Small raids mainly against London. Hitler in conference, discussing the German air offensive and invasion plans.
Night: Renewed attacks against London.
At seven o’clock in the morning the Luftwaffe began its weather reconnaissance for the day’s work, aircraft covering the Biggin Hill, North Weald and Hornchurch sectors and another Kenley and Northolt. The weather reports radioed back to France were picked up by the British radio monitoring service although the actual targets could not be deciphered.
Three quarters of an hour later a Focke Wulf 200 of I/KG 40, on maritime patrol, bombed the S.S. Longfort off Copeland Light near Belfast and fired on a motor vessel in the same area. This was followed from 9.30 to 11.30 a.m. by a stream of single aircraft from Dieppe, passing over Hastings and heading for south London, while simultaneously the Canewdon, Dover and Rye radars suffered jamming.
Near midday, radio monitoring reported that an enemy bomber over Kent was sending messages to the effect that ‘cloud is 7/10th at 1,500 metres, and that attack is possible between 1,500 and 2,500 metres’. No. 11 Group were alerted, and sure enough just over an hour and a half later several raids attempted to attack Biggin Hill and the mid-Kent area, while three more, including a few Ju 87s from Luftflotte 3, crossed the coast at Selsey heading for Tangmere. One Heinkel which arrived over Maidstone was promptly shot down by 501 Squadron from Biggin Hill.
At this time a curious report came in from the naval liaison officer to the effect that a long-nosed Blenheim IV, positively identified, had dropped two bombs in Dover harbour. Several Blenheims had been captured on the Continent but there has never been documentary evidence to confirm their use in the Battle of Britain.
In the morning raids single aircraft had penetrated to central London, where bombs hit Downing Street, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and the Chelsea Hospital. Buckingham Palace had its third bombing, with the Royal Chapel wrecked, and four near-misses.
Due to the intermittent rain and low clouds and the high altitude of the raiders, fighter squadrons had difficulty in finding their prey and only four bombers were destroyed for the loss of one fighter.
During the day the expectation of invasion was sharpened by a report from a coastal post in No. 1 (Maidstone) Observer Group, which had sighted ten large enemy transports each towing two barges from Calais to Cap Gris Nez.
Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster
Airmen: 10 | Aircraft: 7
Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 3
Blenheim L5491, No. 248 Squadron
Sgt W.J. Garfield Listed as missing.
Sgt A. Kay. Listed as missing.
Sgt B.W. Messner. Listed as missing.
Failed to return from reconnaissance flight over Norwegian coast.
- On the morning of 13 September 1940, incendiary and high explosive bombs fell on Buckingham Palace, damaging the courtyard and the chapel. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in residence at the time. The Victoria memorial outside the palace was damaged too. The Queen was later to comment: “I’m glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face.”
- Supermarine Spitfire Mk I R6800 LZ-N, flown by the CO of No. 66 Squadron, Sqn Ldr Rupert Leigh, being refuelled at Gravesend, September 1940. © IWM (HU 104507)
- Pilots of No. 66 Squadron at Gravesend, September 1940. © IWM (HU 104508)