Anniversary of Kent biplanes taking on 'the might of the German Navy' remembered

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson

The 80th anniversary of one of World War Two's lesser known, but no less important, air battles was commemorated at the weekend.

Operation Fuller, more commonly known as the Channel Dash, was a pivotal attempt by Kent fliers to hold back the German Navy.

The odds were stacked against them as, in February 1942, three German battleships tried to break out from ports supported by the Luftwaffe.

They were tackled in part by a small squadron from Manston. Three generations of the family of one of those airmen paid tribute to the heroics.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Tim Youngs, Grandson of Edgar Lee, Channel Dash survivor said: "There's a 19 year old man faced with pretty much overwhelming odds, and setting off with his commanding officer knowing full well that he was pretty much a one way trip.

"It's quite extraordinary, and to be piloting your way through heavy enemy fire with aircraft attacking from left, right and centre, is just phenomenal."

The operation was first seen as a failure, afterwards a tactical success, the battleships hemmed in at their new homes.

Malcolm Godfrey, Channel Dash Memorial Trust said: "They were told to take off and try and take on the might of the German Navy, pretty much unsupported.

"They did get a little bit of top cover from the RAF, but at the time there wasn't very much at all, and they went out knowing, pretty much, that they were going on a suicide mission. They were showing selfless bravery."

Due to the ages of those involved, this will be the last anniversary of the Channel Dash celebrated in this way, but war memorials in Ramsgate and Dover remain so that it is not forgotten.