Flying Officer Hughes and Sergeant Gash

Excerpt

BATTLES IN THE DARKNESS

On the night of 12/13 March the enemy launched a major attack on Liverpool when more than 300 aircraft were despatched. That night there was a full moon and little cloud conditions that greatly improved the chances of the Defiant units intercepting Luftwaffe bombers [..].

No 264 Sqn. flying from Biggin Hill, enjoyed better luck. Firstly, Flg Off Desmond Hughes (in N 1801) spotted an He 111 over Dorking and was able to claim his fourth victory;

The enemy aircraft was engaged from about 50 yards from this position with a series of one-second bursts. The first burst started a small fire in the starboard engine, whilst the next two bursts set the engine thoroughly on fire. Sgt Gash transferred his attention to the cabin and fired several more bursts, the de Wilde ammunition being seen to burst inside the cabin, which forthwith filled with flames. The bandit then fell in a left hand spiral dive and plunged to earth, where the bomb load exploded.

The pilot of the He 111, Stabsfeldwebel Karl Bruning of 5./KG 55, was the only survivor. He later recalled, ‘All hell was let loose. Both engines were hit – they stopped at once’. Bailing out, he noted ‘below me I saw my aeroplane spiralling earthwards in flames.


Note

More information from this forum thread: http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=7504

Query

I’m researching my father’s history during the war and am following up a story told about his service with the Home Guard. Apparently whilst serving he was present when a German fighter pilot was downed and captured by the local Home Guard. Date March 1941, area Ockley Surrey, whilst waiting for the young man to be collected by the powers that be everyone was offered a cup of tea by the local farmer’s wife except the pilot – Dad (a pilot himself) insisted that he be offered one also upsetting the rest of the Guard! Question – can anyone verify the loss of a fighter over Surrey at that time. Any details/information would be appreciated.

Thanks

Rick

Reply

In looking through the daily entries for March 1941 in Vol 2 of The Blitz Then and Now, there are only a few fighter losses, and those either had no survivors or were lost in the Channel. However, there is one rather lengthy detailed account on pp. 468-469 by Stabsfeldwebel Karl Bruning of KG55 telling of his being shot down by a Defiant of No. 264 Squadron around 9:30 the night of March 12, with his He 111 crashing at Dene Farm, Ockley, Surrey. Bruning, the pilot, bailed out but was the only survivor from his crew. He recounts how he was picked up by two people who turned him over to a Home Guard unit, and was given tea and cigarettes. This must be the capture that your father related to you.

The Badge

Adam added this interesting information about the badge:

Fred explained their badge.

Irish legends have it that two giants wanted to claim the land as their own. As they waded towards the coast one cut off his hand and threw it so it landed on the land (Ulster) first, hence the red hand.

I know that after 264 Fred joined another Defiant unit 515 Squadron that had a system named Moonshine, it sought to replicate large formations of bombers to confuse the German Freya radar system. It was a dangerous mission as the Defiant was unarmed in this version.

Regards Adam