Oprep 132/57/A. 12 28/02/41
Place: LONDON, England
With reports of an incoming night raid consisting of aircraft from enemy-held Holland confirmed, eleven Bristol Beaufighters of the 12th Fighter Group took off from RAF Boscombe Down at 1915 and assembled at 17,000ft over Kent to intercept. Radar reports from the coastal stations confirmed the presence of enemy aircraft and we moved to engage at 2000.
- At 2007 Plt Off CAHILL sighted an enemy beehive at 10,000ft 10 mi. south. Initial attempts to engage the enemy proved fruitless but the fighter cover was effectively repulsed by Flg Off BARRY and Flt Lt GERRARD, forcing the formation to hold to the south. Unfortunately Flt Lt GERRARD took a hit to the undercarriage during this engagement, forcing his immediate withdrawal, although two enemy Bf 110s were downed by 1945.
- Reinforcements were at hand in the form of Sgt STURRIDGE and Flg OFF MILNER, so at 2102 we dropped to 12,000 and attempted to push through the enemy shape but an error in positioning allowed two He. 111s through our line, one colliding with Sgt SMALLING and destroying his aircraft, although Sgt SMALLING was able to bail out. The lack of manoeuvrability of the Beau. was telling in our inability to catch and destroy the bombers before they were able to deploy their ordnance on London.
- At 2028 Plt Off BAINES was able to break through the escort and properly engage the bombers themselves but this attack was rendered unsuccessful thanks to Sgt STURRIDGE freezing on the stick and the enemy beehive was left essentially intact. Visibility was at this point poor and the Night Fighter Radar was of little use in close quarters.
- Plt Off CAHILL was significantly more effective when he dove down on the enemy group from above at 2040, destroying several enemy aircraft with his guns before being driven off, and Plt Off YOUNG repeated the same trick minutes later to drive off the enemy, although the surviving He. 111s had one final successful bombing run before fleeing across the channel.
- We conducted one final sweep to ensure the area was clear, but visibility remained poor and no aircraft were seen. At 2050 we returned to to base, but Sgt STURRIDGE crashed his aircraft when landing in the dark, resulting in Cat. 2 damage to the Beau. All other aircraft landed safely.
Total flying time was 17 hours and 25 minutes.
Sortie generally unsuccessful, with three successful enemy bombing runs on Northwest London. One Beaufighter lost, two with Cat. 2 damage. Sgt SMALLING badly concussed after collision with He. 111, although he is expected to recover. Flt Lt GERRARD and Sgt STURRIDGE are expected to be operationally fit within the next few days.
PRESS ON REGARDLESS
Scotty M. Parker,
RAF Group Captain
12th Fighter Group.