13.05.1940 No. 264 Squadron R.A.F. Defiant I L6974 P/O. Kay Location: - Belgium. +
Mission: Patrol - German troop transports

Date: 13th May 1940 (Monday)

Unit: No. 264 Squadron

Type: Defiant I

Serial: L6974

Base: Duxford (via Martlesham)

Location: -

Pilot: P/O. Desmond Hayward Sidley Kay 42006 R.A.F. Survived (1)

Air/Gnr: L.A.C. Evan John Jones 744999 R.A.F.V.R. Survived (2)


Took off at 04.15 hrs from Martlesham along with 5 other Boulton Paul Defiant's together with 6 Spitfires from 66 Squadron. The object being to patrol the Dutch coast between Ijmuiden and the Hague to attack German troop transport.
They flew across the North Sea, making landfall about ten miles north of The Hague at 0515, after which all aircraft turned north. Over IJmuiden they were fired on by Dutch anti-aircraft guns located on the south side of the harbour.

The guns were firing accurately but they ceased fire immediately the British signalled the Dutch letter of the day. All aircraft turned about and flew south along the coast. More fire, this time German, was met over Maassluis which caused sections to take evasive action. Shortly after, the No. 66 Squadron Spitfires turned east towards Rotterdam where there were fires raging in various places while the Defiant's followed a more southerly route.

Approaching Rotterdam, the crews of both flights saw about seven German Ju 87 Stukas (belonging to 12. Staffel of Lehrgeschwader 1) dive-bombing a target to the south-east.

The Defiant's went in to the attack and a ferocious air battle developed. Shortly after, Bf 109s from 5. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 26 joined the battle, which then developed into a series of individual dogfights.


That Easter Monday, the Defiants of 'B' Flight were expected back by late morning. Noon came and there was still no news. It was not until later in the afternoon that the heavily damaged aircraft of Pilot Officer Desmond Kay and LAC Evan Jones landed back at Duxford. It must have been very difficult for Kay and Jones to be the only ones of ‘B' Flight to return and to be faced with the question "Where are the others?". Kay reported: ‘I patrolled the Dutch coast at 5,000 feet. All aircraft remained in sections of three in wide Vic formation. After the entire formation, under fired from AA at the Hook of Holland, zig-zagged inland, I followed Green 1 and Green 2 during the attack in line astern. I was at least 100 yards behind Green 2 and after a subsequent turn I found myself following a Spitfire for a brief moment – there being no sign of the Defiants. (It is possible that I did not receive an R/T order from Green 1 and so could not close quick enough.

My aircraft, the flight spare which had to be brought into use at 0400 hours, could not be flown for a preliminary circuit in order to readjust the aerial for its changed characteristics with the aerial extended. It was also impossible to tune the receiver for the utmost sensitivity owing to the fact that the necessary equipment was not available at Martlesham.)

‘I then sighted several Ju 87s attacking the Rotterdam – Dordrecht main line. I managed to get one of these in a favourable position on my port rear quarter. My gunner attacked this aircraft until his guns stopped dead astern.
‘I then climbed to 4,000 feet when I saw a Spitfire and watched for further activity below me. The climbing was still continuing and I dropped slowly down to 2,000 feet to find 12 Ju 87s circling and bombing a village. I singled out one which I again attempted to get into range on my port rear quarter. To do this, I had to lose speed considerably with the result that I was soon being chased off by the Ju 87s further astern.

I slowed, turned and climbed away from them, my gunner having difficulty in rotating the turret owing to the hydraulic motor being damaged, and forced the boost control cut-out for more speed.

‘Having 30 gallons of fuel left I set course for Knokke in Belgium and was overtaken south of Vlissingen by Flight Officer Brown of No. 66 squadron in his Spitfire who was again being fired at by AA. The cloud had come down to 1,500 feet and there was some rain. I saw Brown land on the bombed aerodrome at Aalter [some 15 miles from Knokke] and turn completely over owing to a burst tyre. I then followed him in and managed to land successfully with eight gallons to spare. After some repairs and re-fuelling we took off and returned safely to England.’


(1) Desmond Kay continued to serve with distinction, being promoted to Squadron Leader and earning the DFC and bar. Later in the war he served with No. 109 Squadron flying Mosquitoes. On the morning of October 19, 1944, he took off from Little Staughton together with four other Mosquitoes to carry out an attack on a target near Stuttgart. Kay’s navigator was Flying Officer Keith F. Hynes with whom he had carried out over 80 flights over enemy territory. They did not return from the mission although it is not known exactly what happened to them.

(2) No. 264 Squadron spent the next ten days on training sorties but on May 23 it went back into action from Manston carrying out patrols and support flights to cover the return of British troops from France. On May 29, Kay and Jones took off with 11 other Defiant's for a patrol over Dunkirk. No. 264 Squadron flew together with Hurricanes of Nos. 56, 151 and 213 Squadrons, the Defiant's flying at a lower altitude than the Hurricanes so that they could concentrate on enemy bombers, leaving the Hurricanes to deal with any German fighters. Over the Channel the Defiant's encountered six Bf 109s which attacked the British aircraft.

Whether Kay was flying last in the formation is not known but his plane was hit in the starboard wing flap, which was torn to pieces. The hydraulic system was also damaged. Kay started to dive back towards the English coast but was horrified to discover that Jones was no longer in his turret. Although the turret had sustained damage during the attack it was not sufficiently severe for Jones to have left the plane. If he had remained on board he would have probably survived but something, possibly fear of a second German attack, had caused him to panic and abandon the aircraft. His body was later washed ashore at Dunkirk.

The Balance Sheet May 13th 1940 (Here)
(1) Sg/Ldr. Desmond Hayward Sidley Kay D.F.C. and Bar. Adinkerke Military Cemetery Grave E.22 Son of Albert Sidley Kay and Rosamond Emily Hayward Kay, of Thurlestone, Devon.

(2) Sgt. Evan John Jones. Dunkirk Town Cemetery Plot 2. Row 17. Grave 15 Son of John and Ann Jones; husband of Janet Barr Jones, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Researched by Jan Jolie (Dutch researcher)

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