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.
This seems to have been He 111 H-3 1H+HL, which was an aircraft from 3./KG 26 but at this occasion flown by a crew from 2./KG 26 during the attacks on a convoy codenamed "Alice". The aircraft had taken off from Schleswig with the crew of pilot Untroffizier Heinrich Buchisch (missing), pilot staffelkapitän Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Helm (KiA), observer Unteroffizier Karl Lassnig (KiA), wireless operator Oberfeldwebel Artur Thiele (missing) and flight engineer Gefreiter Heinrich Rixen (KiA).

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 harbour attracted several raids, and three RAF fighter squadrons (including 87 and 152 Squadrons) flew between them more than 100 sorties.
152 Squadron reported that they took off at 10:50 and patrolled Portland. At 11:15, many enemy aircraft, estimated to be 18 Ju87s, twelve Bf 109s and one Do 17, was spotted about 32km south of Portland, flying north-west at 3000-3350 meters altitude.
The aircraft of the squadron operated in pairs. When getting within range, ‘B’ Flight attacked the formation of Bf 109s which was above and acting as a rear-guard to the bombers. ‘A’ Flight intended to attack the bombers but were immediately attacked by the Bf 109s and a dogfight ensued. Flying Officer Christopher Deanesly (Spitfire I K9901 Yellow 1), Pilot Officer Richard Malzard Hogg (Yellow 2), and Sergeant Ralph Wolton (White 1) attacked a Do 17 (No. 1 attack). Cannon fire was experienced from the rear gun. Flying Officer Deanesly fired all his rounds but was brought down in the sea. He was subsequently picked up by a trawler and landed at Lyme Regis.
Pilot Officer Hogg followed Deanesley in a No. 1 attack from dead astern and fired one burst of approximately eight seconds from 230 meters closing to 69 meters. He experienced cannon fire from the rear gunner and concluded that this came from one gun. After breaking away he made a beam attack on a Ju 87 without any apparent result. The Do 17 took no evasive action but the Ju 87 evaded strongly. He afterwards followed another Ju 87 in its dive, fired the remainder of his rounds in a quarter attack lasting for three seconds and saw the enemy aircraft flying low over the water towards the south.
Sergeant Wolton and Pilot Officer Frederick Henry Holmes (White 2) also fired at the Do 17 which came down in flames in the vicinity of Fleet. Wolton and Hogg also attacked a Ju 87 at which they both fired the remainder of their ammunition. Wolton fired from the rear closing to about 90 meters. The enemy aircraft dived steeply emitting black smoke (No. 110 Searchlight, Portland, reported that a Ju 87 crashed into the sea west of Portland Bill at the time of the combat). Pilot Officer Richard Frederick Inness (Red 2) attacked Bf 109 from above and the quarter, when rounds were seen entering the fuselage of the enemy aircraft. He broke away and climbed after the enemy aircraft for 600 meters firing again at 90 meters distance. The enemy aircraft dived vertically down, but Innes had to take evasive action when two Bf 109s came on his tail.
Squadron Leader Peter Kenneth Devitt (P9327 Red 1) attacked a Bf 109, but he himself was attacked from the rear and the tail of his Spitfire was hit by cannon fire. He turned sharply to the right and was unable to see whether or not the Bf 109 went down out of control.
Sergeant Edmund Eric Sheppherd (Green 2) was attacked by an Bf 109, got into a spin and on recovery attacked an Bf 109 onto which he dived closing to 180 meters and firing all his ammunition. Smoke came from the enemy aircraft which steepened its dive and crashed into the sea.
Pilot Officer Jones of ‘B’ Flight 152 Squadron 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).
Flying Officer Deanesly, who was shot down 5km south of Portland reported:
”On sighting enemy formation 1 carried out a No. l attack on Do17 firing burst of 6-7 seconds at 200 yards [180m] closing to 40 yards [37m] only breaking away upwards after I had almost rammed the EA. I then followed two of a swarm of dive bombers (Ju87) which were attacking a small ship. I followed them down and fired rapid deflection shots at two as they dived. I then flattened out and went after another which was escaping. I made up on him and fired the remainder of my ammunition with a long and steady burst from 200 yards to 40 yards. I noticed that he was firing at me and my cockpit filled with black smoke my coolant having gone. It was too late for me to bale out I therefore came down in the sea and managed to get out. I was picked up by the SS Empire Henchman about an hour later and was landed at Lyme Regis by RAF Motor Boat within about two hours of going into the sea.”
Deanesly was hospitalised until August.
Totally 152 Squadron claimed two destroyed Do 17s (the first shared between Hogg and Deanesly and the second shared between Wolton and Holmes), one destroyed Ju 87 (shared between Hogg, Deanesly and Wolton), two destroyed Bf 109s (one each by Shepperd and Jones) and three damaged Bf 109s (one each by Robinson, Devitt and Inness).
87 Squadron reported that Flying Officer Roderick Rayner was in one of seven Hurricane Is of ‘A’ Flight, which left Exeter at approximately 10:26. Off Portland at about 4600 meters altitude bombs were seen falling around a small ship. Three Hurricanes dived to attack enemy aircraft while three remained at 4600 meters and Flying Officer Rayner climbed to 5200 meters just in cloud base. He suddenly saw three Bf 110s from his port side at right angles. He opened fire at the starboard enemy aircraft at 90 meters range with deflection burst of 2 seconds. The starboard engine caught fire on the Bf 110, the enemy leader half rolled and dived from sight while enemy No. 2 turned, and the rear gunner gave an inaccurate burst and then dived. The Bf 110 was not seen to crash but Rayner saw a large patch of oil on the sea in the vicinity of the combat (it was credited to him as a destroyed).
They had been in combat with bombers from StG 1. Do 17 M (WNr. 3620 A5+EA) from Stab/St.G 1 (pilot Feldwebel Bernhard Erdmann PoW wireless operator Feldwebel Erich Grossmann WiA and PoW and air gunner Unteroffizier Kurt Lingenbrink KiA) was shot down and the aircraft came down at East Fleet Farm, Dorset, at 11:15 after having taking off from Cherbourg to make a photo reconnaissance sortie in conjunction with the Ju 87s. One Ju 87 B-1 from 8./St.G 1, which had taken off from Falaise fell into the sea 45km north of Cherbourg with pilot being rescued while the wireless operator Obergefreiter Josef Stillinger drowned. One Ju 87 B-1 from III./St.G 1, which had taken off from Falaise returned with 30 % damaged with the crew safe. Ju 87 B-2 J9+JH from 7./St.G 1 returned to base damaged after combat with fighters with the crew (pilot Oberfeldwebel, Stibitz, wireless operator Oberfeldwebel Küdorf and air gunner Unteroffizier Walter Meiner WiA) safe.
The Bf 109s came from III./JG 27 and Hauptmann Joachim Schlichting of Stab III./JG 27 claimed a Spitfire south of Portland at 11:20. 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) 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.

Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Battle of Britain Combat Archive Volume 2: 23 July – 8 August 1940 – Simon W. Parry, 2016 Red Kite, ISBN 978-1-906592-30-1
Battle over Britain - Francis K. Mason, 1969 McWhirter Twins Ltd
Deutsche Luftwaffe Losses & Claims -series - Michael Balss
Gloster Gladiator Aces - Andrew Thomas, 2002 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-84176-289-X
Luftstrid over kanalen - Christer Bergstr m, 2006 Leandoer & Ekholm F rlag 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 09 February 2024