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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

The Search for the Lost Fighter Plane

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I watched an incredible programme today , on National Geographic Channel.

On Battle of Britain Day, Pilot Sergeant Ray Holmes was flying his Hurricane MK1 as part of 504 SQN operating out of Hendon Aerodrome, to meet a vastly superior German bombing force, on its way to London.
He met the attacking force just outside London and chose his target, a Dornier Bomber. He made his attack from the rear, and immediately fell foul of a secret German weapon. He thought he had damaged the plane as 'smoke' was coming out of it.
In fact it was oil, spread across his windscreen, from the secret weapon, that was in fact a tail mounted flame thrower(!!!) that had in fact failed to ignite. This oil covered his windscreen, totally obscuring his view.
Pilot Sergeant Holmes broke away, and eventually the wind cleared the oil. He looked around and found himself alone, apart from a lone German bomber , damaged, heading directly for Buckingham Palace.
He attacked from the front , only to find that his guns were jammed or out of ammunition. He swung round, and decided to ram the Enemy plane.
He flew straight through the bomber, cutting off the tail plane.

His Hurricane badly damaged, he bailed out , injuring himself so that his right arm was useless, and eventually, he managed to pull his ripcord with his LEFT arm, no mean feat. He was about to give up , when he saw he was about to land on the electric rail tracks of Victoria Station, when he was caught by a gust of wind and blown onto the roof of a block of flats. He slid down and was greeted by an ever growing crowd, who had seen his gallant deed. His plane crash into the juction on Buckingham Palace Road, SW1.

The Dornier bomber faired not so well. It crashed on a part of Victoria Station, with no one on the ground hurt.
The pilot , Oberlieutenant Robert Zehre, was the only man to bail out, and he landed , badly injured, into the already bombed area of Oval. He was caught on a telegraph pole, and a lynch mob formed. He was rescued, and sadly, died, two days later in hospital.

Pilot Sergeant Ray Holmes became an over night celebrity,and due to a number of other ramming incidents , the Luftwaffe thought they were facing a suicidal fanatical force. Coupled with that , and the brave professionalism of our allied pilots, the enemy were driven off for the remainder of the war.

Pilot Sergeant Ray Holmes was asked about his heroism, and he replied that, " He was only doing his duty."

What a man.


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Yes indeed such heroism deserves the highest recognition. I have always found it incredible that given their actions there are not more than the single RAF Fighter squadrons VC awarded. I reckon enough people witnessed Ray Holmes' actions that day. Good story, reminds us of just what we owe these guys.


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Saw this programme a few months ago when it was first aired. I love things like this, the History and Discovery channels can always be trusted to come up with great programmes.

The only thing that detracted it slightly was the continual reference to the German pilot heading for Buckingham Palace. I doubt very much indeed whether he was heading for there as some specific target, he was more likely just heading in that general direction. There was no need to jazz the story up in that way, the deeds done that day were heroic enough......

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