Further heavy airfield attacks.
Night: Liverpool bombed once again. Harassing raids on South Wales and the south-west coast.
Weather: Fine and warm. Some cloud and drizzle in the north, haze in the Channel and Straits.
At eight o’clock in the morning Luftflotte 2 began the familiar pattern of building up formations over Calais, and one by one the blips appeared on the cathode-ray tubes at the C.H. and gun-laying radar stations at Dover.
The targets were Hornchurch, North Weald and Debden, but through a series of disjointed dog-fights only one intact formation reached its target, North Weald. Here about thirty Dorniers escorted by Bf 110s did severe damage. Fire broke out in Nos. 151 and 25 Squadrons hangars, the motor transport yard was badly hit and several other buildings including the main stores were damaged. The new sector operations block received a direct hit but survived, although all communications with the Observer Corps were severed except for one line to Watford Centre. The airfield Tannoy system was destroyed and the vital high-frequency relay system for communication between aircraft and base was cut between the receiver and transmitter. Despite all this and a liberal sowing of delayed-action bombs, the aerodrome remained serviceable for day operations.
One of the pilots from 603 Squadron shot down in this operation was Pilot Officer Richard Hillary, later to write the best seller ‘The Last Enemy’. His cockpit in flames Hillary had difficulty in getting the Spitfire’s hood open. When at last he succeeded he fell, badly burned, into the sea. After over an hour of pain and misery he, like so many other pilots, was picked up by an R.N.L.I. lifeboat, the J. B. Proudfoot, on temporary duty at Margate.
In the afternoon a second attack developed in the same area which was beaten off, and in which action the Czech pilots of No. 310 Squadron, Duxford, played a significant part.
Due to continuing bomber losses, the Luftwaffe had been experimenting with new tactics on this day. Previously the plan had been to advance in stepped formations, but this was temporarily replaced by (a) fighters and bombers flying at the same level and (b) mixed groups of fighters and bombers. Neither of these was found to be satisfactory, and a few days later there was a general resumption of stepped formations. Freiejagd, or freelance patrols of Bf 109s and Bf 110s, continued to fly in and then orbit in attempts to draw RAF fighters away from the main attack.
The losses of the 3rd were nevertheless an ominous portent for the RAF. Sixteen fighters were shot down with eight pilots saved, while the German casualties for the whole twenty-four-hour period were also sixteen—the Luftwaffe had achieved parity for the second time.
Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster
Airmen: 21 | Aircraft: 20
Airmen: 6 | Aircraft: 15
Hurricane P3064, No. 46 Squadron
Sgt G.H. Edworthy. Listed as missing. Believed to have crashed in river after combat over Essex coast.
Hurricane P3518, No. 257 Squadron
P/O C.R. Bon Seigneur killed. Shot down by E/A. Baled out but died soon after landing.
Hurricane P3539, No. 17 Squadron
F/O D.H.W. Hanson killed. Shot down but baled out of aircraft at 100 feet. Killed on impact.
Blenheim L1512, No. 25 Squadron
P/O D. Hogg killed. Thought to have been Bf 110 and shot down by Hurricane. Sgt E. Powel baled out unhurt.
Hurricane P3782, No. 1 Squadron
P/O R.H. Shaw. Listed as missing. Crashed due to unknown circumstances. Pilot killed in aircraft.
Hurricane P3044, No. 1 Squadron
F/Lt H.B.L. Hillcoat. Listed as missing. Failed to return from squadron patrol.
- The condensation trails from German and British fighter planes engaged in an aerial battle appear in the sky over Kent on 3 September 1940.
- British soldiers retrieving part of the tail section belonging to Messerschmitt Bf 110C-4 ‘3M+EL’ (Wk-Nr 3113) of 3./Zerstörergeschwader 2, shot down at 11:18 hours on 3 September 1940. Both crew baled out and were taken prisoner. It was shot down possibly by F/O Count Manfred Beckett Czernin of No. 17 Squadron and crashed in fields at Canewdon in Essex.
- F/O Brian van Mentz, second from right, reports to the Intelligence Officer after a sortie with No. 222 Squadron at RAF Hornchurch. On 3 September 1940, Van Mentz destroyed a Bf 110 and damaged another in Spitfire R6837.
- Hawker Hurricane Mk I, R4224 YB-C, of No. 17 Squadron damaged after combat with Bf 110s on 3 September 1940. S/Ldr. Anthony Garforth Miller was forced to land near RAF North Weald.