London and Merseyside bombed.
Night: Heavy damage to London.
Weather: Bright and squally.
At 9 a.m. the first blips appeared on Fighter Command radar screens. They showed a heavy build-up over-Calais. The raiders, mainly fighters, penetrated between North Foreland and Folkestone at 20,000 feet. They were split up over Maidstone and the Estuary and turned for home after running engagements with seventeen RAF squadrons. One was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.
Two hours later radar betrayed four raids totalling 190 planes. They crossed the coast at Deal and attacked Chatham. At least sixty reached the centre of London. The rest roamed over Kent.
At 2 p.m. Luftflotte 2 began to assemble 150 aircraft over Calais. As they climbed to 20,000 feet the Germans sorted themselves into neat formations and set course for Gravesend.
Breaking cloud over Kent the Germans were met in force, and although some of them penetrated the defences, the majority of formations were broken up and repelled.
Flying up the Thames, later, two groups of between twenty and thirty bombers were heading for London when Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Duxford wing attacked them. The wing had taken off at 4.20 p.m. and was patrolling Hornchurch when A.A. fire betrayed the presence of the enemy groups.
Leaving No. 611 Squadron on patrol and No. 19 Squadron to look after the escorts, Bader led his three Hurricane squadrons into an almost vertical diving attack on the first formation. The Germans scattered, leaving only four vies of five aircraft. These were soon broken up and the bombers turned for home.
Sergeant Plzak, a Czech pilot with No. 19 Squadron, fired a couple of bursts at an He 111 and stopped both its engines. The crew baled out and the bomber crashed near Gillingham, Kent.
The Duxford Wing claimed thirty destroyed, six probables and two damaged in the engagement. They lost none. But when the score came to be verified against the German Quartermaster General’s records, it was found that only nineteen Luftwaffe machines had actually been shot down during the whole day.
Twelve British fighters went down in the fighting of the 18th, but only three of the pilots were killed, in the course of 1,165 sorties.
No. 7 O.T.U. scored a third victory that day. Squadron Leader McLean, Flying Officer Brotchie and Sergeant Armitage took off from Hawarden, Cheshire, and intercepted a raid flying towards Liverpool. They damaged one Do 17 and shot down another which dived into the sea off the Welsh coast.
Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster
Airmen: 36 | Aircraft: 20
Airmen: 3 | Aircraft: 12
Spitfire X4323, No. 603 Squadron
P/O P. Howes killed. Shot down in combat with Bf 109s. Pilot did not bale out.
Hurricane V7442, No. 46 Squadron
Sgt G.W. Jeffreys killed. Shot down by enemy aircraft, baled out but parachute failed to open.
Hurricane V6685, No. 249 Squadron
F/Lt D.G. Parnall killed. Crashed and burnt out after combat with enemy aircraft.
- Pattern of condensation trails left by British and German aircraft after a dogfight, 18 September 1940. © IWM (H 4219)
- Squadron Leader Douglas Bader DSO (front centre) with some of the Canadian pilots of his Squadron, 242 (Canadian) Squadron, grouped around his Hurricane fighter aircraft at Duxford, September 1940. © IWM (CH 1413)
- Flying Officer Leonard Haines of No. 19 Squadron sits by the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia at Fowlmere. On 18 September 1940, Haines shared a Ju 88 and probably destroyed a Bf 109. © IWM (CH 1373)