Squadron Leader Harry 'Chips' Ramsden eased back on the throttle of his Spitfire as he surveyed the two accompanying Hurricanes at two o'clock. Thus far the sweep had been singularly uneventful despite the constant stream of reports from the various ground stations. Jerry was about for sure but not so far anywhere near where he was. Just as well really, he mused, with a Polish pilot barely able to speak two words of English and the other fresh out of OTU and certainly with down still on his cheeks. He dipped first one wing and then the other as he continued to scan the skies for any sign of the enemy.
Hauptmann Walter Mainz was not happy. It was bad enough that the fighters only had a limited duration over England but to also act as chaperon to one of those Bf 110 'Zerstorer' was adding insult to injury. The much vaunted Bf 110 was described as a long range fighter but was woefully inefficient when up against a modern single seater. Acting as an escort to an escort was simply too much in his opinion. He nervously scanned the skies and his fuel gauge with equal attention as a swim in the Channel was not a prospect he relished. His wing man, Leutnant Hugo Furst, was dutifully on station and so Mainz was confident his back was covered. He checked his watch and saw that only ten minutes was left before they had to head back home.
"Bulldog leader, this is Bluebell control over" The RT crackled into life and Ramsden was immediately alert. "Bulldog leader receiving, what's happening Bluebell, over?" His scan of the skies assumed a new urgency. "Bulldog leader we have ground reports of possible bogeys in your area, estimated Angels 10 and ahead of your position over!" Ramsden's attention naturally went to the area ahead and to his left as the Hurricanes were to his right and he was sure that had the Pole seen anything he would be haring off into the attack like a whirling dervish. "Roger Bluebell control, I will keep my eyes open and....."
His voice trailed off as several things happened at once. To begin with the RT suddenly burst into life with a stream of what sounded like mumbo-jumbo. "Niemcy, Niemcy - Jestem atakuje teraz - opłata!" (for the benefit of the uneducated I shall translate: "Germans, Germans - I am attacking now - charge!") Ramsden did not need a translator to work out what was being screamed across the airwaves as both the Hurricanes immediately increased speed and roared across his front to his left. "Bluebell control, Bandits Angels 10 in sight, I am attacking now, Tally Ho!" Ramsden straightened his flying goggles, settled into his seat and flicked the gun safety off to the firing position whilst simultaneously dipping his port wing and bringing the Spitfire round in a fast but lazy turn.
Mainz had spotted the enemy fighters almost at the same time as they had and he instinctively turned into the opposition whilst applying extra power. Furst followed suit immediately and the lumbering Bf 110 accelerated to full power and tried gamely to turn its nose to the enemy.
Ramsden cursed the impetuosity of the Pole and his wing man as in attempting to jump the opposition he had sprung the trap too soon and as sure as the sun came up in the morning a well handled 109 was always going make a Hurricane struggle. Even the 110 would give them a run for their money in a straight line but there was no time to worry about it now. He stared helplessly as the Hurricanes continued their turn into the enemy - an enemy that was faster and so was able to choose exactly where to attack.
In the blink of an eye the sky was full of whirling, screaming machines; simultaneously intent on engaging the enemy and avoiding the same fate befalling them.
Meanwhile, with the Pole in the lead, the two Hurricanes turned as tightly as they could in order to engage the Germans. In doing so, the lead Hurricane found itself with a grateful 109 on its tail and a 110 at point blank range in its eight o'clock arc. Both fighters fired and the Hurricane staggered under the hammer blows of machine gun and cannon fire. The rugged fighter, belching smoke and glycol, was crippled but was miraculously still in the air.
Meanwhile, the two 109s continue to harry the crippled Hurricane and Spitfire. With smoke and glycol pouring from the Hurricane, the controls dead but with the aircraft still staggering along, the young pilot, fresh from OTU, readies himself to take to his parachute. Leutnant Furst, confident that the situation is fully under control reduces his speed sufficiently to bring himself into the optimum firing position against the battered enemy fighter. A quick jaw-juddering burst and the Hurricane noses over and begins the long plunge to the earth. A bundle falls from the cockpit and a mushroom of silk follows with an ungainly dangling figure forlornly hanging beneath the billowing canopy.
Ramsden frantically looked over his shoulder, praying that he would be able to sneak away from the fight and so be able to nurse the Spitfire home. It was not to be. A yellow speck on the horizon grew rapidly into the shape of a 109 at full speed. He did not wait for the inevitable. Quickly unbuckling the harness he slid the hood back just as the 109 opened fire. He was already tumbling free from the crippled fighter when, under the impact of the fusillade of cannon and machine gun fire, the Spitfire disintegrated above him. The 109 described a lazy circle around him and as it turned for home the pilot waggled his wings at him, seemingly in salute for the recent fight.
As he swayed beneath the parachute Ramsden wondered who the mysterious pilot of the 109 was and if there paths would ever cross again. Somehow, he was sure they would....