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Artefact of the Month

A RADIO AERIAL FROM A STUKA THAT ATTACKED RAF TANGMERE

About noon on 16 August 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain, a large enemy raid was identified by RDF (radar) approaching the Isle of Wight. Tangmere’s two Hurricane squadrons (Nos 43 and 601) and the Spitfire squadron (No 602) based at Westhampnett were scrambled to meet the enemy aircraft. It soon became clear that the raid was directed at Tangmere aerodrome and the attacking aircraft, including Junkers Ju 87 (Stuka) dive-bombers, bombed the aerodrome about one o’clock causing havoc to hangars and other buildings and death and injury to many on the aerodrome.

However, the Luftwaffe aircraft did not have it all their own way and amongst the Stukas shot down by Tangmere’s Hurricanes and Spitfires was Ju 87 5618 of 3/StG2. This aircraft had been engaged and shot down by Flying Officer C R Davis of No 601 Squadron. The damaged Stuka managed to force land after passing through the tops of tall Poplar trees into a field at Bowley Farm, South Mundham, to the south of Chichester, at about 1305 hours. One member of the Stuka’s crew had been killed and the other died of his injuries the following day.

Carl Raymond Davis, the successful Hurricane pilot, was American who had lived in London in the 1930s and had decided to join the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. He joined No 601 Squadron and after destroying nine enemy aircraft with one shared was awarded the DFC on 30 August 1940. Tragically, he was shot down and killed on 6 September 1940, aged 29 years old. He is buried in St Mary’s churchyard Storrington, West Sussex.

This radio aerial is from the Stuka shot down by Davis on 16 August 1940. It is thought that local schoolboys took the aerial when the soldier guarding the aircraft left his post for a short time.

THE STUKA RADIO AERIAL CAN BE FOUND IN THE DENNIS NOBLE EXHIBITION IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL.

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