Sunday, July 5, 2015

May 1940

"Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-127-0396-13A, Im Westen, deutsche Panzer" by Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-127-0396-13A / Huschke / CC-BY-SA. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons (Source)
Poland, Denmark and Norway lie prostrate under the heel of the Deutsches Wehrmacht. Belgium and the Netherlands have been overrun. The French army is falling back before the remorseless press of German tanks, infantry and aircraft.

The French are outmatched in the air, Britain lends support but the commander of RAF Fighter Command is already warning the Prime Minister that their resources are being stretched to the breaking point. Any further commitment of the RAF's precious Spitfires and Hurricanes to the battle in France could well leave the island of Great Britain defenseless against the Luftwaffe.

The Panzers are pushing for the Channel coast, brushing aside desperate French resistance, the goal is to cut off the Allied armies falling back from Belgium and trap the British Expeditionary Force against the channel.

The German advance to the English Channel between 16 May and 21 May of 1940. by The History Department of the United States Military Academy (Source)

Amazingly, Hitler orders the Panzers to halt in place. The Luftwaffe under Goering can handle this. The Panzer generals are aghast, has Der Führer lost his mind?

But being good soldiers, they halt their advance, so close yet so far.

The RAF can now fly sorties over the French Channel ports directly from England. No need to expose the all important ground staff and facilities to the marauding Germans.

Meanwhile, the Luftwaffe begins to pound and harass the dwindling perimeter around those Channel ports - Boulogne, Calais, Gravelines, Dunkirk and Nieuport (in Belgium).

"Dunkirk Beaches, 1940" by Eurich, Richard Ernst (RA) (Source)

German Dornier Do-17 bombers circa 1940.
"Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-342-0603-25, Belgien-Frankreich, Flugzeuge Dornier Do 17" by Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-342-0603-25 / Ketelhohn [Kettelhohn] / CC-BY-SA. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons (Source)

As a flight of German Do-17s begins their bomb run on the French beaches, a flight of RAF Spitfires intercepts them. Without escorts, the bombers dump their loads and scatter. One German gunner scores a lucky hit on one of the Spitfires.

Spitfire P9374, piloted by Flying Officer Peter Cazenove, has taken a round through the coolant system. The Merlin engine would quickly seize up without the coolant circulating through the system. Flying Officer Cazenove knew that there was no way he would make it back to England.

He would have to put her down on the beach.

"Spitfire Mk1A P9374 2 (7515704940)" by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK - Spitfire Mk1A P9374 2Uploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons (Source)

Where his aircraft would sit, gradually buried in the sand, undiscovered until 1980. Forty years later.

Now she has been fully restored and will be auctioned off this month.

The UK Daily Mail has an excellent story on Spitfire P9374 here.

But Tuna sent me another link, which tells the story of this iconic aircraft very well.

Christie's will be holding the auction.

Gee, I wish I had £2.5 million to spend.

Sigh, I do so love the Spitfire.


  1. "Sigh, I do so love the Spitfire."

    Here is my favorite.

    1. I have always enjoyed the P-38, a cool looking aircraft. (Your link didn't work, I used this instead.)

    2. That's what I get for copying from their site.

    3. In my experience it depends on where you copy the URL from when you're visiting YouTube.

      I typically grab it from the URL block at the top of my browser. When the link says, some browsers will flag that as "dangerous". Most browsers recognize Grabbing the URL from the "share" button in YouTube should work, but not on all browsers, especially with certain varieties of security software.

      Bottom line, is usually recognized as "safe" -, not so much.

      At least that's my experience.

  2. A wonderful story....and a great job of restoration.

    But wings, new fuselage, mostly new engine with some original parts, new instruments.....

    How much of the original plane are you buying?

    1. Good point B, but still, it is a Spitfire.

      A bit pricey though, perhaps I'll shop around.

  3. The Brits did a lot of goofy things, and the Spitfire was one of the goofy things that worked out. Very pretty. Iconic. Few will argue the spit is the most visually aesthetically pleasing fighter ever produced.

    Another goofy thing was the way they fought the BEF in '39 and '40. Hitler was right to be cautious, because the Frogs and the Brits had everything they needed to clean the Wehrmacht's clock. Everything except sound tactics, and in the case of the French, courage and resolve.

    1. And that, my friend, is indeed the moral of the story.

      You can have good equipment and good troops, if your tactics and will aren't up to snuff, you lose.

      Napoléon did say that "the moral is to the physical as three is to one." Of course he said it in French and he meant that the guts and mental stuff in warfare is three times as important as the hardware. I wonder how that works for drones (he said, thinking of Tuna).


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)