Hundreds of Spitfires spring into action

During 453 Squadron’s first patrol Flying Officer Lancaster flew MK355/FU-H and witnessed the sinking destroyer

On the eve of the invasion, 53 Spitfire squadrons were available to cover the invasion once dawn had broken. The Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) had 22 Merlin-engined and four Griffon-engined squadrons, together with another 500 fighter aircraft, while 2TAF had mustered 27 squadrons with 480 aircraft.

ADGB’s main task was to protect the invasion fleet from the prying eyes of Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft as it gathered and set sail. The task fell mainly to the high-altitude Spitfire Mk.VII units and, flying from Bradwell Bay, 124 Squadron’s Flight Lieutenant Peter Ayerst patrolled Gravelines-Le Treport for 90 minutes, noting in his logbook: “D-Day. Very quiet!”

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