16th August 1940

On 16 August, the Luftwaffe made an effort of only slightly less magnitude than the day before in three great assaults over Kent and the Thames Estuary, Sussex and Hampshire and finally at four different points between Harwich and the Isle of Wight.

After a small initial raid had damaged West Malling airfield to put it out of action for a further four days, over 300 German aircraft in three large groups swept in just after midday. Furious resistance by defending fighters prevented an attack reaching Hornchurch sector station and broke up other large formations of bombers. However, further west, Junkers 87 "Stuka" dive bombers made a devastating attack on Tangmere aerodrome, hitting and badly damaging every hangar on the base, though at the high cost of seven destroyed and three damaged. Stukas also bombed Ventnor radar station, putting it out of action for a further seven days.

Other aircraft attacked the naval air stations at Lee-on-Solent and Gosport. It was during the latter that Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson of 249 Squadron remained at the controls of his blazing Hurricane while continuing his attack on a Messerschmitt 110 before being forced to bale out with severe wounds and burns to his hands and face. For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross, to become Fighter Command's one and only recipient.

In the late afternoon, three more raids were launched over Kent and Sussex but these were largely intercepted, including one heading for the vital sector station at Biggin Hill. An audacious raid by two Junkers 88 bombers registered the biggest single score of the whole battle by destroying 46 aircraft in the hangars at the Maintenance Unit and Flying Training School at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The day's pattern of raiding was very similar to 15 August. As the most strenuous German activity was directly against Fighter Command, only 400 bomber sorties were launched. Continuing Luftwaffe Intelligence shortcomings meant that only three of the eight airfields attacked, Manston, West Malling and Tangmere, were fighter bases. The balance of losses, at 2:1, was again the same as before.

http://archive.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/27/battleofbritain/imp16aug.htm