During the spring and summer of 1940 an RAF Blenheim bomber squadron was wiped out — twice

The third Blenheim IV in this line-up at Watton in early May 1940 is P4852/UX-O, which sank U-31 on 11 March that year but was lost in the disastrous Gembloux mission on 17 May. Of the others, P6915/ UX-A was badly shot up by a Bf 109 over Abbeville on 7 June, P4828/UX-K was lost near Hesdin on 22 May and R3618/ UX-N close to Poix on 8 June. P. H. T. GREEN COLLECTION

Five Messerschmitt Bf 109s against a single Bristol Blenheim. There was only likely to be one outcome. That was the situation encountered by Fg Off John Blake with his crew of Sgt Tom Weightman and AC1 Sam Middleton on 27 February 1940. Engaged in an anti-shipping reconnaissance to the Heligoland- Elbe area, their Blenheim IV, P4842, was intercepted by Bf 109s from Jagdgeschwader 77 and was shot down by Oltn Gerhard Jahnny, though he identified his victim as a Wellington. This was the first of No 82 Squadron’s many casualties over the coming months. Twice, those casualties were so heavy that the unit virtually ceased to exist. By any standards, it was an appalling toll.

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