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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 54019
Last updated: 14 November 2021
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Time:06:50 LT
Type:Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I
Owner/operator:264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron Royal Air Force (264 (Madras Presidency) Sqn RAF)
Registration: L6965
MSN: 16
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:west of the Hazeldonkse Zandweg road, Zevenbergen, Noord-Brabant -   Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk
Destination airport:
Took off at 04.15 hrs from Martlesham along with 5 other Boulton Paul Defiant's together with 6 Spitfires from 66 Squadron. The object being to patrol the Dutch coast between Ijmuiden and the Hague to attack German troop transport.

They flew across the North Sea, making landfall about ten miles north of The Hague at 05.15, after which all aircraft turned north. Over IJmuiden they were fired on by Dutch anti-aircraft guns located on the south side of the harbour. The guns were firing accurately but they ceased fire immediately the British signalled the Dutch letter of the day.

All aircraft turned about and flew south along the coast. More fire, this time German, was met over Maassluis which caused sections to take evasive action. Shortly after, the No. 66 Squadron Spitfires turned east towards Rotterdam where there were fires raging in various places while the Defiant's followed a more southerly route. Approaching Rotterdam, the crews of both flights saw about seven German Ju 87 Stukas (belonging to 12. Staffel of Lehrgeschwader 1) dive-bombing a target to the south-east.

The Defiant's went in to the attack and a ferocious air battle developed. Shortly after, Bf 109s from 5. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 26 joined the battle, which then developed into a series of individual dogfights.

Pilot Officer Alex McLeod's report of the action on May 13 reads as follows:

"I was Green 2 pilot of a Defiant aircraft in formation led by Pilot Officer Greenhous along with three other Defiants led by Flight Lieutenant Skelton and six Spitfires of No. 66 Squadron, also in Vee formation in sections of three. We patrolled the Dutch coast and encountered anti-aircraft fire north of the Hook of Holland, without seeing any enemy aircraft.

We then proceeded to Rotterdam and formation broke up west of Rotterdam to attack, as far as I could see, four Ju. 87s who were dive-bombing near a railway about ten miles south of Rotterdam.

I attacked a Ju,87 which was making away from our own aircraft and after a good many bursts from my air gunner, which were mostly given from above, I then saw him dive in flames. I was then immediately attacked by an Me 109 and tried to bring my aircraft in position for my gunner to shoot at the Me 109 by turning steeply to starboard.

After an exchange of bursts from either side my gunner reported that all four guns were out of action. I avoided the enemy by increasing the rate of turn. Having evaded the enemy for the present my gunner was able to rectify some of the guns by re-cocking.

I then noticed two Me 109s on the tail of another Defiant. I went to his aid but an Me 109 came on my tail again and my gunner exchanged shots. I carried out the same action as before but turned so quickly that I experienced a high speed stall and a spin, and on coming out I noticed that both starboard and port petrol tanks were on fire. The gunner also told me that the guns were finally out of action perhaps due to lack of ammunition, he could not say. Being useless as far as fighting was concerned, I proceeded south-west and force-landed near Zevenbergen. Unfortunately I landed in Dutch territory then in hands of the German army.

‘My gunner and I hid in the cellar of a house belonging to Dutch inhabitants as a German armoured car stopped outside the house. The Germans searched for us, looked in the cellar, but did not see us, as we were behind the steps leading down to the cellar. The Germans occupied the house for about three to four hours and then left for a short space of time in which we left also.

When they came back we were only about 200 yards from them lying in a ditch and from then onwards it was a case of hide and seek until we came to the river. I have forgotten to mention that the aircraft was completely burned out and we were dressed in overalls and civilian overcoats above our uniforms."

"My gunner not being able to swim, we proceeded up the river towards a bridge with a railway crossing over the river, but came across more Germans guarding the bridge. They shouted something to us but I pretended not to hear, turned round and sat with my gunner on the edge of the river. We stayed there for about 30 minutes and the Germans did not worry us.

We sauntered off in the other direction down the river for some distance until we came to a house on the other side. We kept the house under observation for some time to see if it was occupied by Germans, but it did not seem to be, so we whistled across to the occupants who rowed us over and gave us the direction of a Dutch regiment, the 6th Infantry, who were about six kilometres away. On the way we passed a village near Hoeven which was being bombed by three He 111s with 12 Me 109s guarding them.

As the He 111s were bombing up and down the wind the Bf 109s were circling in line astern in sections of six about the same height as the He 111s, that is 1,000 feet. In the course of the morning of May 13 fully 50 Me 110s must have passed over us making for the coast in formations of 15. The Me 110s did not keep any definite formation of 15 but kept wide apart and changed positions somewhat like rotation, but erratic, height being changed constantly.

"We eventually caught up with the Dutch regiment and made our identity known. This regiment was going to retreat to Antwerp that night as they were being gradually encircled and the commander did not expect to get there as some armoured cars were supposed to be on their way to head them off from Belgium.

We decided to carry on on our own but the same Dutch regiment picked us up near the border of Belgium and took us to Antwerp. I made my identity known to the French Army through the British Consul General, Mr Fisher. From there we proceeded to Ghent where the British Vice-Consul, Mr Whipp, was kind enough to take us to Ostend and obtain a passage on a ship, the Prince Leopold, which was to take British refugees to Folkestone."

On their return to England McLeod and Cox rejoined No. 264 Squadron at Manston. They were allocated Defiant L7007 in which they carried out two patrols over Dunkirk on May 23. These two sorties were the last that they flew together. McLeod continued flying L7007 but now with Jack Hatfield (who had been in Blue 1 on May 13) as his gunner. They carried out two further patrols to Dunkirk on May 27.

The two crew evaded capture, and eventually returned to their unit: Pilot Officer Alexander McLeod and LAC Walter Edward Cox


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/361):


Revision history:

17-Dec-2008 11:45 ASN archive Added
29-Jun-2011 00:39 ThW Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Phase, Source, Narrative]
30-Dec-2011 09:14 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
01-Feb-2013 12:56 Nepa Updated [Operator]
21-Jul-2013 06:24 JINX Updated [Operator, Source]
13-Aug-2013 15:41 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
14-Aug-2013 20:21 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
10-Nov-2014 17:32 DG333 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
27-May-2019 01:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Jul-2019 00:10 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Location, Source]
23-Mar-2020 12:46 TigerTimon Updated [Time, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Embed code]

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