Antiquated biplanes tackle fast-boat raiders and mask the big guns

A rare view of 415 Squadron’s Albacores in D-Day stripes

For much of the war there had been regular action in the English Channel and the threat posed by German E-boats was brought home on April 27, 1944, when a group attacked landing ships conducting a D-Day rehearsal off Slapton Sands, killing hundreds of American personnel.

To secure the Channel’s northern end, the Albacore biplanes of 415 Squadron conducted Channel Stop operations. At RAF Manston in Kent, the invasion period was one of sustained activity, with 415’s Albacores flying anti E-boat patrols. As the invasion task forces crossed overnight on June 5, the squadron flew four-ship patrols over the Straits of Dover with other aircraft on call.

The following night five patrols were flown. Around midnight, Flying Officer Parker in Albacore NH-E1 attacked three E-boats, capsizing one. A couple of hours later, off Cap Griz Nez, Flying Officer Mennie attacked six more E-boats, his bombs straddling two and causing significant damage. Despite poor weather, Albacores destroyed another E-boat on the night of June 10/11.

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