Battle of Britain

No.601 Squadron were about to find themselves in the forefront of the Battle of Britain. The Germans, having conquered France and the Low Countries, were now turning their attention to Britain, and soon the German Air Force would begin their campaign to destroy the RAF and soften up Britain for invasion.

Plt Off Fiske's log book, 14 – 26 July 1940


Plt Off Fiske’s log book, 14 – 26 July 1940


Plt Off Fiske's log book, 26 July – 7 August 1940


Plt Off Fiske’s log book, 26 July – 7 August 1940


On 14 July Fiske had his first flight with the squadron, and on 20 July flew his first operational sortie. Over the next 27 days he flew 42 operations, often flying several times each day. For example, on 8 August he flew four sorties, totalling 5 hours and 20 minutes in the air, protecting convoys in the English Channel off the Isle of Wight.

Plt Off Fiske's log book, 8 – 16 August 1940


Plt Off Fiske’s log book, 8 – 16 August 1940


Three days later he made his first claim, for a Messerschmitt Bf 110, although he made no mention of it in his log book, recording:

Intercepted 200+ Me 110 & 109. Saw 4(?) probables 3 badly damaged. Sqdn lost 4. Terrific fight. Terrified but fun. Had to lead the sqdn in. Willie’s engine failed!

On 13 August he flew three further operations and claimed three enemy aircraft: one Messerschmitt Bf 110 probably shot down, and two Messerschmitt Bf 110’s damaged.

Again, his log book recording different result to his final Combat Report:

1st sortie: Attacked two large formations Ju. 88. 1 probable 1 damaged. No Sqdn losses. 0630AM too early!
3rd sortie: Attacked 40+ Me 110’s in defensive circle. 2 probable 2 damaged. Cannon hit aileron, jammed. Landed okay, no losses.

The next day was quiet, but the 15 August saw another three operations, on one of which he forced an enemy bomber into a balloon barrage.

On 16 August Fiske flew two operations. On the second his aircraft was damaged, but rather than abandon it he chose to try and bring the valuable and much-needed Hurricane home. As he approached Tangmere, the aircraft caught fire. Fiske landed safely, but received severe burns. He was taken to St. Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, were it seemed he would recover quickly. However, on 17 August Pilot Officer Fiske died of shock. He was buried at Boxgrove.

His aeroplane was repaired, and was operating again with the squadron within a few days.