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EVENING COMBAT

 

by Piotr Górka

Spitfire Mk.I of 152 Squadron UM-V in which P/O A.R.Watson was killed November 28, 1940.


 

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Squadron Leader  JANUSZ ZURAKOWSKI   VMv CV** 

234, 609  Squadrons in Battle of Britain 





HISTORY OF THE ONE COMBAT

 

 

           In the late afternoon on 28 November 1940 Helmut Wick led JG 2 for the second mision of the day, an offensive sweep over Isle of Wight. At 17:13 (16.13 GMT) over Bournemouth he scored the first kill of the combat. This corresponds with the reported attack on 152 Sqn in Needles area. The first aircraft lost by this unit, the one of P/O Watson, fell at Arne, some 10 miles West of Bournemouth.



           Almost a month after the official ending date of the Battle of Britain, Luftwaffe lost its most succesful fighter pilot of the period, Maj. Helmut Wick. It is widely accepted by (mostly British) historians, that his victor was F/L John ‘Dogss’ Dundas of 609 Squadron, who was then shot down by Wick’s wingman, Oblt. Rudolf Pflanz. Known documents of the period disallow such conclusion and shed new light on this combat. The diary note of Franz Fiby, the most reliable German description of the combat, leaves no doubt as the circumstances of Wick’s death. Additional accounts taken from Operations record Books of both 152 and 609 Sqns, as wall as the Personal Combat Report of P/O Eric ‘Boy’ Marrs, allow to attempt to recreate the events of that fateful day. It seems likely that P/O Marrs (the leader of Watson’s section) then chased Helmut Wick, finally catching up with him and firing a short burst, after which the Messerschmitt dived smoking badly. Considering that this was a standard evasive manouver and that the DB601 produced a lot of fumes when at full throttle, it is possible Marrs did not actually shoot down the aircraft, but damaged its oil system, as his windscreen was covered with oil. Then he broke away loosing the Messerschmitt from his eyesight, and when he was able to look again, he noticed a burning aircraft as wall as an airman falling down who then opened parachute. Marrs’ pursuit from the place of German attack to the place of presumed crash of the German aircraft (10-15 miles) must have taken about 3-4 minutes. In his combat report Marrs described the place of his attack on the Me 109 as 10 to 15 miles South of Needles. It is just 20 miles South of Bournemouth, the area where 609 Sqn went under attack and where P/O Baillon was lost. As he was the only airman to bale out in the area, therefore he might have been the one seen by P/O Marrs. As the 609 Sqn was at 25 000 feet when attacked, the Spitfire must have fallen 15 000 feet down, what should tke 1-2 minutes. This corresponds with the German attack at 17:15  (16:15GMT), when Hptm. Greisert, Fw.Richey and Gefr.Shumann, all claimed Spitfires. Unfortunately it is not known if those victories were confirmed. Having that in mind, it is presumed that the time of Marrs’ claim-16:20-is just roughly accurate. More or less at that time, Fiby and Pflanz (nos. 3 and 4 in the Stabschwarm section) unsuccessfully engaged two Spitfires, perhaps the ones of P/O Williams and Sgt Szlagowski (Polish) of 152 Sqn’s Green Section, then seeing an incoming formation, probably 609 Sqn, dived towards France. According to Fiby, Wick was lost in the middle of the Channel, a further 20 miles to the South, some 3-4 minutes of flying time. His victor was then shot down by Pflanz, so this must have occured at about 17:18-17:20 (16:18-16:20 GMT). The assumptions are confirmed by the victory list giving 17:18.

 



WHO DWONED WICK ?

 

Sgt Klein (Polish) flew with the Green Section, just behind the attacked Blue one. He was in an excellent position to chase Maj. Wick. Possibly he switched off his R/T as the Poles had significant trouble  understanding excited English chit-chat. This could be the reason of lack of any information about the fate of Zygmunt Klein. F/L Dundas, while flying at 25 000 feet, certainly was unable to note a Messerschmitt some 15 000 feet below, especially as it was getting dark by that time. He would have to be much lower to be able to see it Considering that no. 609 was then attacked from above it seems highly unlikely Dundas was interested in anything far below. Perhaps he broke off the formation chasing one of the enemies, which then dived down smoking badly. Believing he achieved another victory he could have shouted “Whoopie, I’ve got 109!” but was shot down himself. This may have taken place at 17:20 (16:20 GMT), Lt.Votel, Lt.Meimberg, Fw.Pfeiffer and Uffz.Buhligen claimed partially confirmed victories at the time. Considering the circumstances of Meimberg’s victory, confirmed by 152 Sqn’s ORB, it seems likely he was the Dandas’ victor.

 

Piotr Górka © 2007