15.08.1940 No. 234 Squadron Spitfire I N3277 AZ-H P/O. R. Hardy
Date: 15th August 1940 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 234 Squadron
Type: Spitfire I
Base: RAF Middle Wallop, Hampshire
Location: Cherbourg, France
Pilot: P/O. Richard Hardy 41921 RAF Survived - PoW No: 3595 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan
REASON FOR LOSS:
This day saw the heaviest fighting of the Battle of Britain with both sides being pushed almost to their limits. Attacks ranged from Kent to Suffolk to east Yorkshire as well as all along the south coast. There was also a large air battle off the Firth of Forth in Scotland.
Winston Churchill described today as “one of the greatest days in our history.”
In all, as a result of the day's operations, it is now known that the German Air Force lost seventy-six aircraft. Fighter Command losses that day were thirty-four aircraft. In spite of this the enemy effort was only slightly less on the following day, when in three major attacks four Fighter Command airfields were heavily bombed.
Above: as described with insert of P/O. Richard Hardy
234 Squadron suffered the loss of 4 pilots with another making a crash landing at Twyford, the others:
Spitfire I R6988 - Flown by 22 year old, P/O. Cecil Henry Hight 41924 RAF from Stratford, Taranaki, New Zealand - killed. Further details follow.
Images of all three pilots shown left.
Spitfire I R6985 - Flown by 22 year old, P/O. Vincent Parker 42356 RAF taken PoW and remained at Stalag Luft Sagan as PoW number 476 until the end of the war. Tragically killed in 1946 - further details follow.
Spitfire I P9363 - Flown by 22 year old, Sgt. Zygmunt Klein KW and bar 780685 PAF - safe after a crash landing at Twyford - Tragically missing, believed killed 3 months later in Spitfire P9427 on the 28th November 1940.
Thought to have been hit by Oblt. Georg Claus of III/JG 53 (right - courtesy Kracker Archive on this site) in the middle of the English Channel - the pilot managed to force land the spitfire at Cherbourg. Some reports state that the damage seen behind the cockpit was made by the pilot detonating secret equipment, however it is more likely that it had been hit by 20 mm flak as he came in.
Jochen Prien in the publication ‘Jagdgeschwader 53’ wrote that “the English pilot slid back the cockpit hood and immediately raised his hands - he obviously expected to be shot. He was just as surprised when I asked him to lower his hands and instead to climb out and come to to the pilot's mess to have glass of
champagne with the pilots of JG53”. (Such was the respect that pilots held for one another at this stage of the war)
None - survived the war. After he retired from the RAF as a Fl/Lt. in 1946 he ran a pub in Herefordshire. In the early 1980’s he retired and moved to Devon. Nothing further is known.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to sources as quoted below: