Wednesday, 22 May 1940


The German Army has already reached the Channel coast on the 20th. The BEF and much of the French army is now cut off from the rest of France. The German forces now launch twin assaults on the Channel ports of Boulogne and Calais, crucial to Britain’s ability to resupply its forces.

56 Squadron

Shortly after 4 p.m. S/Ldr ‘Teddy’ Knowles, 56 Squadron’s Commanding Officer, is flying with ‘A’ Flight over France, part of a larger group of about 20 Hurricanes. (The others are from 213 Squadron and 242 Squadron.) At about 4.15 a Henschel 123, a German reconnaissance aircraft which resembles a Lysander, is spotted. The exact location can’t be identified from Knowles’s report as his handwriting is poor; nor can the Henschel’s height, which may have been two, three or seven thousand feet. Knowles attacks the Henschel from 250-300 yards with a 2-second burst; so does another Hurricane which Knowles cannot identify. The Henschel ‘bursts into flames and goes down almost immediately. One of the occupants jumps out and lands by parachute.’ Credit for the victory is shared.