At around the time I’m posting this, given Wartime Double British Summer Time, these guys – apart from the one who’d lost an eye in combat on July 9th, George Lott, whose principle regret for the rest of his life was that he didn’t join them – were up there, engaged in a ferocious and lethally vicious dogfight, in the blue skies above Southern England.
They made contrails so beautiful that artists like Paul Nash couldn’t resist painting them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Britain_(painting)…
I’m ‘live’ (or is it death?) tweeting this at @TheyWereThere1 on Twitter (but not at They Were There, which is yet to go live: but you can ‘Like’ it now if you’re so inclined).
And personally I think we *should* be so inclined, to be honest – for this is still part of living memory, although not for much longer.
So imagine this: they’re up there now, fighting for their lives, and for our lives, and our way of life. And it’s desperate and by no means certain who’ll win.
Two of them will not return – the Southern Rhodesian/South African/Swazilander Caesar Hull https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Hull, remembered here https://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/…/10802112.fighter-pil…/ (and yes, that is my father), who simply everyone adored and who was known as “the laughing warrior”.
In a couple of hours or so, another, the Irishman John Ignatius ‘Killy’ Kilmartin, who valiantly fought to protect them, will land back at Tangmere, utterly shattered…
And next week the photograph will further empty on Battle of Britain day, 15 September.
The Nazis landed “the first blow that aimed to crush the British spirit” on 7 September,, 1940, with waves of Luftwaffe bombers sent to attack London – I’ve cued this video to that moment in a longer American documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4KzI9OCxdk&t=25m58s
These boys did their best to stop them.
Caesar & Dickie: Requiescat in pace.