The Battle of CAWSAND BAY

A relatively ineffective Luftwaffe ‘tip-and-run’ attack on a Royal Navy convoy ended with a Messerschmitt shoot down. David J B Smith recounts the action.


The morning of 16 May, 1942 started like any other day in war-weary Plymouth. The local population were trying to regain some semblance of normality during a respite from the ravages of an intensive blitz. The ferocious German air raids on the Royal Navy base had ceased for a while because the Luftwaffe were, thankfully, preoccupied in the skies above Russia.

Plymouth Sound was busy with shipping on that fateful day. Several merchant vessels were anchored in Jennycliff Bay, waiting to join a convoy. Short Sunderland seaplanes were taxiing across the Sound and taking off to fight the U-boat menace and a pair of boom defence vessels were scurrying across the entrances and exits of the breakwater, opening and closing the protective screens to regular shipping.

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