A fighter sweep across the Channel
10 April 1942: Free French pilot Rene Mouchotte joins a major RAF sweep into northern France to bring the Luftwaffe to battle
RAF Fighter Command continued to maintain fighter sweeps across the Channel to confront the Luftwaffe, even though they were often costly affairs. On occasions these involved huge numbers of aircraft in an attempt to dominate the air over northern France. It was part of a strategy to force the the Germans to keep more fighters in the west, away from Russia.
In April Rene Mouchotte's Squadron of Free French airmen1 fighting with the RAF had just transferred to Tangmere on the south coast after converting to Spitfires in Scotland.
Early on the morning of the 10th April they made their first sweep, this time a large operation involving all of 2 Group:
‘Look out! A 109 behind you! Ten 109s in front, We’re attacking’… ‘Buck up, chaps, we’re going to have some fun!’
Twelve of us took off three at a time; we gained altitude slowly, here and there picking up other squadrons, punctual at the meeting points, progressively coming in to join us, taking up position on either side, above and below so that we formed the point of an enormous arrow of about 250 fighters. All 2 Group had sent their squadrons - Northolt, Hornchurch, Kenley, Hawkinge, the Poles, the Czechs, the famous American Eagle Squadron, etc.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to World War II Today to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.