British Army at home September 1940

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phylo_roadking
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 05 Apr 2014 17:55

I would have put money on you heading straight for Lympne! The one thing that Lympne has in abundance is evidence of being bombed. The one thing that Lympne does NOT have in abundance is........ AIRCRAFT!


Abundance, no....but just in the shadow of the topmost "blister" hangar...a VERY new addition to the field after the August/September destruction....I can just make out a couple of shapes with possible potential! Mind you, the GoogleEarth date IS as I noted 12/40, so well after the thread window, and as we know some aircraft from No.91 Sqn at Manston were stationed there from Mid-September on, if only a very small number...and as an aside, poor and weary ones LOL first-rate Spitfires weren't used for "Jim Crow" flights, they gave over worn, war-weary aircraft for this duty and lightened them by pulling out half the guns :P

Lympne didn't even rate it's own C.O. after the last squadron departed in June 1940 - as an ELG and afterwards for some time it came under the brevet of Sqn Ldr G.A.L. Manton at Manston.

I DID wonder about the "date" for the pics; for there are certain other period features I know to look for in the vicinity....and while camoflage was good in the period it wasn't THAT good! :lol:
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Knouterer » 06 Apr 2014 09:40

I had a look at the War Diary of the 28th AA Brigade in the meantime and it seems that of the four Bofors guns (55th LAA Regt) that were ordered to Lympne on 17 Aug. two were taken away again on 30.8 to strengthen the defences of Croydon.
Nevertheless, whoever and whatever was left were still capable of putting up a spirited defence, according to the 6th Somerset Light Infantry who were nearby (Bn HQ in Burmarsh). Intelligence log for 1 Sept.:
“Six German fighters converted to bombers MESSERSCHMITTS attempted to bomb LYMPNE aerodrome. Only about 4 bombs dropped as A.A. gun fire so fierce that raiders were driven off before completing attempt. One bomb fell on No 1 A.A. gun pit + killed 1 gunner injuring another 3. HURRICANE plane which landed for repair from previous fight damaged and put out of action.”
This last statement tallies with the Operations Record Book of No. 85 squadron for 1 Sept. (as quoted by Chris Goss in “Luftwaffe Fighters and Bombers: The Battle of Britain”, page 317): “Sgt Allard’s oil pressure dropped so he switched off and landed at Lympne, but while the aircraft was being serviced, the airfield was bombed and his aircraft hit.”
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Dunserving » 06 Apr 2014 11:23

phylo_roadking wrote:
I would have put money on you heading straight for Lympne! The one thing that Lympne has in abundance is evidence of being bombed. The one thing that Lympne does NOT have in abundance is........ AIRCRAFT!


Abundance, no....but just in the shadow of the topmost "blister" hangar...a VERY new addition to the field after the August/September destruction....I can just make out a couple of shapes with possible potential! Mind you, the GoogleEarth date IS as I noted 12/40, so well after the thread window, and as we know some aircraft from No.91 Sqn at Manston were stationed there from Mid-September on, if only a very small number...and as an aside, poor and weary ones LOL first-rate Spitfires weren't used for "Jim Crow" flights, they gave over worn, war-weary aircraft for this duty and lightened them by pulling out half the guns :P

Lympne didn't even rate it's own C.O. after the last squadron departed in June 1940 - as an ELG and afterwards for some time it came under the brevet of Sqn Ldr G.A.L. Manton at Manston.

I DID wonder about the "date" for the pics; for there are certain other period features I know to look for in the vicinity....and while camoflage was good in the period it wasn't THAT good! :lol:



Actually, a lot of the imagery is coming up as taken 1/1/1940. I am inclined to take the dates with a fairly large pinch of salt. It is being discussed on the Kent History Forum and one poster there has noted that an image dated 1945 includes houses that were not built till the early 1950s! I think dating is best based on the appearance of features of known construction date!

We do have the advantage of knowing where and when defensive fortifications were constructed, so they are not too hard to find on old PR photos, and even now traces can be found on modern imagery. However our potential unwelcome visitors were at something of a disadvantage - did they have earlier PR pictures to compare with their own from 1939-1940? What could they deduce from such comparison?

I take your point about camouflage - after all, if the enemy cannot see you he is hardly likely to succeed in hitting you! However, some of the emplacements would have taken quite a time to construct and that could hardly have been hidden. With the big guns, like Bruce, Winnie, and Pooh, even the most effective camouflage would have been ruined once the things were fired. Just imagine the effect on vegetation of the muzzle blast of such weapons! They would suddenly become very obvious from the air!

Just for the sake of comparison, I suggest looking at the site of "Bruce", the experimental hypervelocity gun.

This is it now: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.15831 ... a=!3m1!1e3

Mostly hidden by trees growing in the past 60 years! Compare with the same location on Google Earth at different times. The earliest images show the site clearly - see also http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index ... #msg152745

To locate the site on Google Earth move to this location:

51 degrees 09 minutes 28.81 seconds NORTH
1 degree 23 minutes 00.62 seconds EAST

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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 06 Apr 2014 16:28

had a look at the War Diary of the 28th AA Brigade in the meantime and it seems that of the four Bofors guns (55th LAA Regt) that were ordered to Lympne on 17 Aug. two were taken away again on 30.8 to strengthen the defences of Croydon.


In other words...the AA defences of Lympne were reduced in favour of a working and vulnerable target after Lympne had been downgraded to ELG status.

Nevertheless, whoever and whatever was left were still capable of putting up a spirited defence, according to the 6th Somerset Light Infantry who were nearby (Bn HQ in Burmarsh). Intelligence log for 1 Sept.:
“Six German fighters converted to bombers MESSERSCHMITTS attempted to bomb LYMPNE aerodrome. Only about 4 bombs dropped as A.A. gun fire so fierce that raiders were driven off before completing attempt.


I've emphasised the important word in that passage - for that would indicate a low-level raid by the bomb-carrying Messerschmitts of ErPro210...therefore everything would be let loose at them I.E the airfield's low-level AA - Vickers MGs etc...

P.S. I'm not sure the war diary's estimation of the effectiveness of the raid is warranted..."Only about 4 bombs dropped... raiders were driven off before completing attempt"...

...given that only six Messerschmitts sortied against Lympne and four bombs dropped on or within sight of the airfield - there's a very fine line being drawn there regarding "completing" their mission! :lol:

And of course, if there were just two Bofors guns remaining there on the 1st..."One bomb fell on No 1 A.A. gun pit + killed 1 gunner injuring another 3"...the raid accounted for 50% of the field's medium AA defence!
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 06 Apr 2014 16:35

Actually, a lot of the imagery is coming up as taken 1/1/1940. I am inclined to take the dates with a fairly large pinch of salt. It is being discussed on the Kent History Forum and one poster there has noted that an image dated 1945 includes houses that were not built till the early 1950s! I think dating is best based on the appearance of features of known construction date!


Indeed. I was also looking for the Sandgate Emergency Battery...which doesn't appear! Neither BOP, gun bunker nor seachlight positions.

We do have the advantage of knowing where and when defensive fortifications were constructed, so they are not too hard to find on old PR photos, and even now traces can be found on modern imagery. However our potential unwelcome visitors were at something of a disadvantage - did they have earlier PR pictures to compare with their own from 1939-1940? What could they deduce from such comparison?


The Luftwaffe was flying PR ops over the UK from day one of the war...and flew both high and medium altitude PR ops through the summer of 1940....so they would have at least high altitude "before and after" shots for comparison. There's a COMPLETE set of medium level PR pics of the Kent and Sussex Coastal Crust in the IWM, but not often made public - there's hundreds of them IIRC - but I HAVE seen a couple in print some years ago and the detail is frightening! It's VERY easy to see camoflaged positions in those - you can even count individual rows of sandbags on sloping emplacements at roadblocks etc.! 8O

As noted previously, the Germans seem to have seen the majority of defensive works inlcuding emergency batteries - they just misinterpreted what they were seeing on occasion :P Beppo Schmidt strikes again??? :D
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Knouterer » 06 Apr 2014 20:20

phylo_roadking wrote:
Well, in spite of my doubts, the Somerford (Hampshire) Home Guard managed to squeeze a 6pdr into a Campbell Car, probably a little later in the war


More interesting, but probably lost now, is how they got their hands on one...


That's not much of a mystery, as the war went on the HG received more and more of the army's castoffs - Boys AT rifles, 2pdr AT guns, and a variety of artillery pieces (apart from that, they were also of course increasingly required to provide men for rocket batteries, HAA batteries and coastal batteries).
According to the official returns, the HG had 49 6pdrs in March 1942, mostly in Western Command. By October of that year, they had acquired an interesting collection: 2 x 3pdrs, 104 x 6pdrs, 4 x 13pdrs, 9 x 18pdrs, and 4 x 75 mm guns.
The Campbell Car conversion, I would assume, dates from 1942 or later; it's not very likely any brand new armoured cars were issued to the HG in the desperate days of 1940, and even if they had been it's not likely the HG would have been allowed to cut away the armour and install armament according to their own ideas.
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Knouterer » 06 Apr 2014 20:32

phylo_roadking wrote:
I've emphasised the important word in that passage - for that would indicate a low-level raid by the bomb-carrying Messerschmitts of ErPro210...therefore everything would be let loose at them I.E the airfield's low-level AA - Vickers MGs etc...


Well Phylo, I'm really grateful that you're not trying to suggest that it was your famous "small working party" that put up this fierce A.A. fire while at the same time servicing and repairing aircraft and keeping the officers' mess running :milwink:
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 06 Apr 2014 20:58

Well Phylo, I'm really grateful that you're not trying to suggest that it was your famous "small working party" that put up this fierce A.A. fire while at the same time servicing and repairing aircraft and keeping the officers' mess running


Ahem....you DO realise that RAF ground staff assigned defence duties STOPPED doing their other duties and manned their guns...or took cover???

P.S. regarding the "officers' mess" You DO know where it was, don't you??? And why it wasn't actually affected by the attack on the airfield? AND why mess staff wouldn't be dashing to gun positions at Lympne ELG???

It was actually some considerable distance away at "Port Lympne" the house previously owned (until his death in July 1939) by Sir Philip Sassoon, former Undersecretary For Air and former honorary C.O. of No 601 Sqn at Lympne between the wars...

And of course...I can't help noting in your rather brief exerpt(s) from the 6th Somerset Light Infantry...

Nevertheless, whoever and whatever was left were still capable of putting up a spirited defence, according to the 6th Somerset Light Infantry who were nearby (Bn HQ in Burmarsh). Intelligence log for 1 Sept.:
“Six German fighters converted to bombers MESSERSCHMITTS attempted to bomb LYMPNE aerodrome. Only about 4 bombs dropped as A.A. gun fire so fierce that raiders were driven off before completing attempt. One bomb fell on No 1 A.A. gun pit + killed 1 gunner injuring another 3. HURRICANE plane which landed for repair from previous fight damaged and put out of action.”


...that there's no mention of WHO provided this fierce A.A. fire.....the remaining guns of the 55th LAA Regt or RAF personnel on the airfield! Given that ErPro210's speciality was low-level, fast, no-warning raids...ONE of those groups of defenders is far more likely to be AT their guns when the bomb-armed messerschmitts arrived - and one wasn't...

Well, in spite of my doubts, the Somerford (Hampshire) Home Guard managed to squeeze a 6pdr into a Campbell Car, probably a little later in the war

The Campbell Car conversion, I would assume, dates from 1942 or later; it's not very likely any brand new armoured cars were issued to the HG in the desperate days of 1940, and even if they had been it's not likely the HG would have been allowed to cut away the armour and install armament according to their own ideas.


It might be an idea to try and chase down some more FACTS on that, rather than relying on layered assumptions like that...
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 06 Apr 2014 21:44

Just as an aside...

Six German fighters converted to bombers MESSERSCHMITTS attempted to bomb LYMPNE aerodrome. Only about 4 bombs dropped as A.A. gun fire so fierce that raiders were driven off before completing attempt


The Home Security Report for the 1st of September confirms these were indeed Bf109s...so the force did indeed manage to drop at least 2/3rds of their ordnance! Interestingly, as well therefore as taking out 50% of the airfield's LAA...the campaign diary for that day notes that Lympne was already not useable as an ELG by night due to bomb craters!
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 06 Apr 2014 21:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 06 Apr 2014 21:57

Regarding THIS...

3. HURRICANE plane which landed for repair from previous fight damaged and put out of action.”
This last statement tallies with the Operations Record Book of No. 85 squadron for 1 Sept. (as quoted by Chris Goss in “Luftwaffe Fighters and Bombers: The Battle of Britain”, page 317): “Sgt Allard’s oil pressure dropped so he switched off and landed at Lympne, but while the aircraft was being serviced, the airfield was bombed and his aircraft hit.”


Either the aircraft "put out of action" in the raid at 15:40 was not Allard's....OR the 6th's war diary entry wasn't correct regarding the damage done to his aircraft ;) According to Folkestone & District Local History Society, yes his aircraft was bombed and one RAF ground crew working on it was killed and another injured...but Allard was able to fly one or more patrols before the end of the day, shooting down a Bf109 on his last patrol that day.
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Clive Mortimore » 06 Apr 2014 22:20

phylo_roadking wrote:
A few pictures of the loco conversion, from Malmassari ... initially only the cab was armoured, later on (1941?) armour protection was extended over most of the engine.


To be fair, the pics don't actually show much of a change at all; what is illustrated there is that apart from the spanking new camo job, the only visible extra protection in the middle pic added from the top pic is the protective box cover put over the LNER vacuum brake system in front of the pannier tank ;) Whereas the top pic illustrates that at that point in time, as per the caption,"many parts are still vulnerable"...

THIS is actually the later incarnation of the uparmouring....

Image

Here you can see the box covering the vacuum brake gear and coupling pipes more clearly - and that the only other upgrading done was little armoured covers over the whistle and safety valve and the one over the steam pipe joints on top of the boiler :P There's no extra protection for the boiler body itself, or the pressure dome.


Hi Phylo

The Great Eastern Railway, the F4s were ex GER locos, used Westinghouse air brakes on its coaching stock and the devise that has the armoured cover is the Westinghouse air pump. The locomotive is not a pannier tank but has side tanks. It was the GWR that had pannier tanks. The wagons were not automatic brake fitted, they had hand brakes only.

The gun wagons were LMS loco coal 20 ton wagons.

There is a group based at Mangapps Railway Museum who are trying to raise the funds to build a new F4 locomotive. Saddly their group leader told me that they were not going to make it an armoured loco.

While on the subject of armoured trains and the references to the Somerset Light Infantry we must not forget the RHDR armoured train. It consisted of a 15 inch gauge 4-8-2 locomotive (No 8 Hurcules) with two gun cars, each armed with a Boys anti tank rifle and two Lewis guns, one for AA defence. At first manned by the SLI. http://inlanding.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/romney_hythe_and_dymchurch_armoured_train.jpg Depending on which account you read, the train claimed an aircraft. Which I believe makes this the only armoured train to see action in the defence of Britian and the smallest in the world to do so.
Clive

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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 06 Apr 2014 22:36

Hi Phylo

The Great Eastern Railway, the F4s were ex GER locos, used Westinghouse air brakes on its coaching stock and the devise that has the armoured cover is the Westinghouse air pump. The locomotive is not a pannier tank but has side tanks. It was the GWR that had pannier tanks. The wagons were not automatic brake fitted, they had hand brakes only.


Hi Clive, thanks for that - I did wonder, I actually originally had the note about the Westinghouse cylinders on my post but took it off again! :roll: As I couldn't find any other mention of it apart from my own knowledge of what it seemed to be - except for several remarks about some of the F4s having the LNER push-pull system fitted.

Were "all" the surviving Gobblers by 1940 ex-GER M15s? The available pics of the locos used for the armoured trains (15 F4s and 1 F5 were given over, to provide 12 running locos and emergency spares) are poor, but it's possible to JUST make out that not all of them have the Westinghouse air brakes.

While on the subject of armoured trains and the references to the Somerset Light Infantry we must not forget the RHDR armoured train. It consisted of a 15 inch gauge 4-8-2 locomotive (No 8 Hurcules) with two gun cars, each armed with a Boys anti tank rifle and two Lewis guns, one for AA defence. At first manned by the SLI. http://inlanding.files.wordpress.com/20 ... _train.jpg Depending on which account you read, the train claimed an aircraft. Which I believe makes this the only armoured train to see action in the defence of Britian and the smallest in the world to do so.


IIRC I've seen claims of three engaged and one downed. Isn't Hercules and one armoured wagon sitting preserved somewhere on a siding...or is it a replica?
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Clive Mortimore » 06 Apr 2014 23:20

Hi Phylo

The F4s (ex GER M15) would have be fitted with Westinghouse brakes as they were passenger locomotives. Some were fitted with push-pull gear for use on the Epping-Ongar branch, this was LNER standard and vacuum operated, most ex-GER locos had both air and vacuum brakes so they could haul GER (air braked) and standard LNER (vacuum braked) coaches.

The F5s were F4s that had been rebuilt with new boilers having a higher working pressure.

As for the RDHR train, I believe the armour for Hercules is either plywood or MDF replica that they place on her for special days and the wagon is also wooden body replica.
Clive

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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby phylo_roadking » 07 Apr 2014 00:38

The F4s (ex GER M15) would have be fitted with Westinghouse brakes as they were passenger locomotives.


Here's one that DOES have it...

Image

Here's one I'm not sure about, as it might be behind and partly obscured by the guy standing on the plate...

Image

But I'm definitely not sure about THIS one...

Image

Nor this one! Whatever that is down the right side of the loco it doesn't look like a box, nor "deep" enough for the Westinghouse gear...

Image

This is what I meant about the majority of them not being great views of the locos...!

Image

For obvious propaganda reasons the photographers are more interested in the "fearsome" armoury! :lol:
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Re: British Army at home September 1940

Postby Dunserving » 07 Apr 2014 11:23

Knouterer wrote:
phylo_roadking wrote:
I've emphasised the important word in that passage - for that would indicate a low-level raid by the bomb-carrying Messerschmitts of ErPro210...therefore everything would be let loose at them I.E the airfield's low-level AA - Vickers MGs etc...


Well Phylo, I'm really grateful that you're not trying to suggest that it was your famous "small working party" that put up this fierce A.A. fire while at the same time servicing and repairing aircraft and keeping the officers' mess running :milwink:



Have you done so much as glance at the imagery of Lympne detailed above, now on the Google Earth site?

You really ought to give it some serious study!


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