london's burning [Updated August 2000]



Andrew Maly, MD

2000 Champion

2nd: Dan Dolan, NJ

3rd: Reiko McQuiston, TN

4th: Roy Gibson, MD

5th: Steve Munchak, VA

6th: Mike Metcalf, NC
Event History
1991    None      -
1992    None      -
1993    None      -
1994    None      -
1995    None      -
1996    Michael Sims      16
1997    John Coussis      12
1998    Eric Stranger      18
1999    Chris Reidy     12
2000    Andrew Maly     16
AREA Ratings
 1    James Reidy      5194
 2    David Davis      5194
 3    Ric Manns      5186
 4    Raymond Hall      5100
 5    Bill Beswick      5014
 6    Dave Steiner      5006
 7    Michael Metcalf      5006
 8    Robert Hahn      4994
 9    Mark Jacobsen      4991
10    Stephen Munchak      4894

A Little Slice of the Battle of Britain

Blood, "Joy," Tears and Sweat
The Unofficial History of RAF 234 Squadron

Behind the safety of the English Channel, Britain gestures defiantly as Goering readies his Luftwaffe for the coming air battle that will decide the fate of Europe. Fighter Command gathers whatever forces it can to fight the Germans, including a squadron of 16 undisciplined rowdies, more interested in having a good time than in seeing the face of God at Angels 30. Their career is brief and bloody, lasting a mere four days of combat before the Air Chief Marshal (ACM) reassigns them to a quiet sector. However, it is resilient chaps like these who must save Britain from Hitler's tyranny. What follows is their august story.

August 13, 1940 - Tuesday
Anxious to sleep late, many of the squadron's pilots make vocal their desire to Robert Eastman, who is Acting Squadron Leader (S/L) this morning. The squadron stands by at Hawkinge airfield on the Kent coast, only to scramble at 7am when word arrives of a large group of hostiles forming up over the Pas de Calais. The 16 Spitfires under Eastman's command climb desperately to altitude, intercepting the raiders over the Rye Chain Home (CH) Station as smoke rises from the bomb damage below. Some of the squadron dives into the enemy at Angels 5, including Mike Lam who downs a Stuka and Andy Maly who downs a Me110. (Maly came to the attention of the ACM earlier in the morning when Maly and his wingmate, Roy Gibson, known as "7 of Clubs" and "7 of Diamonds" respectively, displayed themselves as wild cards to the ACM.) The rest of the squadron mixes with the high-level bombers and 109s at Angels 15, where Mark Brooks shoots down a Dornier for his first confirmed kill. In fact, the squadron claims 11 kills and damage to several enemy aircraft. Unfortunately, Eric Stranger returns wounded from the sortie, and Chris Villeneuve is missing, last seen hanging from his parachute over Rye.

The squadron, 15 strong without Villeneuve, makes a fruitless patrol later in the morning and then scrambles at 2pm under S/L Randy Schilb when alerted to a small raid heading toward Pevensey CH Station. The Germans knock out the station, but they are caught by surprise over the middle of the Channel on their way home. Mark Brooks claims another two Dornier victims and Louis Gehring one. Lam knocks down a Heinkel. Stranger, now flying the only Hurricane in the squadron, claims two kills. Bryan Van Nortwick and Dave Huss also claim two kills apiece, but they are both wounded by enemy fire. All total, the squadron claims 18 kills against the raid. However, Dan Dolan's Spitfire fails to return. Someone recalls seeing him on a course for the English coast, trailing smoke from his engine and losing altitude fast.

Late that night, while most of the squadron relaxes at the local pub, Villeneuve and Dolan return to the squadron, unhurt but dirty and tired from their jumps into muddy fields and long lorry rides back to base. As the first squadron member to bail out, Villeneuve earns the nickname "Silky" from the ACM.

August 14, 1940 -- Wednesday
Pevensey CH is back on line, but Rye CH is still down. With all 16 pilots now present (though three of them fly Hurricanes), the squadron sleeps through the morning and then makes two afternoon patrols. S/L David Brooks leads the squadron to "joy" over Kent at 5pm, but he and half the squadron break off when they spot 109s above them. The remaining pilots go in and pay heavily for their courage. Huss is killed in action, and Van Nortwick is seriously wounded, removing them from the squadron's rolls. Both pilots of Section 8, Villeneuve and Lam, are wounded, too. Only four German aircraft are shot down. The raiders bomb Canewdon CH Station, which nevertheless comes back on line overnight. Altogether, it has been a bad day, and there are two empty seats at mess. Will Thursday be an improvement?

August 15, 1940 - Black Thursday
S/L Dolan leads the squadron (11 Spitfires and three Hurricanes) on a 7am patrol over Dover. The pilots are flying in pattern at Angels 15, waiting for something to happen. It does. German fighters suddenly appear on the squadron's collective tail. Over two dozen Me109s and 110s blast through the formation, and the RAF fighters start falling in flames and smoke. Meanwhile, Dorniers try to bomb Dover but are driven off by heavy AA fire. The squadron straggles back to base. Nine of 14 pilots are missing, although Dolan and his wingmate, Reiko McQuiston, land without a scratch on their planes. Dolan boasts that he saved Dover, but the other survivors start referring to him as "von" Dolan. When the ACM learns of the "Dover Massacre," he forecasts the squadron will mutiny rather than follow Dolan again.

By afternoon, the squadron has scraped together eight piloted fighters, half of them Hurricanes. Steve Munchak temporarily takes over as Ground Controller to vector the 2pm patrol onto a large raid inbound toward Eastchurch. However, the enemy escort outnumbers the weakened squadron 4:1, so everyone chooses discretion as the better part of valor and Eastchurch is pounded. The eight pilots go up again to patrol at 5pm, commanded by S/L Mike Metcalf who is flying a Hurricane. They encounter a large raid over Manston but are too late to stop the enemy from demolishing the airfield there. Outnumbered again by 109s, all of the squadron's pilots break off except S/L Metcalf, who is determined to press his attack against all odds. He fails to hit the Germans on his first pass and takes some cannon shells in his Hurricane's frame. He barely shakes his pursuers and turns around for a second pass, but the enemy raiders have already disappeared into the haze. Some call him lucky, but most of his mates hereafter think of him as "Mad" Mike Metcalf.

August 15 has turned out to be "Black Thursday" for 234 Squadron. Nine fighters have been lost and four pilots KIA, including Mike Lam. The other five pilots bailed out successfully over Dover and stumble into base that night, bringing the squadron up to 13 pilots. But Manston airfield is evacuated by order of the ACM, and Eastchurch airfield is damaged. Rye CH, which was knocked off line two days earlier, is only partially repaired. If the squadron suffers another day like today, Goering will win the battle.

August 16, 1940 -- Friday
S/L "Loco" Maly reinvigorates the squadron's morale with an uneventful 7am patrol at Angels 30 over the Kent countryside. The pilots enjoy the high altitude so much that they follow S/L "Bongo" Gibson's Spitfire back up there at 10am. This time they catch a large raid of bombers without fighter escort over the Thames Estuary. Unfortunately, intervening clouds hide the enemy from some of the squadron members. Those who do find "joy" shoot down 15 of the enemy, including three kills by Maly to claim ace status. Dolan also makes ace when he records two kills. Despite the successful interception, some of the enemy find their way to Debden airfield, which is heavily bombed. Later, S/L "Silky" Villeneuve leads the squadron on an afternoon patrol, but no trade appears. The day closes with no squadron losses.

Satisfied with the squadron's performance, and anxious that its pilots have suffered too much fatigue over the last four days, the ACM reassigns 234 Squadron to No. 13 Group in Scotland, a quiet sector far from Me109s. Reassignment also means an award for one of the pilots. The ACM must choose between the two aces, "Loco" Maly and "von" Dolan. He chooses Maly lest the rest of the squadron cause a disturbance on the parade ground. The ACM suggests that everyone visit the local pub, but they announce they have other amusements to pursue. Thanks to their efforts, Britain is safe for the time being.

 GM      Ben Knight  [2nd Year]   NA
    NA   NA

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