Wednesday, 28 September 2016

27th September 1940: The Battle of Britain

On this day in 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, an alliance that would be later joined by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Slovakia and finally, Croatia.

The Daily Mail leads with a story on a record air raid on Berlin. In other news, 46 more survivors are found and rescued at sea after drifting for 8 days. They were on the SS City of Benares when she was sunk. The survivors are spotted by a Sunderland Flying Boat. Of the survivors, six are boys aged between nine and sixteen. They were evacuees. Seventy-seven evacuees are dead.

Meanwhile, the Battle of Britain continued and Friday 27th September saw 504 Squadron take to the skies in their Hurricanes to ward off a group of German raiders. The Luftwaffe offloaded their bombs in local woods in the Bristol area.

In the London borough of Lambeth, no 139 Clapham Road took a direct hit, and there were a number of people in the shelters at this business premise who were badly injured or killed. Tragically, the water pipes burst in one of the underground shelters, and a number of people there drowned. This was the site of the well-known catalogue company, Freemans. Most of the dead were women, some of whom were only fifteen years old.

Also during this day, there were three attacks on London and the South-East of England. The Luftwaffe attacked the barrage balloons over Dover but were unsuccessful. Many enemy aircraft were shot down or turned back before reaching their targets. RAF Filton attacked from 11000 feet.

The RAF destroyed 131 enemy aircraft and the AA gunners brought down two aircraft. The RAF lost 27 aircraft today, and 18 pilots were either killed or missing in action.
Scattered raids took place this night across Edinburgh, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Nottingham.

Flying Officer Paul Davies-Cooke of No 72 Squadron baled out of his Spitfire over Kent, but tragically fell dead. Shortly before, Flight Lieutenant Lionel Schwind of No 213 Squadron was killed when his Hurricane crashed on a golfcourse in Sevenoaks, Kent. A memorial stone marks the site.
Lionel had married his sweetheart Georgina in 1939. Sadly they were due to have a second wedding the following day on the 28th September for the benefit of Lionel's widower father who had been unable to attend the first wedding. News of Lionel was not known by his wife or fsmily, and enquiries were only made when he failed to turn up for the wedding. Lionel was 27 years old, and he left behind a pregnant wife, who gave birth to his daughter in June 1941. He is buried in Crowborough Burial Ground, Sussex. 
Ft Lt Lionel Schwind

The wreckage of a Junkers Ju 88 was brought down by AA fire over Cudham, Kent. The crew baled, but one man was killed when his chute failed to open.

The following day, Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent a message to RAF Fighter Command which stated, "Pray congratulate the Fighter Command on the results of yesterday. The scale and intensity of the fighting and the heavy losses of the enemy . . . make 27 September rank with 15 September and 15 August as the third great and victorious day of the Fighter Command during the course of the Battle of Britain.

Take a look at this dramatisation & portrayal of Churchill in the years leading up to the war.