British Royal Air Force French Armée de l'Air Attack German-Held Maastricht
On the morning of 12 May, in response to Belgian pressure and necessity, the Royal Air Force and the Armée de l'Air undertook several air attacks on the German-held Maastricht and Meuse bridges to prevent German forces flowing into Belgium.
74 sorties had been flown by the Allies since 10 May. On 12 May, 11 out of 18 French Breguet 693 bombers were shot down. The RAF Advanced Air Striking Force, which was the largest Allied bomber force, was reduced to 72 aircraft of 135 by 12 May. For the next 24 hours missions were postponed as the German anti-aircraft and fighter defences were too strong.
In clear conditions the five Battles took off for their rendezvous at Maastricht, flying in separate formations. As Thomas and Davey neared their target, the concrete bridge, they were engaged by Me109s who concentrated on Davey’s Battle. His rear gunner actually shot down one of their attackers before Davey’s aircraft was set ablaze. He ordered his crew to bale out and prepared to do so himself, when he realised the fire was abating.