RAF Blenheim Squadrons, Battle of Britain

I remember the small box of medals and tattered log book arriving in the post, it had been a hard won lot at an auction and having had a quick glance it looked promising for further research on a topic that I had not really delved into before. The log book belonged to a Sgt pilot of 59 Squadron based at Thorney Island during the Battle of Britain. 

At the start of the Second World War No.59 Squadron was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim squadron. It moved to France in October 1939, and operated as a strategic reconnaissance unit throughout the phoney war period and during the German offensive in May 1940. The squadron remained in France for longer than many other Blenhiem squadrons, only returning to England on 20 May.

After its return to England the squadron continued to fly reconnaissance missions for five months, before in October that task was taken over by the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit. Bombing raids against the German invasion ports began in July 1940, as did anti-submarine patrols. 

The squadron operated the Mk IV Blenheim which had no forward firing armament but it was operational during the Battle and carrying out daylight operations. The log book of this Sgt Pilot indicated tangles with Me 109s on numerous occasions including one sortie he returned to base with a badly injured rear gunner!  I thought they may have been entitled to  the Battle of Britain clasp to the 1940-45 star and indeed in 1940 the official paperwork seemed to indicate they were entitled but later on, many years after the battle they were disallowed the bar. Not only 59 Sqn personnel but also 53 Squadron. 

 I decided to look at what squadrons were involved with the Blenheim and the different marks of Blenheim, who they were flying for at the time and why they may have or have not qualified. 

My research of the squadrons with Blenheims, my conclusion for the the reason  that 53 and 59 were removed from the list of Battle of Britain  clasp entitled units is that the other units had the F or fighter variants with gun packs fitted that could be operated by the pilot.
23 sqn were operating the Mk IF
25 sqn Mk IF
29 had the IF
219 had the IF
600 had the IF
604 had the IF
235 had the Mk IVF variant with forwards guns although operating for coastal command
236 had the same as 235
248 exactly the same.

 53 and 59 had the Blenheim Mk IV fitted  no forward firing guns so not classed as a fighter! I may not be right but this is my thought on the topic. 

I have produced a PDF for any one wanting to research the Blenheim Squadrons operating during this period.  Feel free to download and just credit me if you use it. 

This page is dedicated to all the Brave Blenheim Crews operating during the Battle of Britain! clasp or not. 


Battle of Britain Blenheims.pdf Battle of Britain Blenheims.pdf
Size : 559.896 Kb
Type : pdf

© Copyright Mark Hillier