Biplane fighter aces

The Commonwealth

Pilot Officer Timothy Seddon Wildblood, RAF no. 33478

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).

Timothy Wildblood was born in Cairo, Egypt on 3 March 1920. He was the son of Brigadier General E. H. Wildblood, DSO.
He was educated in England at Colmes Rectory, Alton 1926 to 1928, The Towers, Crowthorne 1928 to 1933 and Wellington College from 1933 to 1937. He won a King's Cadetship to RAF College, Cranwell, in January 1938 and entered B Squadron there. After graduation he was 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 Wildblood ('Blue 2') with Pilot Officer John 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.

On the night of 21-22 June, Pilot Officer Wildblood of 'Blue' Section, B Flight, 152 Squadron flew a night sortie. At 00:30 an enemy aircraft was seen in the vicinity of Gateshead at 8,000ft. He reported:

"While on patrol was informed by Usworth that E.A. was in my vicinity. I was watching several clusters of searchlights when bombs were observed bursting approximately on Tyne at Gateshead + immediately afterwards an A/C was seen caught in searchlights. I maneuvered for position + had time to fire two short bursts before A/C was lost in cloud.
Searched area for some time + then continued patrol."
He also reported:
During the patrol I was repeatedly caught in searchlight. Only on one occasion were lights switched off on [?] correct recognition signal. At other times lights continued to hold me + were only thrown off by violent evasive action. On one occasion, when over Usworth I was caught + held for seven minutes during which time I experienced heavy + accurate A.A. fire. In spite of every effort to establish my identity by flashing the recognition signal as well as nav. lights, the firing continued."

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 Wildblood (Black 1), Pilot Officer D. C. Shepley (Black 2) and Pilot Officer John 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).

On 12 August, 152 Squadron again was involved in combat. Around noon a reportedly 20 Bf 109s and 50 He 111s were sighted. Pilot Officer Wildblood reported:

"Black 2 on patrol 15,000 feet south of Isle of Wight. Enemy bombers sighted protected by fighters above. Black 1 turned to engage the fighters, and we were promptly involved in a fight with about 15 to 20 ME 109s. I was able to get one burst in with unknown result, but decided to break off combat. After this I saw A.A. fire over Portsmouth and climbed to investigate. A large number of the Me 110s were bombing ships, so I climbed up to 22,000 feet and selected one for attack. The last seen of this was going down in one almost inverted spiral dive with smoke issuing from centre of A/C, but was unable to see it crash owing to having to take avoiding action from protective fighters.
Rounds fired 2580."
He had fired 3 bursts of 5 seconds at ranges from 200-50 yards and was credited with one Bf 110 destroyed south of Isle of Wight at 12:15.

At 15:30 on 13 August, 'B' Flight of 152 Squadron flew a patrol in the Portland area at 15,000 feet when 25-30 Bf 110s and Bf 109s were reported six miles south of Portland. Wildblood reported:

"As Black 1 patrolling Portland 15,000 feet, 30 ME 110 were sighted to the right of Spitfires, going south slightly above. We pursued them and I saw B 1 and B 2 go into the attack and also some ME 109s above and behind preparing to attack, so I turned and climbed up into the sun waiting for a ME 110 to become separated from the main formation. I attacked from what appeared to be astern, but actually was head on closing to collision point and broke away straight down.
Rounds fired 400."
It seems that 152 Squadron claimed five Bf 110s destroyed, three Bf 110s damaged and one Ju 87 destroyed in this combat without any losses.

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 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 Basil 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.

He failed to return from a sortie over the Channel in Spitfire Mk.I R6994 on 25 August 1940 and he was presumed shot down off Portland at 17.30. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 17 March 1941, posthumously.

Group photo of A Flight 152 Squadron at Warmwell 1940.
Timothy Wildblood is the second from the left in the front row.
Image kindly via Robert Rooker (152 Hyderabad Squadron).

Wildblood was credited with 1 shared biplane victory and a total of 3 and 2 shared destroyed 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 11/08/40 10:45 1 Bf 109 E (b) Destroyed Spitfire I   Portland 152 Squadron
2 12/08/40   1 Bf 110 Destroyed Spitfire I   Isle of Wight 152 Squadron
3 18/08/40 14:45 1 Ju 87 (c) Destroyed Spitfire I   Spithead 152 Squadron
  18/08/40 14:45 1 Ju 87 (c) Shared destroyed Spitfire I   Spithead 152 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 3 and 2 shared destroyed.
(a) He 111 of 2./KG 26.
(b) Claimed in combat with a Bf 109 from I./JG 27. The pilot was safe.
(c) 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
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 05 December 2023