FOLLOWING the story in The Bugle (February 20 edition) I thought readers might be interested to read my report on the Cosford Dornier incident.
Action : Monday 26th August 1940 12.35 hrs. (Weather: Bright - high cloud – good visibility
264 Squadron (A Flight) 11 Group was scrambled to take off from RAF Hornchurch at 11.42 hrs. To support other squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes who were to attack a formation of 150 German aircraft, approaching SE Kent and the RAF airfields of Kenley and Biggin Hill.
Bombs fell on Folkstone/Margate/Broadstairs and Dover. Twelve Dornier 17s from 11/KG3 based at Antwerp in Holland were seen at 11.000 feet over the Herne Bay/ Margate area. The six Boulton Paul Defiants attacked the Dorniers at about 12.25 hrs. Approaching from below, firing their four .303 machine guns from the turret mounted behind the pilot.
Six of the Dorniers were set on fire and claimed as being destroyed; one was seen to crash in woods near Herne Bay. However, the Cosford Dornier was likely to be the one, claimed as damaged by Flt. Lt. Colquhoun and his gunner Pilot Officer Robinson who fired over 1,300 rounds of ammunition setting fire to the bombers two engines. The aeroplane was last seen heading out to sea in a dive. Flt. Lt.Colquhoun returned back to Hornchurch when his four machine guns jammed.
The Defiants were then attacked by over 50 Me 109s whose pilots were very much aware of their vulnerability by approaching from the underside.
Regrettably three of the Defiants were shot down. Red Leader. Flt. Lt A J Barham, who claimed two of the Dorniers, lost control over the sea, catching fire after being hit near his cockpit by a 109.
He told his gunner Sgt. Baker to bail out when he turned the aeroplane over. Flt Lt Barham was rescued from the sea, but unfortunately Sgt Baker lost his life.
Another of the Defiants flown by Sgt Thorn with his gunner Sgt Barker crash landed near Chislet badly damaging their aircraft again after being shot down by a 109. They both survived and subsequently were awarded Distinguished Service Medals for bravery.
As a result the Boulton Paul Defiants was withdrawn from front line action because of its vulnerability and the Squadron returned to Kirton in Lindsay which was part of 12 Group which covered the industrial Midlands. The squadron retrained as a night fighter unit.