Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain


The Squadron re-formed at Digby, becoming operational once again at the end of June, and for the next 2 months was occupied in uneventful convoy and defensive patrols before moving south to Stapleford Tawney, the satellite of North Weald, for the defence of London during the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe’s main effort at the time was against coastal objectives and shipping off the coast of Essex and Kent. The Squadron was in action continuously and had many successful engagements against far superior numbers of enemy bombers and their escorting fighters. The enemy sustained such shattering losses amongst his long range bomber force that a change of tactics was necessary, and he tried to force a decision by using fighter bombers flying very high and making every possible use of cloud cover; interception became difficult and our squadrons had to change their tactics too – mainly going over the maintenance of fighter patrols at height ranging between 20 and 30,000 feet. No 46 Squadron took part in the “security” patrols and, early in November, whilst on patrol over Foulness, encountered some 50 Italian bombers and fighters; at least 8 of them were destroyed, with no casualties or damage to the Squadron, and the remainder of the formation scattered in disorder. There is link below to a comprehensive account of this incident by Steve Webbe in the main section and coverage of the complete Italian involvement in the Battle of Britain. Click to see Pathe News clip
The Battle of Britain, in which No 46 Squadron had taken a full and successful part, was over, and the Squadron settled down to a few months of uneventful defensive and convoy patrols, leavened by an occasional escort duty to medium bombers in their attack on objectives on Occupied France.

Not surprisingly, the Squadron scrapbook is bereft of pictures covering this period as they had other things on their mind! The photographs and articles are drawn from a variety of sources and our appreciation is expressed to the authors and photographers. In particular, thanks are due to Senior Aircraftsman Joel Diggle for his tremendous efforts to honour the memory of Pilot Officer W B (Billy) Pattullo; his 2 articles review ,first, Plt Off Pattullo’s life and secondly the events leading up to the dedication of a plaque and memorial to him. There are also details of a small book about the search by 2 local men.

A particularly interesting  internet site is the RAF Museum’s Picture Album taken by Pilot Officer Karel Mrazek who during patrol with 46 Squadron claimed two shot down Italian CR.42s on 11 November 1940. Later in the war he was promoted to Squadron Leader and took command over 313 (Czechoslovak) Squadron. Later still he served as Wing Commander of the whole Czechoslovak Wing. Mrazek was awarded with both the DFC and the DSO during the War. He returned to Czechoslovakia after the war as a Group Commander and lived in the town of Jablonec. Mrazek passed away on 5 December 1998.

For a detailed insight into the day to day activities of the Squadron please see the Operational Record Book for the Battle of Britain (transposed into text format).

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