Projects Disaster Over Bracklesham

Disaster Over Bracklesham

September 2015 (Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary 1940-2015)

Britain At War Magazine – September Issue 2015
© Andrew D. Bird

With the Battle of Britain at its height, ‘home’ for personnel of ‘A’ Flight, 235 Squadron, was the RAF airfield at Thorney Island near Chichester in West Sussex. Formed in October 1939 and operating in the ‘coastal fighter’ role, 235 Sqn were equipped with Bristol Blenheim IVfs, engaged on fighter and shipping protection. Its main operating areas were the northern reaches of the North Sea, southern England, the English Channel, Channel Islands and the southern part of the Norwegian Sea.

Under the command of Wg Cdr Ronnie ‘Nobby’ Clarke, 235 Sqn rotated between Bircham Newton and Thorney Island in the summer of 1940, and it was here, at Thorney Island, during August, that Flt Lt ‘Freddie’ Flood and Sgt Kenneth ‘Skipper’ Naish and Plt Off Dave Woodger found themselves. Also with them was Plt Off Norman Jackson-Smith, nicknamed ‘Jacko’ and his colleagues mounted patrols along the coastline of German occupied Europe, sometimes escorting Fairey Battle or Blenheim bombers or Swordfish bi-planes, and other times conducting independent sweeps. Additionally, 235 Sqn’s’ A Flight was tasked with protecting their airfield and local area, including Portsmouth. This was their role on Saturday 24 September 1940.