After the Battle 
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Harold's Log Book shows that after arriving in Scotland at the end of August, he did not fly again until 13th October. This is reflected in 65 Squadrons Operations Record which says that they were posted to Turnhouse 'to train new pilots and give a rest to those pilots who were so heavily engaged in the South.' Nothing else is recorded for September other than routine entries. Whilst in Scotland, 65 Squadron became part of No.13 Group, Fighter Command, sharing Turnhouse with No.141 Squadron who were operating with Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft.

A considerable amount of training was undertaken during October and November, and various flying skills were practised, including Circuits and Landings, Anti-Aircraft Co-operation, Formation Flying (Harold's Log Book shows that on several occasions he took the part of formation Leader), Sighting Practices, Sector Reconnaisances, Instrument Flying, Cloud and Night Flying Tests, Co-operation with units flying other types of aircraft, Various Air and Weather Tests, and Air Firing Practices at Acklington.

As well as training and resting, the squadron did undertake some operational patrolling, although the Record shows that in October only 9 patrols were made, and there were no interceptions and no reports of enemy aircraft. November followed a similar pattern.

Harold's stay in Scotland saw him experiencing two more RAF airfields in addition to Turnhouse itself. Regular flights were made between Turnhouse and Drem, 20 minutes down the Forth Estuary, the first visit being on 25th October. In addition, one landing is recorded at Leuchars, on 16th October, although this was only recorded as a footnote, and there is no evidence to support it.

A tragedy occurred on the latter date, when Flt. Sgt. Pearson, who had only been with the squadron for two days, was killed in a flying accident over his father's house at Gateside, near Auchtermuchty. One wonders at the circumstances surrounding the occurrence, and whether any particular warning was issued as a result.

The routine of training flights and patrols continued until 29th November, when the Squadron returned to the south of England, again stopping at Church Fenton en route. It did not, however, return to its home base at Hornchurch, but took up residence at Tangmere, in Sussex. Like Hornchurch, Tangmere was a sector station, capable of housing two fighter squadrons. It was a fairly large airfield, and besides the usual grass landing areas, it also had two concrete runways, one 1600 yards long and the other 1650 yards. Landmarks for approaching aircraft included Chichester Cathedral and Harbour, Goodwood racecourse and the Southern Railway line. The airfield's accommodation facilities were returning to normal after being virtually destroyed by the Luftwaffe's actions earlier in the year.

Although the Battle of Britain as such had ended several weeks earlier, Tangmere was still a front-line station, and squadrons operating from it were largely employed on patrolling the south coast and providing convoy escorts. Harold had a change in this routine on 12th December when he made a round trip lasting two and a half hours to Church Fenton, Bicester and back to Tangmere.

On the same day, the squadron lost one of its longest serving pilots when P/O Franklin was killed. He had joined the squadron as a Sgt. Pilot in the spring of 1937, and had been awarded the D.F.M. and bar for his successes during the Battle of Britain, when he accounted for 14 enemy aircraft. In July 1940 he had been promoted to Pilot Officer.

By January 1941, 65 Squadron was re-equipping with Spitfire MkII's, Harold making his first flight in one, P7732, on 16th. The MkII Spitfire was visually the same as its predecessor, the main difference being the fitting of a Rolls-Royce Merlin XII engine. Because it was fitted with more armour plating, the aircraft was heavier than the MkI, and so the increase in engine power only improved the maximum speed by a matter of some 2 miles per hour.

Harold quickly became used to the new machine, as on his next flight, on 19th January, in P7733, he and P/O Finucane shared a 'kill' over the Channel, south of Portland. As with all fighter squadrons, 65 had to send copies of 'Intelligence Combat Reports' to Fighter Command Headquarters at regular intervals, and one of these describes the action:

"Intelligence Patrol Report - No. 65 Squadron from 13.52 to 14.49 hours 19th January 1941

"Combat took place over sea about 30 miles off French coast, S.W. of Portland at about 1400 hours 19.1.41.

"Two Spitfires, Green Section, No. 65 Squadron, took off from Tangmere at 13.52 hours, with orders to patrol St. Catherine's Point at 15,000 ft. Whilst at this height at about 8 miles S.W. of Portland, an Enemy Aircraft was seen flying West at about the same Height and about 3 miles away. The E/A , which proved to be a Ju 88, on sighting Green Section, immediately went into a vertical dive to sea level and made for the French coast at a very high speed. Green section gave chase, and after about 10-15 mins. were able to close to about 300 yds. Green 1 (F/O Finucane) made an attack from this range and from astern. The E/A flew into the sun, thus rendering the Spitfire's sights useless. Green 2 (Sgt Orchard) followed up with a similar attack and both pilots carried out further astern attacks. The E/A took evasive tactics by skidding low over the water, thus making it impossible for attacks other than astern.

"Accurate return fire from the Enemy Aircraft's rear gun was experienced and both Spitfires were hit, but not seriously. When last seen, both engines of the E/A were aflame and the E/A was losing speed rapidly, about 5 miles from the French Coast.

"Two Spitfires returned to Tangmere, landing at 14.49 hours."

The Squadron had by now adopted the tactic of fighting in mutual pairs, rather than the out-dated V formations, hence the references to Green 1 and 2.

For the rest of January, the squadron could do no operational flying, due to bad weather, although the Operations record shows that some practice flying took place on 22nd, followed by some dusk landings, but Harold was not involved. February saw normal operations resume, with both flying practices and patrolling.

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Chapter 11

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