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15 October 2014
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Downed Pilots in Sussexicon for Recommended story

by A7431347

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Kathleen Frances Mary Rainer
Location of story: 
Ewhurst, Sussex
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 July 2005

In September 1940 I was working in the Hop fields at West Farm in Ewhurst, Sussex with my mother and brother and I remember witnessing one afternoon of dog-fighting that I won’t forget.

We were watching the dog-fighting going on, allied and German fighters battling it out in the sky above. Suddenly an allied pilot bailed out of his Spitfire, his parachute opening and we watched him slowly descending to the ground. As we watched we were horrified to see the German fighter pilots trying to shoot him out of the sky, while he was totally helpless! We were gutted at the Germans, of course we know now that they committed even worse acts, but to us this was just horrible. We were so proud of our pilots for what they did next though. The other Spitfires began to circle the parachute, protecting the pilot from the German attack. As the pilot descended down, the rest of his squadron would spiral down with him, guiding him to the ground and protecting him. We were so proud of them, risking their lives to save that one pilot who was otherwise totally defenceless against the German fighters.

Later another pilot was seen descending from the sky and he landed nearby. The farm-workers went to see who he was, and the pilot couldn’t speak English at all. Thinking he must be a German the workers grabbed their pitchforks and went after him. He was captured, but when the authorities turned up they told us he was actually Polish, not our enemy but another ally! Thankfully the workers had been content to just capture him and he went on his way, a free man again and another ally in the sky.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by James Barton and has been added to the website on behalf of Kathleen Rainer with his/her permission and they fully understand the site’s terms and conditions.

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Royal Air Force Category
Battle of Britain 1940 Category
Sussex Category
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