Sgt. Eric Sidney Dicks-Sherwood
of No. 266 Squadron RAF in Spitfire
P8505 (STAMFORD) in a dogfight with
Bf 110 of 5./ZG 76 off the Dutch coast on 15 September 1941.
THE OLD LADY GOES TO WAR
Haifischgruppe in the Netherlands
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 units came out
of the Battle of Britain with a 2:1 win-loss
ratio, a better result than any other type
had on either side.1) Zerstörergeschwader
76, equipped with these machines, was the
first Luftwaffe Geschwader to achieve 500
victories. It reached this milestone on September 2nd, 1940 during the fighting over
London, and its Kommodore Walter Grabmann was promoted to the rank of Oberstleutnant and awarded the Knight's Cross.
Two weeks later, JG 51 surpassed this milestone. Part of ZG 76 was II. Gruppe, whose machines had the characteristic shark's
mouths (Haifischmaul) painted on their noses. This marking was used by the crews
of II./ZG 76 for many years and therefore
it was also referred to as Haifischgruppe
After the end of the Battle of Britain, the
necessary rest and replenishment of losses, II./ZG 76 was deployed in the spring
1941 in the attack on Greece and then part
of it fought in Iraq. In July 1941, it moved
to Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and its
5./ZG76 was based at De Kooy from the
first half of July to the end of October. The
Gruppe mainly came into conflict with British bombers when patrolling over the sea,
but occasionally encountered fighters and
did very well in doing so.
No. 19 Squadron found it out for itself in the
early hours of 29 August 1941 off the Dutch
coast. It was searching for S/Ldr Lawson,
who had been shot down during the previous day.2) In doing so, eleven Spitfires
encountered ten Bf 110s from 6./ZG 76 near
The Hague at 500 ft above sea level. The
British were under the impression that the
Germans were practicing bombing of surface targets. Four Spitfires were lost in the
ensuing battle. Canadian P/O P. D. G. Stuart
was missing, and P/O Peter Harfield Edmonds of Yorkshire and Sgt Gordon John
Parkin of Southern Rhodesia were killed.
Only Sgt Clifford Davies was captured.
Photo: Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie
The spring and summer of 1941 passed quickly for RAF
airmen under the sign of offensive operations over the European continent. It was only at this time that the last of
the German "Emils", the Bf 109 E-7 fighters, started leaving
the front line and many Luftwaffe airmen were reluctant to
give them up. In August 1941, the first Focke-Wulfs Fw 190
A entered the fray, but twin-engined Bf 110s were still making inroads. When deployed in the right way, these heavy
fighters (three seaters, no?) posed just as deadly a threat
as they had during the Battle of Britain.
Two Messerschmitt Bf 110s from 5./ZG 76 at De Kooy base in the Netherlands. Note the different design of the shark
mouths on the bows of the aircraft.
INFO Eduard - June 2021