Cawsands Bay Battle

Cawsands Bay, a fine painting of the battle inside Plymouth Sound.

Plymouth battles
Plymouth, Battle of Cawsand Bay

Plymouth battles, ‘The Battle of Cawsand Bay’ a #painting  for author David J. B. Smith.

Historical inaccuracy, propaganda and outright lies, there is so much in circulation.

I make a very considerable effort to present you with art work which gives you a feeling of intimacy, as one of my followers put it, you get a front row seat to historyand is in most instances, as near truth as near ‘documentary’, as meticulous, diligent research can get.

Many distinguished people and renowned companies have chosen Frickers paintings as you can discover by reading my illustrated résumée.

This painting

battle of cawsands Bay, the painting is created in close cooperation with the the author David J B Smith and is also about tyranny resisted successfully. is thus titled because the surprise attack by NAZI fighter bombers attacking, one ended down in Cawsands Bay and another of the 6 failed to return to his base.

Surprisingly the man who shot the Me 109’s down had been told earlier that day by a doctor, his eyesight wasn’t good enough to continue as a gunner…

The morning of 16 May 1942

would start like any other day in war-weary Plymouth.

The local population were trying to regain some semblance of normality during a respite from the ravages of an intensive Blitz.

The ferocious German air raids had ceased for a while because the Luftwaffe were, thankfully, preoccupied in the sky over Russia. Plymouth Sound was busy with shipping.

Several merchant vessels were anchored in Jennycliff Bay, waiting to join a convoy.

Six Messerschmitt 109’s

specialists in attacking shipping, roared low over the French coast heading at very low level for an attack on Plymouth Sound.

From early spring 1942 until the summer of 1943, the Luftwaffe embarked on a type of air raid which the British would call a ‘Tip and Run’ campaign.

My own Father, a soldier, told me his platoon was strafed on just such a raid, on the Pevensey levels in East Sussex.

Just after midday,  two Hunt Class Type I Escort Destroyers, Cleveland and Brocklesby, slipped from No. 1 Wharf at Devonport and headed down the Hamoaze,  out through The Narrows to pass the boom defence.

Following standard procedure, both vessels went to action stations.

The Royal Navy gunners

Able Seaman John Trevor Norridge and Able Seaman James (Sandy) Ahern manned Brocklesby’s quick-firing 2-pounder naval gun, universally known as the Pom Pom gun. On board Cleveland, Able Seaman William Elderfield and Able Seaman Stanley Gillham were also closed up and ready for action up on their Pom Pom.

Commander Guy Bourchier Sayer was Cleveland’s commanding officer on this day.

Sayer reported, “Just as we turned into the swept channel round the western end of the Breakwater we heard, away to seaward the sound of several aircraft engines – very low and very fast. The time was 12:44.”

Only a very skilful, quick surprise attack could have got through the defences, no early warning was received.

Cleveland was the first vessel to engage. Sayer ordered Cleveland’s 4-inch guns to open fire with a full-deflection salvo.

The rounds missed the aircraft and thundered into the cliff face below Staddon Heights.

Detailed documents held at the National Archives contain a hand-drawn chart which indicates the track taken by each of the three pairs of aircraft.

One barrage balloon

attached to the Breakwater descend in flames after being shot by one of the jagdbombers.

Two bombs narrowly missed the merchant ship SS Torkel, which was attached to Echo Buoy, just off the Breakwater.

The boom defence vessel BV7 acquired damage from near misses.

HMS Wolverine sustained considerable shock bomb damage akin to an explosion a little greater than a shallow setting depth charge. As a consequence of the attack, one crewman, Able Seaman James D. Kennedy, was killed.

The merchant vessel Torkel provides a more revealing assessment of the attack on her: “Attacked by aircraft. Superficial damage by cannon and machine gun fire. One minor casualty treated in hospital.”

​After dropping their bombs, the second pair of aircraft altered course to starboard and headed back out to sea.

The two remaining Bf 109s twisting and turning at low altitude were well within the limited airspace of the natural area of Plymouth Sound,  confined inside a hornet’s nest.

Both pilots had released their bombs and pressed home their attack with machine gun in an attempt to escape.

One Messerschmitt

passed closer to Cleveland, the destroyer opened up with all available close-range weapons.

The Bf 109 was hit hard. Sayer said, “He was last seen losing height and wobbling badly as he staggered off into the mist.”

The other flew closer to Brocklesby and diving towards the destroyer, sprayed the warship with machine gun fire.

Plymouth, battle of
Battle of Cawsand Bay, Detail

Three crewmen on board Brocklesby were wounded and a hole was made in her funnel.

Pom Pom gunner, twenty-one-year-old Trevor Norridge and fellow gunner James Ahern were both injured.

Norridge was shot right through his left thigh and suffered a moderate loss of blood and a degree of shock.

Ahern was also hit but not as seriously as Norridge.

HMS Cleveland shifted target and opened up on the remaining Messerschmitt.

Pom Pom gunners Elderfield and Gillham locked onto their target and unleashed a sustained burst of 40mm gunfire towards the Messerschmitt.

The pilot (Schulz)

opened his throttle and passed down the port side of Cleveland, his ‘plane was hit in his starboard wing. Instantaneously, the aircraft’s wing folded over the cockpit.

Totally out of control, on fire and at low level, the Bf 109 cartwheeled through the sky and crashed into the water at Cawsand Bay.

The Luftwaffe would never attempt another Tip and Run raid on Plymouth for the rest of the war.

Trevor Norridge survived the war and was extremely proud of his service on board Brocklesby.

It is thanks to his granddaughter and the author David J B Smith that his involvement in the Battle of Cawsand Bay came to light.

The lifeless body of Leutnant Hans-Joachim Schulz was recovered from the sea very near the crash site, only half an hour after being shot down.

Hans-Joachim Schulz

had died from impact trauma, which also resulted in fractured ribs, and a dislocated knee and elbow.

Schulz was ceremonially transported by Members of the RAF who bore the coffin to the graveside, from RAF Mount Batten to Ford Park cemetery in Plymouth, where he received a military funeral.

When Schulz’s engine along with some fuselage comprising sections of airframe was discovered in 1982, it was still commonplace for people to recover crashed military aircraft at will.

All aircraft in UK waters that have crashed during military service are now protected by the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

Elderfield and Gillham, the gunlayers on board Cleveland who shot down Schulz, were both gazetted and received Distinguished Service Medals for their action against enemy aircraft.

Ironically, their commanding officer, Guy Sayer said, “Only in the forenoon, just before we sailed, he (Elderfield) had been up before me to have his gunlayer’s rate removed owing to his having failed to pass the periodic eyesight test!”

See The Battle of Cawsand Bay by David J. B. Smith for more a more detailed account.



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