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Eric Marrs 152 Sqn
Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:28pm
90.210.131.108

I was amazed at just how good the website is (www.152hyderabad.co.uk),
that is mentioned by Rob below.

In it I re-discovered one of the first Battle of Britain pilot accounts that I read in a magazine in the mid 1970`s, Eric "Boy" Marrs, who tragically lost his life the year after these events, described below. This is what it was like.

These were extracts from the diaries he left:

August 17...... Well I have been in the thick of things since I came back from leave. I had quite a good journey down here and arrived on time. I found that we had had two casualties and that was the reason for my recall. One was a flight commander and the other was the chap who only got married about a month ago to a red cross at Sidcup. I came on duty at 4.30 the same afternoon and have been on ever since. We get no released or avilable periods now and we are at readiness all the time. This is an emergency measure, but is somewhat tiring. We had no shows that evening. Next morning we had to get up at 04.30, but had nothing to do till about 7am. three of us were then sent after some enemy aircraft floating round the countryside. One of them eventually popped out of a cloud not far from us. I managed to get within 500 or 600 yds, too far to fire, but he popped into another thick cloud. I went round the other side but lost him. there was a lot of cloud that morning. The machine was a Dornier Do 17. The day then passed quite quietly though we flew quite a lot, until about 5.15 pm..........

As many aircraft as possible were ordered into the air. Nine of us took off and climbed up to 15,000 ft over Portland. Soon we were told over the radio ĎMany enemy aircraft approaching Portland fron southí. About two minutes later I had my first sight of them. A cloud of black specks milling round and round, about half way across the Channel and about the same height as us. We climed up another 2,000 or 3,000 ft up sun of them and about five miles south of Portland; and there they were. There must have been more than a hundred of them - Ju87ís escorted by Me110ís. The 87ís were in Vees of three, in tight formation. They were more or less surrounded by 110ís. Behind and to the right of and above these 87ís was another formation of 110ís.... I must say that at the sight of all these aircraft my heart sank. How could nine Spitfires stop all these ? However, we were ordered into line astern and down we came out of the sun straight in behind the bombers. That dive cheered me up no end. I was going too fast to get a good shot in ( I shall know better next time), but sprayed an 87. Then down and to the left and up into the sun again. I looked for stragglers. There were German aircraft everywhere, though from after that first dive I never saw another Spitfire in the fight. I found a 110 fairly separated. I had a short dog-fight and managed to get several short bursts in but noticed no effects. Then away again. It isnít healthy to stay on one aeroplane for any length of time. I looked for more stragglers and could find nothing that looked pleasant, so I just charged back into the main group of bombers. I was nearly head-on to them and opening fire at a fairly long range I plastered a Vee of three 87ís but did not manage to put the coup-de-grace to any of them. I nipped under them at the last minute and went down in a dive. I then met up with another 110. I couldínt help it, there were so many of them. We circled around each other for a bit in tightening circles, each trying to get on the otherís tail, but my attention was soon drawn by another 110. Down underneath him I went and pulled up giving him a long burst into the belly. Nothing seemed to happen. I was then occupied by yet another 110. I milled around with him for a bit, but when I wanted to get in a shot O found I had run out of ammunition. I rolled on my back and pulled out of the melee and went home. I had unfortunately shot down nothing but as I came home I saw a Hurricane. Reinforcements had come up and were having their turn at the enemy. Twenty minutes after that show three of us were up again, but it was all over. Next morning we were up at 04.30 again. Nothing happened till lunchtime. We were snt up to 20,000 ft east of the Isle of Wight. When we arrived, enemy fighters materialised all around us. I was fully occupied with dodging and never had a chance to get my sights on anything. I finally went into a spin through doing too tight a turn at low speed. I came out and there was nothing in sight. I climbed up again towards the sun, and looked around. I saw about six aeroplanes bearing down on me from my left. I thought they were Spitfires and did nothing. When they were too close to be comfortable, they turned out to be Me109ís. I did such a steep turn that I went into another spin. When I came out I had a good look round and then made for land. I must have been about twenty miles out to sea. I looked for trouble or friendly fighters and finally found five other Spitfires or another squadron. I stuck with them until I was short of petrol but saw nothing and finally had to return owing to shortage of petrol. That evening we had another patrol. We saw nothing. Not long before we were ordered to land, I suddenly saw two Heinkel 111ís stooging along below us. I called up the leader on the R/T and dived straight after them as they were going into a layer of thickish mist. I managed to keep sight of the rear one and when it me out the other side I was able to shoot it up. I left it with smoke coming from both engines and my own machine covered in oil from it. I donít think it could have got home and Iím pretty sure it didnít. My R/T message was not understood and so nobody else saw them. I am counting that as my first. I returned home much cheered...... To-day nothing has happened at all as no doubt you heard on the news. Tomorrow ? Who knows? Probably raids on a scale we have never dreamed of. At any rate we have had a dayís rest and are feeling fine................................

August 22............ We have only had one show since I last wrote and that was the day after I wrote. It was the day the Germans lost about 150 aircraft. There was a large scale raid on Southampton and Gosport consiting of Ju87ís escorted by Me109ís. We arrived on the scene just as the 87ís had finished dropping their bombs. There were other squadrons already there and we have since learnt that one of them took on the fighter escort. We were therefore lucky, and when we arrived we found about thirty Ju87ís making for France. We dived after them and they went down to about 100 ft above the water. Then followed a running chase out to sea. The evasve action they took was to throttle back and do steep turns to right and left so that we would not be able to follow them and would overshoot. There were, however, so many of them that if one was shaken off the tail of one there was always another to sit on. I fired at about six and shot down one. It caught fire in the port wing petrol tank and then went into the sea about 300 yards further on. When I had finished my ammunition I turned it fired a burst in front of me. I could see the tracer and I seemed to fly straight through it. I was not hit, however and ran for home as it was senseless staying without ammunition. I was not followed and two other chaps shot down that 109 soon after. The squadronís score was 11 that day : 10 Ju87ís and the Me109. We lost no pilots or aeroplanes and were mentioned in the news that night, when it said that Ď Eleven Spitfires shot down their own number of enemy aircraft without lossí There were celebrations that night. Since then there have been no shows and we are all enjoying a welcome rest........ yesterday our section found a Ju88 and shot it down and that now makes our squadron total of enemy aircraft confirmed to 33.....

August 27.... Excitements have begun again. We had about five days of very acceptable quietness, during which we merely chased odd lone raiders. We managed to get several of theses and another chap and I came across a Dornier which we shot down. I get half for that. Chasing these lone raiders is good fun and quite amusing for it means that, for once the odds are in your favour... On Saturday the big raids began again. There was one over Portsmouth which our squadron did not get into. We had to patrol an aerodrome which control thought was going to be attacked. On Sunday , however, we had our share. A big raid came over with our aerodrome as its objective. There were dozens of escort fighters and as usual we got mixed up with these without managing to attack the bombers at all. Other squadrons which arrived were a bit too late to prevent the bombing and the bombers were more or less unhindered in their work. Considering this, they did surprisingly little damage. They demolished the hospital luckily there was no one in it they ruined a hanger and damaged a second luckily there was only one aeroplane lost through this act, they dropped one or two bombs on the aerodrome. They dropped a number of delayed action bombs around the place some of which have not yet gone off. One is near the W.A.A.F.ís quarters, which they can therefore not use, and is in an empty hanger, and there are one or two others around and about the aerodrome. One of those on the aerodrome went off just as I was falling to sleep last night. It shook me considerably..... Well, as for the air battle. to begin with, the squadron was spilt up intwo flights. Our flight went into line astern to attack a formation of Ju 88ís, but on the way in I, who was the last of the string, became tangled up withsome Hurricanes which I thought were Me 109ís. The bombers had disappeared by the time I had disentangled myself, and I could not find anything to shoot at. then I saw a lone twin-engined machine about five miles out to sea and about 5,000ft below me, making for France. I dived after it and found it was an Me 110. When it saw that I was overtaking it, it whipped round and came head on at me. I held on as long as I could, but he seemed to be going to ram me, so I pushed the stick forward hard and just went under his wing. I went round in a steep turn and found he was doing the same in the opposite direction. I opened up my turn in order to give him a wider berth and then when I had passed him steepened it up again to come round on his tail. This I was able to do, and with a longish burst I put his port motor on fire. I then found myself overshooting. I throttled right back but could not pull up in time and drew out to his right. I overshot him by about 300yds, and I watched him over my shoulder. I saw him turning in behind me to get his sight on me, and, leaving it as late as possible so that he would not be able to follow me round. I went into a steep climbing turn to the left, going into it as quickly and violently as possile. His tracer passed under me. I continued my steep turn and came round behind him again. I took good care to stay where I was this time. With another long burst I put his starboard engine on fire and pieces flew off. I then left him. None too soon either, for I caught a glimpse of an Me 109 diving down out of the sun on to what would have been my tail. I was now about 20 miles out to sea and I made for home at top speed. About halfway back to land I passed six more Me 110ís going back to France. I did not stop to argue as I was still about 10 miles out to sea. Arriving back over land I hung around for about a quarter afan hour looking for somethingto finish my ammunition on. I then landed . When I landed I found that I had a bullet through my oil tank and had lost nearly all my oil. I reckon I was lucky to get back from 20 miles out to sea. We lost two people that day and only had three confirmed and one unconfirmed. We were rather depressed that night. We have now lost six people since we have been here and the squadron score stands at 40 confirmed and 15 unconfirmed. I donít suppose we ought to complain really, but it is always a blow when people donít return.....

September 3...We have been having a very slack time here since I last wrote. The Hun has been concentrating entirely on the South-East and the London area and doesnít seem to be bothering about Southampton and Portsmouth any more.... I have christened my aeroplane Ď Old Faithfulí as it is about the oldest aeroplane in the squadron and has now done nearly 300 flying hours. Looking through my log book I find I have now done over 130 hours on Spitfires, 14 hours of which are night flying. I have also flown 10 different types of aeroplanes at various periods of my career. My total flying hours add up to over 300...... You were asking my score. It is two and a half confirmed and one unconfirmed; the half being one I shared with another chap and the unconfirmed one being a Heinkel which I left with both engines giving off a lot of black smoke and which poured a lot of oil over my aeroplane. The two and a half consist of one Ju 87, one Me 110 and a half Dornier 17. I have shot down all these in my own aeroplane, which is another reason for my calling it Ď Old Faithfulí



September 5.... We unfortunately lost another pilot yesterday. He was chasing a Dornier out to sea when his glycol cooling system was punctured. He lost all his coolant and had to come down in the sea about 30 miles out. We sent out aeroplanes to search for him, but he was not to be found. There is a good chance that he may have been picked up by one of those German seaplanes which always search the seas after any battle. The weather continues to be stifling hot and very clear down here, for which we are not at all thankful. A long period of rain would be most welcome................................


Courtesy of Rob and www.152hyderabad.co.uk

Paul Davies


    • Roger Hall 152 Sqn-Clouds of Fear ( book).Paul Davies, Fri Feb 25 9:42pm
      Clouds of Fear, the book by Roger Hall from 152 Spitfire Squadron is one of those Battle of Britain books where the author recounts his experiences of flying Spitfires during the Battle of Britain... more
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