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Author Topic: Canterbury Blitz, 1942  (Read 104421 times)

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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #224 on: June 02, 2015, 18:26:26 »
Plausible = “Seeming reasonable or probable”

Yes, that explanation is possible, but it would take a fighter of the day about 2 minutes to climb to 5000 feet. So is it probable, in light of all the other information we have?
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Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #223 on: June 02, 2015, 15:12:25 »
Off the top of my head......Say 6 FWs as a decoy (raid 68) over Hythe ,3 by 3. The rest as a stream over Sandwich area, going west towards Canterbury. Read somewhere that the Jabos could go in threes if they had escorts ? Was that your scenario ?

The majority in low. Some of the escorts will climb as they cross the coast to 5,000 feet as the Spitfires are spotted.

I don't see any big deal there ?
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #222 on: June 02, 2015, 10:30:37 »
General Pile wrote “Towards the end of the afternoon 60 Focke-Wulf 190s came in flying in sections of three in line astern. They crossed the coast between North Foreland and Lympne at heights varying between 50 and 5,000 feet”. So yes please, help me to understand how that is plausible.

The Luftwaffe kill claim of a Boston at 13:10 accords with the one listed as lost in Bomber Command War Diaries, but that leaves 16 unaccounted for. At what time did they operate? Is it possible that one of them was Raid 68 and/or the ‘Ju88’ engaged by 453 Squadron’s Green 2, as I suggested? But, apart from drawing away the 6 fighters on standing patrol, as per the 11 Group report, Raid 68 seems irrelevant to the Canterbury attack.

As I have stated several times, all of these accounts can’t be true, so the best we can do is to construct our own scenarios based on what we think are the most likely to be true.

I’ll post mine soon.
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Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #221 on: June 01, 2015, 18:12:59 »

General Pile’s - to my mind rather implausible – description is in the same paragraph as his verbatim quote of the AA Command Report, and I should have made it clearer that I was referring to the paragraph rather than the report.


You have not explained what it is, that is to your mind, implausible ? If you don't, then how can we help you understand ?

The Boston interception time was in the LW claims list.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #220 on: June 01, 2015, 17:53:49 »
Yes, it was the CHL that was jammed and the CH is not mentioned in the 11 Group record, so presumably was unaffected. So if Raid 68 was the 6 aircraft diversion mentioned in Reply#48, it would make sense for that to keep high and visible by the CH radar while the Canterbury attackers kept down in the CHL field of view. The Controller ordered the 6 aircraft on standing patrol to intercept it but, so far as I can make out, all the other ‘combat reports’ relate to intercepting the main raid near Deal, so what did happen to Raid 68?

It was reading of the activities of the Bostons that made me wonder if Raid 68 was an allied aircraft not showing an IFF response (For the benefit of anyone not familiar, the Douglas Boston was a 4-seat, two-engined light bomber that equipped 4 squadrons of No2 Group, used mainly on daylight operations). My source – Bomber Command War Diaries – shows that the Bostons provided the only Bomber Command activity that day and 10 out of 17 couldn’t find sufficient cloud cover to proceed with their mission, so were obviously operating independently. What is your source that gives the schedule of the Boston Raid. If it was flying in formation it would probably have had an escort – are there any details of that?

General Pile’s - to my mind rather implausible – description is in the same paragraph as his verbatim quote of the AA Command Report, and I should have made it clearer that I was referring to the paragraph rather than the report.

Nevertheless, the statement that the raid followed the Stour Valley is contradictory to some other accounts and supports the point I’ve already made – that most of the accounts are plausible when read in isolation, but it’s relating them to others that is the problem. They can’t all be right!

However, as also stated in my previous post, allowing a bit of flexibility in recorded times, inaccurate memories when recounting experiences later, and for ‘Chinese Whispers’, perhaps thay can be made to fit better than first appearances suggest.
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Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #219 on: June 01, 2015, 04:14:36 »

Raid 68? On the other hand it seems odd to send out a diversion and then jam the enemy’s radar (according to 11 Group) so that it wouldn’t be seen.

Remember only the Chain Home Low radar was jammed ( that is the low altitude radar ) , the regular CH radar was fine ( according to your info ).

The Boston raid was taking off about 11.30. Was being attacked by the LW over the continent at 13:10 their time ( so after midday our time ). So back at base around 13:00 our time ? Seems unlikely that any would still be over the Channel at 17:00 ?

What contradictions are there within that Ack-Ack report ?
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #218 on: May 31, 2015, 16:29:19 »
We must not forget traffic going the other way – Fighter Command’s operations over France (vide 173 Squadron), attacks on enemy shipping and Bomber Command’s daylight attacks by No2 Group, all of which had to be identified on their return. Friendly aircraft were fitted with an IFF (Identification Friend/Foe) transponder which gave a distinctive blip on the radar display, but aircraft not displaying that would be classified ‘unidentified’ (bogey) and not as 'hostile' (bandit) until positively identified as such.

On the day of the Canterbury raid 17 Bostons of No 2 Group attempted cloud cover attacks on power stations in northern France, but 10 of them could not find sufficient cover and returned and one was lost. Could one of those have been flying up the channel to its base in Norfolk with its IFF u/s, been classed as ‘bogey’ and given the title Raid 68? Could that, or another, have been the ‘Ju88’ (2 engines, single tail) fired on by 453 Squadron’s Green 2?

In his book Ack-Ack General Pile (C-in-C of AA Command) wrote that attacks on coastal towns before the Canterbury attack were usually by 4 – but sometimes several more – fighter-bombers that sprayed the seafront as they approached then pulled-up and lobbed their bombs into the town as they turned and ran for home. In 63 attacks on 57 locations in August and September 1942, radar gave warning on only 8 occasions, and of 360 or so attackers only 5 were destroyed. It was decided that any single-engined aircraft approaching the coast at less than 1000 feet (the gunners were told 500 feet to allow for errors) would instantly be regarded as hostile and fired on, unless it had its undercarriage lowered as a sign of distress. How does that fit the accounts we have?

So the change in tactics alone caused the Canterbury attack to be a complete surprise and we have yet another version of it!

Towards the end of the afternoon 60 Fw190s came flying in sections of 3 in line-astern. They crossed the coast between N. Foreland and Lympne at heights between 50 and 5000 feet. The AA Command Intelligence Report then stated: "Taking advantage of low-lying ground between Richborough and Canterbury the majority made for Canterbury up the Stour Valley and circled to the north-west before releasing their bombs on the city on the way out. Machine-guns and cannon were also used on the city. Light AA guns at Deal fired over 350 round of 40mm and 2000 rounds of 20mm in a quarter of an hour". It then explains why heavy AA guns could not engage, except for 2 brief instances at Dover and N. Foreland. "Although the main objective was Canterbury many AA gun sites were subjected to deliberate attacks and suffered some casualties".

Not only are there contradictions with other accounts, but there also seem contradictions within itself. But at least the approximate number of planes and that turn to the north-west fits!

Why do I get the feeling that no account, official or otherwise, can be relied on as accurate?
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #217 on: May 30, 2015, 10:40:51 »
The Order of Battle posted by Otis is interesting in that both JG2 and JG26 have acquired a IV Gruppe, and presumably the Jabo Staffeln have been absorbed by those. But I can’t find ZG2, part of which took part in the Canterbury attack and was Adolph Dilg’s unit.

There were certainly plenty of fighters available but many would have been on defence readiness and the largest number allocated to the Canterbury raid in any account is 136 (Reply#48), although there is evidence that some of them were double counted due to being converted to fighter-bombers and actually used as fighters. However, it does say that 6 aircraft were provided as a diversion – was that Raid 68? On the other hand it seems odd to send out a diversion and then jam the enemy’s radar (according to 11 Group) so that it wouldn’t be seen. I think the only “definite” figure - in the sense that it was not qualified by “about” – is the total of 62 (Reply#51).

We now have many accounts of the actions of individual units and pilots, but it’s fitting them into a plausible scenario that’s the problem, mainly because of time differences. Is not the basic scenario still valid? That the raiders got to their target unopposed (Cross-in 17:05, attack 17:08, back at coast 17:10), met the Withdrawal Cover near Deal, at the same time as the first interceptions were made, followed by the chase across the channel as evidenced by those Luftwaffe kill claims. However, there is still a suggestion of action on a large scale before that but unrecorded elsewhere – no mention in the 11 Group report, no sirens sounded. But as mentioned earlier, RAF records seem to have a 5 minute ‘window’, and how accurate were the memories of individual pilots when being interrogated by the Intelligence Officer later? So perhaps things do fit better into a single scenario than first reading suggests.

Our squadron's ‘dribs and drabs’ response seems to have been due to poor weather at Kenley and Biggin Hill, leaving available only those near the coast and already committed..

The use of No 137 suggests 11 Group was in dire straights. It was equipped with the Westland Whirlwind, a twin-engined single-seater that was only ever issued to two squadrons, and was no match even for the Bf109E of 1940. No 137 was converted to the fighter-bomber role and Action Stations, Vol 9 says These troublesome aircraft made their first fighter-bomber attack on 31st October {1942} when they went to Etaples and lost three aircraft to flak. Asking them to finish the day fighting Fw190s seems like rubbing salt into the wound!
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Offline Nemo

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #216 on: May 27, 2015, 16:43:13 »
A trip around the participants’ Forms 540 (Summary) and 541 (Detail/Record of Events) and which can be compared with the Group 11 report in Post 35 (which I see mentions Manston being attacked) and the 453 combat report in Post 180.  Within the quotation marks I have attempted to copy exactly the text and spacing, though any emphasis and the square brackets are my own.

609 (West Riding) @ Biggin Hill, Typhoon.  AIR 27/2102 (540 only):  “All squadrons” (IO of 611 mentioned) called to Readiness at tea-time as 30x FW190s are bombing Canterbury.  Weather now u/s but 2x a/c “left behind at Hawkinge are scrambled to patrol Deal at 15000ft [sic]– intercept either the returning fighter bombers, or more likely the 30 odd fighters (190s and 109s) which are supporting them in that area.  Half way between Dover and Deal they see an a/c being fired at over the sea, and go to investigate.  Before they can do so, however, Bofors and M/G open up on them from all directions, and on reaching the coast Payne announces that he is going to bale out.”  His wingman descends to 0 ft and returns to Hawkinge.  “About the only other a/c able to take off are some of 91, 122 and 137 (Whirlwinds).”

91 (Nigeria) @ Hawkinge, Spitfire Vb.  AIR 27/739 (540 only, for 541 see Post 160).  [30th October: “The Squadron was kept at full readiness all day owing to the visit of Mrs.Roosevelt and Mrs.Churchill to Canterbury and Dover.”]  “At 1700 hours the Germans made their largest daylight raid since 1941 mainly against Canterbury.  The Squadron had it’s most successful day in it’s history.  10 A/C [sic] were dispatched all operating singly.  There were a number of combats and we destroyed 5 FW 190s and damaged another four.”  “All these were in running fights over the sea and the E/A destroyed all went into the Channel..  Our casualties were 1 Spitfire Vb and pilot (FO Gibbs) missing.Gibbs was last seen chasing 4 FW 190s with another 4 on his tail.”

122 (Bombay) @ Hornchurch, Spitfire IX.  AIR 27/915 (540 + 541):  6x a/c of A Flight scrambled, up 17:10, down 18:00 (@ Manston).  “They patrolled Ramsgate – Deal – Dover area.”  5x a/c saw no E/A but White 1 “gave chase to an F.W. 190 and shot it down into the sea at Pegwell Bay.”

137 @ Manston, Whirlwind.  AIR 27/954 (540 + 541):  6x a/c scrambled, up 17:05, down 18:00.  2x a/c fired “at a FW190 at sea level just off Margate, observing no results.”

453 @ Hornchurch, Spitfire V.B.  AIR 27/1893
(540):  “In the late afternoon the Squadron got mixed up with the large numbers of E/A sent over to attack Canterbury, and indeed for a considerable time no other Squadron was present.  The first indication that anything unusual was happening was a yell from one of our pilots over the R/T to the effect that “there are hundreds of the bastards coming.  For Christ’s sake send somebody out”  At that time (approximately 16.45 hours) there were 3 of our sections up – Red” Barrien + Galwey “who were just being relieved from a convoy patrol, N. Foreland, by Yellow” Waldron + McDermott “and Green” Blumer + Swift “who were just off Deal.  Black Section” Ewins + De Cosier “became airborne a few minutes later.”  “Red Section saw three formations of enemy aircraft but were only able to attack one which had the advantage of them in height.”  Galwey was shot down and Barrien had to return to base.  “Yellow section maintained a patrol on the seaboard side of the convoy and only saw one F,W. 190 going home, which was too far off to attack.  Green Section became engaged with a large number of F.W.190’s and JU.88’s which were crossing the coast at deal.  A confused dogfight continued for some time the enemy formations being successfully broken up.”  “Black section engaged two FW.190’s and chased them half way across the Channel”.  “…Galwey was shot down about 1700 hours.”

(541 page numbered 18 and 34): 
Waldron + McDermott up 16:40, down 18:15 (at Manston).  “Relieved Red Section [the only reference to Red] as Yellow Section  were informed by Ops of E/a but saw only one FW.190 going out 3 miles north of Dover at zero feet.-  Too far away for anything to be done about it.” 
Blumer + Swift up 16:15, down 17:15 (at Manston).  “Green Section:  on North – South Foreland Patrol when they saw 40+ E/a crossing the coast at Deal.  Green 2 dived on and attacked a J.U.88.  He saw smoke pouring from the port engine, and claims it as damaged.  Both G1 and G2 attacked FW.190’s which they followed half way across the channel but without seeing any strikes , landed at Manston to  refuel and rearm.”
Ewins + De Cosier up 17:00, down 18:05 (at Manston).  “Black Section:  went out to relieve Green Section, when at 15.00 feet [sic] over Dover, saw 2 FW.190’s and dived to attack them.  The E/a turned and made for France . The Section followed the ½ way across the Channel, fired on them at long range but saw no strikes.”
Blumer + Swift up 17:45, down 18:10.  “Patrol North to South Foreland – No Incident.”

(541 previous, unnumbered page, seemingly on reverse of 16 and 33)
Leith (Yellow 1) + Furlong (Yellow 2), up 14:55, Leith down 16:15.  Y2 suffered engine trouble and Y1 saw him diving into the sea “at approx.. 15.30.”

(back to top of 541 page numbered 18 and 34 ):  “ -   He did however, see strikes on his own A/c which was destroyed and he was thrown into the air.  He opened his parachute and reached the water about 17.00.”

Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #215 on: May 27, 2015, 11:13:31 »
Seems there were 278 operational Fw 190 in France and Belgium, with more than 30 Bf 109 also.

If our raid comprised of 90 planes, that's just under a third of the available number. The maximum figure of 130 attackers is around half of those available.

I'm struggling to find an order of battle for 11 Group RAF on that day ? What squadrons and based where ?
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Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #214 on: May 26, 2015, 16:27:44 »
Raid 68

Read that the RAF response to the German hit and run attacks was to have squadrons put a pair of aircraft in the air patrolling coastal zones and have a second pair on readiness.
 
453 had a pair in the air covering North to South Foreland
91 Sqn had a pair in the air ( covering say South Foreland to Dungeness ? )
633 sqn ( made up ) covered Left of that (Dungeness to Eastbourne ? )

When Raid 68 is spotted, going towards the 91 Sqn area, the 11 Group Controller would order the nearest planes in the air to intercept. I think the 6 planes mentioned in the 11 Group summary were these 3 pairs. Not the 3 pairs from 453 Sqn.

The readiness pairs would also be launched. So 91 Sqn scrambles it's pair. Sqn Leader Demozay scrambles too, making the 3 from 91 Sqn at 1705. As the air battle develops more planes are scrambled, but as they are not at immediate readiness, they take off in fits and starts. Hence the odd activity from 91 Sqn.

In contrast, 137 sqn. from Manston scrambles 6 planes. They are not doing patrols so they have an entire flight on readiness.

I suggest that the Germans would have known the RAF tactic from their own observations, radar and radio intercepts. I think Raid 68 towards Hythe was deliberate distraction meant to draw the patrol by 91 Sqn in a direction away from Deal towards Hythe. Thus allowing the Jabos to slip in above Deal unseen.

Raid 68 is only plotted as a tiny raid on radar. I think that is what Gerry wanted. Just small enough to draw away what was already in the air, and not big enough to scramble the whole of the RAF. Something went wrong in the timing and instead Green Section spotted the Jabos over Deal and ruined the surprise.
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Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #213 on: May 26, 2015, 00:49:26 »
http://ww2-weapons.com/Armies/Germany/Luftwaffe/1942.htm

Getting things moving again. Luftwaffe strength on 20 Sept 1942. Can we get closer ? I plotted their locations on a map a few pages back.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #212 on: May 25, 2015, 18:19:14 »
Whether the provenance of the photo was relevant was the point I made, but having been persuaded that the photo was a fake and then remembered that part of the answer had already been posted, and the shadows provided the complete answer, it seemed that the right thing to do was to correct it.

So yes, let’s get back to trying to reconcile the vastly different accounts that we have.
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Offline otis

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #211 on: May 25, 2015, 17:31:33 »
You are correct with regard to the thread length.

As this balloon image does not relate to the date of either Canterbury raid, I see not point in debating that further here ?

I have placed that photo in a new thread in General Defences. I hope someone else will contribute their knowledge on a fresh thread.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Canterbury Blitz, 1942
« Reply #210 on: May 25, 2015, 08:28:18 »
This thread has become so long that it’s difficult to remember what one has read, but can we first return to the photo?

It is not from the June 1942 raid because the balloons were installed as a result of that. But I’ve remembered a suggestion I posted a few days ago, that the photo was taken nearer to Calais (Reply #195)


The caption says it was taken from Cap Gris Nez – green dashed line with arrows – which puts Canterbury out of the photo to the left. But if it was taken from somewhere like – appropriately – Bleriot Plage, it would put Canterbury well over to the right – green full line with arrows. That suggestion is supported by the Eastern Breakwater appearing at a wider angle than it would from Gris Nez. The shadows on the cliffs and the glint on the left balloon show that it was taken early in the morning, and the overnight raid would add to the smoke.

So it is not a forgery, it is merely that the caption stating the place and time is wrong. The cross-channel distance at that point is 23.6 miles so, using the same balloon sizes as before, the far ones are 23.6 x 5/3 = 39.3 miles away from the camera and 15.7 miles past Dover!

Wenger implicitly confirms that their usual load was a 500kg bomb. He states they crossed-in NE of Dover and flew straight to Canterbury, at variance with more than one other version, but supportive of the Canterbury Police report which says the raiders came from the direction of Dover. He says they flew through barrage balloons in “some places” – plural, suggestive of loose thoughts in a letter home rather than an official record. He says that in the meantime other machines shot down balloons over Dover, implying that they were not the Canterbury raiders, but it does not seem to be first hand information..

To repeat what I have asked several times in relation to other accounts: How does that fit into other versions that we have – they can’t all be right?
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