To many Londoners' this had been the first time that they had really experienced the effects of saturation bombing. It had been a sleepless night for most as the bombing attacks that commenced during the afternoon of the previous day carried on through the night. Anderson shelters rocked as each bomb exploded, dust managed to find its way into every hole and crack, children were screaming and crying, mothers were doing their best to comfort them. It had been a night that 'terror ran amoke' and by the early morning light of September 8th after the last of the enemy bombers had returned back to their bases, most would have said.....'We never want to go through another night like that....ever'. Little did they know that soon, London would come under heavy bombardment for fifty-seven consecutive nights, just like what they had just experienced on the night of September 7th - 8th.
But as the first light of Sunday emerged, a strange phenomenon took place, quite different from that of the previous twelve hours as London's "Daily Telegraph" reports:
But for those at Fighter Command, and at the sector and satelite stations, today was to be just 'another day at the office'.
After a clear night, clouds were expected to develop over most of Britain and remain at eight tenths for most of the day. Although cloudy, it was antcipated that the day would remain dry with only far northern Scotland expecting a shower or two. Temperatures were expected to be a little cooler because of the cloud cover but this cloud was expected to break up late in the afternoon.
After almost twelve hours on non stop continuous bombing, the people emerge from from shelters, basements and underground stations, wherever they thought that may have been safe. Many had heard on the radio overnight that "German Military forces have been reported to have landed on the south coast of England....." and that many were afraid to emerge. But on the early morning news broadcasts it was confirmed that no enemy paratroop sightings had been made, nor had any German ships or barges crossed the Channel during the night and that it was perfectly safe with no need to confine oneself into an air raid shelter.
From the outcome of the meeeting on the previous day with Hugh Dowding, Parks issued fresh orders that were to be efective immeadiately. Figures stated at the meeting was that during the last four weeks, pilot casualties amounted to 348, although Keith Park states that pilot casualties in 11 Group amount to nearly 100 per week. One of the problems is that because of pilot shortage in 11 Group, many pilots straight out of OTU (Operational Training Units) are being posted to fully operational squadrons that are in some of the busiest areas of 11 Group. Keith Park makes the suggestion that pilots straight out of OTU should be posted to squadrons that are in the north where they can be drawn into combat operations slowly. This way they would receive additional training with a squadron rested from top combat duties.
Squadrons would also be re-classified. Up until now, Park has been able to call upon squadrons that have been located at the most suitable locations for any given attack. It was quite feasible that one of those squadrons called on may have not had the combat operational experience required and therefore they would be going into an attack very 'green' and not only putting themselves at risk, but the more valuable and experienced pilots as well. The re-classification of squadrons is as follows:
During the night of September 7th and 8th 1940, while London was under its first constant day and night attack, Bomber Command sent 92 aircraft including the Fairy Battle to various targets along the Channel coast attacking many targets that were bases for numerous invasion barges and barge installations. Other attacks were made in many of the forest areas and to the Ruhr Dam area. Dunkirk and Calais come under heavy attack from Bomber Command. They return just prior to daybreak without loss.
Clouds started to roll in on this day, and this was possibly the reason that Lufwaffe activity was relitively quiet. Park also issued the order that paired squadrons would be used for the purpose of intercepting the enemy. The first squadrons using this pairing was 253 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) and 605 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes). They had intecepted a small formation that approached from the Thames Estuary and although West Malling and Detling were attacked, no serious damage was done.
OPERATIONS IN DETAIL:
0430hrs: The last of the German bombers leave London and head for home hoping to cross the Channel before the first light of day emerges. With the exception of the hour just before 2000hrs, London had been subjected to nealy twelve hours of continuous bombing. The departure of the bombers was observed by radar, but Park was to let them go and no squadrons had been despatched.
Daylight revealed more than was first thought. Reports now came in that three of London's main railway termini were out of action, London Bridge, Victoria and Waterloo stations were closed until further notice. Ironically, all these three railway stations were on the same Southern Railway network. Reports came in that at least ten of Londons other railway stations had been damaged, but after clearing operations they were seen fit to operate. One of the two road tunnels under the River Thames, Rotherithe suffered considerable damage on the northen approaches and the tunnel would be closed for an indefinate period of time.
0930hrs: Air Vice Marshal Keith Park taxis his personal Hurricane across Northolt, takes off and heads towards the other side of London to see first hand the damage done to the East End and to other areas that sustained damage the previous night. He is astounded to what he saw. Warehouses and stores from Tower Bridge to a point as far east as Woolwich were still burning. He saw streets flattened as a result of the attack, but he could not help himself from thinking that if the Luftwaffe keep up these attacks on London and not his vital airfields, it would give him the time that he needed to rebuild aerodromes and restock his fighter supply.
1030hrs: 43 Squadron departs from Tangmere. They had been under pressure for an extraordinary length of time, and their involvement on September 7th over Kent and South London did not help their cause. Like many other squadrons, they were tired, and Park ordered them to make haste and make for Usworth for a rest. One of their Hurricanes, during the ferry flight north, had the engine seize up over Gedney Dye in Lincolnshire. Pilot Officer C.K.Gray managed to make a forced landing and saved the aircraft from desruction.
607 Squadron flying Hurricanes is based at Usworth, and is ordered to exchange places with 43 Squadron. 607 Squadron, although having seen action in France during May 1940, and also the attacks on North-East England by Luftfotte 5, had never seen action in the south of England during the Battle of Britain were now to see for themselves at Tangmere why so many squadrons were being sent back north. Other squadrons on the move during the morning were 111 Squadron who were to move from Croydon to Drem, 79 Squadron who were also busy the previous day are moved from Biggin Hill across to the South Wales airfield at Pembrey. 92 Squadron, who had been having a rather busy time for an isolated aerodrome, were moved closer to the action at Biggin Hill.
1130hrs: Radar detects a formation over the Channel as it heads on a north-westerly course crossing the coast near Deal. 41 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires) already on routine patrol are vectored towards the Dover area, while 46 Squadron Stapleford (Hurricanes), 222 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires) and 605 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes) were scrambled to intercept. Target is identified as 20 plus Do17 bombers with 30 Bf109s as escort.
1215hrs: 41 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires) is first on the scene as the formation begin crossing the coast at Deal. They dive in to attack the bombers but the Bf109s are soon onto them and they are forced to engage combat with the 109s while the bomber formation continues across Kent. One of the Bf109s takes a hit but does not crash. One Spitfire is seen to leave a trail of smoke, although it is not close enough to establish any identidy, and disappears from the scene. Soon, they will be forced to leave the combat because of their fuel situation.
1230hrs: 41 Squadron Hornchurch were hopelessly outnumbered fighting the Bf109s on their own, but they were relieved when 46 Squadron Stapleford (Hurricanes) arrived followed soon after by 605 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes). One of the Hurricanes of 46 Squadron receives damage caused by a Bf109 and is forced to break off and return to base. Within minutes while over the Isle of Sheppy another Hurricane of 46 Squadron is shot down, the pilot manages to bale out but is dead when found by wardens, his aircraft crashed at Bearsted. One of the Hurricanes of 605 Squadron Croydon becomes involved with a Bf109 over Tunbridge and is on the wrong end of its canon fire. the pilot manages to bale out and the aircraft crashes and explodes in flames at Trottiscliffe. The Bf109s sweep again, and in quick succession claim two more Hurricanes of 46 Squadron.
1240hrs: Although badly mauled, 46 Squadron keeps up the attack, and together with 222 Squadron and 605 Squadron chase one of the Bf109s and shoots it down near Sevenoaks while two Hurricanes move in and finally bring down one of the Do17s over Maidstone. Forcing the scattered Dorniers inland, many come under attack by AA gunfire in which it is claimed that two more of the bombers are brought down, both near Maidstone.
REST OF THE
The formation fail to reach their target which was thought to be London, and are turned back. Things were not good for the Stapleford squadron losing two aircraft and damaging two others, but only one pilot was posted as missing.
The afternoon period was quiet, with no activity at all. Personnel at all of the aerodromes were now working in far more pleasant circumstances to repair damaged airfields. It had been two whole days, and not one of Fighter Commands aerodromes had suffered any enemy attack, it was just what Park wanted. Airfield damage had been repaired, damaged buildings were being made habitable and aircraft were either being repaired or undergoing minor servicing thus building up squadron strength.
But it was a far different story in bomb raged London during the day. There was a mixture of frustration, helplessness, sorrow and heartbreak, but one could not help to notice the inner feelings of most people. despite their own ordeals, they would bend over backwards to help neighbours , friends or even strangers who may have lived in the next street. They may have lost their homes and possessions, but not their morale.
Hundreds of people, especially in the East End were still looking for cherished possessions and piling them into carts and perambulators and were making their way to friends or relatives. While streets had been destroyed and they searched through the debris to gather whatever they could. Some broke down beside the roadway, many cried, but as soon as they found friends and loved ones, a sudden change came over them and they walked away from demolished homes laughing and joking some of them making long journeys across London.
Those that stayed, made the most of what they had, improvisation was the key. It was Sunday, and in the East End, Sunday isn't Sunday without the Sunday roast. So the women went on preparing the Sunday dinner, there was no water or gas, the mains had blown the previous night, but a couple of streets away someone may have been lucky enough to have their water still on, so they shared. There was plenty of demolished houses now, and plenty of firewood, so they made fires, rumaged through what may have been somebody's kitchen once, and they cooked. The children, what there was of them, had a ball as well. They were told to go and search for some salt shakers or maybe a bottle of sauce, scrumping the kids called it, but once the treasure was found, it was shared by one and all.
One licensee of one of the dockland pubs, although most of the windows had been blown in invited anybody who had lost their home to come to the pub as he closed two of the bars, collected matresses, lined, beds and housed whoever wanted a roof over their head, and he still continued to collect for the Spitfire Fund!! But where most articles and books often depicts the brave a generous side to the civilians, there were also stories of horror and despair.
The air raid sirens sound again as London is placed under a Red Alert. Hundreds flock to whatever shelters they could find, anything that seemed to provide a strong cover over your head was regarded as safe, but of course, nowhere was safe if a direct hit occurs. It is now almost dark, too late for Fighter Command to do anything about it, as bombers from Luftflotte 3 including Do17s, He111 and Ju88s. Again, as it was the previous night all loaded with high explosive bombs, delayed action bombs and incediaries. The poeople were subject to the steady, dull drone of the engines of some 250 bombers overhead, then, the drone was broken by the sudden shrill whistling sound as sticks of bombs came down, the whistle getting louder as the bombs got to a few hundred feet above them.
Many of the warehouses along the Thames again became targets, and buildings that were still burning were re-stoked, the inferno was to light up once again, hundreds of fires, many joining together to become one. The damage was to be more widespread on this night as bombers targeted more inland residential areas, while others again went for railway stations and city buildings. The casualty rate on this night totalled 412 people dead with 747 injured. Compared to the previous night, that was more people killed, but the injured list was much lighter.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 9th 1940
Cloud overnight becoming showery with the possiblity of a thunderstorm in the east. Rain periods in the west while the north and Scotland should remain cloudy but dry. Showers were expected to clear from Channel areas by midday.
OPERATIONS IN DETAIL:
The operations being carried out by Bomber Command during the hours of darkness are more inclined to be to the advantage of the Battle for Britain rather than the Battle of Britain. Although in the past many attacks have been made on German airfields, but these are numerous and putting one out of action really has no effect on the efficiency of the Luftwaffe. Fighter Command at present is doing far more damage to the Luftwaffe than is Bomber Command. But now British bombers are venturing further inland. As well as bombing Berlin, they are now targeting Hambourg, Bremen and Emden. Overnight a total of 133 bombers crossed into enemy territory to drop bombs on a number of towns and cities regarded as ports where Germany has vital shipping activity. The heaviest raid was by 49 Hampdens on the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hambourg where considerable damage was done. But it was not without loss. Two Wellingtons of 149 Squadron and five Blenheims of were shot down over Boulogne and Ostend, while one Hampden of 61 Squadron was lost over Hambourg.
It was now obvious to Dowding and Park that the Luftwaffe was going to leave the 11 Group aerodromes alone, well, for the time being anyway. Already damaged airfields were just about back to any reasonable sort of order, the personnel that had been toiling both night and day busily rebuilding to make all airfields fully operational again could ease off a little. Aircraft and supplies had been replenished and although Fighter Command was nowhere yet back to full strength, they were a lot stronger than they were just seven days ago. Again, no enemy formations were detected during the morning or the early and mid afternoon sessions. Park shared with his chief controller Willoughby de Broke and also so Dowding by telephone, that the Luftwaffe tactics when targeting the aerodromes, commenced generally with a morning attack, with the last few days, when his aerodromes had been left alone, there had been no early morning attacks. It seemed that bombing raids on London seemed be be forming a pattern of commencing a few hours after midday. Park issued the order that Hornchurch, Biggin Hill and Kenley push some of their squadrons forward to their satelite stations.
1620hrs: All the radar stations along the Kent coast picked up signals on their CRTs of formations that were located in different areas, but most of them were massing in the Calais-Boulogne area. The information was immeadiately sent to Fighter Command and the Group Headquarters. Park exclaimed to his controllers, "When will they ever learn.....same time, same course and the same target I would say." Immeadiately he called a number of squadrons to 'readiness' This time he was going to be ready for them. He knew just how long it would take then to cross the coast, he knew just how long it would take them to manouver to get into place for their run to the target.
1650hrs: At the various Observer Corps posts along the Kent coast from Folkestone to Margate, all eyes were glued out to sea and across the Channel looking high into the sky for any hint of enemy formations. The weather was now clear so they would have little trouble, although Bf109s at high altitude was always to pose a problem. One by one, the formations were detected. A number of Bf109s this time were slightly ahead of the main bomber force, obviously hoping that they would draw British fighters into the air. Park instructed that the advance party of Bf109s were to be left alone. The observer Corps reported that there were four groups of 50 plus, 30 plus, 20 plus and 12 plus, the fighter escort cover was estimated at 60 plus, but were too high for an accurate reading.
1700hrs: With the German bombers following a similar course as they did just two days previous, it seemed obvious that the target was again London. 66 Squadron Kenley (Spitfires) and 92 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires) were ordered to patrol over South London keeping both aerodromes within sight. 222 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires), 253 Squadron Kenley (Hurricanes) and 605 Squadron (Hurricanes) were to cover the northern section of Kent, while later 303 Squadron Northolt (Hurricanes) were ordered to patrol from Tonbridge to Folkestone. From Tangmere, 607 Squadron (Hurricanes) were ordered towards Guildford to cover the area over Surrey as far as Biggin Hill. Up at 12 Group, Douglas Bader kept an ear to the radio listening to what was going on down south. He got to a point of no return and telephoned Woodall at Duxford requesting in no uncertain terms that we (the 12 Group squadrons) should be airborne and on the way down. Finally Duxford released 19 Squadron Duxford (Spitfires), 242 Squadron Coltishall (Hurricanes) and 310 Squadron (Hurricanes) and they were vectored to a point between Hornchurch and North Weald and at 20,000 feet providing close protection in the absence of the 11 Group fighters.
Again Bader was to ignore orders. the late afternoon sun would be setting in the west by the time they would be near London, and he wanted to make any attack with the sun behind him so he ordered the squadrons to the west of London and climb to 22,000 feet.
1730hrs: 607 Squadron Tangmere (Hurricanes) were one of the first squadrons to make contact. A leading formation of He111s and Do17s with Bf109 escort were just to the east of Guildford heading towards Weybridge and Brooklands. They lined up the formation and went in before the escorts could get down at them. Coming in just in time was 605 Squadron Croydon (Hurricanes) who also commenced an attack on the bombers. One Do17 was brought down by 607 Squadron, but one of the Hurricanes of 605 Squadron collided with a He111 shearing off a portion of wing while taking evasive action in trying to avoid gunfire from both the 607 Squadron Hurricanes and the bombers and Bf109s. The Heinkel was believed to have crashed at Alton in Hampshire. Another Hurricane of 605 Squadron was hit by crossfire and the pilot baled out safely. The German raid was aborted.
1745hrs: A number of German bomber formations were approaching London from the east when they were intercepted by 222 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires) and 242 Squadron Coltishall (Hurricanes). The German formation consisted of Do17s and Bf110s with Bf109 escorts. 222 Squadron make their attack and claim a damaged Do17 but P/O Tim Vigors is attacked by Bf109s and finds his engine shattered when hit by canon fire and is forced to crash land his aircraft. Douglas Bader takes his squadron into his first attack for the day, he calls on 19 Squadron Duxford to fillow him in line astern, but 19 Squadron had been scattered.
By now, both 19 Squadron had reformed and was joined by 310 Squadron and the "Big Wing" was now in place and was about to show how 33 fighter aircraft could cause havoc amongst the Germans. Between them, they were to claim 21 German aircraft destroyed with many others damaged and a few claimed as probables. If Bader had adhered to orders, they would have been flying helplessly around North Weald and Hornchurch which neither was attacked because German formations had turned back under relentless defence from Fighter Command. Park would have lodged an official complaint for the Duxford Wing disobeying orders, but in light of its success, no complaint was ever lodged.
1800hrs: While the combat action by the Duxford Wing over South London was still in progress, most of the squadrons were still in the air scattering the bomber formations from Thames Haven to West London. But the great significence of the day was that very few bombers got through to their targets. The remnant of the formations made the most of their retreat back across the Channel and although Fighter Command did sustain a number of losses, it could only be claimed as being not only a tactical victory for the RAF but a morale boosting one as well.
Evening: The after dark attacks continued. What Kesselring's Luftflotte 2 had failed to do during the day, Sperles Luftflotte 3 succeeded at night. By 2000hrs, 250 bombers again came over and attacked the city. Fires were burning around St Pauls and buildings on both sides of Ludgate Hill were ablaze. The area around the Guildhall and the Bank of England suffered considerably, while a womens hospital suffered many casualties when it was hit. In the East End again bombs fell on the dockland area and a number of nearby residential houses were destroyed including a school which was being used as a temporary shelter to homeless families. Altogether, over 400 people were killed on this nights attacks and 1,400 people were injured. The toll was steadily mounting.
The people of London were now experiencing the heaviest raids of the entire war which was now just a few days over a year old. All the precautions and training by the defence forces were now being put into practice, but at a cost. Police, firemen, civil defence workers, nurses, gas and electricity workers were all now being put to the test.
[ Document 47. Heroes of the Civil Defence ]
It was not known at the time, but this was to be the commencement of a fifty-seven day long onslaught by the German bombers on London. They were determined to crush the city and its people. Communal shelters, whether it was the large concrete ones built along the sides of many of London's streets, Underground Stations, large shelters built underneath departmental stores, were to be the mecca of activity in the nights that followed. Many people made arrangements to meet at the shelter the following night knowing full well that another air raid 'would be on'.
For Fighter Command, the Battle of Britain was going through a lull. The only combat action taking place was during the late afternoon when the first waves of German bombers crossed the Channel with sights set on the London docks and surrounding industrial targets. Most of these had to be aborted because Fighter Command was well up to the task. But Park knew, that night bombing could only be done discriminately, they would be guided in by the fires still burning as a result of previous raids, but sooner or later, Göring would have to turn to daylight raids which would allow him far more accurate bombing of British targets. Keith Park was willing to wait, while in the meantime his airfields and men were slowly nearing full operational strength, which in Parks view would be "his greatest mistake, and one that would cost him the Battle of Britain." 
Although records show that only six pilots lost their lives, there were quite a number of aircraft that were damaged or lost in combat operations where pilots managed to survive. They are:
Duxford. 2 Spitfires damaged and both repairable.
 Vincent Orange
Sir Keith Park Methuen 1984