James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

23 May 1940 - 2

Tony Bartley DFC, who flew with 92 squadron that day, vividly describes the combat in his book Smoke Trails in the Sky :

I made Hornchurch with only a few gallons to spare, and as I climbed out of my cockpit, my head ached from the smell of cordite and my heart was hammer-pounding. Some of the others had already landed and were giving their combat reports to the Intelligence Officer. Others were in the circuit. So this was what it was all about. I thought to myself as I walked wearily towards our dispersal hut.

After adding up scores of confirmed and probably destroyed, patching up bullet holes, the squadron took off again in the afternoon, and ran into the enemy as soon as we reached the beaches. A swarm of Heinkels approached like a gaggle of grey geese. Just above them, their close escort of countless Me 11Os, and higher still a swarm of 109s, small specks which betrayed their presence by their smoke trails in the sky.

I didn’t know how Roger proposed to attack the armada, and I thought of Henry V at Agincourt, perhaps because it was not far from us. Suddenly. Roger’s voice broke the RT silence: Paddy, your flight take on the top cover. The rest stick with me and we’ll take on the bombers.

I stuck to Paddy’s tail as he scrambled for more altitude and all of a sudden we were in the middle of a milling mass of Me 110s. I turned in behind the closest of them. He had a shark’s jaw painted on his nose. I saw his rear gunner’s tracer bullets reaching for me and then stop abruptly as I took aim and fired my first burst from my eight machine guns. On my second, he lurched, flipped over on his back and started to plunge towards the ground, both engines on fire.

The 110s had formed into a defensive circle with the Spitfires wheeling and shooting inside it. Picking their targets, one after the other. The rear gunners fired back. The sky was filled with tracer.   >