Biplane fighter aces

The Commonwealth

Pilot Officer John Sinclair Bucknall Jones, RAF no. 33467

152 Squadron at Warmwell in 1940.
From left: P/O Warner, Sgt. Wolton, P/O Marrs, Sgt. Shepherd, P/O Inness, F/L Withall, P/O Wildblood, F/O Deansley, F/L Thomas, P/O Jones, F/O Williams, P/O Bayles, Sgt. Ackroyd and P/O Pooch. Image kindly via Robert Rooker (152 Hyderabad Squadron).

John Jones was born in 1919 and was from Marlborough, Wiltshire. He was the only son of Group Captain J. H. O. Jones.
He was educated at Canford School and entered RAF College, Cranwell, in January 1938 as an Honorary King's Cadet. During his education he won the Groves Memorial Prize. After graduation he was granted a Permanent Commission and posted to 152 Squadron on 1 October 1939. This Squadron was then forming at Acklington with Gladiators.

On 27 February 1940, ‘Blue’ Section, including Pilot Officer Timothy Wildblood (‘Blue 2’) with Pilot Officer Jones (‘Blue 3’), was ordered to patrol Farne Island. At 13:45 they found the enemy. Wildblood reported:

“E/A sighted at 500 ft flying north-east at approximately 200 mph. “Blue 2” attacked immediately on starboard side. After second burst E/A’s undercarriage lowered and two streams of white smoke observed from engines. After third burst, E/A dipped and “Blue 2” broke away. After another burst “Blue 3” then attacked from starboard side and fired two bursts – during the second, a large portion of starboard engine was observed to fall away. E/A turned steeply to port and flew towards coast. “Blue 3” broke away and remained above E/A until it hit the water. E/A sank in three minutes, with three crew seen to be afloat in a dinghy.”
The enemy aircraft had crashed into the sea 10 miles off Coquet Island, Northumberland.

During the winter of 1939-40 the Squadron was re-equipped with Spitfires.

In July 1940, 152 Squadron moved south to Warmwell.

On 25 July, Portland harbor attracted several raids and three RAF fighter squadrons (including 87 and 152 Squadrons) flew between them more than 100 sorties. 152 Squadron was the most successful, claiming several aircraft at 11:15 in the Portland area, totaling two Do 17s, one Ju 87 and two and three damaged Bf 109s. Pilot Officer Richard Malzard Hogg and Flying Officer Christopher Deanesly (Spitfire K9901) claimed a shared Do 17. Pilot Officer Hogg, Flying Officer Deanesly and Sergeant Ralph Wolton claimed a shared Ju 87. Sergeant Edmund Eric Sheppherd and Pilot Officer Jones claimed one Bf 109 destroyed each while Sergeant Denis Norman Robinson, Squadron Leader Peter Kenneth Devitt and Pilot Officer Richard Frederick Inness claimed a damaged Bf 109 each. Sergeant Ralph Wolton and Pilot Officer Frederick Henry Holmes claimed a shared Do 17 over the Fleet.
Flying Officer Roderick Rayner of 87 Squadron claimed a Bf 110 20 miles south-east of Portland at 11:30.
It seems that the only RAF loss in this combat was Flight Lieutenant (Spitfire K9901) of 152 Squadron, who was shot down in combat with Ju 87s, 3 miles south of Portland and 10:50. He was slightly wounded but rescued by a ship being hospitalized until August.
Pilot Officer Jones of 'B' Flight 152 Squadron (Black 1) reported seeing Bf 109s, Ju 87s and Do 17s over Portland before claiming a Bf 109 at 11:15:

"Flying 10 thousand feet over Portland, guarded A Flight, sighted aircraft flying North-west of us, and below. Saw 3 ME109s circling over us, and received order to attack fighters. Saw green section climbing above and to right, broke left and climbed steeply under the three 109s. Latter continued to circle also climbing. One dropped back to cover other two. I arrived at same level as 109s, dived below and on inside of the turn, and came up below and behind left hand aircraft. Fired short burst with full deflection at 150 yards. Black smoke issued from enemy, which turned sharply left and down. Fired further long burst at 50 yards with slight deflection. Enemy broke up behind cockpit and rolled onto its side pouring smoke thickly. It was seen to plunge vertically into sea 3 - 5 miles south of Portland. I saw Black 2 break away to right of me before I attacked. He thus saved my tail from rear guard M.E.109."
Pilot Officer Jones claim was witnessed by Sergeant Robinson (Black 2).
It seems that they had been in combat with bombers from StG 1. Known Luftwaffe losses are one Do 17 (WNr. 3620) from Stab/StG 1 (one crew WIA and PoW, one MIA) shot down at 11:23, one Ju 87 from III./StG 1 (one crew KIA and one MIA) shot down at 11:30 off Portland and one Ju 87 from III./StG 1 (crew unhurt), which was damaged (30%) by naval AA fire at Portland. The fighters possibly came from III./JG 27 since Hauptmann Joachim Schlichting of Stab III./JG 27 claimed a Spitfire south of Portland at 12:20. The German fighters seem not to have suffered any losses.

On 11 August, the main target of the day for the Luftwaffe was the naval base at Portland and at 09:45 Ventnor CH first reported what looked like a very heavy raid building up near the Cherbourg Peninsula. Twelve Spitfires from 609 Squadron were ordered up to patrol over their base at Warmwell at the same time as nine Hurricanes from 1 Squadron were scrambled from Tangmere. Six other squadrons (involving 53 fighters) at Exeter, Middle Wallop, Tangmere and Warmwell were ordered to Readiness while the radar picture developed.
The enemy raid consisted in the main of 54 Ju 88s from I. and II./KG 54 accompanied by about 20 He 111 from KG 27. Escort was provided by 61 Bf 110s from I. and II./ZG 2. 30 Bf 109 from III./JG 2 led by Hauptmann Dr. Erich Mix, accompanied the leading formations. This raid, amounting to about 165 aircraft approaching Portland on a front of more than 5 miles, was the largest yet seen against Britain and by 10:00 it had reached mid-Channel.
At 10:07, three CH stations amended the raid strength to "one hundred plus" so the main RAF fighter formations were ordered off. These fighters took off as follows:
152 Squadron (four Spitfires including Pilot Officer Timothy Wildblood (Black 1), Pilot Officer D. C. Shepley (Black 2) and Pilot Officer Jones), up from Middle Wallop and headed for Warmwell, diverted at 10:04.
145 Squadron (twelve Hurricanes), up from Westhampnett at 10:06.
87 Squadron (six Hurricanes), up from Exeter at 10:08.
213 Squadron (eight Hurricanes), up from Exeter at 10:08.
238 Squadron (twelve Hurricanes, up from Middle Wallop at 10:14.
In addition, nine Hurricanes from 1 Squadron (up at 09:45), eleven Hurricanes from 601 Squadron (up at 09:55 from Tangmere) and twelve Spitfires of 609 Squadron directed to the raid at 10:05.
The German fighter formations arrived well ahead of the bombers at a point five miles south-east of Portland at 10:09 and immediately formed a number of holding cirles, as if to attract the intercepting fighters. Battle was joined at 23,000ft about one minute later when 609 Squadron attacked across the top of the huge circle formed by the Bf 110s. By firing full deflection bursts and breaking down on the far side of the enemy circle they were able to avoid the Bf 110s' front guns and now fewer than five Bf 110s were shot down in this initial charge. The Bf 109s were slow to react and only engaged two of the Spitfires.
Most of the squadrons fell from the German 'trap' and allowed themselves to become fully occupied by the escorting Messerschmitts with the result that casualties among the fighters were high on both sides. Only some of the Exeter-based Hurricane pilots and those of the four Spitfires from 152 Squadron, who arrived rather late in the combat, spotted the Ju 88s and He 111s as they made for Portland and Weymouth. The Heinkels commenced their level bombing runs at 15,000ft just as the Ju 88s dived from 10,000ft and struck the oil storage farm, hitting and setting two oil tanks on fire.
The massive dogfight, which by 10:40, had spread across the width of the Weymouth Bay, was dying out as the Bf 109s sought to cover the broken ranks of ZG 2 while they retired. Further Bf 109s from JG 27 had arrived as reinforcements to assist in covering the withdrawal, which continued until well after 11:00.
At around 10:45, Pilot Officer Wildblood of 152 Squadron took part in an interception of two Bf 109s at 14,000ft over the middle of Weymouth Bay. He reported:

"I was Black 1 patrolling Portland at 14000 ft when Enemy fighters were sighted above and to them right of Spitfires preparing to attack. I turned and climbed up behind them with Black 2 and singled out 2 ME 109 and pursued them for about 5 mins overtaking them well. I opened fire in short bursts at about 200 feet closing in to 80 yards. Observed E/A catch fire. I turned and attacked the other from the beam with remaining and then broke away. I watched Black 2 attack other and saw black smoke issuing from underside."
Wildblood had used 2800 rounds and was credited with 1 confirmed victory. Pilot Officer Douglas Shepley (Black 2) was credited with one unconfirmed Bf 109 (this was later udated to a confirmed). It seems that the Bf 109 claimed by Wildblood came from I./JG 27 but the pilot was safe.
Pilot Officer Jones of 152 Squadron was shot down by Bf 109s between Portland and Swanage at around 10:50. He managed to bale out of his stricken Spitfire (R6614) but was killed. Jones is buried at St. Marie, Le Havre, France.
Overclaiming was heavy on both sides. The German Bf 109s from JG 2, JG 27, JG 53 and JG 54 claimed around 40 enemy fighters (25 Spitfires, 12 Hurricanes and 3 Curtisses). The Bf 110 of ZG 2 claimed 17 enemy fighters. Losses were six Bf 110s (3 damaged), five Ju 88s (1 damaged), one He 111 and twelve Bf 109s destroyed (3 damaged).
Fighter command lost at least 15 Hurricanes with 14 pilots killed and two wounded, and one Spitfire of 152 Squadron (Pilot Officer Jones) while claiming 38 destroyed (1 Do 17, 15 Bf 110s, 11 Bf 109s, 10 Ju 88s and 1 He 111), 14 unconfirmed (8 Bf 110s, 5 Bf 109s and 1 Ju 88), 10 damaged (7 Bf 110s, 1 Bf 109 and 2 Ju 88s).

Jones was credited with 1 shared biplane victory and a total of one at the time of his death.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  27/02/40 13:45 1/2 He 111 (a) Shared destroyed Gladiator   10m off Coquet Island 152 Squadron
1 25/07/40 11:15 1 Bf 109 (b) Destroyed Spitfire I   Portland area 152 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 and 1 shared destroyed.
(a) He 111 of 2./KG 26.
(b) Possibly claimed in combat with Bf 109s from III./JG 27, which didn't suffer any losses while claiming 1 Spitfire. 152 Squadron claimed 2 and 3 damaged Bf 109s without suffering any losses to the fighters.

Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Battle over Britain - Francis K. Mason, 1969 McWhirter Twins Ltd
Gloster Gladiator Aces - Andrew Thomas, 2002 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-84176-289-X
Luftstrid over kanalen - Christer Bergström, 2006 Leandoer & Ekholm Förlag HB, ISBN 91-975894-6-2
Luftwaffe Claims Lists - Tony Wood
Men of the Battle of Britain - Kenneth G. Wynn, 1999 CCB Associates, ISBN 1-902074-10-6
RAF Fighter Command losses: Volume 1 - Norman L. R. Franks, 1997 Midland Publishing Limited, ISBN 1-85780-055-9
RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims Of World War Two: Part One 1939-1940 - John Foreman, 2003 Red Kite, ISBN 0-9538061-8-9

Last modified 23 August 2022