RAF Timeline 1939
Back to 1930-1939
3 Sep 1939 - At 11 am Britain declares war on Germany to be followed at 5pm by France. Australia and New Zealand also declare war on Germany. A Bristol Blenheim of No. 139 Sqn, Wyton, carries out the RAF's first operational sortie of the war - photographic reconnaissance of the German naval base of Wilhelmshaven.
3/4 Sep 1939 - 10 Whitley bombers of Nos. 51 and 58 Sqns carry out the first RAF raid over Germany, dropping some 6 million leaflets over Hamburg, Bremen and the Ruhr - 10 Whitley bombers of Nos. 51 and 58 Sqns carry out the first RAF raid over Germany dropping some 6 million leaflets over Hamburg, Bremen and the Ruhr.
4 Sep 1939 - The RAF records its first losses of the war when five Wellingtons of No. 9 Sqn are shot down during a raid on German warships in the Elbe estuary.
6 Sep 1939 - South Africa declares war on Germany. Also on this day is the Battle of Barking Creek, when a error in identification in the Chain Home Radar system led to RAF aircraft engaging each other over the Thames Estuary. Blenheims, Hurricanes and Spitfires, not physically unlike the German Ju 88 and Bf 109, reported seeing enemy aircraft and several claims were made.
10 Sep 1939 - The British Expeditionary Force (BEF), consisting of some 158,000 men, leaves for France. Canada joins the list of Commonwealth countries to declare war against Germany.
17 Sep 1939 - Soviet troops enter Poland. The aircraft carrier HMS Courageous is torpedoed by a German U-boat off the south-west coast of Iceland.
20 Sep 1939 - Sgt F Letchard, a gunner in a Fairey Battle, claims the first RAF victory of the war after shooting down a German Bf 109 during a patrol near Aachen.
27 Sep 1939 - After an intense struggle against German and Soviet forces, Poland finally surrenders.
25 Oct 1939 - First flight of the Handley-Page Halifax four-engined bomber. In conjunction with the Lancaster, it forms the mainstay of the RAF Bomber Command offensive in later years.
11 Oct 1939 - Announcement of the Empire Air Training Scheme, which provides for training of aircrew throughout Commonwealth countries. By the end of the war some 88,000 aircrew had been trained in Britain and the Empire.
29 Nov 1939 - After being attacked by Spitfires of Nos. 602 and 603 Sqns over Lothian in Scotland, an He 111 bomber becomes the first German aircraft to be shot down over the UK.
3 Dec 1939 - The Short Stirling heavy bomber flies for the first time.
18 Dec 1939 - Twelve out of twenty four Wellington bombers are shot down by German fighters during an attack on German warships at Wilhelmshaven. The aircraft were detected by two experimental German radar installations which then guided enemy fighters to the area. After this, daylight RAF raids on Germany are suspended and crews trained in night flying.
Forward to 1940