Airfields in Kent, Hampshire and West Sussex attacked with widespread damage. Radar station at Ventnor put out of action. Other targets in Oxfordshire, Essex and Suffolk hit.

Night: Numerous light attacks.

Weather: Mainly fair and warm with haze over the Channel.

Main Activity:

The plotting tables were quiet until 11 a.m. when a series of raids were leveled against Norfolk, Kent and the Greater London area with airfields as the main targets, including Manston. West Mailing, an 11 Group station, was again hit while clearance was still going on after the previous day’s attack. Some eighteen bombers dropped high explosives and incendiaries, destroying one aircraft on the ground and putting the station out of action until the 20th. Twelve fighter squadrons were up.

Things were quiet again until midday when the radar screens showed three heavy raids coming in. The first of fifty headed for the Thames Estuary, the second of 150 appeared off Dover, while the third of 100 massed over Cherbourg and proceeded to the Portsmouth-Southampton area. In all, radar was plotting about 350 aircraft simultaneously between Yarmouth and Portland. There was some cloud about, and, despite the despatch of twelve squadrons by Nos. 10, 11 and 12 Groups, many of the bombers succeeded in getting through and causing considerable damage. London suburbs were bombed, including Wimbledon and Esher, where shops and houses were hit. Bombs on Maiden, Surrey, railway station killed staff and passengers and put both lines out of operation. To the north, Gravesend and Tilbury were attacked, and bombs fell on Harwell and Farnborough aerodromes.

The raid off Portland split up and sections arrived over Ventnor, Tangmere, Lee-on-Solent and Gosport. Twelve Ju 88s with Bf 110 escort dived out of the sun on Gosport, damaging buildings, killing four people and seriously injuring two. At Ventnor five Ju 87s in a six-minute raid added to the destruction of the 12th. The only habitable buildings left were the diesel house, the receiving block and the protected rooms. Ventnor was thus out of action from August 12th to 23rd, and service was only resumed when a mobile station was rigged nearby at Bembridge. A number of Fleet Air Arm aircraft and hangars were destroyed by fire at Lee-on-Solent.

Tangmere, with its satellite Westhampnett, was an important sector station. The Ju 87s approached from the east and had a clear run up over the airfield dropping a pattern of bombs which destroyed all the hangars, workshops, stores, sick quarters, pumping station and the officers’ mess. The Tannoy broadcasting system, all light, power, water and sanitation were temporarily out of action. Losses in aircraft were heavy, with three Blenheims destroyed and three Blenheims, seven Hurricanes and one Magister damaged. Ten service personnel and three civilians were killed, while twenty others were injured.

The Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, Hants, was attacked by eight Ju 88s doing extensive damage to the motor transport yard. The last delayed-action bomb from this raid did not explode until 49 hours afterwards.

In the evening, two Ju 88s carried out the most destructive raid of the day, on Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, a training station and Maintenance Unit in No. 23 Group. Thirty-two bombs burned out forty-six trainer aircraft in the hangars of No. 2 Service Flying Training School, wrecked other buildings and caused ten casualties.

Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

German Losses
Airmen: 55 | Aircraft: 44

British Losses
Airmen: 11 | Aircraft: 24

Spitfire R6768, No. 266 Squadron
S/L R.L. Wilkinson killed. Believed collided with Bf 109 over Channel. Some authorities say shot down.

Spitfire N3240, No. 266 Squadron
Sub Lt H.L. Greenshields killed. Chased Bf 109 across Channel, crashed and burnt in Calais suburb.

Spitfire N3095, No. 266 Squadron
P/O N.G. Bowen killed. Shot down and aircraft burst into flames during combat with Bf 109.

Hurricane R4193, No. 111 Squadron
F/L H.M. Ferriss killed. Collided with Do 17 during a head-on attack on enemy formation.

Hurricane P3358, No. 601 Squadron
P/O W.M.L. Fiske. Died of Injuries next day. Damaged by gunfire from Ju 87 and crashed on landing.

Hurricane ?, No. 213 Squadron
P/O J.E.P. Laricheliere. Listed as missing. Failed to return after combat over Portland.

Hurricane P3616, No. 249 Squadron
P/O M.A. King killed. Shot down by Bf 110. Pilot bailed out but parachute collapsed on descent.

Spitfire R6802, No. 610 Squadron
F/Lt W.H.C. Warner. Listed as missing. Last seen in combat with Bf 109 over Channel. Failed to return.

Spitfire K9915, No. 65 Squadron
P/O L. L. Pyman killed. Crashed into Channel during combat.

Photo Descriptions:

  1. Troops examine the wreckage of Messerschmitt Bf 110 D-0/B (S9+BB, W.Nr. 3374) of Erprobungsgruppe 210 on 16 August, 1940. This aircraft was shot down after a raid on Croydon the previous day. © IWM (HU 104733)
  2. Troops guard the wreck of Heinkel He 111P (W.Nr 1582: G1+FR) of 7./KG 55, which was shot down during an attack on Great Western Aerodrome (now Heathrow) and crash-landed at High Salvington near Worthing, 16 August 1940. © IWM (HU 72684)
  3. An air raid shelter at RAF Tangmere, 1940. Tangmere Military Aviation Museum.
  4. RAF Tangmere in flames after the raid on 16 August 1940.
  5. Pilots of No. 501 Squadron based at RAF Hawkinge on 16 August 1940.
  6. During an action near Southampton on 16 August 1940, Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson (pictured here three months later) was wounded when his Hurricane was attacked by a Messerschmitt Bf 110. Despite his cockpit being on fire, he attacked and shot down another German fighter, suffering serious burns before bailing out. For his actions he became Fighter Command’s only recipient of the Victoria Cross during the Second World War. © IWM (CH 1700)