Fighter-bomber raids on Kent and London.
Night: Italian Air Force carries out an attack on Harwich.
Weather: Fair but overcast.
Signs of activity showed on the radar screens as the first business commuters were disgorging from London’s deepest shelters—the Underground railway stations. High over Kent they flew, only to be dispersed by Hurricanes and Spitfires, several of them newer and more powerful than those which had borne the brunt of the earlier battles.
Kent took the full force of the bombs released indiscriminately as the RAF dived on the German bombers and fighters, although London came in for a share.
Raids continued throughout the day, during which 809 Fighter Command sorties were flown. Twenty German machines were destroyed. Ten RAF machines were lost.
In Belgium, meanwhile, an excited band of Italians of the Reggia Aeronautica’s Corpo Aereo Italiano prepared for their first direct action against Britain. They were there more as a political gesture than as a serious military effort, and had been despatched by Mussolini as a reply to the embarrassing raids Bomber Command were flying against industrial targets in northern Italy.
The two Fiat BR.20 bomber units, Nos. 13 and 43 Stormos, were allocated the bases of Moelsbroek and Chievres. No. 18 Gruppo with Fiat CR.42 biplane fighters went to Moldegchen and No. 20 Gruppo with Fiat G.50 fighters was sent to Usel. A fifth unit, No. 172 Squadrillia, equipped with CZ.1007 Bis aircraft was allocated Chievres. On this October Friday 16 BR.20S were despatched to bomb Harwich. One of them crashed on take-off and two were abandoned over the sea after running out of fuel.
According to Milch, Mussolini’s contingent was more of a liability than an asset. The men themselves were not to blame. They were excellent pilots, but they had not been trained to fight.
That their presence was unheralded is understandable. They were indistinguishable from the streams of German night bombers that crossed into Britain from bases in France, the Low Countries and Scandinavia.
Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster
Airmen: 30 | Aircraft: 24
Airmen: 6 | Aircraft: 14
Hurricane V6804, No. 46 Squadron
P/O W.B. Pattullo died 26/10/40. Shot down by enemy aircraft. Crashed into house in Woodstock Avenue, Romford after attempting forced landing at Maylands Golf Course.
Hurricane N2708, No. 79 Squadron
P/O S. Piatkowski killed. Crashed near Carew Cheriton after routine patrol. Cause unknown.
Hurricane V7593, No. 302 Squadron
F/Lt. F. Jastrzebski killed. Failed to return from patrol over the Channel. Last seen gliding toward the enemy coast.
Hurricane P2903, No. 501 Squadron
P/O V. Goth killed. Collided with P/O MacKenzie during combat over Tenterden.
Hurricane V6917, No. 601 Squadron
Sgt. L.D. May missing. Crashed into sea off Exmouth after mid-air collision with Sgt. Mills-Smith during section training flight.
Hurricane P3709, No. 601 Squadron
Sgt. F. Mills-Smith missing. Crashed into sea off Exmouth after mid-air collision with Sgt. May during section training flight.
- RAF personnel and soldiers inspect Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 (W.Nr. 1988) ‘Black 7’ of 5./JG54, which belly-landed at Broom Hill, near Lydd, Sussex at 9.30am on 25 October 1940. Oberleutnant Schypek was captured. © IWM (HU 73719, HU 88417)
- Soldiers guard Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 (W.Nr. 5104) ‘Red 13’ of 3 Staffel./Jagdgeschwader 77, which crashed at Harvey’s Cross Farm near North Saltdean, East Sussex on 25 October 1940 after being attacked by Spitfires over London. The pilot, Gefreiter Karl Raisinger was captured.
- A soldier peers into the cockpit of Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 (W.Nr. 5104) ‘Red 13’ of 3 Staffel./Jagdgeschwader 77, which crashed at Harvey’s Cross Farm near North Saltdean, East Sussex on 25 October 1940. The starboard side of the engine cowling was burnt out to the level of the spark plugs. © IWM (HU 88413)