I then noticed that the Heinkel starboard engine was out of action, the prop being stationery. I followed the aircraft on this vector and noticed that it was losing height. Over the coast it was just under 3,000 feet and, about 20 miles out, was at 2,000 feet, where I left it and returned to base. No return fire was experienced on any occasion.
Enemy casualties : probably destroyed."
(Another fighter pilot) F/O Badger did not see the aircraft and took no part in the combat, but confirms seeing flames in the distance and at sea level. Coast guards at St Mary’s also confirm seeing a fire which disappeared into the sea. F/O Musgrove states that the canon was fired and firing astern, as when he broke away from stern attacks, cannon still continued firing astern.
One Junkers 88 claimed destroyed. Reported one bullet hole in port wing."
“F/O Musgrove and Sgt Thom took off from the St Mary’s at 0900 hours to identify aircraft reported by St Martins Coastguards as hostile. F/O Musgrove was first off with Sgt Thom close behind. Flying at 50 feet, both pilots identified twin engine aircraft as Messerschmidt 110. With full boost they chased aircraft. F/O Musgrove opened fire with two short bursts at approximately one mile distance allowing for drop but does not claim hitting enemy aircraft which however suddenly decreased speed. When 30 miles south east of the Scillies, F/O Musgrove made his first attack from dead astern at 200 yards closing to 50 yards, seeing his bullets entering the fuselage and the return fire which he was experiencing from rear gunner ceased.
Sgt Thom came immediately into the attack when his number 1 had broken away and, experiencing no return fire, nor evasive action by the enemy aircraft, concentrated his fire, a 2 second burst slightly above and astern on the port engine, which was seen to be belching black smoke.
The enemy aircraft was now flying one wing down and both pilots attacked, in turn, the starboard engine, observing several hits. The enemy aircraft then pancaked into the sea and floated for about 6 seconds when the pilot was seen to climb out. He was wearing his ‘Mae West’ but no dinghy could be seen. F/O Musgrove therefore threw out his own dinghy which fell some distance away from the ‘hun’.
A report from R.N.O.Falmouth to the effect that this pilot was rescued, is being investigated.
Enemy casualties : one Messerschmidt 110 destroyed."
23 / 24 January 1942 – "Today F/O Musgrove arrived from 87 squadron, and has been posted to ‘A’ Flight. He has plenty of operational hours, and two Huns to his credit."
"He had only been with the Squadron a month, but he had created a great impression by his quiet determined keenness, and was liked by everyone. His example was already bringing about a marked improvement in the flying times. He had every quality of a first class fighter pilot and can be classed as the keenest pilot and one of the most useful officers the Unit has had."
NB F1180 Combat Reports copyright RAF Museum, Operations Record Book extracts copyright TNA
A plaque at the entrance at RAF Predannack, commemorating those who served at RAF Predannack Down during the Second World War was unveiled on 11 June 2002. It reads: "Like a breath of wind gone in a fleeting second only the memories now remain".
Gerald is remembered on the Wendover CWGC Memorial with his father (Week 22) and brother, Bobby..... who I will tell you about next week.