’ Flight. Near Calais they sight between nine and twelve Ju87 Stukas crossing the coast near Calais at about 7,000 feet. They are escorted by Me109s, though Coghlan believes they are Heinkel 113s. (Nazi propaganda has succeeded in persuading everyone, even ‘Jane’s’, that these fighters are in the front line. In truth they do not exist except as prototypes.)

The section forms into line astern and attacks the Ju87s, which drop their bombs into the sea and dive to sea-level, about three miles off Calais. Each pilot in Red Section picks a Stuka.  Coghlan and F/Lt Brooker, who is leading the section, open fire first, but all three Stukas continue diving, straight into the sea.

The Hurricanes now come under attack from the Me109s/He113s. Coghlan sees a Hurricane being attacked, and gives the Me109a long burst from about 1500 feet above it;  it turns and falls into the sea. As so often happens during the battle, one minute it is a general melée of swirling aircraft, the next the enemy has disappeared. Coghlan sees several large splashes in the sea but cannot identify the aircraft, but he does see Geoffrey Page shoot down one ‘He113’. Coghlan may have thought they were He113s was their paint scheme: black on top with white crosses, just as in a propaganda photo in ‘Jane’s’. While attacking one of the ‘He113s’, Coghlan notes three streams of tracer from each wing, assuming a similar layout to the Hurricane, but he doesn’t see any cannon-shot. (Nor would he have seen anything, even though Me109s had cannon. But cannons didn’t fire tracer, so it would have been invisible.)

Coghlan combat report, NA AIR 50/22