Spitfire - "Impregnable"
Rushden Echo and Argus, 3rd October 1941, transcribed by Kay Collins
Spitfire "Impregnable" Goes After The Messerschmitts
First newsand great newsof the Spitfire "Impregnable," gift to the country from Messrs. John White Impregnable Boots Ltd, and companion to the Evening Telegraph fleet of gift fighter planes, is now released for publication.
Already the warrior of thirty sweeps over enemy territory, the £5,000 'plane presented by Mr. John White, of Rushden, his co-directors, and their host of boot workers, has gained a distinguished record in the hands of a brilliant Polish squadron of the Royal Air Force. It has definitely played destroyed two Messerschmitts and played havoc with others.
Given 'with a full heart' when
the battle of Britain was still searing the skies over British soil and waters, the "Impregnable" emerged from the workshops in time for the R.A.F.’s tremendous counter-blow, and its history is one of audacious attack against German aerodromes and the gallant escorting of Britain's bomber fleets.
"Impregnable" has been operating since May, and now the official story through the Ministry of Aircraft Production, which has supplied the news both to the "Evening Telegraph" and direct to Mr. White.
Four Me’s Take The Plunge - Official Story of Victory Raids
Splendid work in the offensive operation over Northern France (states the official account) has been performed by a Spitfire bearing the name "Impregnable", flown by Polish pilots of the R.A.F. Fighter Command. For two months it was in the service of the famous Polish squadron which has accounted for over 150 of the enemy, and its contribution to the squadron’s bag in the recent offensive operations was two Me. 109s definitely destroyed, two probably destroyed and one damaged.
The machine was later transferred to another Polish squadron.
While with the first Polish Squadron the Spitfire was flown thirty times over enemy territory, and it has been piloted by some of the most famous airmen of our Allies, including the pilot officer who in June destroyed four Me’s in one day, finishing up by ramming his last victim and then making a safe return home.
Scalp No. 1.
"Impregnable’s" first success with the Poles was obtained on June 22md, when the squadron was part of an escort for bombers attacking the marshalling yards at Hazebrouck. It was flown by a flying officer who had fought in the Battle of Britain.
The target had been successfully bombed when the flying officer saw an Me. 109 climbing to attack the squadron. He turned to meet, but after a very short burst from 300 yards he fell into a spin. As he came out, the Me. was right in his sights. Peices broke away, and the Me. went down to crash seven or eight miles from Hazebrouck.
The squadron shot down six German fighters that day anddid not lose a pilot or machine.
Down in Smoke
Next day, with a sergeant pilot at the controls, "Impregnable" was in a fierce dog-fight over France with an Me. which had dived to attack other squadrons. The Spitfore soon had the better of the fight, and after two bursts from its guns the Me’s. aircrew stopped and, with black smoke pouring from the engine it plunged straight down. As the sergeant was too busy to see whether it crashed or not, the enemy was claimed as only a “probable”.
It was on this day that the Polish pilot who had flown "Impregnable" over France in May got his four victims.
Four days later the Pole who had piloted the Spitfire through its first successful engagement put its nose down over an aerodrome in Northern France and sprayed aircraft on the ground with bullets and shells. His official claim was one Me. 109 damaged.
Helping to escort bombers to targets at Lille on July 2nd, "Impregnable's" pilot got an Me. 109 destroyed and another probably destroyed. After the bombs had been dropped the squadron was continually engaged by German fighters, and a running fight followed halfway across the Channel. The first Me. at which "Impregnable's" guns were directed went straight down in flames. Three other Me's. received bursts in quick succession, and a fourth was hit so badly it corkscrewed down out of sight. Other pilots reported that a parachute floated down in the neighbourhood of the combat.
Committees, headed by civic and business leaders, set to work in the same spirit, and with a magnificent response from all classes of the community, the fund set in motion by the "Evening Telegraph" became the finest effort in the country.
There was the "Impregnable" £5,000, and there was £30,570 from the district in general.
Cheques from all parts of the area were presented at Kettering on November 12th to the Rt. Hon. R. B. Bennett, former Prime Minister of Canada, who came as a special, representative of the Ministry of Aircraft Production on behalf of Lord Beaverbrook, then the Minister at the head.
Now The Harvest
Presenting the "Impregnable" cheque, Mr. White spoke of the enthusiasm among his workers. "What they have given," he declared, "has been given with a full heart, and they wish the Spitfire a long and successful career."
And now the harvest is in the reaping, Britain strikes back and six local Spitfires soon to be “introduced” to our readers are flying in the wake of "Impregnable" for the overthrow of the enemy.
Perhaps there will be another and more intimate sequel, for Mr. White has confided that he would be only too happy to receive and entertain members of the Polish squadrons who have handled "Impregnable" with such magnificent skill and courage.
The heroism of those who are piloting our fighters and bombers deserves our greatest admiration. Mr. John White.