The Battle of Britain -
RAF Driffield attacked

August 15, 1940

At the height of the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe launched a series of large scale attacks on the RAF’s airfields in a bid to put them out of action and pave the way for Operation Sealion, the German invasion of Britain.

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Driffield found itself at the epicentre of this epic battle on August 15, 1940, when a large force of German aircraft from Luftflotte 5 set course for the North of England from bases around Aalborg in Denmark. The raiders were picked up on radar as they approached over the North Sea, and as a result fighters from No.13 Group were able to intercept and split up the enemy force. These included No. 73 Squadron Hurricanes, the now obsolete No. 264 Squadron Boulton-Paul Defiants, and No. 616 Squadron Spitfires, plus a number of Blenheims from No. 219 Squadron.

After effects of the Luftwaffe attack. (

Despite the attentions of the RAF fighters, the main force of around 50 Junkers Ju88 bombers managed to push on and carry out their planned attack on RAF Driffield. Attacking from the direction of Garton on the Wolds, a total of 169 bombs were dropped on and around the airfield, resulting in four hangars sustaining severe damage, 17 Armstrong Whitley bombers destroyed, and 14 personnel killed, including the first WAAF member killed in action during the war, plus one civilian worker from Driffield.
 

The damage to the airfield was so severe that it was put out of action for the rest of 1940. The anti-aircraft batteries around RAF Driffield managed to bring down one bomber, with a total of six Ju 88s shot down during the operation.

The casualties – a number of whom are now buried in Driffield Cemetery, were:

  • Aircraftman John William Morgan Windle, 36, from Withernsea. Buried in Hull Eastern Cemetery.

  • Aircraftman Arthur Sydney Daws, 36, from Hull. Buried in Hull Northern Cemetery.

  • Aircraftman Eric Offord, 20, from Crossgates, Leeds. Buried in Driffield Cemetery.

  • Aircraftwoman Marguerite Hester Hudson WAAF, aged 19, from Wadley, Sheffield. Buried in Wisewood Cemetery, Sheffield.

  • Leading Aircraftman Harold Donkin, from Leeds. Buried in Kirkstall Cemetery, Leeds.

  • Leading Aircraftman Kenneth Eric New, 21. Buried in Bridlington Cemetery.

  • Aircraftman Eric Vincent Horton, 30. Buried in Driffield Cemetery.

  • Private Thomas Round, East Yorkshire Regiment. Buried in Driffield Cemetery.

  • Private Joseph Devereaux, East Yorkshire Regiment. Buried in Driffield Cemetery.

  • Private Clarence Whittleton, East Yorkshire Regiment. Buried in Driffield Cemetery.

  • Corporal Frank Rate White, East Yorkshire Regiment, 40, from Hull. Buried in Hull Eastern Cemetery.

  • Private Alfred Harrison, East Yorkshire Regiment, 45, from Wakefield. Buried in Wakefield Cemetery.

  • Mr Frank Ibbitson (civilian), of George Street, Driffield, 65. Buried in Driffield Cemetery.

  • Gunner Geoffrey Ward Turner, 24, from Adel, Leeds. Cremated in Leeds.

  • Leading Aircraftman Bertram Ash, 22, from Dinnington. Buried in Dinnington Cemetery.