16 October 2013
: the First Strike on Britain
From October 16th 13:00 GMT (06:00 PDT) to October 17th 13:00 GMT (06:00 PDT)
+50% reward bonus for destroying naval units.
+30% experience for the folowing aircraft: Spitfire Mk.I, Spitfire Mk.II and Ju.88А-4
A pair of wreaths from anonymous Scottish women graced the graves of the German airmen shot down in the first air raid of World War Two. One message read: "To two brave airmen from the mother of an airman", and the other stated simply: "With the deep sympathy of Scottish mothers". In the poignant inscriptions, there was no ally or enemy, just a heartfelt compassion for a mother's loss, regardless of geography. - Daily Record, Scotland
The attack on Rosyth was launched on the 16th of October, 1939, it was a significant moment in the war, where crucial lessons would be learned that would be used in the Battle of Britain. The German aircraft were engaged by Spitfires from 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron based at Drem aerodrome, East Lothian, and 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron from Turnhouse. Two enemy JU 88 bombers were shot down, killing four of their crew, and three British ships, the Mohawk, the Edinburgh and the Southampton were damaged with 16 sailors killed. The raid was unexpected and would mark the beginning of the end of the Phoney War.
A dozen of the newly manufactured German "Wunderbomber" aircraft, the Junkers 88, had taken off around noon from their base at Westerland on the island of Sylt, just off the German coast. They flew in groups of three and their target had been chosen by Goering himself. Their target was the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood, but they were under orders from Hitler that the Luftwaffe were only allowed to hit ships that were at sea or anchored in the Forth. At this point the Fuhrer still hoped that the there could be some accommodation with the British he so admired and ordered that civilian casualties must be avoided at all costs. Earlier that morning, two German Heinkel 111 reconnaissance aircraft had seen a large British battleship about to enter the Firth of Forth and assumed it was the Hood. The German intelligence was wrong, not only about the Hood but also about there being no Spitfires in Scotland.
The battle which would follow was to be the first major test of the Spitfire against the Luftwaffe. The JU 88 was a new plane and its pilots were well trained, many of whom had been involved in the bombing of Poland and the Spanish Civil war. The RAF squadrons, 602 and 603, were reservists, they were volunteers who had been firemen, lawyers and farmers and, unlike their adversaries, they weren't used to combat conditions. The Scottish men who flew these planes were young and dashing and what they lacked in combat experience they made up for in courage. Witnessing the battle had been the passengers of a train still crossing the Forth Bridge. Fortunately, after Hitler's decree, the bridge was deemed off limits. There had been no air raid warning given and so the dogfight was watched by civilians all across Edinburgh. Civilians and buildings had been hit unintentionally by shrapnel from the air battle.
Squadron Leader Bruce Blanche, Royal Auxiliary Airforce (retired) said that before the Rosyth raid there had been controversy about the idea of an auxiliary force but any doubt disappeared after their remarkable performance at Rosyth.
Crucially, lessons were learned from the this attack, which both the Germans and the British would take into future battles.
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