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15 October 2014
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Stan the Poacher

by thunter99m

Contributed by 
thunter99m
People in story: 
Phillip Pratley, Old Stan
Location of story: 
Bepton, West Sussex
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3790109
Contributed on: 
15 March 2005

1941: Stan the Poacher.

The earliest memory that i laugh about concerns " Old Stan the poacher". It was August 1941. I was four and three months. I was along the lane from where my family lived at Bepton, just South of Midhurst in Sussex. Old Stan was showing me his shotgun. Gunfire sounded in the distance, getting louder and closer. We moved out from under the trees into the open by a farm entrance.

Flying towards us was a German aircraft. Years later I was to find out it was on a reconnaissance flightand had crossed the South Downs at Brighton, had turned West and was photographing Canadian Army Camps that streched across West Sussex. The Canadians welcomed it's presence by shooting it full of holes. When it came into my four year old (and three months) view, it was low, smoking, bits falling off it and daylight showing through it in places. The nearest engine was smoking and streaming what i now know to be the oil and engine coolant.

With professional dexterity, Stan snapped open his shotgun, inserted two shells, closed it, raised it to his shoulder, tracked the aircraft and fired both barrels, all in what seemed a fraction of a second. I was impressed. There was a pauseof perhaps two seconds and almost like an echo to the gunshot, the smoking engine exploded. The plane staggered, nosed down and plowed into a field across the road. Stan looked down at me with a huge grin and said:

" Now thets wot oi carls shootin', boy!".

I was in awe of that man for years after, but i later realised that at the height and distance it was from where we stood, there was no way his shot could have travelled that far.

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