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11th August 1940

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Original Squadron Combat Report
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Eagle Day was cancelled for the second day running due to the cloudy weather that prevailed. In place of this operation the Luftwaffe mounted a "free chase" over Sussex. The formation consisted of more than 30 fighters and the German plan was to draw the RAF interceptors away from bombing raids going into Weymouth and Portland. Four squadrons took the bait, 64 Squadron were vectored to intercept the force as it started to make its way home.

The rear section was the first to spot the enemy who had a 5000 feet height advantage. It seems the squadron had found about half the retreating force of Me 109's. There then followed a strange processional attack by the Germans which overshot the 8 Spitfires of 64 Squadron who then pounced to their own attack.

This seemed to give them a definite advantage in the minutes that followed:

MacDonnell - "...exhausted ammunition in several dead astern bursts..."

O'Meara - "...attacked from astern..."

Laws - "...three second burst from dead astern..."

The 109 that Laws attacked was on the tail of Blue 1. Assuming the Messerschmitt had ammunition left, the pilot of Blue 1 had reason to be thankful. It was Pilot Officer Gilbert, who was destined to survive the war.

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Laws, Personal Combat Report
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There is almost an air of disappointment in the description of the enemy tactics in the last paragraph of the Squadron Combat Report. They may have been largely new pilots, drafted in to replace mounting Luftwaffe losses of more experienced fighters. Or maybe they had expended too much ammunition and fuel in previous engagements and were simply running for home. The cloudy conditions meant that none of the aircraft engaged could be confirmed as destroyed.

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Punch Ltd.

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