Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4N

Flown by Major Adolf Galland, Stab./JG 26, Audembert/France, September 24, 1940


Hawker Hurricane MK I

Flown by Flying Officer Harold A. C. Bird-Wilson, No 17 Squadron, Debden/England, September 24, 1940

This early morning Oberstleutnant Raithels KG 77 was escorted by nearly 200 Messerschmitts from JG 2, JG 26, JG 54, I./JG 77 and I.(J)/LG 2 to ensure no losses to the Luftwaffe bomber arm.

RAF sent eleven Squadrons to attack the incoming Germans. However due to heavy clouds only three squadrons manage to attacked the JU 88s from KG 77, damaging three of them for the loss of three fighters shot down by the escort.

One of the losses were the fighter ace P/O Harold Bird-Wilson who had to leave his burning Hurricane. Hereby Bird-Wilson became the 40th vicim of the commander of JG 26, Major Adolf Galland.

Galland describe his encounter with Bird-Wilson: On a a escort mission towards London, on our way back, I attacked thirty British fighters over Southend. However soon I was attacked by another squadron. The enemy formation then split up and a picked one lonely Hurricane flying a bit higher than the rest. I manage to close in from behind climbing, and opened fire at a distance of 60 meters and the enemy aircraft started to burn, and the pilot bailed out.

Harold Bird-Wilson told this story: The 17th Squadron was sent to the Thames estuary, and here we was attacked by a few Me 109s attacking from above. I didd´t know which way to make my evasive actions and in the next moment I was hit hard, my Hurricane was shaking as it was hit by cannon fire. My aircraft burst in flames. I manage to shout "Mayday, Green one is burning", and then fire was spreading into the cockpit. I bailed out and landed in the Themes and was later rescued by the Royal Navy, although with burns.

At the hospital at Haywards Heath Harold Bird-Wilson leaned that he had been awarded the DFC. On the another side of the channel Adolf Galland learned after he landed his Messerschmitt that he was to be summoned to Berlin. Here Hitler awarded him the Oak Leaves to the Knight Cross, the third Wehrmacht member to be so honored.

© Claes Sundin 2016