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September 15th, 1940 (SUNDAY)

Battle of Britain:

RAF Bomber Command: 
4 Group. 77 Sqn. Whitley P4917 crashed landing at Tholthorpe on night operations. Sgt E.E. Fenning and crew safe.
Bombing - invasion fleet at Ostend and Dunkirk - Hamburg docks - industrial targets at Berlin.
58 Sqn. Three aircraft to Berlin. All bombed alternatives. Three aircraft to Hamburg. All bombed alternatives. Three aircraft to Ostend. All bombed.
77 Sqn. Bombing - eight aircraft to Dunkirk and Ostend. One bombed and strafed Ostend docks. Two aircraft to Berlin, both bombed.

Over Antwerp, after a successful attack on German barges, the Hampden Mk. I P 1355 in which Sergeant John Hannah (1921-1947), assigned to No 83 Squadron based at Lossiemouth, Morrayshire, Scotland, is the wireless operator/air gunner, is subjected to intense anti-aircraft fire, starting a fire which spread quickly. The rear-gunner and navigator had to bale out and Sergeant Hannah could have acted likewise, but instead he remained to fight the fire, first with two extinguishers and then with his bare hands. He sustained terrible burn injuries, but succeeded in putting out the fire and the pilot is able to bring the almost wrecked aircraft back safely. Sergeant Hannah is awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for gallantry, determination and devotion to duty.

RAF Fighter Command: The weather is fair with some cloud patches and fine during the evening.
Largest ever German formations over London and south-east, in two big raids, but mainly broken up by 24 Fighter Command squadrons operating on this day, since known as Battle of Britain Day. An undisputed victory. 

The Luftwaffe delivered two major attacks on London during the day. Later smaller formations attacked both Portland and targets in the Southampton area. German patrols are plotted between 0900 and 1100 hours in the following areas: In the Straits, off Harwich, between Lympne and Dungeness, 20 miles (32 kilometers) East of line Lowestoft to Spurn Head, in the Estuary, and south of Shoreham and the Isle of Wight. The first major attack occurred at 1100 hours when Luftwaffe aircraft began to mass in the Calais/Boulogne, France, area and at 1130 hours the leading wave of about 100 aircraft crossed the coast between Dover and Dungeness, followed by a second wave of 150 aircraft. Objectives appeared to be in the London district. No 11 Group sent up 16 fighter squadrons to meet the attack, and No 12 Group provided five fighter squadrons to patrol Debden and Hornchurch. Approximately 100 German aircraft succeeded in reaching Central London. The second major attack when at 1400 hours a wave of approximately 150 German aircraft crossed the coast near Dover, followed by a second wave of 100 aircraft. These formations spread over South-east and South-west Kent and the Maidstone area, and about 70 penetrated Central London. No 11 Group sent up 16 fighter squadrons and No 12 Group four fighter squadrons. Targets in South London and railways in London and Kent appeared to be the chief objectives. At 1530 hours a formation of 25 aircraft attacked Portland. It is engaged and successfully driven off by RAF fighters. At 1725 hours about 50 German aircraft flew over the Isle of Wight and attacked objectives in the Southampton district. This formation is intercepted and driven off by 6 RAF squadrons.

     During the night of 15/16 September, the first raids are plotted leaving the French Coast at Le Havre at about 2000 hours. They crossed the Coast at Shoreham and penetrated to the London area which appeared to be the main objective throughout the night. At about 2230 hours raids to London started to come from the Dieppe, France, area crossing the coast between Selsey Bill and Dover. Between 0100 and 0300 hours raids are coming in via the Thames Estuary and Essex. About fifteen raids are plotted out of the Cherbourg, France, area to South Wales and the Bristol Channel, some of which penetrated to the Midlands and others to Liverpool. By 0130 hours these raids had withdrawn by the activity over London and the South-east continued until about 0500 hours. Two raids are plotted in the Digby and Church Fenton areas and two are plotted in the Irish Channel. Some ten raids are suspected of minelaying between Montrose and Flamborough Head.

     The RAF claimed 179-42-72 Luftwaffe aircraft and anti-aircraft batteries claimed 7-000. The RAF lost 25 aircraft with 13 pilots killed or missing.

11 Group had by now been invigorated by rested and fresh Squadrons such as 46 and 229 which in 12 Group had not experienced much fighting but were well staffed. They were worked up in the pause granted by the switch in enemy tactics to the bombing of cities.

Shortly after 11:00 radar stations in Kent reported enemy forces assembling inland of Boulogne. Fighter Command ordered Park to prepare his squadrons for action and also warned 10 and 12 Groups. Soon after 72 and 92 Squadrons from Biggin Hill were scrambled.
On its way was much of KG3 and other bomber formations which met a huge fighter cover over France and headed for Dungeness, where around 11:30 20 Spitfires presented an unwelcome greeting. As the raiders headed for London they were harried by ever more fighters and shortly before reaching London four Hurricane Squadrons launched head-on assaults followed by Douglas Baders 'Big Wing' (2 Spitfire and 3 Hurricane Squadrons) broke through the flanking escort and reached the Dorniers. Over 150 fighters were soon running amok among the bombers. The raid was deflected and KG 3 did not make its objective.

Next came another wave of 150 Do 17s of KG 2 and KG 76 with the He-111s of KG 26 and KG 53 , along with Me 109s of JG 26 and JG 54 for protection. By 14:00 they were crossing into Kent on a broad front and in response the RAF managed to put up most Squadrons at full strength and 170 British fighters met them. When the Germans managed to get to London they encountered Duxford's 12 Group 'Big Wing' along with six 11 Group Squadrons and two reinforcing Squadrons from 10 Group. The raid was aborted and the bombers forced to jettison their loads.

Smaller diversionary raids were attempted on Portland and the Supermarine Spitfire works at Woolston, Southampton, but both were thwarted.

Losses: Luftwaffe, 60; RAF, 26.

London: A survey shows that two-thirds of the capital's population are getting under four hours sleep.

FRANCE: The Pas-de-Calais and surrounding region are put under the control of German military command in Belgium.

GERMANY: U-111 launched.

U.S.S.R.: Conscription laws are changed and the call-up of 19-20 year olds will begin.

CANADA: Single men aged between 21 and 24 are called up.

Corvette HMCS Orillia launched.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-48 attacks convoy SC3 northwest of Ireland and sinks SS Alexandros, SS Empire Volunteer and sloop HMS Dundee at 56 45N, 14 14W. Both she and Penzance, lost in August, were long endurance ships used as A/S ocean escorts for the slow and vulnerable SCs.

U-65 sank SS Hird in Convoy SC-3.
The Canadian Paterson Steamships line merchantman Kenordoc (1,780 GRT) was sunk in the North Atlantic in position 57.42N, 015.02W, by torpedoes and shellfire from U-48, KptLt. Heinrich Bleichrodt, Knight's Cross, Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, CO. Kenordoc has been recorded as being a member of convoy SC-2. However, sources indicate that SC-2 arrived in Liverpool on 10 Sep 40 having lost two of its 53 ships, but not including Kenordoc. This probably indicates that she was a ‘straggler’. British records do not indicate convoy losses for ships that were not part of the main body of ships. There were seven casualties from her crew of 20 men. (Some sources also claim Kenordoc was a straggler from convoy SC-3 and that she was sunk by U-99, KptLt. Otto Kretschmer, CO.)

When the ship City of Benares was sunk with over 100 children on board, Destroyer HMS Hurricane was the first rescue ship on the scene, arriving 18 hours to pick up survivors after the Benares had sunk.


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