- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Fred Ferebee
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 17 November 2003
It was the summer of 1940 and the Battle of Britain was being fought
The air raid siren had sounded earlier in the morning but nothing had been heard or seen in the village. I was 11years of age, a London evacuee, billeted in a small village in south Devon and was making my
way to the village library. As I crossed a field of stubble the sounds of low flying aircraft grew louder. Above my head I recognised a German bomber, a Dornier 17, the black crosses on the wings clearly visible.
The crackling of machine gun fire broke out and a Hurricane, in close pursuit, was weaving behind the Dornier. Smoke began to stream from one of the engines of the German plane, it dived even lower towards the sea at Torbay followed by the Hurricane. Suddenly the RAF plane broke away and climbed. smoke trailing from the fuselage.
The Dornier continued across the bay towards Torquay, The Hurricane
disappeared from my view, heading in the direction of Brixham.
I hurried on to the village to tell my fellow evacuees what I had seen.
There was a small group of them near the village hall, they were being joined by some of the villagers. I was told that a plane had crashed but that the pilot had baled out, coming down on the hill to the west of the village.
It was from that direction that an open top Austin car came. It’s occupants were two women and in the rear seat an RAF pilot. Pulling
up outside the hall, the pilot was quickly urged inside but not before
he smiled and waved in acknowledgement of the cheers and applause of the little group, now all agog with excitement. This was the war at our doorsteps.
We stood around exchanging stories about what part of the action we had seen. We seemed to be there for ages, then a police car arrived, a sergeant emerged and went straight into the hall. After what seemed an eternity to we boys and girls, a flurry of W.V.S. members came out from the hall, lining the path to the road like an informal guard of honour.Their first-aid skills had been tested to the full -even thought the Pilot wasn't injured!
Then the pilot, somewhat hesitantly and assisted by the sergeant came out. But what a difference, the cheerful, smiling airman that went in, now looked pale and was bandaged around his head, was limping and had one arm in a substantial looking sling.
With some difficulty he clambered into the police car and was driven away by the serious looking policeman.
The W.V.S. were waving him off, looking extremely pleased at their efforts to return the pilot to the battle.
What a tale they would have tell around the dining table that evening, regaling those who had missed the war and their part in it that day
I suspect that a somewhat different account would be given by the pilot
to his messmates.
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