07 October, Into the valley

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07 October, Into the valley

Post  MJDixon on Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:00 am

'B' Flight, consisting of myself, Speedy, Dezey and Comet, together with Hinkel (currently on loan to the AdA) were tasked with providing close escort to a flight of French low level bombers from Escadron 6/17, en route to the town of Gedinne, location of extremely heavy ground and air activity.

Taking off in our new cannon armed Spitfire Mk.IIbs we were immediately met with a problem - the frequency used by the French aircraft did not match our own, meaning that our ground controllers could not update us on their location - meaning we had to remain in visual contact throughout the escort, restricting us to a flight altitude of only 7000 feet, whilst Hinkel (his aircraft frequency matching that of the bombers due to being under French command) was able to fly high cover over the bombers and still maintain contact.

Heading directly in to target we were soon alarmed by Hinkel's reports of a 109 diving down on the rear of the group from some 17,000 feet, much too high for us - just as a second 109 dove out of the high clouds directly above me, heading straight towards the bomber stream - I warned the lead bomber, but do not know if he received my signal and was able to warn the rest of his flight or not, as the bombers continued to fly straight and level in that odd doctrine these frenchmen seem to use.

I attempted to dive down on the tail of the 109 with my wingmen behind me, but found it difficult to catch the Hun before he reached the bombers - matters were then worsened when I spotted a Bf110 flying directly head on with the bomber formation - cannons blazing, shooting down one of the Frenchmen in flames and splintering the entire bomber formation before anyone had time to react.

We then found ourselves seperated over the town with unknown contacts all around - Speedy and Comet to the east, presumably with the remnants of the bomber stream, myself over the town itself and Dezey somewhere inbetween, I do not know where Hinkel was at this time due to the aforementioned frequency mis-match.

Knowing that the situation was likely to get out of hand very quickly I sent a radio message to our ground forces requesting information on any anti-aircraft battery locations in the area, quickly hearing that a Royal Artillery unit had set up just to the north west of the town - as such I ordered to disengage and reform over the anti-aircraft battery, so that we might leave the area and come back at a higher altitude.

Unfortunately I did not receive any response to my reform message - presumably either my radio was damaged or my wingmen were too busy with the enemy and missed the message, I sent a number more messages but again failed to receive any response and eventually, being low on ammunition after fighting a Bf109, and unable to regroup with my wingmen - I returned to base, hearing later that one of our Aircraft, flown by Comet, had been forced to make a crash landing near the RA Battery, his engine having overheated due to damage, with the rest of my flight missing after running into a flight of 6 - 10 Bf109s, with our tally being somewhere in the region of 3 to 5, of which I claimed one Bf-109E.

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"I look forward confidently to the exploits of our Fighter Pilots - these splendid men, this brilliant youth, who will have the glory of saving their native land, their island home, and all they love, from the most deadly of all attacks."

- Winston Churchill
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MJDixon

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