Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape



World War II - The Battle of Britain


Middle Wallop’s Role


Researched by George MILLIE



Reference: “That Eternal Summer” Unknown Stories From The Battle of Britain - Ralph Barker

Published by William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. London 1990. ISBN 0-00-215585-0


Chapter 2 - “The Salvation of 609 (Auxiliary) Squadron”


Note: Recruited in peacetime from the West Riding of Yorkshire, 609 Squadron’s losses over Dunkirk in May and June 1940 had obliged Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, to send them back to Yorkshire to recuperate. The new Squadron Commander was a regular airman, George Darley (right).


Page 36:

(para 1)Darley’s avowed intention of leading the two flights together as a squadron was frustrated in those early weeks of July (1940) by orders from Fighter Command. While one flight was to operate from the home base at Middle Wallop, near Stockbridge, the other was to operate from an advanced base fifty miles away at Warmwell, near Weymouth, in order to defend the Portland area. This, the Royal Navy’s principal Channel base, was a major target of German bomber raids, and it was also one of the areas where the Germans were believed to favour as a potential site for their invasion landings. The two flights, A and B, would take turn and turn about.”


(para 5) “…back at Middle Wallop. From his deckchair in the garden of his rented house, Darley had his own private line to the Middle Wallop sector controller, and when the squadron was called to readiness he simply ducked through the gap in the hedge to dispersal and waited for the rest of the squadron to arrive by truck from the Mess. Sometimes many of the pilots were sitting in the garden with him when the telephone rang, and they would race to dispersal together.”


Page 38:

(para 3) “The splitting of his force between Middle Wallop and Warmwell meant a penny-packet operation which Darley detested. It led to the squadron’s first losses under his command. Tuesday 9th July was a wet day, and after a false alarm in the morning two of the pilots on stand-by at Warmwell, Peter Drummond-Hay and David Crook (photo below), both auxiliaries, sat for much of the afternoon planning the trip they were to make the next day, when, being off duty, … Then at 6.30 pm a section of three Spitfires was ordered up to patrol off Weymouth.


(para 4) “Spotting some Junkers 87 Stuka dive-bombers attacking a convoy, they raced after them. …Crook…nearly crashed his Spitfire when he got back to Warmwell… Since the attack he had seen nothing of the others.”


(para 5) “One of them, in fact, was missing. It was Crook’s friend Peter Drummond-Hay. He had shot down a Messerschmitt 109, as was later confirmed, then been shot down himself.”

(para 6) “Returning to Middle Wallop that night, Crook, who had been rooming with Drummond-Hay, moved into the cubicle next door. The vision of his friend lying in his cockpit at the bottom of the Channel haunted him all night.”


Page 39:

(para 2) “In a vehement protest to the controller of Middle Wallop sector, Darley complained of the criminal futility of sending small sections of fighters to cope with the intense air activity that was developing in the Portland area. Instead of doing their job of destroying the bombers they were being compelled to fight for their lives against the odds.”

(para 4) “By the end of July, reinforcements to the sector enabled 609 to operate together as a squadron; and in August, sailings were reduced to a fraction.”


Page 42:

(para 4) “… by the dawn of Eagle Day, Tuesday 13th August, (Reichsmarschall Hermann) Goering believed his pilots had the measure of Fighter Command.”

(para 5) “Of all the Luftwaffe units engaged in the battle, none had a more significant task than the phalanx heading for Middle Wallop, intent on dive-bombing the airfield and hangars and wiping the station off the map. This was to be retribution for the toll 609 had taken in the previous days.”


Page 43:

(para 1) “Climbing rapidly after take-off, with Darley leading, the squadron was ordered to patrol over Weymouth at 15,000 feet.”

(para 2) “They were above cloud when Dundas, tucked in astern of Darley, sighted enemy fighters overhead.”

(para 3) “Climbing into the sun, with the rest of the squadron following in line astern, Dundas had reached 18,000 feet when he saw, silhouetted against the cloud below, three huge arrowhead formations of Stukas, eighteen in each block, sweeping north-east. Someone was in for it if they were not broken up. It did not occur to him that the target might be Middle Wallop.”


Page 44:

(para 2) “Given the advantage of position, altitude and surprise by their leader, the men of 609 used them to deadly effect. … Every single pilot fired his guns, and almost immediately, in a rigid, grotesque formation, five of the luckless Stukas fell from the sky.”

(para 4) “Later, back at Middle Wallop, every 609 pilot engaged in the action claimed victories – some more than one – except the unselfish Darley, the man who had master-minded the massacre.”

(para 7) “It hadn’t occurred to Darley and his pilots that they had, in effect, been defending their own base; they did not know that because of their recent successes Middle Wallop had been singled out for destruction. The realization came within twenty-four hours.”

(para 8) “Marjorie Darley, watching what she thought was a friendly Blenheim twin-engined bomber from her favourite vantage point on top of the air raid shelter next day, suddenly saw its bomb-doors open and a clutch of black eggs fall away.”


Page 45:

(para 1) “At the northern end of the field, four airmen, having first taken refuge in a slit trench, noticed that the huge steel-plated doors of 609 Squadron hangar (hangar 5) were open. They were squadron men, and they knew Darley’s orders. Those doors must be closed in the event of a bombing attack. Inside were a number of Spitfires under repair.”

(para 2) “…they raced to the hangar and began winding the ratchet handles that operated the doors. They had scarcely begun when a 500-kilogram bomb from the raider crashed through the hangar roof, blasting the doors outwards. Thirteen tons of steel toppled over on top of them, crushing three of the four airmen to death.”

(para 4) “It was … Sergeant Alan Feary, … the only NCO pilot on the squadron … who avenged their deaths by shooting down the intruder. Airborne at the time of the attack, he fired all his ammunition into the bomber at close range and it crashed in flames five miles away, killing the crew.”




Reference: Battle of Britain – Len Deighton.

Published by Jonathon Cape Ltd. London 1980. ISBN 0-224-01826-4


Chapter:  “The Battle of France


Page 70: ‘After that it was chaos’ – Sergeant Arthur Power (RAF)

(para 2) “The Germans strafed us on the first day without doing much, because all our aircraft were dispersed. But on the big French airfield a few miles away at Mourmelon-le-grand everything was lined up in rows, parade ground style, and there wasn’t much left when the Luftwaffe had finished.”

(para 4) “On our last day we had flown five times and were just getting ready to go again when we were ordered to jettison bombs and scarper. Our aircraft had been damaged a good bit by then, but we found another that was only missing a tailwheel, put our tailwheel on it, pushed the groundcrew in the back, and took off. All I had was a cycling map of northern France. The French fleet blasted off at us as we flew over them, then we were clear. We finally staggered down at Middle Wallop in Hampshire. It was some sort of training station, and while we were getting something to eat, some bastards swiped everything in the aircraft down to our souvenirs and the gear of the people who had been lost. Then we were grudgingly given some maps and told to push off. We were posted to Belfast “pending re-equipment”.


Page 92: Middle Wallop is recorded both as a Sector and a Base airfield for No 11 Group HQ Uxbridge Middlesex.




Chapter: “Eve of Battle


Page 99: British and German air forces late July and August 1940 (lower half of map only) - Middle Wallop airfield and Sector are marked on the map as part of 10 Group –




Chapter: “Adlerangriff – Eagle Attack”


Page 131: 13 August continued

(para 2)  “A few minutes after 5 pm, while a Bf 109 escort engaged the British fighters, Hauptmann Brauchitch, son of the German Army’s C-in-C, led his dive-bombers of IV/LG 1 against Detling airfield in Kent. Sixty-seven British airmen were killed in the mess halls, twenty-two aircraft destroyed on the ground and the Operations Block was wrecked. But Luftwaffe Intelligence had blundered again. Detling was not a Fighter Command airfield. Like so many other attacks in the battle, this was a wasted effort against an irrelevant objective.”

(para 3) “Meanwhile, other engagements were being fought out all over southern England. Six of nine Stukas on their way to attack Middle Wallop were shot down by Spitfires of 609 Squadron after their Bf 109 escort had turned back, short of fuel. Dowding’s controllers were getting the measure of the German Bf 109 ‘free sweeps’, and refusing to be drawn. Whereas on many July days Fighter Command had mounted 600 or more sorties merely in defence of the convoys, on 13 August only 700 sorties were flown against 1,485 by the Luftwaffe.”


Page 139: 15 August 1940 – Middle Wallop is marked on the map, below the time 1750





Reference: “The Battle of Britain, July-October 1940” – Matthew Parker

Published by Headline Book Publishing 2000, ISBN 0-7540-1650-1


Chapter V: The Royal Air Force


Page 146:


Pages 147 & 148:

(para 2) “A few days after (H.S. ‘George’) Darley’s arrival, the (609) Squadron was posted to Middle Wallop, about halfway between Andover and Salisbury.” … “At the beginning of August (1940), responsibility for the sector station at Middle Wallop was transferred from 11 Group to 10 Group. Even with 609 at Middle Wallop there were still only four Hurricane and two Spitfire squadrons directly opposite Sperrle’s powerful Luftflotte 3.”


(para 3) “Instead of flying from Northolt direct to their new base at Middle Wallop on 4 and 5 July (1940), the squadron received orders that it should fly to Warmwell, a forward base of Middle Wallop’s, fifty (continued on page 148) miles to the south-west, near Weymouth.” … “From then on, the squadron alternated between Middle Wallop and the forward base at Warmwell.” … “When 609 arrived (at Middle Wallop) there was no water or sanitation and they were forced to sleep in the dispersal tent (the place where the pilots would wait to be scrambled to their aircraft). It was very dry and the tent would be filled with dust and stones whenever an aircraft passed nearby. Worst of all, the civilian cooks refused to serve meals outside of regular times.” … “In the end the pilots were forced to rustle up bacon and eggs for themselves on an assortment of rickety stoves in the dispersal tent. Middle Wallop itself, although one of the key sector stations, was still under construction when 609 arrived. The squadron’s dispersal hut was a cramped cottage at one end of the field.”


Page 150:

(para 3) “On 19 June (1940), 238 (Squadron) were moved to Middle Wallop …”


Page 151:

(para 1) “At Middle Wallop the fledgling 238 Squadron shared the facilities with 601 Auxiliary Squadron …” … “Known as ‘the Millionaires’ Squadron’, 601 was a particularly smart outfit, even for an Auxiliary squadron. Novelist Len Deighton tells the story of how an officer of 601, sent out to do something about a petrol shortage at the base, returned having bought a filling station, ‘but announced that the pumps there were only half-full. The situation was remedied when another pilot remembered that he was a director of Shell. His secretary arranged a delivery’.”


Pages 163 & 164:

(para 1) “For John Bisdee, returning from combat to the serene surroundings of Middle Wallop was quite a contrast. Unlike army or navy personnel, the fighter pilots would be in the thick of the battle one minute and relaxing on deckchairs in the sun the next.”


(para 2) “The contrast between the ground and the air was fantastic, I mean, imagine coming back from, say, Portland and being surrounded by black crosses in the sky, then you landed and everything was fairly quiet at Middle Wallop. In the evening we would go to a lovely pub, the Black Swan in Monxton that we called the Mucky Duck.” (continued on page 164) “If we were night-flying we always used to go and beat up the Mucky Duck from the air. Alternatively we went into Andover where there was a club called the Square Club and one was very welcome there, too.”


Page 164:

(para 2) “Compared with the later stages of the Battle of Britain, when 609 (Squadron) were posted to Biggin Hill, the time at Middle Wallop is remembered by John Bisdee fondly. The spirit, he says, ‘was absolutely first class’. Darley, the CO, had done his morale-boosting work. Occasionally he would organise a dance at Middle Wallop for all ranks, and a small barrel of bitter was always available at his and his wife’s house on the airfield perimeter if the pilots were free.”


Page 166:

(para 3) “The ground crew also had their fair share of risk. In August (1940) a raid of Ju 88s and Bf 110s penetrated the defences at Middle Wallop and hit two hangars. The force of the explosion blew down two enormous steel doors directly on to eleven ground crew inside, all of whom were killed.”


Page 177:

(para 2) “… like 609 Squadron, 238 were alternating between Middle Wallop and Warmwell and there was precious little free time.”


Page 179: