Yellow Section were airborne at and circled the airfield waiting for White Section.
Bergemann with his starboard engine on fire managed to crash land his stricken aeroplane in a field at Odlings Farm between Aswardby and Harrington. Dropping incendiaries and firing indiscriminately, their flight took them over the cricket ground on Church Road firing machine guns as they did so before they banked further round to the left where they dropped bombs on Low Leighton Road and then followed the Sett Valley to Hayfield where they dropped further bombs.
He was one of the founding pilots of Squadron and his total officially credited wartime tally was 12 destroyed, 2 shared destroyed, 5 probably destroyed, and 1 damaged.
At New Mills the raid had come as a complete surprise, no Air Raid Warning was given and as the aeroplanes approached there was confusion about their identity, many thinking that they were RAF on low flying exercises. There were ten others injured in the raid and there were reports of damage to property. The other allegedly had crashed through a window at the labour exchange before exploding in the railway embankment.
Fortunately, the girls were all in the main hall for prayers and again there were no casualties. Again, it would have been a good opportunity to cause havoc. The house at that time was used as a school for girls evacuated from a private school in Penrhos North wales.
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It may have been a secondary target, but if it was, they took no action. Their first three legs were uneventful and went according to plan. Adding to the confusion they may have been using Luftwaffe maps identifying Lostock Hall 5 miles further to the north near Preston which had been attacked several times ly rather than Lostock near Bolton.
The other also landed in the river but failed to detonate. The weather forecast for Friday 3 July was predicted to be low cloud cover all the way to Lostock. However, cloud cover was lower than expected and as they crossed the coast at about it appears to have been made further south than planned. However, at Low Leighton a single bomb narrowly missed the former workhouse, which at that time was in use as Ollersett View Hospital, causing extensive damage to the roof, windows and nearby houses. Recently I was amazed to learn of a piece of local history I never knew about, and when I further researched it I was staggered to discover not only a link to my Polish heritage but also a link to probably the best-known WW2 Battle of Britain fighter squadron, a ificant moment in Polish history, and a couple of even more tenuous links….
The building looked out of place opposite the beautiful renovated workhouse nestled in amongst stone built cottages.
All four crew members died instantly. Two bombs were dropped. Many had rushed there without time to put their uniforms on and with only their helmets for protection.
They then banked round to the right over Kinder Scout and re-established their exit route in a south-easterly direction over the Dark Peak. But year-old Maurice Handford, his year-old sister Joan and their grandmother Mrs Gillies, who was 75, were all indoors. At Chatsworth the roof, north and west side of the house were hit by machine gun fire, some nearly hit rare paintings in the library. Machine gunning had torn up the cricket pitch and scattered a game that was in progress between New Mills and Hayfield juniors but thankfully with no casualties.
It was a major manufacturer of variable pitch propellers, the main supplier to all the UK aeroplane manufacturers. Then followed a terrible bang and lots of smoke with people running and shouting.
As soon as the aeroplanes arrived at Llanveoc-Poulmic Major Roth, who obviously had second thoughts about the operation, telephoned Bergemann and ordered him to abandon the operation. It failed to explode, it had its fuse removed and was then taken to the Police station.
However, the plant was soon repaired and back into full production.
Their return home, possibly the most dangerous part of their mission, would take them in a south-easterly direction straight over the heavily defended RAF bomber county of Lincolnshire to The Wash then out over the North Sea to their landing destination of Amsterdam- Schiphol though I have seen suggestions it may have been Soesterberg Airfield in Utrecht. Their final leg should have taken them over the coast at the Ribble Valley estuary straight to Rivington Reservoir then a final right turn to fly south-west at zero feet for 2 miles to the propeller factory at Lostock.
Hauptmann Bergemann together with 2. Reports from the time tell of a lack of panic and hysteria. Since arriving at RAF Kirton in Lindsey their flying had been limited to training, patrols and escort duties. Three stone cottages on Spring Vale Road just behind the centre of this beautiful picturesque tourist town were obliterated. The Home Guard, special police and the civil defence services were soon on site. There was nothing of military or governmental ificance in the town.
Popek fired his remaining ammunition before making dummy attack runs to cause confusion. It was ificantly the th enemy aircraft attributed to Squadron. Again, there were no fatalities, but one resident was treated for severe shock.
White 2 Rokitnicki attacked from the rear-right-above firing from a distance of yards down to 50 yards using as series of short bursts. At Mousley Bottom machine gun fire had caused holes and small fires in a Gas holder and an adjacent Purifier but rapid work by staff and the Fire Brigade from the nearby fire station soon had them under control and the damage patched up.
Sadly, I never knew him. I was very envious of their cannon-armed Spits, though.
Tenuous link coming…. Towards the end of June, the subject of a Lostock raid had arisen. If this was the case it would have been almost impossible to identify their intended target.
The first narrowly missed the Gas works before exploding in the river. They worked with amazing strength and speed, and yet with extreme care sifting through the rubble for survivors. These were not considered a of a concerted renewed bombing campaign but as isolated tactical attacks on specific targets.
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To avoid any language problems Sqn Ldr Mawdesley handed control of the operation to Polish Controller Flt Lt Ostaszewski who ordered both flights over Lincoln on a vector of degrees and instructing them to maintain sufficient height to remain in radio contact.
A patrol in the morning of 3 July had been uneventful but as the two flight sections were scrambled in the evening it was time for some real action again. As a hobbyist historian and writer I love historical links however tenuous. Whatever route they took they then passed into Derbyshire flying very low and fast south-easterly up the River Goyt before veering north-easterly over New Mills town centre. Within minutes the aeroplane ignited with a brilliant white phosphorous explosion as the crew purposely destroyed the remnants of the aeroplane. The second more southerly aeroplane, had also dropped two bombs, both on Woodside Street.
Atjust before the town centre, the two aeroplanes seemed to have split up slightly. Several incendiary bombs were also dropped, but the majority failed to ignite and were collected the following day. They spent the following week practising low-level attacks.
One had landed at the junction of Albion Road and Woodside street. It was considered boring and had led to some cavalier flying around the airfield and some conflict within the squadron.
The aeroplanes had destroyed an old chapel that had ly stood there and killed two people. Hayfield was similarly taken by surprise. By the incursion was identified as Raidand an Air Raid Alert raised for Manchester which was in place until The two raiders were again recognised a few miles further east low over Burnage heading south-east. Swizzels sweet factory which during the war made water purifying tablets for the Ministry of Defence had co-incidentally re-located from London two years ly to avoid the blitz and was narrowly missed in the attack.
With their maximum bomb load and even with full fuel tanks a return by the same route back down the Irish Sea to their base in Brittany would be impossible. I noticed, on the opposite side of the road, a historical plaque on the singularly unimpressive square brick Fire Station.
They were ed at by the other two Spitfires. As the Spitfires circled around like vultures the four crew members were all seen to get out of the wreck and run away. There were no fatalities, but the initial bombing had done some, and in some cases substantial damage, windows and window frames were blown out of Lowes Mill, there was also damage to the railway al box and the railway station itself. Passing through the continuous-zone tone the pilots banked right, turning onto their final leg and run in to Lostock once they heard the pre-defined dash-zone tone.
As German aerial activity over Lincolnshire was by that time a rare occurrence, the shooting down of the two German raiders became quite a story as recounted by bored British Night Fighter pilot Alastair Goodrum who was based at Kirton in Lindsey at that time:. Neither aeroplane were able to spot either the reservoir or the propeller factory at Lostock. They appeared to jettison their final bombs over Darlton Quarry at Stoney Middleton before strafing Chatsworth House as they made good their escape.
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Though a relatively very brief encounter for Squadron it was nevertheless a ificant piece of action following the heady days of the Battle of Britain in However, a panel section of the largely undamaged woman fin adorned with a Nazi Hakenkreuz Swastika was removed from M2-KK together with a dinghy paddle and machine gun. To maximise flying time, they would fly unloaded from their home base in Brittany at Dinard Pleurtuit to the airfield at Llanveoc-Poulmic near Brest where they would be refuelled and loaded with their deadly arsenal.
There was no disruption to supply. Maurice and Mrs Gillies were trapped in the rubble and seriously injured but Joan Handford was sadly killed immediately. As the aeroplanes departed New Mills centre they raced over the cricket pitch and over the adjacent St.
Georges Church. But on the opposite side of lesniewo road the tin built Wesleyan Chapel and two adjacent cottages Whitfield Villas were completely destroyed. It seems that German intelligence had identified the De Havilland factory at Lostock near Bolton as a key target. The other took a wider arc heading for the railway viaduct where it dropped two bombs in Woodside Street.
It crashed in flames at into a tree and farm buildings at Limes Farm near Baumber. Some of the houses and shops along Union Road and Market Street sustained extensive chat. The plaque described an incident on 3 July when two German Junkers bombers wreaked death and destruction on the remote and quiet Derbyshire town. Cloud cover was still very low with a base of around feet. Maurice bore the scars for the rest of his life, but Mrs Gillies never got over the trauma of the attack and died a year later. There were concerns that even this route would be too far for their fuel reserves and their contingency was to fly their mature leg, at least in part, on a single engine.