Category Archives: Prelude

Saturday, 17 August 1940

No. 22 Maintenance Unit, RAF Silloth

Hurricane No. R4118 is sent to No. 605 (County of Warwickshire) Squadron at RAF Drem, east of Edinburgh. It takes part in the Battle of Britain, and its pilots shoot down five more aircraft, German ones this time. After a long history its decayed remains are found in 1982, in Benares, India by Peter Vacher. Vacher brings it back to England, where it is completely restored. Today, hosted for its new owner James Brown by the Shuttleworth Collection, it flies as the only airworthy Hurricane that flew in the Battle of Britain.

Monday, 12 August 1940

RAF Silloth

A Court of Inquiry is held ‘for the purpose of enquiring into and allocating responsibility for the attack and shooting down of Whitley aircraft N.1411 by a Hurricane aircraft No. R.4118 of No. 1 (C) O.T.U., Silloth, on 5th August 1940.’

All four of the Silloth pilots — two Blenheims, two Hurricanes — who intercepted the Whitley believe they had been authorised to shoot at a British-marked aircraft if it acted in a hostile manner, but only Sgt Parrott, who intercepted the Whitley after the others had left, opened fire.

The Court will issue its judgement later.

Sources

TNA AIR 14/390.

Saturday, 10 August 1940

RAF Ringway

A second Lysander is allotted to the Central Landing School at RAF Ringway. (Source Ringway ORB.) Registration numbers for the pair are R2625 and R2626. The aircraft cards (AM Form 78) record that they were sent to 419 Flight; this shows that the cards were updated some timer later, for the formation of an SD Flight is not mooted until 16 August 1940, with the formal creation of No. 419 Flight four days later.

Friday, 9 August 1940

RAF Ringway

S/Ldr Louis Strange and our others make the first parachute jumps over Tatton Park. Strange had earlier persuaded its owner (Maurice, Lord Egerton) to loan Tatton Park to the RAF for parachute drops. Egerton agreed, with the proviso that aircraft would not land in his park. Lord Egerton had been an aviation pioneer and is one of Strange’s early friends. This arrangement thoroughly annoys the Army, which has long cast its covetous eyes on the Park.

According to the Ringway ORB a Lysander is allotted to the Central Landing School. Another is allotted the following day. However, the Air Ministry Form 78 aircraft record cards state that both are allotted on the 10th. A memo in an Air Ministry file shows that these two aircraft are destined for ‘Special Duties’ activities.

Thursday, 8 August 1940

North Weald – Whitchurch – Ringway

S/Ldr Knowles again borrows a Hurricane from 56 Squadron and flies to Ringway via Whitchurch. SIS has its eyes on six Dutch KLM DC-2 and DC-3 airliners at Whitchurch. These have been impounded along with other foreign airliners. But SIS is thwarted, and the airliners cannot simply be purloined; they are the private property of a foreign country. The Dutch airliners and their crews are subsequently engaged by BOAC for use on the Lisbon route; one will be shot down in 1943 with the actor Leslie Howard aboard.

S/Ldr Knowles is at Ringway to attend a conference on the development of glider troops. From the timing it is probable that Knowles uses the opportunity to brief F/O John Coghlan on his new responsibilities, but there is no record of any such contact; indeed, Coghlan is not present in the Ringway record at all. Knowles then flies back to North Weald.

Sources

TNA AIR 27/528, 56 Squadron ORB, August 1940
TNA AIR 28/512, ORB, Central Landing School, Ringway
TNA DEFE 2/791 Combined Ops papers on Parachute training