Biplane fighter aces


Sergeant Basil Ewart Patrick Whall, RAF no. 740484

December 1918 – 7 October 1940

Photo kindly provided by Joel Diggle

Basil Whall was born in December 1918 in Brighton, but lived at Amersham Common, Buckinghamshire, before the war and worked as a turner.

He joined the RAFVR in July 1937 and was mobilised on the outbreak of war, being posted to 605 Squadron late in the year.

In April 1940 he was posted to 263 Squadron, accompanying this unit to Norway twice.

On the second occasion he claimed one victory on 23 May 1940. During the afternoon he attacked an aircraft which he identified as a Do 17 and engaged in a chase of 25 miles after which he claimed that he shoot it down. It was believed to have crashed west of Harstadt at 16:45 although he himself had to bale out of his aircraft due to lack of fuel after the long chase.

He returned to the UK by transport in June, thereby surviving the loss of much of the squadron when HMS Glorious was sunk.

On 5 July he was posted to 602 Squadron, seeing further action over Southern England.

On 18 August, four distinct enemy formations were reported shortly after 14:00 approaching the Isle of Wight from the south and south-east. These raids were composed of 28 Ju 87s of Hauptmann Herbert Meisel's I./St. G 77, 27 from II./St. G 77 and 30 of III./St. G 77; the fourth raid consisted of 25 Ju 88s of I. and II./KG 54.
The South Coast sector controllers ordered all their fighters off the ground to fly guard over their airfields. Though undoubtedly justified, this action enabled the German bombers to reach their targets which were quickly revealed not as the RAF fighter fields but as the C. H. radar station at Poling near Littlehampton, the naval air station at Ford, the naval airfield at Gosport and the Coastal Command airfield at Thorney Island.
As the Ju 88s made an unopposed raid in three waves on Gosport, in which further heavy damage was inflicted on airfield facilities and aircraft, Meisel's Ju 87s were wasting precious seconds forming up to approach the Poling radar station down sun. Not three miles distant the pilots of 43 Squadron's twelve Hurricanes spotted the dive-bombers and flew straight in to the attack, catching the German aircraft in their most vulnerable attitude - that is to say, just as they were committed to their dives. By the same token the around 200 escorting Bf 109s (from II. and III./JG 2, II. and III./JG 27 and I./JG 53) were unable to cover the dive-bombers simultaneously throughout their dives, and preferred to remain at 15,000 feet, while the Hurricanes clung desperately to the Ju 87s, to some extent disrupting their aim and sticking closely to them as they made for the sea at low level. The massacre was impressive indeed and when the three St. G 77 Gruppen attempted to join forces, after their raids upon Ford and Thorney Island (where they had hit hangars, a fuel dump and aircraft), they merely brought upon themselves a concentration of Hurricanes and Spitfires from 152, 601 and 602 Squadrons, while 234 Squadron's Spitfires held the Bf 109s at bay.
At 14:45, 152 Squadron intercepted 20 Ju 87s and Bf 109s at 20 feet over Spithead. Pilot Officer Timothy Wildblood of 'B' Flight reported:

"Black 1 patrolling Southampton at 4000 feet when a force of JU 87 was seen close to the water. The Squadron attacked from behind, and in the ensuing fight, I attacked one JU 87, saw it dive into the sea, and then attacked another with several other Hurricanes and Spitfires. This one integrated.
Rounds fired 1432."
Pilot Officer Wildblood was credited with one and one shared Ju 87s over Spithead. He reported that he had fired four bursts of four seconds each.
The Poling radar station was extensively damaged and was not restored to full-time watch for more than a week, during which time a "remote site" was brought into operations in conjunction with a mobile watch office and transmitter deployed nearby.
Sergeant Whall of 'B' Flight 602 Squadron reported seeing 40-50 Ju 87s and Me 113s [sic] over Ford airfield at 6,000 feet:
I was Blue 3 (602 Squadron) Spitfires which took off from W. Hampnett at 1415 hrs and attacked first formation of Ju 87's singling one out which was flying parallel with coast before returning to base. I did four separate beam attacks and saw it land at Poling... [unreadable]
I then followed about ten Ju 87s
[unreadable] about 2 miles out, singled out the most [unreadable] and did four beam attacks, closing to 50 yards.
I saw this Ju 87 crash into sea. The rear gunner of this damaged my machine, using I believe 0.5" ammunition.
I then broke off to return to land but my engine caught fire and I crash landed just on the edge of the sea.
One Ju 87 had a bright blue spinner.
Returning Ju 87s flew very low skidding all over the place and not yet in any formation."
Sergeant Whall was credited with two Ju 87s at 14:30 and 14:45 before crashing with Spitfire L1019/G.
Claiming in this combat was heavy:
43 Squadron claimed 8 Ju 87s destroyed, 1 Ju 87 probably destroyed and 1 Bf 109 destroyed at 14:20 without losses.
152 Squadron claimed 8 and 1 shared Ju 87 destroyed, 1 Ju 87 damaged, 1 and 1 shared destroyed Bf 109 between 14:30-14:45 without losses.
601 Squadron claimed 6 Ju 87s destroyed, 2 Bf 109s destroyed and 1 Bf 109 damaged between 14:00-14:45 while losing 2 Hurricanes.
602 Squadron claimed 6 Ju 87s, 1 Ju 87 probably destroyed, 7 Ju 87s damaged and 2 Bf 109s destroyed at 14:45 while losing 1 Spitfire (Sergeant Whall).
213 Squadron claimed 1 Bf 109 destroyed at 14:55 without losses.
234 Squadron claimed 6 Bf 109ss destroyed, 2 Bf 109s probably destroyed, 3 Bf 109s damaged between 14:15 and 15:00 without losses.
This giving a total of claims by the RAF to 28 Ju 87s destroyed, 1 Ju 87 shared destroyed, 2 Ju 87s probably destroyed, 8 Ju 87s damaged, 12 Bf 109s destroyed, 1 Bf 109 shared destroyed, 2 Bf 109s probably destroyed and 4 Bf 109s damaged while losing 2 Hurricanes and 1 Spitfire (8 fighters were damaged).
St. G 77 lost 16 Ju 87s (including Hauptmann Herbert Meisel) and two crashed on their return home; four others were damaged. 1 Spitfire was claimed shot down by 2./St. G 77.
II. and III./JG 2 claimed 2 Spitfires while losing 2 Bf 109s.
II. and III./JG 27 claimed 14 Spitfires and 4 Hurricanes while losing 6 Bf 109s.
I./JG 53 claimed 2 Spitfires and 1 Hurricane without losses.
Totally the Luftwaffe claimed 19 Spitfires and 5 Hurricanes while losing 18 Ju 87s (4 more damaged) and 8 Bf 109s.

On 9 September he was slightly wounded.

On 7 October after having shared in the probable destruction of a Do 17 south of Beachy Head, he was hit by return fire from a Ju 88 at 17:50, and in consequence spun in near Lullington, Somerset, as he tried to land. He was severely injured and died on arrival at hospital, aged 22.

Whall had claimed 1 biplane victory and a total 7 and 2 shared destroyed at the time of his death.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 23/05/40   1 Do 17 (a) Destroyed Gladiator II   W Harstadt 263 Squadron
  16/08/40   1/4 Do 17 Shared destroyed Spitfire I K9839 15m S Portland 602 Squadron
2 18/08/40 14:30 1 Ju 87 (b) Destroyed Spitfire I L1019/G Ford airfield 602 Squadron
3 18/08/40 14:45 1 Ju 87 (b) Destroyed Spitfire I L1019/G Ford airfield 602 Squadron
4 26/08/40   1 He 111 Destroyed Spitfire I R6601 Selsey Bill 602 Squadron
5 26/08/40   1 He 111 Destroyed Spitfire I R6601 Selsey Bill 602 Squadron
6 07/09/40   1 Bf 109E Destroyed Spitfire I N3282 SE London 602 Squadron
7 09/09/40   1 Do 17 Destroyed Spitfire I N3282 S Mayfield 602 Squadron
  30/09/40   1 Ju 88 Probable Spitfire I X4104 3m E Bembridge 602 Squadron
  30/09/40   1/4 Ju 88 Shared destroyed Spitfire I X4104 3m E Bembridge 602 Squadron
  07/10/40   ½ Do 17 Shared probable Spitfire I X4160 S Beachy Head 602 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 7 and 2 shared destroyed, 1 and 1 shared probable.
(a) Not confirmed with German sources.
(b) Claimed in combat with Ju 87s from St. G 77 which lost 18 Ju 87s (4 more damaged) while claiming 1 Spitfire. RAF fighters claimed 28 Ju 87s destroyed, 1 Ju 87 shared destroyed, 2 Ju 87s probably destroyed and 8 Ju 87s damaged while losing 1 Spitfire (Sergeant Whall of 602 Squadron) to the Ju 87s.

Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Aces High Volume 2 - Christopher Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-03-9
Battle over Britain - Francis K. Mason, 1969 McWhirter Twins Ltd
Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Luftstrid over kanalen - Christer Bergström, 2006 Leandoer & Ekholm Förlag HB, ISBN 91-975894-6-2
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
Additional information kindly provided by Birger Larsen.

Last modified 21 June 2023