Squadron Leader E.V. Knowles flies his last operational patrol as CO of No. 56 Squadron, this one over Manston. To his contemporaries he is ‘Teddy’ Knowles, but his young pilots like Geoffrey Page have nicknamed him ‘Führer’. Knowles has commanded 56 Squadron since September 1939, and is due to be posted.
P/O Louis Strange flies to Hendon to visit the Air Ministry, to find out what he is supposed to be doing at Ringway. F/Lt O’Neill has already had a go, and returned to Ringway with no answer.
No. 56 Squadron, North Weald
‘B’ Flight of 56 Squadron has been detached to northern France since May 16. ‘A’ Flight remains at North Weald, but it also flies patrols over northern France. It soon finds itself in combat.
In the early afternoon over Mauberge, F/O Coghlan sees a group of eight Me109s approaching on the flank of his formation. He is flying as No. 2 in the section. He tries to warn the others but his R/T (radio-telephone) doesn’t work. The sky breaks into a confused melee. He makes a head-on attack against a 109 attacking another Hurricane, giving it a 2-3 second burst. He then sees three Me109s attacking another Hurricane: he engages the rearmost 109, giving it a 10-12 second burst at 100 yards. The 109 flips over and disappears. He climbs through cloud and sees five of the eight 109s re-forming. His combat report doesn’t say what happens next, but he’s used about 2,400 rounds, and must be almost out of ammunition. He claims the Me109 as a ‘probable’.
TNA AIR 50/22, Combat reports for No. 56(F) Squadron