Two major attacks on airfields. Serious damage to the Vickers Works at Brooklands.
Night: Further raid on Liverpool.
Weather: Fine and warm with haze in the Channel and Straits. Occasional rain and strong winds in the north.
On September 1st the Luftwaffe Operations Staff IA had issued an order to the Luftflotten covering the destruction (if possible) of thirty British factories making aircraft, aero engines, propellers and ancillary equipment. This was an attempt to halt a seemingly endless flow of fighter equipment to the RAF, despite Intelligence IC statements that the aircraft were either destroyed or non-existent. The order covered both fighter and bomber production, and the necessary target briefings had been completed by September 3rd.
Accordingly on the 4th the raids by Luftflotte 2 were divided, with both sector airfields and factories as their targets.
The first big attack of the day concentrated on airfields, coming in via the Estuary and over Dover. At Eastchurch bombs from eighteen aircraft demolished the ration store and produced six craters in the runway, but there were no casualties. Lympne was shot up, as were the Dover Balloons.
At lunchtime successive waves of bombers with fighter escort totaling about 300 crossed the coast at Dover, Folkestone, Hastings and Beachy Head. Fourteen squadrons rose to do battle, and nine of them intercepted. In the ensuing confusion at 1.30 p.m. fourteen Bf 110s of 5/LG 1 slipped through at low level and followed the Southern Railway line over Guildford, Surrey, to the Vickers Armstrong factory at Brooklands, where two-thirds of the RAF’s Wellington bombers were produced.
The adjacent sector and Observer Corps operations tables were ‘saturated’ with raid plots and the formation ‘Bradshawing’ up the railway went unnoticed until the last moment. Due to an unusually quick piece of recognition by the sergeant in charge of the airfield guns, the two leading aircraft were shot down almost immediately and several others jettisoned their bombs outside the target area when intercepted by No. 253 Squadron’s Hurricanes over the village of Clandon. The bombs dropped, however, scored direct hits on the machine and erecting shops. Many workers were buried under rubble and girders while hundreds more were injured by blast and flying splinters. From the six bombs in the works area eighty-eight people were killed and 600 injured, while factory output almost ceased for four days.
Other small groups of raiders got through to Rochester, Eastchurch, Shoeburyness, Canterbury, Faversham and Reigate. At Rochester the target was again the Short Brothers factory engaged in initial production of the Sterling four-motor heavy bombers.
In these fierce engagements of the morning and afternoon. Fighter Command put up a total 678 sorties and lost seventeen fighters against German losses of twenty-five—the balance was beginning to improve slightly.
Excerpt from The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster
Airmen: 24 | Aircraft: 28
Airmen: 12 | Aircraft: 17
Hurricane R4172, No. 111 Squadron
F/L D.C. Bruce listed as missing. Crashed into Channel after combat with Bf 109.
Hurricane Z2309, No. 111 Squadron
P/O J. Macinski listed as missing. Shot down by Bf 109. Pilot bailed out but body was never found.
Spitfire N3048, No. 66 Squadron
Sgt A.D. Smith died of injuries 6/9/40. Bailed out with serious injuries after combat with enemy aircraft.
Hurricane V6638, No. 253 Squadron
F/O A.A.G. Trueman killed. Shot down during combat action over Kenley aerodrome.
Hurricane P3052, No. 46 Squadron
F/O R.P. Plummer died of injuries 14/9/40. Shot down in flames by Bf 110. Pilot bailed out with serious burns.
Spitfire X4278, No. 222 Squadron
P/O J.W. Cutts killed. Shot down by Bf 109. Aircraft crashed at Sutton Farm. Originally listed as missing but body fragments discovered at excavation of crash site. Now listed as KIA.
Spitfire K9962, No. 222 Squadron
Sgt J.W. Ramshaw killed. Crashed after combat with Bf 109s. Was dead on arrival at West Kent Hospital.
Hurricane P3676, No. 79 Squadron
Sgt J. Wright died of injuries 5/9/40. Shot down by Bf 110 over base. Pilot crash-landed aircraft at Surbiton.
Defiant N1628, No. 264 Squadron
F/O D.K.C. O’Malley killed.
Sgt L.A.W. Rasmussen killed.
Aircraft crashed during night landing practice.
Hurricane V7406, No. 151 Squadron
P/O R. Ambrose killed. Crashed into a crane during take off on ferry flight. Aircraft burnt out.
Spitfire R6909, No. 151 Squadron
Sgt J.K. Barker killed. Possibly shot down by return fire from Do 17 over Channel. Body washed up on French coast.
- A sergeant pilot in the cockpit of his Spitfire Mk I, demonstrating the firing button on the control column, September 1940. © IWM (HU 104502)
- Spitfires of No. 222 Squadron scramble from RAF Hornchurch, September 1940.
- Messerschmitt Bf 110C-4 (M8+AC W.Nr. 3602) of Stab II./ZG 76 was damaged by No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron Hurricanes during an escort sortie and belly-landed in the garden of Little Butts Farm at Cousley Wood, near Wadhurst in Sussex at 1:35 PM on 4 September 1940. Pilot Oblt. Hermann Weeber and Bordfunker Uffz. Max Michael were both captured.