The Luftwaffe switches targets in my RAF 'commander' campaign!
It's lunchtime on 20th July 1940. For the last ten days, the Germans have been attacking coastal convoys. This was how events unfolded in the Operations Room, as recently as the day before - a typical day, until then. A new raid, Hostile 201, 70-plus, is being plotted, likely target a convoy off Ramsgate. The convoy's air cover, 79 Squadron, is still at Hawkinge to the south-west, but should be on station in time. Elsewhere, it's fairly quiet.
Twenty four hours later and it's a different story. Raids are coming in thick and fast - slightly smaller, but more of them. And they're going mainly for our outermost airfields.
I spent the morning feeling increasingly overwhelmed. Then I decided to do something about it. When the first lunchtime raid came in, heading for the airfield at Tangmere (ringed red, left centre of the screen in the pic below) I diverted a patrol from convoy escort, and another one that was covering an outer London airfield. Three squadrons hit the raid, overwhelming the escorts and inflicting heavy losses on the Heinkels. It didn't stop them bombing and heavily damaging Tangmere, but they paid a big price for it. You can see the raid, Hostile 101, in the pic below, as it withdraws to the south-east across the Channel, still harried by three RAF squadrons.
This is me a little earlier, flying as Green 1 with 234 Squadron...
...and here I am, making my contribution to the war effort, attacking Hostile 101 as it heads for its target.
But the Huns weren't giving us any respite. Or even a break for lunch, for that matter! By about 12:30, another raid, Hostile 201, thirty plus, was being plotted coming north from France, you can see it near the lower right-hand corner, in the second the Ops Room pic above. Except there was no longer a convoy target there! It looked to be headed for the exposed fighter base at Manston. And I had shot my bolt, with few squadrons ready to intercept it. First off were 605 Squadron's Hurricanes, and I opted to leave the Ops Room and fly as Green Section leader when they spotted the enemy. They are above us, about thirty bombers in three wide wedges. Somebody called out fighters, but all I can see were the Heinkels, and it is those that the boss orders us to attack.
It was going to be a race to catch them, before they bombed. As we close from astern, the Huns start turning to port, and with a sinking heart I know we have lost the race.
Down below, Manston paid the price!
But the Huns would now have to run the gauntlet, and there was still no sign of an escort. A loose pack of Hurricanes was now fast closing in on them as they levelled out and headed back south.
...to be continued!