Fighter sweeps towards London.

Night: Attacks on London and Merseyside.

Weather: Fine.

Main Activity:

At 9 a.m. a build-up of nearly 200 planes was detected over Calais. Chiefly Bf 109s, they came over in four large and two small waves fanned out beyond Dover. Twenty-four squadrons were up to cut them off and ten intercepted. A further force of 109s came in at 7 p.m.

Between 5 and 6 p.m. Uxbridge despatched twelve squadrons in four wings to counter five waves of Messerschmitts intruding through South Foreland, Dover and Hythe. The sweep lasted forty-five minutes but the attackers were elusive.

Eleven British aircraft and three pilots were lost in the day’s engagements. Eight of the pilots were wounded. German losses were sixteen.

With London under heavy bombardment the Cabinet were determined to retaliate and they ordered the indiscriminate bombing of Berlin with parachute mines. Nothing could have been less in keeping with Air Staff thinking, which contrasted the effect of four bombs on Fulham power station with several thousand bombs which fell elsewhere.

The dispute ended in compromise. The Air Staff agreed to include Berlin in their forthcoming directives on the understanding that only targets of specific military value were to be bombed. The directive was issued on September 21st and on the night of 23rd 119 Whitleys, Wellingtons and Hampdens took off for the German capital.

In contrast 261 German planes turned London into another inferno and damage was widespread.

Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster

German Losses
Airmen: 14 | Aircraft: 17

British Losses
Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 11

Spitfire R6896, No. 234 Squadron
P/O T.M. Kane. Confirmed P.O.W. Was flying routine patrol but believed crashed in Channel off French Coast.

Spitfire P9371, No. 74 Squadron
Sgt D.H. Ayers. Listed as missing. Baled out into the sea south-east of Southwold, possibly hit by return fire from Do 17. Body recovered on 4/10/40.

Spitfire R7016, No. 152 Squadron
P/O W. Beaumont. Listed as missing. Failed to return from operational sortie. Last seen over the Channel.

Photo Description:

  1. Squadron Leader Roland R “Bob” Stanford Tuck DSO DFC, CO of No. 257 Squadron seated in his Hawker Hurricane at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk. On 23 September 1940, Tuck was credited with shooting down the Messerschmitt Bf 109 flown by Hans-Joachim Marseille of LG 2, who had become an ace five days earlier. © IWM (CH 1681)
  2. Spitfires flying in formation, 1940.