London's Burning (Part 3)
Friday, August 16th, 1940:
Pilot Sergeant Waters is pulled from reserves and will work with F/Lt. Stone this morning. In the early dawn, a huge raid comes over the Channel. With only 2 fighters against six aircraft, the odds are long that they'll be come out of a scrap unharmed but Waters and Stone decide to check it out. At 10,000 feet, they encounter four German fighters escorting two bombers. One bomber is an He 111 and the other is a 'flying pencil', Do-17. With such heavy fighter protection, the pair decide that it's probably not worth risking their planes so much on such little fish. They bug out and let the raid move on. It's not their proudest moment but at this rate, the RAF needs to conserve its pilots and planes.
|Not worth it: the RAF pilots let the raid move on in hopes of bigger fish later on.|
The raid hits the emergency airfield at Lympne and returns back to France.
10 a.m. Another raid comes in, this time with 4 aircraft. This seems much more manageable! In order to check out where it's going, the men decide to wait for the raid to cross over land. Stone takes off from Marston while Waters circles over Hawkinge.
Unfortunately, the raid goes straight for Marston and Stone is hit by German fighters, not only from a higher altitude but also coming with the sun behind them. An Me 109 ace utterly destroys Stone's plane and he bails out. He survives the bailout but is injured. He will need several weeks to recover and is slated to return to the roster on September 6th. To add insult to injury, RAF Marston is damaged.
Although this was a complete disaster, I've learned a couple of important things. First off, if you're going to base your men close to the channel, make sure that one of them patrols over the airbases constantly. Also, keep your men together rather than alternating them. I've been slow to learn this so, as a result, I've got only one pilot until Sunday when Palmer becomes active.
2 p.m. Waters rests at RAF Gravesend to the north. The coastal areas of England are effectively abandoned until two pilots are available for interception. Thankfully, no raids come for the rest of the day.
RAF Marston and Rochford are repaired overnight. Rain would be a blessing tomorrow.
Saturday, August 17th, 1940:
The sun comes up and it is a beautiful cloudless August day. At 10 a.m., there are reports of a large group of 6 raiders approaching southern England. With only one plane, there's no way I'm risking it with such long odds. The raid goes in and absolutely hammers RAF Rochester, a minor airbase. Alone, this is not such a bad thing but taken with the other raids in this area over the past several days, it has utterly destroyed a cluster of important emergency airfields in the middle of Kent. Unless we can start repairing this area soon, it's going to be a series of holes for the Luftwaffe to chuckle at while on the way to bombing London.
|RAF Rochester gets hammered.|
2 p.m.: Four German raiders come on the board and Waters goes up to meet them. If the German flight is vulnerable and without too much protection, it might be worth a shot. Meeting the flight, things don't look good. There are two German fighters and one of them is an ace. Not wanting to risk it, Waters turns back. The raid, unfortunately, hits London. The southwest of the city is on fire and heavily damaged.
Another raid comes in at 5 p.m. with heavy German fighter escort. RAF Manston is yet again damaged.
Overnight, RAF Manston is repaired yet again and some of the fires in London are put out.
Sunday, August 18th, 1940:
The RAF squadron commander sighs in relief as he now has 2 pilots with whom to work. F/Lt. Palmer, a Hurricane pilot, is paired up with Waters. The two men discuss strategy and decide that it would be a better idea to work on destroying the Luftwaffe's escorts rather than going directly for the bombers. Reducing the fighter coverage of the attacking Luftwaffe would make the bombers much more vulnerable in future missions. Right now, it's simply too dangerous to go right for the main prize. Also, both men will patrol and rest together. No more alternating between pilots.
The day passes with boring patrols and no reports of a raid. The pilots land around 6 p.m. and decide to get some rest. Just as they settle down to a nice cup of tea, the receive a phone call to scramble. Four Germans arrive over the coast and bomb the hell out of RAF Hawkinge. It's a bloody good thing the pilots are up at RAF Rochford.
Although the damage has already been done at RAF Hawkinge, the German flight package seems like a dream. There is only one escort fighter, an Me 110 while the rest of the Jerries are in big fat bombers. The pilots, fatigued but excited, follow the Germans back south over the English Channel and engage them there.
Without much time to scramble, both Waters and Palmer are at low altitude. They climb up to meet the bombers but fail to hit them. The Me 110, flying top cover, dives at Waters but misses.
Palmer's Hurricane fires back at the German fighter, destroying it completely. Meanwhile, Waters manages to wound an He 111. As he turns away, however, Waters gets careless and his plane is hit by the He 111's rear gunner. Luckily, his plane has just taken some frame damage and he's still in the fight. Palmer jumps in to splash the big German bomber and sends it into the cold of the English Channel. With the rest of the bombers defenseless, both Hurricanes swoop at the remaining German bombers, damaging them badly but unable to splash any more of them. Both men return home for a well-earned rest. It was a good day for No. 54 squadron.
Overnight, the fires in London are put out completely. London is no longer burning.